A Guide on Fine Dining Etiquette

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Whether you’re fine dining at a fine dine restaurant, attending a formal dinner or going out for a business lunch, there are certain dining etiquettes that you’re expected to know and follow when dining in a formal setting. These basic table manners help you maintain the overall decorum while also enjoying your meal without feeling awkward and out of place!


Though many of the rules vary from place to place, there are some basic guidelines that are followed everywhere, and it’s always nice knowing them. So here are a few helpful etiquettes for fine dining that will help you dine like a pro anywhere and everywhere.

1. Know your Cutlery:

Seeing so many knives and forks can be a bit nerve wrecking, especially when you’re not sure which is to be used for what! In most fine dining set ups – be it at the restaurant or at someone’s home, the forks are placed on the left side of the plate, knives and spoons are placed on the the right side and the dessert cutlery is placed above the plate. Cutlery usage depends a lot on the the number of courses served during the meal, and you usually work your way from the outside to the inside, using the outer ones for the first course, then the next ones for the second course and so on. The water glass is placed directly above the knife, and the glasses for other drinks are placed to the right, in front of the water glass.



2. Placing the Napkin:

As soon as you’re seated, place the napkin on your lap. During the meal, use it to wipe your finger and to dab the sides of your mouth and you’re not supposed to wipe your lips while eating. Once you’ve finished your meal, place it neatly, semi folded on the left side of your plate. In case you have to leave the table during the meal, then place the napkin on your chair with the soiled side facing up.


3. Using Fork and Knife:

It can be a little tricky initially but eventually one learns the way. Always hold the fork in the left hand and the knife in your right (unless you’re a left hand user of course!), and balance it as has been shown in the picture. If you’re using a spoon and fork instead, then use the fork to push the food into your spoon but never your fingers! Focus and you’ll manage it well.


4. Placing Cutlery When Meal’s Over:

Once you’re done eating, place the knife and fork in a position similar to the 4:20 position in a clock. The fork should be on the inside and the knife on the outside. When resting/talking during the meal, place the knife and fork crossed on the plate with the fork over the knife. Your cutlery shouldn’t touch the table at any point during the meal and after you’ve finished your meal. Do not rest the cutlery half on the plate and half off the plate either.

When talking or resting during the meal
When meal’s over


5. No Stretching Please!

Don’t place your elbows on the table any time during the meal. Keep your hands on the edge of the table or on your lap when you’re at a dinner table. It’s also inappropriate to reach across the table when you have to pass something or if you need something. Instead, ask for it to be passed.


6. Drinking Soup:

If you’re having soup, then hold the soupspoon by resting the end of the handle on your middle finger with your thumb on top. Dip the spoon sideways into the soup and skim it towards the front. Sip from the side of the spoon and don’t slurp! If the soup’s hot, then wait until it cools down but do not blow on it!


7. Food Etiquette:

When the food arrives, wait till everyone at the table has been served before you start eating. Also, if you’ve been invited for a dinner then wait until the host starts the meal. It’s inappropriate to stuff your plate with too much food at one go, so avoid that as well! You can always go for a second helping later.


8. Conversation during the Meal:

It’s good to have small talks during the meal and try not secluding yourself from the rest of the people present at the table. But avoid talking with food in your mouth at any time during the meal please! Slurping or making noise while eating is also something that’s to be avoided.

Image Source: yimg.com
Image Source: yimg.com

9. Salt and Pepper:

When someone asks for these to be passed, pass both of them together even if someone asks for just the salt or the pepper. This is done so that the next person looking for them won’t have any trouble finding them together. Taste the food before seasoning it however, as doing it beforehand is seen as an insult to the chef/host/hostess who’s prepared the food.

Image Source: containerstore.com

10. Don’t Yell and Call:

When hailing the server at a restaurant, please don’t yell and call out as this is very rude. Rather raise your hand and signal the person. If you need something, ask nicely to the person serving you rather than just demand for the same. If there’s a problem with the food or the service, avoid taking it out on the poor waiter/waitress, and speak to the manager instead, but do so politely. Avoid making a scene in front of other diners!

Image Source:personalitytutor.com

11. No Cell Phone during Meal Hours:

Put your phone on silent mode and avoid making or receiving calls when at the table. If it’s an urgent matter, kindly excuse yourself and go outside for the call. Avoid clicking photographs of food as this considered to be highly inappropriate.

Image Source: cafemom.com
Image Source: cafemom.com

Fine dining is an elegant affair so let it remain the same. Keep these basic restaurant etiquettes in mind the next time you’re out eating somewhere fancy and make your experience an enjoyable and memorable one.

Know of more fine dining etiquettes? Write to us and share your views!

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Samriddhi is a writer, photographer, wildlife enthusiast, nature lover, and conservationist: that's ‘Sam’ in a nutshell. When not writing, she likes musing about things known and unknown, listening to music, cooking or just chatting with friends. She loves writing blogs and doubles up as a philosopher and agony aunt for the lost.