How to Avoid Getting the 'Ick' on a Restaurant First Date

How to Avoid Getting the 'Ick' on a Restaurant First Date

Read Time: 6 Minutes


26 Aug 2022

“Cheugy”, “slaps”, “bussin’”. If you feel like you need a cheat sheet to keep up with the latest slang, here’s another one that’s popular amongst the Zoomer generation: The Ick. 


What is ‘The Ick’?

Urban Dictionary defines it as when “you THINK you like them but then you suddenly catch ‘The Ick’. From then on you can’t look at the person in the same way, you just progressively get more and more turned off by them, weirdly & maybe for no reason in particular grossed out by them.”

Online searches for the term ‘ick’ have grown by 125% year on year, with #ick on the social media platform TikTok boasting 1.1 billion views alone.

But what does this mean for the world of dating and how do you avoid catching ‘the ick’ on a first date?


Restaurant First Date Icks

woman looking unimpressed at date handing her flowers

A user of the anonymous discussion website Reddit shared a story about their ‘friend’ catching the infamous ick when their date drank a glass of rosé wine while they were out at a restaurant. Inspired by her friend’s story, the user went on to ask Redditors on r/AskUK what would give them the ick on a restaurant first date.

Replies ranged from chewing with their mouth open to being discourteous to staff. 

One user even went as far as stating that restaurants are an awful place for a first date: “The idea of someone suggesting a restaurant first date would be my warning. I ain’t paying for your meal”.

Another user then countered this argument, suggesting that the person who invites you out for a meal should be the one to pay.

Someone else confirmed that their date ordering meat well done, the menu not containing anything they’d like or requesting ketchup with anything that isn’t a burger would indicate that they’d have no future together.

Although many rushed to share their restaurant date no-nos, others were quick to criticise the user’s friend.

The top reply stated that “Someone using the phrase the ick. Or judging a guy for drinking rosé” would give them the ick, whereas others branded the user’s friend an idiot.


Restaurant Dates on the Rise?

Despite one Reddit user deeming restaurants the worst place for a first date, there is a definite demand for restaurants.

Using Google Analytics, we’ve noticed an annual rise in pageviews to our menu printing page of 12.12%, with an average time on page increase of 32.75%, suggesting that restaurant businesses are spending 11 seconds longer than before deciding on their perfect menu.


What Do the Experts Say?

To uncover why we experience the ‘ick’ and how to avoid it on a restaurant first date, we turned to Kate Mansfield, an award-winning dating and relationship coach based in London. Here’s what she suggests…

Why do we experience ‘The Ick’ at restaurant first dates?

Eating is quite an intimate, personal and potentially messy thing to do on a first date. So if you’re worried about putting your eating habits putting your date off, other shared activities like grabbing a coffee or going for a walk in the park might be a safer option. These activities have lower stakes and take the 'ick' of eating together too soon out of the equation. 

A restaurant as a venue for a first date can feel like pressure and can create confusion and potential conflict about expectations such as who should pay. But, it’s also a classically romantic option that many love, so if you’re braving it, here are a few tips… 

What are the best questions to ask on a first date at a restaurant?

Good questions to ask on any first date, including at a restaurant are a mix of light-hearted and deeper questions. A great way to create memorable and meaningful conversation is to ask questions about a question - for example, asking about their favourite food, and then asking a further question about specific memories or events around that food. This creates a deeper emotional connection and experience and makes for interesting conversation. 

How long should you wait before asking someone out on a date?

If you like someone - ask them out! Don't wait. Delaying only adds to your anxiety. But keep it very low key, say something like "Hey, fancy grabbing a coffee tomorrow?" rather than a big romantic or expensive gesture - this is too much too soon. Get to know them as a friend first.

Who should pay for the date?

The person asking should pay for the date. As a woman, don't read into it if a man doesn't offer to pay on the first date, it doesn't mean he's mean, or not into you. Men are more confused than ever about not offending women by offering to pay. First dates should always be neutral and free from the loaded expectations we so often bring, try to focus on who the person is, how they make you feel and how they show up emotionally. 

Why is ‘getting The Ick’ more prevalent than ever?

Shorter attention spans combined with the sheer volume of people on apps have made 'getting the ick' more prevalent. This is because we are hyper-focused on having what we want when we want it, and connection has become much more surface level as the norm. 

