a fancy restaurant is probably in your nearfuture if you've got big dinner plans for an anniversary coming up or you just wantto have a night out somewhere without paper napkins. but even if you think you know what you'redoing, there are mistakes you're probably making at these upscale establishments. "wrong glass, sir." if you want to go to your favorite diner,order a pork chop, and bathe it in ketchup, that's your prerogative. for that matter, it's your prerogative toeat the food you want any way you want to.
but let's be clear: if you go to an upscalerestaurant, order a gourmet dish, and then ask for a run-of-the-mill condiment, you'regoing to earn the ire of the chef. in 2017, the independent picked the brainsof top chefs to determine some of their biggest diner-related pet peeves. not surprisingly, taking liberties with condimentsor other seasonings turned out to be a repeat offender. according to helena puolakka, the executivechef at london's nordic-french restaurant aster, diners should never ask for tabascoin a fine dining restaurant. puolakka insists it's, quote, "blasphemy."
"[speaking french] and also some [more french],and [even more french]." "mm." richard bainbridge, chef and proprietor ofbritish restaurant benedicts, also had a proverbial bone to pick with patrons not trusting chefsto properly season and sauce their food, saying, "the worst thing a diner can do is put saltand pepper on their food before they have even tried it. seasoning is individual to palate but theycould at least give it a go first." bottom line? if a dish's seasoning just isn't hitting thespot for some reason, let the chef know so
they can meet your expectations and theirown. figuring out what to do with the fancy linennapkin at a fine dining restaurant can be surprisingly perplexing. napkin etiquette is totally a thing, and you'reprobably defying at least one or two tenets of it. "you're eating a hand towel." etiquette expert jacqueline whitmore explainedthe basics to forbes in 2013, "the basic rule: put it in your lap and don'tleave it on the table. a large napkin is folded in half with thefold facing the waistline, while a smaller
napkin is opened completely. in upscale restaurants, a server may drapethe napkin on your lap." if you need to excuse yourself for any reasonduring the meal, whitmore says there's another napkin rule you must follow. "if you leave the table during a meal, placeyour napkin, loosely folded, on the seat of your chair." just about everyone has probably accidentallyslipped their elbows onto the dinner table at some point. still, just because we all do it doesn't meanit's considered entirely acceptable.
maralee mckee "america's modern manners andetiquette expert" says on her manners mentor blog that putting your elbows on the tableis, as your mother likely taught you, frowned upon in a fine dining environment. she added, "plus, when your elbows are off the table,you're sitting up straighter. research has shown again and again that thetaller you sit (or stand), the more people pay attention to you and place additionalauthority and value into what you're saying." there are other practical reasons to keepthose elbows by your side, too. if you're leaning so far into a conversationthat your elbows are on the table, it'll make
it that much more likely that you'll knocksomething over, another serious no-no in a fine dining setting. when you're hungry and a server sets downheaven in a bowl in front of you, it's totally understandable if you get a little overzealousin eating it. but one thing you should definitely avoid? slurping. the etiquette scholar blog explains propersoup-eating technique, advising, "hold the soup spoon by resting the end ofthe handle on your middle finger, with your thumb on top.
dip the spoon sideways into the soup at thenear edge of the bowl, then skim from the front of the bowl to the back. sip from the side of the spoon, avoid impropertable manners and do not slurp." proper soup-eating etiquette doesn't end whenthe soup does. when the last drop is gone which you finishedusing your spoon, not by lifting the bowl to your mouth, make sure you don't set yourspoon down on the table. it should instead be placed inside of yournow-empty bowl. oh, those pesky rules of silverware! are they really that important?
well, they are when you're at a fine diningestablishment. fancy restaurants do go through all the troubleof setting out the whole array of utensils, after all. if you've never really been confident in yourability to navigate a formal place setting, have no fear all you need to do is remembera few key components. the easiest rule to remember, according towhat's cooking america, is this: "use the silverware farthest from your platefirst. starting with the knife, fork, or spoon thatis farthest from your plate, work your way in, using one utensil for each course."
basically, that means your salad fork willbe the one on your outermost left, with the dinner fork next to it. on the outermost right is your soup spoon,preceded by your teaspoon and then, closest to the plate, your dinner knife. it might not seem like a huge deal to cancelreservations. sometimes life happens and skipping out isunavoidable. still, you should always give the restauranta heads up in the event something prevents you from keeping your allotted dining time. scott jampol, opentable's senior vice presidentof marketing, had this to say in 2017 as part
of a psa urging diners to book responsibly. "many people simply don't realize the impactthat no-shows and late cancellations have on the restaurant industry." michael voltaggio, a celebrity chef and restaurateur,partnered with opentable on the initiative, explaining why being a no-show is such a no-no: "it might seem harmless to bail on a reservationbut if you can't make it, letting us know ahead of time makes a world of difference. if we're constantly working to address no-showson a daily basis, our business suffers. that's why we're asking diners to book responsibly."
