Restaurant Table Manners and Fine Dining Etiquette

Do you dread the thought of visiting a fine restaurant because your table etiquette is a little rusty? If so, these simple tips will help you to avoid the most embarrassing fine dining faux pas.

Do: Work From the Outside When Selecting Cutlery

Tables are set with forks on the left hand side and knives and spoons on the right. Usually, the cutlery furthest away from the plate is intended for the first course. If you have any doubts, wait for the host to start eating and follow their lead.

Don’t: Use Your Fork Like a Scoop

When eating, point the tines of your fork down towards the plate. Use your knife to squash food onto the tip of the fork. Do not use your fork like a scoop. 

Do: Eat Soup by Drinking it from the Edge of the Spoon

Scoop soup onto your spoon by starting at the centre of the bowl and moving the spoon away from you. Bring the spoon to your mouth and drink the soup from the edge of the spoon. Don’t put the spoon into your mouth, and don’t slurp. 

Don’t: Pick Up Cutlery if you Drop it on the Floor

If you accidentally drop a knife or fork on the floor, leave it. The server will replace it for you. 

Do: Use Your Pudding Spoon like a Knife

Hold your pudding spoon with the bowl of the spoon facing inwards, and treat it like a knife. Use the pudding fork to push small portions of the pudding onto the spoon. 

Don’t: Confuse Pudding with Dessert

Some restaurants serve both a pudding and a dessert. The pudding is the sweet course, while dessert is typically fruit or a cheese selection. 


Do: Ask your Hostess to Excuse You if You Need to Leave the Table

After being excused by the hostess, place your napkin on  your seat, so that the server knows you plan to return. 

Don’t: Tuck Your Napkin in to Your Shirt

While tucking your napkin into the front of your dress or shirt was considered normal behaviour in ancient times, it is now considered vulgar. You should unfold your napkin and put it on your knees. Use your napkin to dab your mouth only – don’t wipe your mouth with it.

Do: Remain Seated if Someone Proposes a Toast in Your Honour

If you are toasting someone else, you should stand. If the toast is in your honour, remain seated. When toasting, raise a glass in the direction of the other guests, but do not touch glasses with them. 

Don’t: Tap Your Glass to Draw Attention Before Proposing a Toast

Tapping the side of your glass with a knife or spoon to attract attention may damage the glassware. If you want to propose a toast, do so by clearing your throat.

Do: Check the Dress Code in Advance

Find out the dress code before you go out, and follow it. If you’re not sure how to dress, err on the side of too formal. It’s easy to scale an outfit down by removing your tie or loosening your collar. It’s not so easy to make a casual outfit look more formal.

Don’t: Pull Out Your Phone During a Formal Dinner

Keep your wallet or purse off the table, and don’t pull out your phone during dinner. Turn off the ringer, and leave the phone until after the meal has concluded. Using your phone is rude to your dinner companions and the staff of the restaurant.