Nowadays, the rules of etiquette at the table in a restaurant are quite democratic. It is not at all necessary to wear a suit or evening dress for going to a cafe or restaurant, as well as be able to use a huge number of knives and forks. And how many people know how to distinguish a fish fork from a meat fork? We will not talk about elementary etiquette either – everyone understands that you should not take with your hands what you eat with a fork, speak loudly or raise your voice to the staff. These are the usual rules of behaviour that all educated people follow. However, some of our tips may come in handy.
How to dress for a restaurant
There is no dress code as such in most restaurants, especially when it comes to lunch in the daytime, but some pretentious establishments reserve the right to set their own rules – for example, men should appear in trousers, shirts and jackets, and ladies – in evening dresses. This is especially true of Michelin-starred restaurants, where it is difficult to imagine customers in jeans and sneakers. In addition, the choice of clothes depends on the purpose of the visit – it is appropriate to dress in an office style for a business meeting, and on a romantic date or a secular party you can afford some liberties, although too bright makeup, a large number of expensive jewellery or outrageous clothes will look defiant. The ideal option for a girl is a little black dress or sheath dress with classic boats, and if this look is complemented with elegant jewellery, you get a very stylish evening bow.
Choice of food and communication with the waiter
Do not be afraid to ask the waiter questions about the food, especially if you are visiting a new establishment and are not familiar with the cuisine presented on the menu. If you are allergic to any food, talk about it right away, as they may be included in the ordered meals. Do not consider it whims or whims – such clarifications are the norm around the world. It is also not a shame to inquire about the cost of a dish if the waiter offers you something special from the chef, but whether or not to tip for service is a personal matter for each client, although the rules of conduct in a cafe and restaurant (these rules are not mandatory Russia) indicated that the average tip varies between 5 and 15% of the cost of meals. They can be handed over with the money and the bill, thanking for the service and specifying that no change is needed, or you can leave a tip on the table after the waiter brings the change.
If the dish is not impressive, do not scold the waiter or the chef. Also, do not show dissatisfaction with the slow service – most likely, the staff is overworked. It’s best to ask ahead of time how long the dish will cook and choose a simpler meal if you’re in a hurry and can’t wait.
By the way, to show the waiter that he liked the dish, it is enough to tell him about it. It is customary to call the staff to the table by raising your hand up and making eye contact with the employee.
At the table
Many of the rules of etiquette and behaviour in a restaurant are too strict and hardly suitable for an ordinary business, friendly or romantic meeting. For example, it is not so important what distance should be between a person and a table, at what angle one should bend over the plate, whether it is possible to use a meat knife instead of a fish knife, whether it is worth eating fruit with special cutlery or with your hands. Perhaps such recommendations are relevant during lunch with a royal personage, but if you meet with friends after work to relax and eat deliciously, all these subtleties are completely useless. The main thing is to follow common sense.
However, some advice is best to heed. It is not by chance that the napkins lie on the table next to the appliances; they are not decor, but a necessary thing. Sandwiches, meat and fish are eaten with a fork and knife, while in an expensive restaurant a fish fork can be specific, with four prongs, and a knife – with a blunt spatula-shaped blade. By the way, according to etiquette and rules of conduct in a restaurant, the knife is held in the right hand, and the fork is in the left, while minced meat (cutlets, zrazy, cabbage rolls), casseroles and vegetables are eaten only with a fork. But if you accidentally cut a cutlet with a knife or eat meat with a fish fork, nothing terrible will happen – most likely, no one will notice.
For lobsters, crabs and lobsters, special devices are served – a short fork and a spatula, but many take the claws with their hands. During and after meals, it is better to put cutlery not on a clean tablecloth, but on a plate, and if you have already eaten, put your fork and knife crosswise. As you can see, restaurant etiquette at the table is flexible, and mistakes in it do not affect your career, reputation, or relationships with people.
A special topic is how to behave in a restaurant if you come with children. They absolutely do not need to know what knife to cut meat or fish with, but what they should be able to do is use a napkin and behave well: do not rush around the institution, do not shout or cause disturbance to others, and this is already the concern of parents.
Are there any special rules for how a girl or a man should behave in a restaurant? They are also very arbitrary. For example, it is believed that if one menu was given to the table, then the woman should place the order first, but sometimes she can give her companion the right to choose – it all depends on your relationship and preferences. Who pays the bill? According to the rules of etiquette in a pair, all financial costs are borne by the man, but if you are friends or partners, it is quite normal to pay the bill in half, having warned the waiter in advance. The behaviour of a man in a restaurant depends entirely on the level of upbringing and relationships, but if a gentleman pulls back a chair for a woman, fills her glass with wine, makes sure that she is pleasant and tasty, and also demonstrates other manifestations of gallantry, his manners are admirable.
If you have received a call, it is better to use the telephone outside the hall, as it is indecent to have private conversations at the table, disturbing other people. You should apologize to those with whom you are dining and end the conversation as quickly as possible. And it is all the more indecent to sit at the table, buried in the phone, if you are not alone.
It is not customary to correct makeup, hair or clothes at the table, use a toothpick, drip drops into your eyes or clear your nose. For this purpose, it is better to go to the restroom.
And here are some more rules of conduct in a restaurant for a girl. A small cocktail bag can be placed directly on the table, a larger bag can be hung on the side of a chair, a briefcase can be left on the floor, while a wet umbrella should be dried only when closed.
In the company at a banquet
Now let’s talk about banquet etiquette. At such events, guests are usually seated by the owner, while first it is customary to seat women, and then men. In a large company, ignorance of the rules of etiquette may well go unnoticed, in addition, many may also be poorly versed in this area. The main thing is to observe the rules of decency – not to reach across the table for bread or a salt shaker, but to politely ask a neighbour at the table for help. If they ask you for bread, do not take it with your hands, but give the person a basket or plate of bread – let him take it himself. When passing the fork and knife, do not touch the part that comes into contact with food.
Cookies, cakes and fruits can be handled, the rest of the dishes are eaten with a spoon, fork and knife. The setting already tells you how to use cutlery and choose the right one when changing dishes – the first thing to take is the items that are on the very edge, and not near the plate. So you can never go wrong! If you strive for excellence and want to understand how to properly dine in a restaurant, while understanding all the intricacies, you will be interested to know that in the soup, the liquid component is eaten first, and only then vegetables, meat, fish or dumplings, using canteens devices. A piece of meat on a plate should not be cut into many pieces at once – it is better, slowly, to separate one piece at a time.
It is not customary to blow on the dish and gnaw the bones; it is better not to bite off the bread, but to break it off right on the plate. Cheese, sausage and rolls should be taken from a common plate only with a fork, and not with your hands, bread can be taken in the usual way, but the sauce should be scooped out of the gravy boat with a special spoon, without touching it to your dishes, and even more so, do not dip bread into the sauce …
If you haven’t finished your meal yet, place your fork and knife parallel to each other on the plate, because if you cross them, the waiter will think you are full and take away the leftovers.
Having learned to understand cutlery, mastering the alphabet of communication with waiters and etiquette, you will feel more confident even in the most expensive establishments. At the same time, do not go to extremes and remember that not a person was created for rules, but rules – for a person!