what diners take for granted is all of thework that goes on behind the scenes to prepare for patrons at a restaurant, not to mentionthe financial impact that comes from restaurants being left unable to fill an empty table atthe last minute. stuff comes up, and chefs get it. as michael davis from sprout la told opentable,diners should, quote, "not be afraid to cancel [their] reservation[s] we appreciate a cancellationmore than a no-show." if you make the small effort to call aheadand cancel, the restaurant will know that they can then let other diners use that table. it's just good manners.
although there is some flexibility here dependingon the restaurant you're dining at, if a restaurant states the dress code is formal, it's disrespectfulfor guests not to follow it. john winterman, managing partner at new yorkcity's batã¢rd, told town & country, "i break it down into self-respect and respectfor others...if someone comes in making an effort and looking fabulous and glamorousand they know they're in for a premium experience at a premium price, you give them a fabuloustable in the middle of the room. and people react to that, when they see acrowd that's well-dressed and beautiful and sparkling." "i thought this was a high-end restaurant.
why am i the only one wearing a tux?" "oh, sorry, i should have told you. rich people are done with fancy clothes." and while there are certainly fine diningrestaurants that have evolved to accommodate a more business casual crowd, winterman ina separate interview with forbes pointed out that that doesn't mean that dress codes aregoing away entirely. "there are examples in almost every majorcity of establishments that adhere to at least some dress code tradition requiring [dress]pants, for example, or banning baseball caps...new orleans, dallas, savannah all have venerableinstitutions that demand proper attire.
tradition often carries respect." if you're at a boisterous family-style buffetwhere you can't communicate without hollering out, go for it. but if you're at a fancy restaurant, there'sa more suitable way to summon your server. hint: it definitely does not involve yellingacross the room. patricia napier-fitzpatrick, founder and presidentof the etiquette school of new york, told bestlife in 2018, "you should use eye contact or put up yourindex finger of your right hand, ever so slightly...the person hosting the meal is the one responsiblefor getting the attention of the waiter so
that they can order. if his clients or anyone he's entertainingisn't happy with their food, he's responsible for getting the wait to come over and changeit." in general, you should strive to keep thevolume of your voice at a lower decibel level when in a fine dining situation. or, as lifestyle expert maura sweeney toldbestlife, "don't rattle the carefully created, understatedatmosphere of quiet cultivated by the proprietors." who doesn't love it when fresh bread is broughtto the table before a meal? this feels especially true at upscale restaurants,where the bread is often artisanal; think
a thick, slightly chewy crust covering a light,airy, warm center. it's no surprise that most people cut offa big chunk of bread, generously butter it, and then store the piece on their bread platesbetween bites. "you're naughty! and then i take my naughty pet, and i goâ€¦" per etiquette expert molly watson though,that's not proper bread etiquette. she told serious eats in 2014 the admittedly"fussy" way you should do it. "tear off a bite-size piece of bread. hold the piece with your fingers (not in thepalm of your hand and not on the plate), use
your knife to butter it, and eat it. repeat with the remaining bread as you like." some diners go out of their way to be helpfulor polite to servers, but sometimes, it backfires. an example? pre-bussing your own table. according to suzanne perry, co-owner of datzrestaurant group in tampa, florida, you'd do better to leave your table as it is. perry told food & wine, "handing a server a stack of plates, layeredwith food and silverware that isn't balanced
and plopping a wad of napkins on top is alittle insulting and messier than it really needs to be." besides, you may not realize it, but servershave a system that enables them to be more efficient in keeping tables clear. as one one redditor explained, "i might want to stack three entrã©e plateson my arm and then put other small plates and silverware on top of that. if everyone stacks things, i can only bustwo people's plates. if i stack, i can get many more."
paying the bill at a fancy restaurant shouldbe a non-event. one way to do this is to give your card tothe maã®tre d' at the start of the meal and inform them you'll sign the check on the wayout. there are other ways to handle the bill discreetly. jonathan cook, a quora commenter with overa decade of experience as a fine dining server, suggests one alternative. "rather than the 'pretend to go to the bathroomand hand your card to the waiter approach,' i recommend calling ahead of time and puttingyour credit card on file with the restaurant." it's a classy move that keeps the focus onthe food, wine, and fun and keeps awkward
money talk to a minimum. bon appetit! check out one of our newest videos right here! plus, even more mashed videos about your favoritefood topics are coming soon. subscribe to our youtube channel and hit thebell so you don't miss a single one.