For most people, high-class dining is not something they do on a regular basis. It may happen once every so often, or you may be thrown into a professional situation that entails fine dining and you’re nervous about what the exact etiquette is. Maybe you’re meeting a significant other’s family for the first time at a high-class restaurant and you want to make sure you don’t make a serious mistake. In this post, I’ll list some of the most common mistakes to avoid when dining at a high-end restaurant.
Misplacing and misusing your napkin and utensils
It’s common to have various plates, glassware, and utensils when dining at a high-class restaurant. You can look up diagrams that show where different wine glasses or plates will be located at your place setting. A simple tip is to work from the outside in when using utensils. When you’re done eating, place your utensils on your plate, which you should also do if you pause eating; don’t set them back down on the table. The same goes with your napkin; keep it placed on your lap and when you’re done with your meal, set it to the left side of your plate. Also remember to dab, not wipe, your mouth.
While the normal view is that anything goes as far as attire is concerned, this concept does not apply to business or formal dinners. Most, if not all, high class restaurants have a specific dress code, which usually requires suits, or at least dress shirts, for men and a dress or suit for women. A good rule to follow for what to wear to a high class restaurant is to not wear anything you wouldn’t wear for a job interview.
Placing items on the table
Again, with the current culture, people always carry cell phones and various other items that they’re connected to constantly. In a more casual restaurant, this behavior may be acceptable (though it’s generally a good rule to not use your phone at all when you’re eating with other people), it’s definitely not acceptable at a high class restaurant. Keep your purse, wallet, keys, phone, glasses, and whatever else off of the table. It’s distracting and looks untidy.
Not planning payment
This mistake is especially important to be aware of if you’re the hostess. Usually, etiquette dictates that the person who invited everyone else pays for the meal, though you may choose to split the checks. At particularly high class restaurants, you’ll be expected to provide your credit card beforehand, so be aware of this detail, especially if you’re paying for the entire meal. It helps to avoid any post-dinner awkwardness.
Common etiquette rules to remember are: chew with your mouth closed, eat slowly, and don’t put too much food in your mouth. It’s also important to wait to begin eating until everyone else is served and to know how to eat the food in front of you. It’s a good idea to plan ahead what you’d like to order and make sure you’re comfortable with the food, such as having to crack a crab’s shell or a meal with different garnishes. It’s also completely acceptable to send back food if it isn’t cooked properly, but remember not to be gracious toward the waiter and not make a scene.