restaurants are little microcosms of the world. or, at least, the socio-psycho-economic universe. every sort of personality graces the production side and the purchase side alike. so knowing "how" to "restaurant" is really knowing how to live. we've got a few tips below.
let's start with a few misconceptions / secrets.
first: sitting for a long time is bad... it's not bad! it's fine! keep ordering stuff with some regularity. and, of course, be super nice to your server. you'll be beloved. because on busy nights, every server needs a table or two that are easy. one or two that don't need much checking on. cuz that's one or two fewer tables they have to breakdown and set up all night.that said, do notice if your server has several of these tables. cuz in that case, it's probably screwing them. unless they're working in a pooled house. (which simply means all the servers and bar staff are pooling tips. fwiw, bungalow by middle brow is a pooled house.) ... and in all cases, tip them a little extra for the extra time you took at the table. it's basic math, really.
second, showing up with a big party on a busy weekend night is bad... it's not bad! it's great! again, just tip well. and expect to wait a little bit. and PRESUME that a few things at the table will be wrong. even some of the best servers and kitchens among us screw up 10% of the time. it's a very fast-paced, high-stress environment. so a table of 10 will be guaranteed at least one error. or dropped pizza. or foamy beer. and please, please, please: do your very best to order lots of things at once. it's very tough to be a good server if every time you go back to a table they have one small additional request. that sort of behavior will likely make the server bad at serving other tables, too. which has a negative ripple effect. it'll ruin their whole night, and likely their budget!
third, that table is open... it may be! your host has so many considerations to weigh. which was most recently "sat". and how many tables were just freshly sat (because the kitchen will get overwhelmed and then make bad food if too many are sat at once). so don't presume open tables mean open tables.
fourth, there's a conspiracy to cheat you of your food... there's not! the order at which dishes hit the floor has a certain logic. sometimes your food will come out after some other tables because the kitchen is trying to send all of your stuff together, and one of the dishes your table ordered takes longer to make well. sometimes there was a mistake so your order was held back and it made more sense to send another table's food first. be patient. have a beer. or another lemo. nobody's perfect. and nobody's out to get you. unless you're an asshole. and everyone is always out to get you. then they probably are actually out to get you. because you're an asshole. and you should work on your personality.
fifth, bartenders are incompetent... they're not! when you're waiting to get served at a bar, staring angrily at the bartender won't make her serve you well. it'll just make her serve you quickly. to get you out of the way. most good bartenders are creating a line in their head. they'll get to you. and you'll get a great drink. and have a very positive experience. just have some patience.
moving on very quickly to one last thing: there's a massive injustice in every restaurant into which you walk. and it's in the kitchen. cooks get paid similarly to FOH staff (servers, bartenders, hosts) on most nights. but not on the big nights. when they work hardest. and that's why you're increasingly seeing service charges added to checks. and those charges are way justified. the short story is: if you were willing to pay higher menu prices for your restaurant experience, this wouldn't be an issue. everyone would be paid more. and tipping could be eliminated. but since you're not willing to handle higher menu prices, the kitchen/service inequity is a major issue.
we recently added a 3% kitchen support charge to our bill. and we'll fight to the death for its justification. ... next week. we'll also discuss tipping at great length next week. so if you have thoughts on that. or are simply interested in what we have to say on it. please tune in then.
until then... remember that your server is a human being. with strengths and weaknesses. and good moments and bad moments. treat him or her like they're your best friend or brother or sister. or else... don't eat/drink out? or maybe just don't eat/drink out at bungalow by middle brow. cuz we prefer humans who know they're humans.