A Guide To Fine Dining Etiquette
The Evening Begins
When dining out in a posh establishment, you want to ensure that you know the purpose of each utensil and place setting on the table. Think: Julia Roberts, Pretty Woman. First things first: be punctual! It is common courtesy to arrive at the time you have been invited, especially to a sit-down dinner. As you walk into a beautiful restaurant and take your seat at the white linen clad table, your first step should be to either place your napkin on your lap or wait for servers to do it for you. When faced with a variety of cutlery, do not panic! Always remember to start using the outermost utensils first, and work your way inwards as the courses progress throughout the night. As the freshly baked bread makes its way to your plates and as drinks are served, make sure to reach to your left for bread, and to your right for your drinks glasses. Take note of this to avoid stealing a bite or sip from your companion's bread or wine!
Before the meal
- Wait to be seated. If you are invited to a dinner, wait for your host to lead his or her guests to their seats.
- Allow your host to make the beverage choices for the table when it comes to wine, for example.
- On some occasions, your host may have already pre-selected the menu, taking note of guests' allergies, diet restrictions and preferences. Make sure that you respect the meal that has been planned and avoid ordering an entirely new menu for yourself.
- Definitely do not disregard assigned seating and move place cards around to suit your personal preference as your host has taken time to plan out the table.
- It is improper to wave your hands around to call the waiter's attention. Instead, make eye contact with the waiter and slightly raise your hand to signal that you are ready to order or that you need something.
- Avoid asking about prices as you do not want your guests or the host to feel uneasy about dining in a fancy restaurant.
- If you are a guest, do not order the most expensive things on the menu.
- Place your napkin on your lap.
- Begin eating only after everyone has been served. Make sure to wait for the host to begin eating before you start or wait for him or her to initiate the start of that course.
- Make sure to break your bread and use the bread plate. Do not bite directly from the piece of bread served to you.
- You may hold the bone if you wish to enjoy the meat close to the bone but do so demurely. Do not have sauce drip all over you or slobber about. It is acceptable to remove bones or seeds from your mouth and place them on the side of your plate. However, this can be quite unsightly so try your best to make use of utensils.
- If you are not done eating but taking a break, make sure to rest your cutlery on your plate so that servers will know not to remove your course yet. Place the fork's tines on the plate as its body rests on the table, while the entire knife rests on the top right-hand corner of the plate with its tip and part of the handle off the plate.
- Once finished with a course, join your cutlery together and gently place their tines and tips on the centre of the plate to indicate that the wait staff may clear your dish.
- In this day and age, taking photos of food has become quite commonplace, to the dismay of many. This can be acceptable as long as you do not dwell too much on your mobile device throughout the dinner. Instead, engage in meaningful conversation.
- Do not rest your elbows on the dining table.
- Avoid leaning or hunching over to your plate to eat as you should be sitting upright, bringing your food to your mouth.
- One of the most important tips is to never talk with your mouth full or chew with your mouth open.
- If there are food particles stuck between your teeth, try to avoid using toothpicks in formal settings. Our advice would be to excuse yourself or at least use the table napkin to cover your mouth.
- Do not stand up and eat straight from the serving dish. Wait for the food to be served to you on your plate by the wait staff, or serve yourself if in a family-style setting and eat from your personal plate.
- On that note, do not use your utensils to pick food from someone else's plate!
- There is no need to pick up cutlery that you have accidentally dropped on the floor. Although this is what our first instinct would be, in a fine dining setting you should wait for a server to handle the situation.
- Do not hold two glasses of wine at the same time. Most especially, do not chug one glass, let alone one after the other!
- Do not take calls at the dining table.
When Leaving The Table
- Always excuse yourself if you are getting up from the table. If you're not yet done with the meal, cross the tips of your knife and fork on your plate. If the course is done and you're leaving for a short while, neatly place your cutlery beside the plate.
- If you are done with your meal and do not plan on returning to the table, place your knife and fork vertically on the centre of your plate, with the tines of the fork pointing up and the blade of the knife pointing to the centre towards the fork.
- Fold your napkin nicely. Do not crumple it or throw it askew.
- Remember not to leave the table without expressing gratitude to the hosts or to your guests.
OTHER THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND: PRE EVENT TIPS
- Do not bring someone who was not invited. It is quite rude to arrive with an unexpected guest as your host has planned a nice dinner, most likely with an allotted number of seats. Arriving with someone and not informing your host will totally interrupt a beautifully planned table arrangement and can also throw a wrench on their menu planning.
- Check the dress code in advance and follow it! Dress to impress by always looking elegant and chic. Make sure to follow the dress code out of respect to the person who invited you and to the establishment you are dining at.
- Choose your conversation topics carefully. It is a safe bet to veer away from politics, religion, or very personal issues that could trigger conflicts on ideas and variance of opinions that might make people uncomfortable.
Bottom line is to be respectful of the people you are with and the restaurant. Make plans and head out to that stunning fine dining establishment you have always wanted to try and make sure to enjoy yourselves. Bon appétit!
Elevate your dining experience and enjoy a selection of the finest wines in Solaire’s world-class restaurants. For more information, visit solaireresort.com.
- Words Franz Sorilla IV
- Photography Mon Mangila
- Styling Shauna Jay Popple Williams & Isabel Martel Francisco
- Production Lucky Guerzon & Elaine Nuestro
- Hair Eponine Sindayen & Johnson Estrella
- Make-Up Eponine Sindayen & Johnson Estrella
- Location Finestra at Solaire Resort & Casino