English & Tourism: Restaurants
In this week's Premier Skills English Podcast, Jack and Rich have our fourth and final episode in a mini-series of podcasts called 'English & Tourism'. They introduce lots of words and phrases (functional language) you need when you go on holiday and need to speak English. The topic in this episode is restaurants, the language you need to speak to a waiter and the language you need to understand a menu in English. Your task is to describe a dish for a restaurant menu. Don't forget to listen to the end of the podcast because we have a new football phrase for you to guess, too. Enjoy!
Welcome - English & Tourism - At the restaurant
Jack: Hello my name’s Jack
Rich: and I’m Rich and welcome to this week’s Premier Skills English podcast
Jack: Where we talk about football and help you with your English.
Rich: We recommend that you listen to this podcast on the Premier Skills English website because that is where we have the transcript, language examples, activities, quizzes and a discussion page to help you understand everything we talk about.
Jack: However, if you’re listening on Spotify or Apple Podcasts, you can leave answers to our questions in the review section. We do read all the reviews and would love to hear from you.
Rich: In this week’s podcast, we have the last podcast in our mini-series that has focused on English and tourism. In these podcasts, you learn lots of English connected to things you need to do when you go on holiday.
Jack: These podcasts are also really useful for those of you who work with tourists in places like hotels and restaurants and need to speak English.
Rich: In our last podcast, we spoke about what you need to say if you go to a traditional fish and chip shop in the UK or a fast food place. We introduced phrases such as ‘To eat in or take away?’, ‘I’d like to have the chicken burger meal, please’ and ‘Would you like them open or wrapped?’’.
Jack: On the Premier Skills English website, we also looked at some food vocabulary that you often need to understand in fish and chip shops or fast food places such as the difference between a menu and a meal, types of sauces and mushy peas.
Rich: If you’re not sure about what we are talking about or any of this vocabulary, you can go back and do this lesson on the Premier Skills English website.
Jack: Just go to the homepage and click on skills > listen > podcasts. If you are on Spotify or Apple Podcasts you’ll find it in the playlist, it’s called ‘English & Tourism: Eating Out’.
Rich: In this podcast, we are going to talk some more about eating out when you are on holiday in the UK.
Jack: But, this time, we’re not focussing on fast food places, we’re going to look at the words and phrases you need in a restaurant when you sit down and order your food from a waiter.
Rich: A posh restaurant?
Jack: Yes, well not that posh. A restaurant you’d be happy to go to with your family.
Rich: You will hear a roleplay at a restaurant. The roleplay will be in two sections and after each section, we will ask you to stop and think about the situation and the language that is being used.
Jack: Later, we will have a task for you to do, which is when we ask you to use your English. We will have more about your task later but we want you to describe a few dishes that you might see on a restaurant menu in the UK.
Rich: And, don’t forget to listen to the end of the podcast because we have another football phrase for you to guess.
Football Phrase 1
Jack: But, before we look at all that, let’s look at last week’s football phrase. If you didn’t hear it last week we’ll give you one more chance to guess and give you the correct answer at the end of the show when we give you a new football phrase.
Rich: The phrase was _________. Now the football season has finished, the transfer window is open and clubs want to sign new players. Some of these players cost a lot of money but some cost nothing. This is often because they are ___________. These are the players who had a deal with one club that has finished and can now sign for any club they want - for free.
Jack: Well done if you got the right answer last week. A special well done to Liubomyr from Ukraine and Lakerwang from China who got the phrase exactly right and wrote the answer on the Premier Skills English website.
Rich: We’ll tell you the answer to this football phrase and we’ll have a new one at the end of the show. Remember, if you get the right answer and write it in the comments section on the Premier Skills English website, we will announce your name in next week’s show.
Introduction to Roleplay
Jack: You are now going to listen to roleplay 1.
Rich: You are going to hear two people at a restaurant - that’s me and Jack.
Jack: You will hear the roleplay in two parts. After each part, we will ask you to think about the conversation and we’ll talk about the language we use.
Rich: While you listen, we want you to answer a question. The question for part one is:
Jack: Why do we have to wait for our table?
Roleplay: Part 1
Rich: Hey, Jack. You made it.
Jack: Yep, sorry I’m a bit late. We got caught up in the traffic; you know what it’s like around here on match days.
Rich: Where are the others?
Jack: They’re coming. I think they’re still in the gallery.
Rich: OK, we might as well go in. They can join us.
Jack: It looks a bit busy. Did you book a table?
Rich: No, I didn’t think I’d need to.
Jack: Come on. Let’s have a look.
Rich: What does this say? ‘Please wait to be seated.’
