Dining Etiquette

dinner table

Have you been invited out to a good restaurant and feel unsure how you should behave? Check out our tips for all you need to know.

There are a number of fine dining etiquette rules that are made to be broken, or so it would appear, judging by a straw poll of London's fine dining establishments, both traditional and avant-garde. Enter any modern restaurant, nowadays, even those renowned for their top-drawer formality, and you're just as likely to be confronted with a minimalist table setting, without a hint of cutlery in sight. Gone too, are the ornate table arrangements and the painstaking presentation.

And, if gurus of trendy table laying such as Gary Rhodes have anything to do with it, the times, they are a-changing. Table settings, according to Gary, should be kept as simple and uncluttered as possible. Apparently it's all about creating a relaxed ambience and a sense of informality that has modern punter-appeal, where the requisite eating weapons are delivered only when the food is being served. "Supply the rest of the cutlery with each course as it comes", he continues. Above all, create an ambience of welcoming informality.

However there are occasions when you might be expected to be au fait with formal practices so it's a good idea to have a cursory knowledge of what passes as etiquette.

Basic Rules For Dining Etiquette :

  • Don't put your elbows on the table; in fact, unless you are cutting something that requires both hands, your idle hand should be in your lap.
  • Dress for the occasion. Formal means tuxedos and ball gowns. Business lunch or dinner usually means you should wear a suit or other professional attire
  • Arrive at least 10 minutes early if not otherwise specified
  • Check your appearance
  • Greet your host(s). Shaking hands is the usual way, particularly if it is a business function. If you are wearing a coat, ask where you can put it

Tips to Dine at Ease

  • Table settings are like road maps that guide you through the courses of a meal
  • Forks (except the seafood fork), are placed to the left of the plate
  • Glasses are to the right of the dinner plate
  • Knives and spoons are placed at the right side of the plate
  • Remember the "etiquette rule", solids to the left, liquids to the right
  • During the courses of a meal you pick up the silverware pieces from the outside in, toward your plate
  • Napkins are to remain on your lap until the completion of the meal
  • Do compliment the host/ess on the preparation, tastiness or presentation of the meal

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