Yes, I know, I know, you’re not into formal dinners in luxurious restaurants with main courses amounting to almost your monthly rent. You’d rather indulge yourself in fast food or hole-in-the-wall diners where you can just wear pyjamas and eat like there’s no tomorrow. You need not even worry about using the right spoon or fork or sitting straight on your chair like what fine dining settings require you to do.
Uh-oh, hold it there a moment. You may not be the expensive eater but not being one doesn’t mean you need not learn about dining etiquette. I’m sure time will eventually come for you to be placed in such circumstance where observing fine dining practices means saving your job or nailing a negotiation with a client. So don’t ditch your fine dining tutorial in school for you to know what to avoid during such circumstance.
Don’t wear your pyjamas
Again, please don’t look like you’ve just gone off from bed or from a rigorous soccer play if you’re heading to a fine dining date. At least look clean and don’t even some simple slacks and a decent top. I’m sure you have that kind of clothing stacked under your collection of rugged jeans and shirts. You need not look sparkly and ravishing in a cocktail dress or tux. Looking rightfully decent is enough.
Don’t mistake your phones or car keys as part of the course
The dining table is made for food and food alone. So don’t make the mistake of placing inedible stuff on the table. Avoid putting your mobile phones, keys, wallets, tablets, etc. beside a neat Noritake dinnerware set. Do not mess up the cleanliness of the table and utensils by doing so. Also you might get soup and sauce all over your precious mobile tablet if you do. That’s quite frustrating.
Don’t forget that patience is a virtue
Wait, always wait, for food to be served. Do not call out for it even if your gastric juices are eating you up and rumbling wildly for food. Just think of happy thoughts as you painstakingly wait for that precious, expensive meal. It will be worth the wait, believe me.
Don’t think the world is going to end
You know exactly what I mean. Do not get carried away, please. Control your “pig-like” urges even just for the moment. Take it easy and chew your food well. This is a major rule in fine dining. Chewing food well enough also helps your tummy digest food better and faster. Fine dining is eating slowly but surely. Right after, you can binge on your burgers and fries as much as you want.
Don’t talk when your mouth is full, seriously
Yes this is our common “eating cliché” and it is considered such for reasons that may even mean saving your life. Imagine seeing someone talking loudly while seeing all the bits and pieces of food he’s chewing at the same time. That’s highly unpleasant to look at and you don’t want to be put in such ridicule. Avoiding talking with food in your mouth even saves you from possible deadly choking incidents. You wouldn’t want to spend your last few minutes on earth in the dining table.
Don’t go to battle unprepared
Know your fine dining ABC’s first before you go out on a fine dining date or meeting. Make sure you know which spoon or fork to use first, or which side are you supposed to hold your knife, or how should you properly place your spoon and fork after eating. Be well oriented with usual dinnerware sets used for fine dining.
These can actually get confusing, but spending a little time and effort to be familiar on the basics will definitely help you a lot.
Don’t ever lick a finger—nothing on your table is finger licking good
You can even use your hands for eating, if and only if you’re on a beach outing or you’re doing barbecues at your backyard. Don’t even show signs you badly love the taste of what you’re eating if you’re in a fine dining setting. You can at least verbally express how you admire the taste. But hold your actions. Do not insult the fine china dinner sets laid in front of you.
Don’t sit like you’re on your couch
Yes, you can sit lazily on your living room the whole day but don’t take the habit anywhere, especially in a fine dining restaurant. Sit firmly and properly. Save the slouch for later when you get home. A person’s posture can make for a first impression so make sure you maintain good stance even if you’re just sitting and eating.
Don’t talk to the whole crowd
As you slowly munch on dessert, you can insert short talks in between. Make sure you keep your conversations to your own table. Control your voices and laughter. The last thing you need is a pissed off guest charging at you for disrupting a wonderful meal.
Don’t floss or pick your teeth on the table
This is a total no-no when it comes to fine dining. You will cause your companions to think you’re insensitive and messy. You don’t want them regretting why they ever went out dining with you.
Don’t complain about anything
Hate the bland, tasteless yet expensive food? Is the service too delayed? Are the servers messing up your orders? Well, this rarely happens in a posh restaurant but if ever it does happen to you, then just keep your cool for the moment. Do not make a scene by complaining how unpleasant the food is or by being rude to the waiters. People will instead think of you negatively. If you really feel the need to voice out your complains, just talk it out properly with the manager in a place out of earshot from other customers.
Don’t bring an empty wallet
This is not your usual ten-dollar meal. This is fine dining so don’t mind going if you don’t have enough moolah to pay for it, unless of course someone else is paying for you. Make sure to have enough budget ready not just for the meal alone but for extra expenses that may arise. Better be safe than sorry.
Guest Author: Debra Wright, a self-professed geek, Debra Wright has dreamt of being a writer since as long as she could remember. She has recently written about a number of topics online, including Noritake dinnerware, and hopes to get more people interested in elegant fine dining through her written work. Get to know her more through twitter @debrawrites.