Jack: I’m bursting. I’ll be back in a minute.
Jack/Waiter: Good afternoon. What name?
Jack/waiter: What name is your reservation under?
Rich: I don’t have a reservation, I’m afraid.
Jack/waiter: Oh, I see. We’re quite busy this lunchtime but if you don’t mind waiting for a while I’m sure we’ll be able to squeeze you in. How many for?
Rich: Four. A table for four.
Jack/waiter: If you wouldn’t mind taking a seat in the bar area, we’ll give you a shout when your table is ready.
Rich: Sure. How long do you think it’ll be?
Jack/waiter: It shouldn’t be more than half an hour.
Jack: What are you doing here?
Rich: It’s fully booked but they said they’d have a table for us in about half an hour.
Jack: That’s all right. The others aren’t here yet. What do you want to drink?
Language Focus 1
Rich: Did you get the answer to the question? Why do we have to wait for our table?
Jack: We have to wait because Rich didn’t book or reserve a table in advance.
Rich: Yes, sorry about that. If you are going to a nice restaurant in the UK, it’s always a good idea to check if you need to book a table. Restaurants can get very busy sometimes, especially in areas that are popular with tourists.
Jack: Let’s have a look at some of the language we used in the roleplay. One common sign you will see in a restaurant is the sign that says ‘Please wait to be seated’.
Rich: You usually see this sign when you walk in the door of the restaurant. In some restaurants, you can walk in and find a table yourself. In other restaurants, you have to wait for someone to take you to a table.
Jack: Sit? Sit down? Take a seat? I thought ‘sit’ or ‘sit down’ were verbs and a seat is like a chair - the thing you sit on - a noun.
Rich: You’re right, they are, but in restaurants ‘seat’ is also a verb.
Jack: It’s quite formal and it actually doesn’t mean to sit, it means to take someone to the place where they need to sit.
Rich: The waiter takes you to your chair in a restaurant.
Jack: That’s right. You often see this in the passive: Please wait to be seated. You are seated by a waiter but it’s not necessary to say this.
Rich: What is important is that when you see this sign in a restaurant you need to wait for a waiter to seat you.
Jack: Let’s look at some more important restaurant language. In the roleplay, the waiter asked ‘How many for?’
Rich: This is the usual question for asking How many people are in your group? Or How many people are eating?
Jack: Alternatives could be ‘How many?’ or ‘For how many?’.
Rich: You might also say this at the beginning with a sentence such as ‘I’d like a table for four, please’ or ‘I’d like a table for three adults and a high chair for the baby.’
Jack: Restaurants may ask you to wait at busy times if you don’t have a reservation.
Rich: In the roleplay, the waiter said ‘I’m sure we’ll be able to squeeze you in’. To squeeze in is a phrasal verb which means to manage to be able to do something at a busy time.
Jack: Another useful informal phrase is ‘to give you a shout’ which simply means to tell you or more formally to let you know.
Rich: In the roleplay, the waiter said ‘we’ll give you a shout when your table is ready’.
Jack: We have more of this language on the Premier Skills English website.
Jack: You will now hear the second part of the roleplay.
Rich: While you listen, we want you to answer a question. The question for part two is:
Jack: What does Rich not want to eat?
Roleplay: Part 2
Rich: That didn’t take too long did it.
Jack: No, and the others still haven’t arrived.
Rich: Let’s take a look at the menu. We can always pick something for them.
Jack: Are you going to get a starter? I usually go for a main and a dessert.
Rich: Maybe we could get something to share while we’re waiting.
Jack: They’ve got some nachos that sound good. Listen: home-made nachos covered with melted cheddar cheese, bacon, tomatoes, and sour cream with a side dish of guacamole.
Rich: I’d be stuffed after that. Let’s just get some olives.
Jack: Alright. This menu makes everything sound so delicious. Listen to this: beer battered haddock with hand-cut chips, tartare sauce and mushy peas.
Rich: That’s fish and chips, right.
Jack: What about this? Listen: Pan-fried medium-rare feather-blade steak with hand-cut chips and peppercorn sauce.
Rich: That’s steak and chips, right?
Jack: And this: Aberdeen Angus Beef Burger: seasoned 8oz beef burger, gem lettuce, Beefsteak tomato & homemade burger sauce, served in a brioche bun with a choice of salad or French fries.
Rich: Burger and chips, right?
Jack: Yeah, OK but that sounds so boring.
Rich: I’m still not eating meat though remember, so I’m going to go for a vegetarian or vegan option.
Jack: Here we go. Listen to this: Spicy carrot hash with avocado hummus and pea-shoot salad.
