Saturday, August 15, 2009

Winning The Order

How many times have you been jealous of your dining companion's menu order? Jack Serpentine introduced me to a game with no formal name that we call "Winning the Order", wherein your dining party can compete to see who chose most wisely.

The game was a big hit last month among my NYC friends, who caught on quickly despite the lack of set rules.

After a brief consultation with Mr. Serpentine, I've constructed the most basic tenets of Winning the Order:

1. You must order an entrée off the menu. No substitutions are allowed. You may not compose a meal out of side dishes.

2. If your order is duplicated by another in the dining party, the orders are cancelled out and neither person can win the order. It's best, of course, to keep your order to yourself until the waiter prompts you.

3. The winning order is the one that draws the most jealousy (or reluctant admiration) from your fellow diners. Put simply, if everyone wishes they would have ordered your item, then your item wins.

4. Ingredients matter, to a point. You may love pickled herring, but you can't expect to win by ordering it. On the other hand, your pizza shouldn't be disqualified just because one freak at your table doesn't like the texture of mushrooms.

5. Price doesn't matter. Sandwiches and steaks are judged on the same, even if one cost $10 and the other cost $20. There are no explicit points for value. However, if your meal is both exceptional and reasonably priced, it's certainly a bonus.

6. French Toast can’t win. Jack Serpentine made up this rule during a DC brunch to disqualify me. It's an absurd yet enjoyable tradition that you are under no obligation to share with first-timers until their french toast is sitting before them, looking delicious.

7. Lobbying for your victory is encouraged. In this completely subjective game, skilled persuasion is your only hope for victory. You can and should brow-beat your compatriots until they are cowed into recognizing your ordering brilliance.

We're still working out the kinks in transferring from an oral tradition to a written protocol -- leave your suggestions in the comments.


hootenannie said...

This is an amazing game - especially the "French Toast can't win" part - and I am going to start playing it. If anyone will play along.

Bobby said...

Strongly disagree with rule 2. The way I've always played, the person who orders a particular item first is fine, only the subsequent orderers of the item are DQ'd. In fact, having another person order the same item is actually evidence of the superiority of your choice, as this often occurs when someone thinks "Ohhhh, that sounds good. I'm going to have it, too."

dn said...

Annie, I think you'll find that newcomers quickly learn to love it.

Bobby, why is your method better? Wouldn't it lead to people fighting over who orders first? Wouldn't women be at an advantage, as the waiter or waitress will take their order prior to the mens'?

The mutual DQ rule is fun, because it forces the second diner to choose between the meal he/she desires and the chance to win the order.

Alison said...

I'm going to find fault with Rule #7. My persistent lobbying won me nothing, and you know it.

I still think my (adorable) cheese quesadillas were the clear winner.

Anonymous said...

Alison, let me help you out: If your strongest case was that your cheese quesadillas were "adorable" it is absolutely no wonder you lost. Also, you ordered cheese quesadillas. I mean, come on. Unless there was some sort of exotic cheese or crazy new tortilla that I've never heard about, you had no business wasting anyone's time with (what sounds like) your feeble attempts at lobbying. I'm sorry to be harsh, and I know I wasn't there, but next time you may want to consider bringing your A game.


P.S. Bobby, your rule is terrible for all the reasons Dan alrady pointed out.

dn said...


Alison said...

Oh man! I was literally about to write: "Wow. I think I just got served."

But I'm not backing down about the quesadillas. They were delicious, perfectly proportioned and the best-looking dish by far. Whatever.

Lindsey said...

All these rules seem solid. All point to the fact that I clearly won with those huevos rancheros. Suck it eggs Benedict.

I was not aware of the French Toast rule, but it's awesome.

barbara said...

i like you people a lot