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Fine Dining Etiquette

Deepa Kartha Nov 20, 2018
If you have been invited for a formal sit down dinner, it is important for you to know about its relevant etiquette. Here is some important information on the rules that you have to keep in mind while attending as well as hosting a formal dinner party.
Formal dinner parties are usually sit down dinners, where the guests are allotted a specific seat and are served food by waiters or servers. Such dinner parties have a certain etiquette, that the guests have to follow religiously.
However, not many people know about these rules that have to be followed during a formal dinner party, as nowadays, there has been a growing popularity of informal or casual dinner parties where the guests do not have to follow any rigid rules.
Nevertheless, once in a while every person would have to attend a formal dinner for a wedding reception or a business meeting, and not knowing the proper manners would be considered to be impolite by the hosts. So, if you are invited for a dinner party at a restaurant or someone's home, it is important for you to know about the etiquette of fine dining.

Dining Etiquette for Guests

Before beginning with the information, the etiquette for dinner is not same in every country and culture. However, there are some general rules that apply everywhere and should be kept in mind while going for a formal dinner party at a restaurant or at someone's home.

Following Time and Seating Arrangements

The first and most important thing that has to be followed by the guests is arriving at the venue on time. It is always better to reach the venue at least ten minutes before the set time. If you are going to be late for more than fifteen minutes for any reason, it is important to inform your host or the restaurant about it.
Once you have reached the venue, you would be guided to the reserved table by the server. However, you should not sit anywhere you want to. Rather, most formal dinners have placards on the tables which indicate the place for each guest. If you do not observe any such placards, wait for the hostess to ask you to sit.
Once you have taken your seats, switch off your mobile phone or keep it on silent. If you have to take an urgent call during the dinner, never take it at the table, rather it is always polite to go outside the restaurant and talk.

Know Your Cutlery

The most confusing part, that people experience, is the use of the cutlery during a formal dinner. At most restaurants, the table is set for a right-handed person and hence, you would find the forks on the left side and the spoons and the knife on the right side. When you start your meal, you have to start with the fork or spoon, which is kept outside.
For instance, the fork for the salad would be kept at the extreme left, while the soup spoon will be kept at the extreme right. In the same way, the spoon and fork for the dessert would be kept closest to the plate. The glasses would be kept on your right and you would mostly have a maximum of four glasses in all.

Using the Napkin

The napkin which lies on your plate should be unfolded and laid on your knees. It should remain there till the end of the meal and should be used only to dab your mouth and not wipe it.
If you have to leave the table in between a meal, leave the napkin on your seat and not on the table, so that the servers understand that you would return. Once you have finished your meal, you have to place the napkin neatly on the left side of the table. It is important to remember that the napkin should not be refolded, nor it should be kept shabbily.

Table Manners

One should never start the meal, unless each person in the table is served the food or before the host begins the dinner. Also, it is considered to be impolite to place one's elbows on the table while dining. While eating, do not fill your mouth so much with food that you have to chew your food with your mouth open.
Rather, make sure that you put only a little amount of food in your mouth at a time. If you want to remove anything from your mouth like a piece of chicken bone, slowly spit it on to your fork and then transfer it into the plate.

Compliment the Host

During the course of the dinner, it is appropriate to compliment the host and the hostess about the food, service, etc. However, ensure that the compliments are genuine and not just for the sake of it. If you do not like the food or the service, you should not complaint about it. Instead remain silent and thank your hostess sincerely before leaving.
Another important thing is to behave politely with the servers or waiters. One must remember that the servers are not your servants and should be treated in a good manner. Do not yell when something goes wrong, and thank them each time after they serve and take out the dishes. While leaving the venue, tip the sever at least 10% of the total bill.

Dining Etiquette for Servers

Like the guests, some dining etiquette that the servers have to follow.

» Give equal attention to all the guests. If the dinner has been planned, make sure that it goes accordingly, else tell the features or specials of the day, after taking the order for drinks.

» The food should be served from the right of the customer and it should be cleared from the left.
» Another thing that servers have to remember is to be polite to the customers. Sometimes, you may encounter people who behave rudely or may not adhere to the etiquette.
For instance, if one of the guests picks up a call on his or her cell phone, do not be rude, rather remind him/her politely that it is not allowed to talk on the phone during dinner, once the call has ended.
So, if you have been invited for a formal dinner, keep these points in mind, so that you and the other guests will have an enjoyable and relaxing dinner.