What distinguishes American from Canadian restaurants? That is, besides the lower prices in the former, a lot of the time.
Aside from Canadian, or back, bacon—which you don’t actually see that much in Canadian restaurants—we Canucks don’t have much to offer in distinct regional cuisine. Even with the one solid entry of poutine, many Canadians outside Quebec used to look aghast at this artery-choking combination of fries, gravy and cheese curds before it became trendy.
Americans, particularly in the south, can counter with grits, collards, beignets, biscuits and gravy, barbecue, pulled pork, chicken-fried steak, Philly cheesesteak and that odd combination of fried chicken and waffles. Indeed, Mexican cuisine, or its Tex-Mex or New Mexican offshoots, has made far greater inroads on restaurant menus than anything Canada has to offer.
At a lot of U.S. diners and cafes, I’ve noticed, the bill is presented almost as soon as you’ve told the server you don’t want anything else. It’s done in a matter-of-fact way that I don’t mind, sometimes with the comment “Pay whenever you’re ready.” I prefer this casual efficiency to the more common situation in Canada of having to catch the server’s eye and ask for the bill. Speaking of this, I’ve heard a number of U.S. servers use the term “ticket” instead of “bill” or “check” (“cheque” if you’re Canadian).
It seems odd to me that Canada is ahead of the U.S. in anything regarding technology. But so it is with credit cards. We have followed the European example of using credit (and debit) cards with embedded chips, whereby you punch a four-digit code into a portable machine instead of signing a slip of paper. But in the U.S., using this same chip credit card, I’m never asked for anything more than a signature.
In the U.S., signs always direct you to the “restroom”. In Canada, it’s more commonly called “bathroom” or “washroom”.
At U.S. places where you order at the counter, I’m often asked “Here or to go?” My intuitive response is to say, “to stay” instead of “here.”
Canadians say “cinnamon bun”, Americans almost invariably “cinnamon roll.”
Finally, we Canadians don’t say “eh” nearly as much as is rumoured (“rumored” for you American spellers). Just like y’all don’t say “uh-huh”.
Any other dining Americanisms or Canadianisms I’m missing?