12 Little Etiquette Rules to Follow When You’re Dining at a Restaurant

12 Little Etiquette Rules to Follow When You’re Dining at a Restaurant

When dining out with someone in a professional setting, it is crucial that we follow proper etiquette rules. In fact, dining etiquette is more than just table manners but sadly, the standards have loosened in recent decades. If you’ve ever been nervous about where to place your napkin or how to excuse yourself to use the restroom, then you might find this article helpful. Below, you will find the unexpected fine-dining etiquette you probably haven’t been following.

1. Never ever lift the menu off the table.

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Image: Fraser Cottrell

One of the main rules of formal dining etiquette is that the menu should always be touching the table. If you’re looking at the menu or pointing out your choice of dinner, make sure to have the bottom, or at least one part of it, still touching the table. Even if you are having trouble reading the items, resist the impulse to bring the entire menu closer to your face. Rather, move it in such a way that the bottom rests on the table.

2. The host should always take charge.

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Image: Priscilla

The host is responsible for everything. This means that if you are hosting a get together with some of your close friends, you are responsible for picking an appropriate restaurant as well as making reservations ahead of time. Making reservations in advance is crucial, especially with business meetings, as you wouldn’t want your guests to view you as irresponsible. According to Barbara Pachter, a career coach and author of “The Essentials Of Business Etiquette“, “Once you’re seated, you need to take charge of the logistics of the meal. This means directing your guests to their seats or recommending menu items in various price ranges”.

3. Don’t use your phone until dinner is over and never leave your phone on the table.

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This is kind of an obvious one but many still use their phones or take their keys or other belongings and place them on the table. When you are sitting with a bunch of guests, never take your phone out and start texting since this sends a message to your company that whoever you are texting is more important to you than they are. Instead, put your phone on DND and enjoy the moment. Texting can wait until your dinner is over but if it’s urgent, excuse yourself before taking out your phone.

4. Always place the napkin on your lap and never use it as a tissue.

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Image: Ibrahim Boran

As soon as you sit down, if you are not sure what to do with the napkin in front of you, you can place it on your lap. If someone is taking you out for dinner to celebrate a special occasion or business meeting, then make sure you wait for the host to put their napkin on their lap. In a case where you need to excuse yourself to use the restroom, place the napkin on the chair instead of the table. The napkin should only be placed back at the table at the end of the meal. This is one of the 10 table etiquette mistakes we all make. According to Barbara Pachter, the napkin should only be used for blotting the sides of your mouth.

5. Wait for everyone’s meal to arrive before you start eating.

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Image: Christiann Koepke

This is understandable since it will look rude to start eating while others are still waiting to be served. In a scenario where your food is not cooked properly and you have to send it back, make sure you tell the rest of the party to continue eating and don’t make them wait.

6. Don’t call out to the person who is serving you.

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Image: Kate Townsend

When you are at a restaurant, accompanied by friends, always make eye contact with him or her to silently signal that you require their attention. If you’re still unable to convey the message to the person who is serving you, then raise your hand in their direction but do not wave. If the food does not taste good then always remember that the waiter is not responsible. In such situations, get their attention and try to be as polite as possible. They are human beings just like us and are working hard to earn a living.

7. Keep the rim of your plates as clean as possible.

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Image: Jay Wennington

It’s always good manners to keep the rim of your plate as clean as possible. By doing so, you are showing respect to the service staff who has to clear the plates and will be grabbing the edge of the plate. The staff who are also on dish duty have to grab the plates and if rims are clean, it makes it easier and not as messy.

8. Always place “discards” on the upper left part of your plate.

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Image: Adam Jaime

According to Myka Meier, founder of Beaumont Etiquette and The Plaza Hotel Finishing Program, “The upper left part of your plate is for discards. Let’s say you had a lemon rind or a fish bone that you didn’t want to eat; that would go on the upper left hand part of your plate. The bottom right is for sauces and butter”.

9. Always leave within 15 minutes of finishing your meal.

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Image: Miguel Angel

When we are out with our friends, it’s fun to hang out and talk about each other’s lives. However, upon completion of your meal, if you don’t wish for the fun to end, make sure you grab drinks somewhere else. Monopolizing a table that the restaurant needs, especially during rush hours, puts strain on a business. Always remember that a restaurant could be a family owned business that depends on the income to survive. Hogging a table limits their ability to seat another customer, thus losing revenue.

10. If you’re the host, always pay the entire bill and make sure to tell the waiter in advance.

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Image: Artem Bali

If you’re hosting a party and plan on paying everyone’s bill, then make sure you let the waiter know ahead of time so that it’s easier for them. Telling them your plan ahead puts less strain on them to keep track of who ordered what. If you plan on splitting the bill, make sure you inform the waiter about the plan also, since it helps them keep track of all the individual orders.

11. Always tip well.

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Image: Sam Truong

When it comes to tipping the server, depending on how excellent their service and attitude was, don’t skimp on the tip. Depending on the restaurant, the person might not be working on an hourly wage, which means that they will be depending on the tip to make a living. According to experts, tip 15 to 20 percent for satisfactory service and 25 percent for exemplary service.

12. Leave one bite left on your plate.

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Image: Pixabay

According to Food and Wine, “This shows that you enjoyed the meal, but you weren’t so famished you cleaned the whole plate—which could indicate that you are still hungry, or it wasn’t enough food”.

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