Rich: No chips?
Jack: No, sorry. Look here are the others. We can order in a second.
Language Focus 2
Jack: Did you get the answer to the question? What does Rich not want to eat?
Rich: I don’t want to eat any meat.
Jack: Let’s have a look at some of the language we used in the roleplay. One thing that can be very difficult in a restaurant in the UK is the menu.
Rich: Yes, dishes are often described in lots of detail which makes them difficult to understand.
Jack: And in most places, you are unlikely to find translations in your language which makes it difficult.
Rich: We can’t describe every dish that you might see on a restaurant menu but we’re going to give you three tips that might help you understand a menu better.
Jack: The first tip is to read the description and pick out the nouns you understand.
Rich: Jack is going to read one of the descriptions from the roleplay again and I want you to pick out the nouns. Only the nouns.
Jack: Pan-fried medium-rare feather-blade steak with hand-cut chips and peppercorn sauce.
Rich: Right, OK so the nouns are steak, chips and sauce. Now that is easier to understand. So our first tip is to pick out just the nouns because they are often the basic food items.
Jack: Now, our second tip is to look at all those adjectives that are in the description and put them into different categories.
Rich: The first category is to describe the origin: words like French, Italian or Yorkshire. These are easy to spot because they often have capital letters.
Jack: The second category is to describe taste: words like spicy, sour, fresh or fruity.
Rich: The next category is to describe texture: words like crispy, smooth, creamy or tender.
Jack: The next is to describe how the food is cooked or prepared: fried, roasted, marinated or caramelised.
Rich: The final thing to look out for is phrases using the word ‘with’. These phrases usually describe what is next to the main dish or a sauce. You might read something easy such as fish and chips with fresh garden peas.
Jack: Or you might see something more complicated such as slow-roasted belly of pork with apple sauce.
Rich: Anyway, our second tip is to think about menu words in these categories which can help you decide if they are important to know or not.
Jack: This leads us to our third and final tip which is to ask the waiter. If you’re not sure what a dish is or a word in the description - ask.
Rich: Ask how it is cooked or prepared, what the texture is like, is it salty, sweet or spicy. Ask what sauce is on the meat, is it on the side or on top of the meat. Ask if there are any side dishes … do you only get meat or does it come with vegetables or salad or do you have to buy these separately.
Jack: There are often lots of questions to ask and on the Premier Skills English website we take a look at some of this vocabulary in more detail.
Rich: There are more explanations and activities for you to do connected to this lesson on the homepage or under skills > listen > podcasts.
Rich: This week we’re going to give you three very simple sounding dishes and we want you to tell us how they might be written on a menu in a posh UK restaurant.
Jack: For example, my dish is chicken and chips but instead of chicken and chips in the menu it says … What does it say, Rich?
Rich: It might say something like: Tender chicken strips breaded in spicy bread crumbs and deep fried to a golden brown. Served with a choice of honey mustard, BBQ or Thai-sesame style sauce and hand-cut chunky chips.
Jack: OK, so here are the three dishes. It’s your job to make them sound delicious.
Rich: Dish number one: Green salad.
Jack: Dish number two: Seafood Pizza
Rich: Dish number three: Beef and vegetables.
Jack: Add some of the phrases we used in this podcast and try to think of the different categories we spoke about earlier.
Rich: Write your delicious sounding dish in the comments section on the Premier Skills English website.
This week’s football phrase:
Rich: The final section this week is our football phrase.
Jack: The football phrase this week is *** *******. At this time of year, many clubs are looking for different players or *** ******** that will make a difference to their squads for next season. What *** ******** will your club make during the summer?
Rich: Let’s see who can get it right. If you know the answer, write it in the comments section at the bottom of the page. We will announce your name in next week’s podcast if you get it right.
Jack: We also need to give you the answer to the football phrase we set at the beginning of the show. The answer as many of you already know was out of contract.
Rich: Right, that’s all we have time for this week. Bye for now and enjoy your football.
How much did you understand?
In the podcast, Rich and Jack used some words and phrases that might be new for you. Do you know the words in bold?
A posh restaurant! Well, maybe not that posh. A restaurant you’d be happy to go to with your family.
Yep, sorry I’m a bit late. We got caught up in the traffic; you know what it’s like around here on match days.
I’m bursting. I’ll be back in a minute.
Are you going to get a starter? I usually go for a main and a dessert.
I’d be stuffed after that. Let’s just get some olives.
This menu makes everything sound so delicious.
There were a few more tricky words and phrases in the podcast. Try the activity below, then, listen to the podcast again to hear how we used the words. This can really help your understanding.
