I love fine dining, clean glasses, silverware, doilies and manners. I ran across these suggestions on a blog. My comments follow.

1. When dining with six or more, it’s polite to wait till roughly 50% of the table has their food before starting your meal. In smaller groups, wait until the entire table has their food, unless food temperature is at high risk in decreasing the enjoyment of the meal, and/or others at the table incessantly insist you begin.

I didn’t know this and am damn glad I can start when half the guests are served. I was at a table of 20 the other day at Ruth Chris and waited for everyone to be served. Not anymore.

2. You can and should use your knife to cut large pieces of lettuce or other ingredients in your salad. Nothing is worse than trying to shove a large piece of lettuce in your mouth and having some of it stick out. (No brainer, but this applies to your entrée as well.)

I have forced myself to cut stuff in small pieces to slow down my eating.

3. The proper way to butter a piece of bread is to rip off a piece that’s about one or two bites in size, butter it, and eat it. Repeat. Never bite straight into a roll, and refrain from cutting it in half and buttering.

I did it this way and didn’t know it was proper. Also you are supposed to take butter from the main butter dish and transfer your portion to your bread plate to your left.

4. While cutting meat, the correct way is to cut a piece and then switch your fork to your right hand to pick it up. This method is considered the “American” way. Not switching your fork and using your left is called the “Continental” way, and is done most often in European countries. This way is gaining acceptance and I wouldn’t be surprised if one day soon it’s considered acceptable in fine dining. Also, cut meat a piece at a time. Cutting the entire meat up into pieces or cutting more than one at a time is tacky.

I ate lunch with a guy today that ate continental and I felt like I was in the presence of a mobster.  

Last week at Ruth Chris the guy across the table cut his steak up completely before he ate it. He looked like a 4 year old about to eat.

5. Wipe your mouth before taking a sip of your drink. It’s unsightly to see food particles or grease on the rim of your glass. Also, it’s considered rude to take a sip of your drink with your mouth full. Plus, backwash is gross!

Yep. I can’t stand to see a greasy rimmed wine glass.

6. When leaving the table during the course of your meal, put your napkin on your chair, not the table. No one wants to see your stained napkin. And at the completion of the meal, place it on the left of your plate, or if your plate has been cleared, in the center.

Yes again. I usually hang mine on the arm of the chair to let the waiter know I’ll be back.  

7. When in a situation where you have to pass food or condiments to others at the table, pass it to your right, or counter clockwise. Never do a “boarding house reach” across the table.

Common sense.

8. When you don’t want to swallow a piece of food in your mouth (e.g. a bone or a piece of fat), move the piece to the front of your mouth and use your fork (or spoon if that’s what you were using) to retrieve it from your mouth and into the side of your plate. The only time its okay to use your fingers is when it’s a fish bone.

I hate it when this happens to me. It’s all I can do not to hurl it out flying if it didn’t pass the swallow test. I prefer to cover up or camouflage chewed food and would appreciate you doing the same.

9. To get the waiter’s attention, the most polite way is to make eye contact. However chances are they are busy and/or are ignoring you. It’s acceptable to raise your hand to head level, just don’t go overboard by raising it way above your head and wave it about.

A good waiter is worth every dollar you tip. My FIL will flail his arms and yell, “Oh Miss…Miss!” to get their attention.

10. When you’re done with your meal, the proper placement of the silverware is to lay them parallel to each other and across the plate with the handles facing the right. To clarify, the ends would be facing 10 o’clock and four. Note: Not all waiters will know this and they still may ask you if it’s okay to clear your plate. At least you appear classy.

I know this but didn’t know about the 10 and 4 thing. Most waiters don’t know this signal. 


Unknown said...

Holy shit, I didn't know there were so many rules to eating!

What are the rules if I am at a bar eating ribs and am already 3 sheets to the wind?

I'd say these no longer apply :)

Judy said...

Funny Jay!

Reggie Hunnicutt said...

Oh I'm only talking about table cloth dining.

Chicken wings and ribs with beer?

Why they'd beat your ass if you did any fruity stuff.

MELackey said...

Is it acceptable to tuck the cloth napkin either into your collar or across the waiste of your pants?

Ken said...

Good stuff! I learned a little bit of this while ...serving our guests on charter and occasionally eating with them. You sail with these people during the day on a 72 foot sailing machine in shorts and chugging beers, watching some of them turn green. At the end of the day you settle into a beautiful anchorage for the night, make sure the drinks are flowing in the cockpit, and get dinner ready. I really loved setting a proper table for our guests, folding napkins different every night, every fork and plate perfectly aligned and in it's place. Shut the gally door....and we the crew would be stuffing food in our mouths with our hands. What fond memories you inspired me with.

Ali said...

Hmm, I have some issues with number four...

I'm a lefty, therefore I use my left hand to eat with the fork, but when I cut meat, I use my right to, uh, does that make me trashy?

Jay said...

I think the silverware at 10 and 4 o'clock is just getting picky.

If the server is a female, to get her attention I usually just snap my fingers and call her "sweetheart." Broads love being called sweetheart. ;-)

TerryC said...

If people don't like the way I do or do not cut my lettuce.....they can eat at the next table.

And I just want to get all of that yummy stuff in as quickly as possible. Napkin usage between food and wine.....whaaaa?

Napkin on the chair? C'mon, I'd rather people see my food stains than my having to experience someone else's butt smells on my napkin.

Why is it only okay to take fish bones out with your fingers?

10 and 4? Why not 10 and 2? Like driving - too many numbers is another distraction to the enjoyment of another great meal.

Reggie Hunnicutt said...

Actually they have changed the 10 and 2 for driving and recommend 9 and 3 now. At least in NC that is the new rule.

I once sat beside a woman eating a lettuce wedge and it sounded like a llama grazing on brush. Fine by me. I am guilty of wedging massive amount of greens down my neck.

The napkin should be laid on the arm or back of the chair, not in the fanny smell section.