Fine Dining Etiquettes For American Restaurants And Hotels

Fine Dining Etiquettes

As they say “When in Rome do as the Romans do”, it never hurts to know what goes well with a certain population and what’s considered rude and unacceptable. So, if you have any plans to visit a foreign land, you must acquaint yourself with some basics. Fine dining etiquettes are different for different countries. In the USA, fancy hotels and restaurants have their own fine dining etiquettes for cutlery use, drinks, etc. This blog is an attempt to summarize that information and give you a fair idea of what bodes well with American hospitality.

Making Reservations At Restaurants/Hotels

American restaurants follow the reservation policy like in several other countries. It is expected of the person making a reservation to show up on time or call in advance if they are running late. A number of restaurants keep credit card details and charge no-show fees if the guest fails to show up. So, make sure you adhere to your reservation or inform the restaurant about delays or cancellations. 

The Right Way To Use Napkins? 

In A Restaurant: 

  • Apart from fine dining cutlery rules, you must know how to use a napkin. The napkin needs to be removed and unfolded as soon as the guest gets seated. 
  • Always place the napkin in your lap and never ever shake it open. Even at the formal restaurants, where waiters unfold and place the napkins of the guests you should do it yourself. 
  • Napkin stays in the guest’s lap till the end of the meal. 
  • Do not use the napkin to wipe your face, blow your nose or clean the cutlery with it. 
  • If you need to excuse yourself, leave the napkin on either side of your place but never leave it on the chair. 
  • When you are done with your meal, semi-fold the napkin and place it on the table but do not leave it on the chair. 
  • Never twist or crumple the napkin. 

At A Dinner Party: 

  • Wait for the host to unfold their napkin, that is when the dinner begins and guests unfold their napkins. 
  • If it is a luncheon, place the napkin unfolded in your lap. If it is dinner, the napkin should be folded half lengthwise if it is of large size. 
  • The meal ends when the host places their napkin back on the table. The guests need to leave their napkins neatly on the left side of the dinner plate. 
  • The napkin should not be refolded nor wadded up either. 

When To Eat? 

In A Restaurant: Always wait till everyone is served at your table and then begin with everyone. 

At A Private Dinner Party: Wait till the host picks up the fork to eat, that is the signal for guests to start eating. Never ever begin before the host unless they insist. 

Fine Dining Etiquettes/Rules For Utensils

 Cutlery rules come first even in fine dining examples. No guide on table manners is ever complete them. Here is all you need to know: 

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  • As a rule of thumb, the meal is started with the use of silverware placed farthest from the plate. 
  • The cutlery placed on the right side of the plate is meant for drinking purposes while that on the left is for eating purposes. 
  • Food dishes placed on the left side and drinks placed on the right side of your plate are yours. 
  • The first course is consumed using the fork and knife placed farthest from the plate and then your move in with every subsequent course. 
  • The fork meant for salad is always placed on the outermost left and the dinner fork is placed to its right. 
  • Similarly, the soup spoon is placed at the outermost side at right and is closely followed by the beverage spoon, knife for salad, and lastly the dinner knife. 
  • The spoon and fork for dessert are usually placed right above the plate or sometimes, they are brought with the dessert. 
  • To summarize the table etiquette rules for fork and knife, you must begin with the outermost cutlery and work your way in. 

You can also read : How to make QR menu for the restaurant?

Predominant Table Etiquette Rules For Fork and Knife: 

The American Way: The American style dictates the placement of a knife in the right and a fork in the left hand. Once you have sliced some bite-sized pieces of your food, place the knife on the plate’s edge with the blade facing in. The fork is to be switched to the right hand unless the eater is lefty. 

The European Way: The European way of holding a knife and fork is the same as that of America with some minor differences. For example, the fork needs to be in the left hand and the knife doesn’t go down. European style doesn’t include switching the fork from one hand to another. The food is to be eaten with the left hand as the prongs curve downwards. Also, in Europe, both fork and knife are to be kept in hand throughout the meal. If you are using one of your hands for drinking, then the other hand will hold both fork and knife. When you finish the meal, the fork and knife are finally placed down on the plate forming a cross. 

As a general rule, neither the fork nor the knife touches the table once they are picked by the guest. If you need a break, rest the fork, knives and spoon on the plate’s side forming the 4:20 position. Usually, in formal dinners, tablewares are replaced as courses are served one after the other. Unused utensils are usually left untouched on the table. 

General Social And Dining Rules

  • Always follow the dress code as requested or suggested by the restaurant or the party host. 
  • It is considered rude to arrive late at both party and table reservations. Try to reach ten minutes before the given time to avoid unnecessary hassles for either party. 
  • If you are going to a private dinner party, you must carry a small gift for the hostess. However, make sure that the gift is for a later use and nothing that should be put to use the very same evening. Therefore, you must avoid taking flowers, candies, desserts, or wine. 
  • Always wait for the host or the hostess to take a seat before taking your seat on a dinner table. If the dinner table has no name cards, you must wait for the host to guide you to your seat. 
  • Some households have a custom of praying before the meal while some like to make a toast. Make sure you join in or be silent respectfully. 
  • Coffee or tea is usually served at the end of the meal. It means the party is over and you are now free to leave. 
  • It is customary to send the hosts a thank you note after formal dinner parties. But nowadays, telephone calls are also acceptable instead of handwritten notes.