E ver since we were very young, most of us have generally been grilled with common dining manners such as don’t talk with your mouth full, don’t chew loudly, and so on but fine dining etiquettes don’t just stop there. With rules about where to place your napkin, how to position your fork, where to look when you take a sip of wine, and how to pay for the meal, fine dining restaurants are all about the fancy and formal.
The nuances of decorum are many, so we’ve made a list of the basic do’s and don’ts of fine dining to save you from any awkward encounters on your next fancy dinner!
If you’re having dinner at a fine dining place, it’s most likely for a formal business meeting or a date. In either case, you’re looking to impress your companion, and your attire is one of the most important cards you can play.
For men, you don’t necessarily have to deck up in a bow tie and cuffs, but do at least wear a nice jacket. For women, a simple dress or suit should work fine. Some well-polished shoes, a nice watch, and elegant jewelry will help you make an excellent first impression. Remember to never show up in shorts, sandals, or open shirts, and stay far away from your gym suits and activewear for the night!
While this works fine for casual dining, make sure not to put your keys, cards, wallet, or mobile phone on the table. Not only does this clutter the table, but it also acts as a distraction throughout the meal. In a formal setting, always remember to pay full attention to your dining companions. Play it the old-school way, maintain good eye contact, and have pleasant conversations with your guests without turning to your mobile phone.
In most fine dining restaurants, the waiters will perform the niceties and place your napkin on your lap before the meal. Remember to use it throughout the meal to wipe your mouth and fingers, using the inner folds, so the stains aren’t easily visible.
If you have to excuse yourself at any point during the meal, place your napkin beside your plate. If you drop your napkin or require a fresh one, politely ask the waiter, and they will accommodate you. Remember never to spit out food in your napkin, it’s considered an absolute fine-dining crime.
This is one of the most basic etiquettes of fine dining. If you’re the host, let your guest order before you, and be sure to match the number of courses they order with yours, so you both finish your meal at about the same time. When addressing the waiter, use phrases like ‘My guest would like to order first’ to avoid confusion from the waiter’s side.
If you’re the host, it’s always great to hand over your credit card before you sit at the table or even set up a payment ahead of time. This prevents you from embarrassing moments fumbling with your card at the last minute and helps you make a good impression on your guest.
While this rule stands for any dining experience, it’s essential in a fine dining restaurant. Don’t yell for your waiter from across the room or behave rudely if you’re served the wrong meal. When calling for the waiter, try to make eye contact with them and if that doesn’t work, subtly raise your hand with your index finger extended. Waiters at fine dining restaurants are trained in all such gestures and will know to assist you.
The general rule for fine dining is to place your fork on the left and your knife on the right. If there are multiple cutlery sets, always start from the outside and work your way in. Don’t leave your utensils beside your plate when you’re done eating. Instead, arrange them in a 10:20 position on your plate. This will serve as a silent gesture to the waiter that you have finished your meal.
And there you have it! Here are some of the basic dos and don’ts of fine dining. As long as you stick to these rules and are courteous at all times, you’re all set for an incredible fine dining experience.