Introduction:

Going on a business lunch or having lunch with your work colleagues in a restaurant is a very normal part of business, and can sometimes be stressful. It is more difficult when you have to spend the time speaking in English or having to translate things into English.

To make this easier, you need to know the English vocabulary and phrases used when choosing and paying for dishes (the name for each different plate of food you have) in a restaurant. And this is what you'll learn here.

In this online exercise on food, you'll both learn and remember the essential English vocabulary and phrases connected to ordering food, understanding menus and paying in restaurants.

The vocabulary you will learn here can also be used in restaurants in non-business situations as well.

This exercise is perfect for learning the basics of English restaurant vocabulary. When you have done it, I recommend that you then learn some more advanced English food vocabulary by either doing an exercise on 'describing how food is cooked' or an exercise on 'describing tastes and textures of food'.

Click here to see more online exercises on food, drink and restaurant vocabulary


Exercise: Getting ready to order

Read the following conversation between Juan and Peter in a restaurant in Leeds.

From the context, try to guess what the meaning of the words/phrases in bold are.

Peter:'There's a table free over there. Do you want to sit there?'

Juan:'Ok, I'm still not looking forward to eating English food.'

Peter:'Don't worry, I had dinner here the last time I visited the head office. It's good food.'

Juan:'What do you recommend?'

Peter:'Well, you can select from the menu. Or you can order one of the specials which isn't on the menu, they are written on the board next to the bar. Or you can have the set-menu. It was good last time, it has three courses, a starter, main and dessert. It's also cheaper than choosing dishes from the menu. But you don't have a lot of choice in what dishes you can have.'

Juan:'It looks ok, but I fancy a bit of salad. Can I ask for a side dish of salad as well?'

Peter:'Yes, there are side dishes as well on the menu. Do you want to have a drink? Wine or beer?'

Juan:'I'll be ok with water. I'm going to pay the bill, it's my treat.'

Peter:'No, Juan. I'm not going to let you. We should split the bill. Pay half each.'

Juan:'Ok, but I going to leave the tip. Is it like America here? Should I leave 10 pounds?'

Peter:'No, you only leave a couple of pounds. Are you ready to order now?'

Juan:'Yes.'


What next

Well done for reading the text and learning the meaning of each of the words/phrase in bold. If you don't want to forgot what they mean and want to be able to say them correctly, I'd like you to do one more thing which won't take you long.

Answer the questions in the below quiz with the restaurant vocabulary you've just learnt. Doing this will make sure that you both remember what they mean and that you'll use them in the future.



Quiz:

Below is a definition/description of each of the words/phrases in bold from the above text. Now fill in the blanks with one of these words/phrases in bold. Only use one word/phrase once and write it as it is in the text. Click on the "Check Answers" button at the bottom of the quiz to check your answers.

When the answer is correct, two icons will appear next to the question. The first is an Additional Information Icon "". Click on this for extra information on the word/phrase and for a translation. The second is a Pronunciation Icon "". Click on this to listen to the pronunciation of the word/phrase and to do a pronunciation speaking test.

1. A piece of paper that tells you how much you have to pay, is    

         

The bill:
(noun) It is called 'the check' in North America. In Spanish: "la cuenta".

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The bill:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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2. A half or small portion of food that can accompany the main course, is    

         

Side dish:
(noun) It is also known as a 'side order'. It's normally something basic like chips, salad, vegetables etc.. In Spanish: "plato adicional".

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Side dish:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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3. One of the three principal meals of the day, with a verb in the past tense, is    

         

Had dinner:
(verb + noun) The 3 main meals are breakfast, lunch and dinner. Although they sometimes have differnt names in different parts of the world. In English, breakfast, lunch and dinner are only nouns, they should never be used as verbs. For the verb it is normal to use 'to have' followed only by the noun 'dinner'. Never use 'a' between the verb and noun. In Spanish: "cenar".

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Had dinner:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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4. A fixed three course meal in a restaurant which is a cheaper way to eat there, is a    

         

Set-menu:
(noun) This is very common in Asian restaurants, but not in expensive restuarants, where you have to choose the dishes from the menu or a la carte. In Spanish: "menu".

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Set-menu:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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5. Dishes which are available for only that day, are called    

         

Specials:
(noun) Normally, these dishes are not included in the menu but are written on blackboard in the restaurant or pub, or a waiter/waitress will tell you them. In Spanish: "las especialidades del dia".

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Specials:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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6. The starter, main and dessert, are all types of    

         

Courses:
(noun) The starter, main and dessert are also called the first course, second course and third course. This should not be confussed with plate, which is the object you eat food off. In Spanish: "platos".

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Courses:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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7. When you have decided what you want to eat in a restaurant, you are    

         

Ready to order:
(phrase) The verb 'to be' is used before this phrase. In this context 'to order' has the same meaning as 'to ask for'. In Spanish: "listo a pedir".

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Ready to order:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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8. When each person pays a part of the bill, they    

         

Split the bill:
(verb + noun) In the Anglo-Saxon world it is more common for each person to pay for their part of the bill. In this context 'to split' means to divide equally the cost. In Spanish: "repartir la cuenta".

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Split the bill:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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9. A phrase connected to drinking a liquid, is    

         

Have a drink:
(verb + noun) We use the verb 'to have' with drinks, e.g. 'I had a glass of wine last night'. We don't use the verb 'to take' in this context. 'to take' means the same as 'to carry' In Spanish: "tomar una bebida".

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Have a drink:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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10. The extra money you leave after you have paid the bill, is called a    

         

Tip:
(noun) We use the verb 'to leave' with tip. It is common in Britain to leave a tip of a few pounds only when eating in restaurants. In the US, it is custom to leave more, between 10-15% of the check as a tip. In Spanish: propina.

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Tip:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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Practice

Now that you understand the new restaurant essentials vocabulary, practise it by creating your own sentences in English with the new words/phrases.