In the podcast, you heard two roleplays. In the first, you heard Jack and Rich arriving at the restaurant and speaking to the waiter. In the second roleplay, they were discussing what was on the menu. If you are on holiday you often eat in a restaurant and need to speak to a waiter in English and read a menu. Let's look at some of the language that will help you do these two things better.
Arriving at a restaurant
If you are going to a restaurant in the UK, it’s always a good idea to check if you need to book a table. Restaurants can get very busy sometimes, especially in areas that are popular with tourists. In the first roleplay, Jack and Rich didn't reserve a table in advance so they had a few problems. The first thing they saw when they arrived at the restaurant was a sign which said:
Please wait to be seated.
You often see this sign when you walk in the door of the restaurant. In some restaurants, you can walk in and find a table yourself. In other restaurants, you have to wait for someone to take you to a table. It’s quite a formal expression and it actually doesn’t mean to sit, it means to take someone to the place where they need to sit. The waiter takes you to your chair in a restaurant. It's usually in the passive form. You often see the phrase in the passive: Please wait to be seated. You are seated by a waiter but it’s not necessary to say this.
Let's look at some other useful phrases that were used in the roleplay:
We’re quite busy this lunchtime, but if you don’t mind waiting for a while I’m sure we’ll be able to squeeze you in. How many for?
If you wouldn’t mind taking a seat in the bar area, we’ll give you a shout when your table is ready.
'How many for?' is the usual question for asking 'How many people are in your group?' or 'How many people are eating?' Alternatives could be ‘How many?’ or ‘For how many?’. To respond to this question you should say something such as:
I’d like a table for four, please.
I’d like a table for three adults and a high chair for the baby.
A couple of more informal phrases you may hear in a restaurant are to squeeze you in and to give you a shout. The first is a phrasal verb which means to manage to be able to do something at a busy time such as make space for an extra group. To give someone a shout is an informal phrase which means to tell someone or to let someone know.
Try the activity below, match the fast food questions to the correct answers.
In the second roleplay, Jack and Rich were deciding what to eat and discussing the different dishes on the menu. It can be very to understand a menu in a UK restaurant because dishes are often described in lots of detail which makes them difficult to understand. Here are a couple of examples you heard in the roleplay:
Pan-fried medium-rare feather-blade steak with hand-cut chips and peppercorn sauce.
Aberdeen Angus Beef Burger: seasoned 8oz beef burger, gem lettuce, Beefsteak tomato & homemade burger sauce, served in a brioche bun with a choice of salad or French fries.
Descriptions of dishes in menus are often long and complicated so Jack and Rich gave some tips make it a bit easier:
Look at the description and pick out or read only the nouns (or the words acting as nouns) as these words are often the basic food items. Let's look at one of the descriptions again with the nouns highlighted in blue:
Pan-fried medium-rare feather-blade steak with hand-cut chips and peppercorn sauce.
The nouns are steak, chips and sauce. That is much easier to understand!
Menu descriptions usually include lots of adjectives. One thing that often helps is putting the adjectives into different categories. Here are some useful ways of categorising adjectives and other phrases that are common in menu descriptions:
Origin: words like French, Italian or Yorkshire. These are easy to spot because they often have capital letters.
Taste: words like spicy, sour, fresh or fruity.
Texture: words like crispy, smooth, creamy or tender.
How the food is cooked or prepared: fried, roasted, marinated or caramelised.
Phrases using the word ‘with': these usually describe what goes with the main dish: fish and chips with fresh garden peas or slow-roasted belly of pork with apple sauce.
Ask the waiter
If you’re not sure what a dish is or you don't know a word in the description - ask! The waiter will usually be happy to help and if the waiter is extra helpful maybe you can leave a nice tip at the end of the meal! Here are some common questions you may want to ask:
How it is cooked? Is it grilled or fried?
Is it very spicy? Can you make it more/less spicy?
What sauce comes with the meat? Is it on top of the meat or on the side?
Does it come with salad/chips/vegetables?
Where does the meat come from? Is it organic?
Is it halal/kosher?
Is it vegetarian/vegan?
Does it have nuts in it?
Describing a dish
In this week’s task, we’d like you to write three descriptions for a menu. Below, are three simple dishes. It's your job to write something that you would see in a restaurant menu. Try to use some of the categories and adjectives you heard in the podcast (origin, taste, texture, how the food is cooked/prepared and phrases using 'with'). Let's see whose dish sounds the most delicious!!
Dish one: Green salad
Dish two: Seafood pizza
Dish three: Beef and vegetables
Write your delicious dishes in the comments section below and don't forget to make a guess at our football phrase.