The pandemic has made most people both crave partnership and yet feel a strange sense of needing more space than ever. It's a great time to do deep personal development work on yourself, to get into balance. Get help around your dating to understand what works, and what doesn't. 


Picking the Restaurant for Your First Date

two people sat at a dinner table having a romantic date

If you’re planning on asking a special someone out to a restaurant for your first date, there’s no need to fear. Using Keyword Planner, we’ve identified the most popular cuisines in the UK to determine the best place to take your first date – and avoid the dreaded ick.

UK’s Most Popular Restaurant Cuisines

Type of Cuisine Avg. Monthly UK Searches (July 2021 – June 2022)
Chinese 368,000
Italian 301,000
Indian 246,000
Vegan 135,000
Thai 90,500
Spanish 40,500
Pub food 33,100
Japanese 33,100
Mexican 27,100
Greek 27,100

The resounding winner of top cuisine is Chinese, followed by the traditionally romantic Italian. So, if you’re planning a first date, these two choices are sure to make a good impression. Similarly, Indian cuisine ranks highly – just avoid the garlic naan if you’re planning on a kiss at the end of the night!

Vegan food places in the top five, which is not surprising seeing that YouGov’s bi-annual survey of 2,000 people suggested that 2% were vegan in 2020, and this rose to 3% in 2021. Don’t fall into the dietary restrictions pitfall and ensure you’ve checked that your date can eat at your chosen restaurant. This is one way to avoid the ick!

Looking for something different to help you stand out? Japanese, Mexican and Greek cuisine rank in the top ten, meaning they’re a top choice for someone! 


Ick-Free Restaurant Menu Designs

If you own any of the popular types of restaurants above, you might be wondering how you can score the reputation of the best first date venue. Our Senior Graphic Designer Lauren has reviewed 5 gorgeous menu designs as printed by our creative clients to get your creative juices flowing.

1. Use contrasting colours

1580 indian cuisine restaurant menu

This restaurant menu by our customer the 1580 Contemporary Indian Cuisine uses a minimalist style to its full advantage. There’s a good text-to-blank-space ratio and the use of colour makes it really easy for their customers to view all the drinks on their drink menu. 


2. Keep it clear and clean

pizza baker menu design

No product images? No problem! The use of illustration gives this menu from Pizza Baker a cool current and contemporary feel. The structure of the specials section really stands out to me because it’s everything a special should be. It’s clear to read, in a consistent format and the price highlights the savings to be had showing the customer the value of grabbing a special! 


3. Add a QR code

Riceberry thai restaurant menu design

The use of QR codes has really taken off following technological initiatives, such as the “track and trace” app, meaning when presented with a QR code way more people know how to scan and follow the embedded link. Having a QR code as a call to action really is a really clever design trick and I love the way Riceberry Thai Cuisine has worked this into their design with colour.   
The use of block colour to show categories and then the inversion to highlight dishes is a really clean and smart design choice. 


4. Add something fun

panda house japanese restaurant menu design

This menu design from Panda House is good enough to eat! The usage of complementary colours makes this menu really pleasing to the eye.  

The use of cartoons is a tried and tested method of attracting customers and a great way to add character to marketing materials. The use of a cute little Panda is great for strengthening the brand recognition and recall of “Panda house”. This is a great example of a menu that is not just functional in terms of highlighting dishes on the menu, but great at establishing a brand!  


5. Keep it minimal

sushi heads menu design

Colour can be such an effective tool when it comes to menu design. The lack of colour used in the Sushi Heads example is so stylish, minimalist, and authentic to Japanese design that you can’t help but fall for the charm of this eclectic menu design. When colour is used, to mark different dietary categories, it really pops off the page and highlights this element of their menu.  


In Conclusion… 

Despite ‘getting The Ick’ becoming a more and more prevalent phenomenon, more and more people are choosing to take their dates to dinner at a nice restaurant. Making sure you choose somewhere where your date will be happy to eat and minding your table manners is key to avoiding putting the other person off. 

If you feel yourself starting to get ‘The Ick’ for your date, be aware of your mindset as you may be hyper-focused on connecting at a surface level – this is a common subconscious behaviour following the rise in online dating and the pandemic. Take a step back and remember why you asked them out (or say yes to a date!) in the first place.


About the Author

Hi, I’m Ally and I’m instantprint’s PR Lead. I enjoy writing content to help small businesses succeed and inspire them to get creative with their print marketing.