Tips for Enjoying a Fine Dining Meal
In many ways, enjoying a meal at a high-end restaurant is as much about the experience as it is the cuisine. However, unless you frequently dine in restaurants sporting Michelin stars, or are a blue-blooded member of the aristocracy, you may find the etiquette a little foreboding. Don’t fret though, for we’ve put together a list of tips for ensuring you can get the most out of your fine dining experience without being too nervous.
Don’t worry, there’s no need to bust out the tuxedo, but some standards should be adhered to. Avoid flip-flops and sandals at all costs and try to steer clear of jeans, too. Men should, ideally, wear a jacket and tie, and women should wear what they feel is their personal equivalent - be it an elegant dress or a smart blouse.
Working your way in: Cutlery
A hallmark of any high-end restaurant is the amount of cutlery you find on the table. If you’re presented with a daunting amount of silverware, expect a high standard of culinary skills.
Despite this, there are just a few rules to consider. You’ll want to work your way in, starting with the smallest fork – the salad fork – on the far left. Make sure the fork faces downward, and once finished, cross your knife and fork on the plate. Finally, ensure you never, ever leave your spoon inside of a bowl of soup, as this is considered sacrilege within a fine dining setting.
Never forget the rules your mother should have taught you. Elbows should be far removed from the table, as should ketchup and mustard, and you should always wait until all guests have arrived before ordering a drink.
Ladies should never place their handbags on the table, nor men their wallets. A modern adaptation of this is the phone, which should be neither seen nor heard. You’re there to enjoy the company of your fellow diners, not your friends back home. Also, it’s definitely worth bearing in mind that you should never shout to get the waiter’s attention. Neither “Garcon!” nor “Waiter!” or even “Em oi!”
Avoid your favorite dishes
We all have go-to dishes but you should really try broadening your horizons when sitting down to a fine dining meal. Otherwise you may likely miss out on something remarkable. Try to order outside of your comfort zone, even if the ingredients look a little daunting. Dishes will usually be based on classic flavor pairings, so a risk will likely pay off.
Don’t be afraid to ask about wine
If you feel at all unsure or uneasy about the wine selection, you should always ask your sommelier or server for a bit of guidance. By gently explaining how much you want to spend, and what kind of bottle you’re looking for, the restaurant can ensure you enjoy the perfect pairing. This is infinitely better than trying to bluster your way through and finding yourself disappointed in the end. Remember, it’s not essential to know the ins and outs of world-class wine. You’re paying for the service of experts, after all.
Delicate napkin origami
The essential rule that everyone ought to know by now is, never tuck your napkin in. It seems so obvious, but it has to be pointed out so often. Following this sage advice, you should, upon sitting down, unfold your napkin and place it on your lap. If you feel the need to get up during the meal, first, excuse yourself, then place the napkin on the table, next to your plate, and never on the chair. Always dab and never wipe your face with the napkin, and when you have finished, place the napkin next to, not on, the plate.
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