Check out this great piece on Amateur Gourmet - it is some great, simple advice on how to spot a good restaurant from a bad one. The points are applicable at every level from casual cafe to Michelin level fine dining restaurant. As you know, I've got about 13 years in the restaurant industry and while I have never cooked professionally have damn near done everything else and the list holds its own. My favourite bit of advice: Number 5 - "The servers are knowledgeable and authentic". AG looks at this from one side but there is a corollary - in the restaurants where the service staff understand the food they are more likely to understand how it gets made and likewise the chef and their team understand how it gets to the table. In short both kitchen and FOH work together for a complete dining experience. This is the kind of restaurant you want to eat at.