Visited the venerable Tam O’Shanter Inn on Los Feliz Boulevard midday and found it’s smooth sailing since they suspended lunch menu dining room service in favor of the popular, less expensive sandwich bar


We had a pleasant experience with just enough carver selection and table service. Being a Lawry’s landmark restaurant, the meats at the Tam are juicy and well roasted with a choice of roast beef, roast pork, pastrami, turkey, and the signature prime rib, carved to order and piled generously on a choice of breads. (I favor the big onion roll.)

There’s a self-serve salad tray included plus a few side dish options including the Tam’s distinctive creamed spinach. Of course the full bar is open and beverages are delivered to the table. A typical food-only lunch tab is $14 to $18. There’s parking service and reservations are unnecessary. If you must talk business during lunch, dining room seating is available.

Tipping tips… The Palate always has a stream of mail asking how to determine the server’s reward. Actually the domestic tipping code hasn’t changed in years so 15 to 20% of the food tab (excluding taxes) remains the norm. When in doubt refer to the pre-tax dining tab and divide by five. Add or subtract a bit for excellence or service frustrations. Never “stiff” a server or it may seem you don’t know about tipping. For really bad service leave a token five or 10 percent to express your displeasure.

Traveling abroad alters the rules so it’s smart to prepare before you set sail. In Europe restaurants customarily add a service charge about 15% to food and beverage tabs but for some obscure rationale a small tip is still anticipated from the American tourist — 5 or 10 % will suffice. At your hotel, tip the maid about $5 daily while bellhops expect $2 per bag. Tip the doorman a dollar or two for hailing a taxi and such. The concierge will expect $5 for restaurant or theatre reservations. If he lands tickets to a “sold out hit,” reward him with $20 or so.

The rules for tipping on cruise ships have changed of late. Passengers used to tip stewards and servers in cash on their final night aboard. Now they make it easier by adding a daily gratuity of $10 or $15 per passenger to the bill. Most lines also add a 15% gratuity to the tab. Better pack along ample cash and your platinum plastic when you sail. Check cash and valuables in the ship‘s safe….

On terra firma, most tour directors work long and hard to keep the journey smooth and should be rewarded $8 per day per traveler with half that amount also due to the coach driver. Make their lives bearable by being packed and ready on time.

Wherever you travel don’t hesitate to ask responsible parties for local tipping advice. Happy landings … HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

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The Curious Palate

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