It doesn’t matter whether you’re eating in a fancy place like Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse or Hooters, as you always need to practice and remember table manners. Some of them require no more than common sense, such as not telling rude jokes, covering your mouth when coughing and not talking when your mouth is full. However, others are a bit more subtle.
Wear Nice Clothes
This doesn’t mean you have to wear expensive clothes, but if you’re having dinner with clients and business associates, a suit or jacket is ideal for men, and for women, a suit or dress would be appropriate. Of course if you’re in a casual diner like Denny’s you can be more relaxed but still your clothing should be clean and nice.
Keep Personal Items off the Table
No matter where you are eating, don’t put your phone, tablet, purse or anything like that on the table as it is rude and will cause a distraction. This rule is especially applicable in fine dining, so just keep your mobile device in your pocket.
Ordering and Payment Etiquette
If you’re the host, let everyone know it by saying things like “please bring my guests some…” or “My guest would like…” Do this as soon as all your guests are present so everyone will know you’re the host. With regards to payment, you should set it up before the meal actually begins so before any of your guests arrive, give your credit card or call the restaurant and arrange for the payment setup. Setting the payment up before the meal is essential, and remember that whoever invites is the one who has to pay.
Tips on Ordering Wine
First of all you must never mention to the sommelier how much money you’re going to spend. All you need to do is tell the waiter what wine you want to order by pointing at it. There’s no need to mention the price since the waiter will keep it in the price range you specified.
In addition, don’t act like a wine connoisseur if you’re not because the waiter and people around you will know. Just taste the wine when the waiter brings it, but even if you don’t like it, prudence dictates that you don’t return the bottle since it was opened already. If you simply can’t stand the wine, call the waiter over and explain politely what is wrong with it.
Taking Pictures of Food
Taking pictures of food is common practice, and if your camera won’t distract the other guests at the restaurant, it should not be a problem. However, this is only acceptable if you’re having a meal with friends. If you’re having a meal with business associates or clients, it is best to avoid it.
Minding the Napkins
If you’re the guest, wait for your host to place the napkin on his/her lap and then you can eat. If you have to get up and use the restroom, put your napkin on your chair. When you’re finished eating, place your napkin on the left hand side where your plate was. Don’t fold the napkin yet, just place it there. Fold the napkin after your host has done so.
Ordering and Eating Etiquette
When eating in fine restaurants, order the exact number of courses as your guests and companions as this lets you eat at the same pace as everyone else. Whether you’re the host or a guest, eat slowly, chew your food and pause every now and then. Don’t be in a hurry when you eat especially if you’re the host since it might force your guests to hurry up as well.
Other Table Manners Do’s and Don’ts’s
Don’t sample what your guests or companions are eating unless they’re very close friends and you’re eating in a casual restaurant. If you do want to share your food with your friend, just pass along your bread plate and let them have a taste.
Also, don’t yell at the waiter to come over to your table, no matter what kind of restaurant it is. Instead try to make eye contact, and if that doesn’t work raise your finger a bit –don’t point- as that will get their attention.
If the food isn’t cooked the way you want, send it back. That’s all right since you’re paying for it, but if you’re the host tell everyone to go ahead and eat. Alternatively, you can just eat the food even if you don’t prefer it as long as your companions are happy with theirs.
In addition you must never put your utensils on the side of your plate after eating. When you’re done eating, place the knife and fork in the 10:20 areas on your plate. If you ate at an American restaurant, put the fork up because the tines are up when you eat.