FINE DINING ETIQUETTE
Fine Dining brings to mind images of white table cloths, starched napkins and extensive table settings; for many people it also causes a high level of stress and anxiety. Whether one is attending a wedding or a business dinner, it is important to understand the basic rules of Fine Dining, which will allow you to move through any situation with ease and grace. Like other areas of etiquette, the rules of fine dining are based on logic, courtesy and respect, and once you begin to really examine them they will make a great deal of common sense as well.
Fine Dining is more formal than casual dining. Guests are generally in business or formal attire, the menu contains higher class items (steak frites v hamburgers), the meal may consist of four or more course, and the service style is more formal.
For the guest, this means that you will need to understand at least the basics of Table Manners, which do not change for Fine Dining. In addition, keep in mind the following guide lines:
- When in doubt, follow the example of your host or hostess and fellow guests. This little form of cheating will save you in any situation!
- In very formal situations a server may place your napkin in your lap for you, but you may do so yourself if you prefer.
- At a formal affair where the hostess is the last to enter the dining room, it is polite to wait until she unfolds her napkin before the rest of the party does so.
- The napkin is used not to wipe the mouth, but to blot the lips, if it is used at all.
- Be sure to converse, at least briefly, with the dinner partners on either side of you.
- If you drop a piece of flatware, never pick it up. Let your server know, in a discreet fashion, that you will need a replacement piece. The same is true if you accidentally use the wrong piece of flatware, say, the dinner fork for the salad course, or are missing a piece that all of your dinner companions have.
- At the end of a course which involves a bowl or cup placed upon a service plate, your flatware should be placed upon the service plate once finished – not in the bowl or cup.
- Never touch the table setting for any reason other than its intended usage. You should never rearrange it to be more convenient for you or move any dish for any reason (i.e. never stack the dishes or push them away from you once you are finished).
- You may be served a different wine for each course, in which case it would be rude to ask for your glass to be refilled.
- Each piece of flatware you use will be cleared along with the plate or bowl of each course.
- For some courses, the appropriate flatware will be set for you just before the course is served or along with it; there is no need to panic if you have run out of flatware as long as your dining companions are in the same position.