Chivalry may be dead, but etiquette will never be. It’s not just about knowing which side of the plate the spoons go on (it’s the right) — while we all know to dress appropriately at a nice restaurant, you might not know that cutting blue cheese is different from the way you cut Camembert cheese. We’re serving up the most important tips you probably don’t know about.
1. Keep personal items off the table
Elbows aren’t the only thing meant to be kept off the table. It’s just common courtesy to keep your phone, purse, keys, and wallet (even elbows) away from your food. Not only does it distract you, but it also affects the other people eating. Plus, who wants to stare at your finger-smudged phone?
2. It’s okay to take pictures
If you’re at a nice restaurant, and your meal looks amazing… snap a pic! Definitely don’t make an ordeal out of it, though. As long as you’re not distracting other tables, you’re gucci.
3. Your napkin goes in your seat
Napkin etiquette is a little tricky, but a V important table manner. If you get up anytime during the meal, it’s best to put your napkin in your seat or on your chair, not on the table. This lets the server know you aren’t finished with your meal (and PSA, don’t wave your napkin around before placing it on your lap).
4. Cut the cheese correctly
Fine cheeses are a great appetizer, especially if you’re having a home-cooked dining experience. Don’t screw it up by slicing into the brie wheel like a fool. When you have a wedge, always start at the pointy end, known as the nose.
A wedge should usually be cut on its side, nose side down, in small strips, then vertical to the rind when a third of it is left. Circular cheeses should always be cut like a pie. If you’re having a cheese crisis, check out this link for a list of ways to cut all kinds of cheeses from blue to gruyere, soft to hard.
#SpoonTip: Learn how to make your own cheese plate here.
5. You can take your time
Not only with your meal, but with the whole evening. You should never feel rushed, especially at a fine dining restaurant. Enjoy the meal and your time with others. Your waiter will follow the pace you set.
6. Send your compliments to the chef
Give the kitchen and waiter as much credit as they deserve. If your almond-crusted salmon was incredible, let your waiter know. Even though your waiter didn’t make the food, he’s still part of a team working to make you happy. They want to know how they’re doing.
If there’s something wrong with your food, like it’s raw or there’s a fly in it, speak up, but if you didn’t like it or someone else got a better dish than you, don’t loud cap the waiter about how they could make it better. Just because you weren’t crazy about it, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be on the menu. Frankly, it’s just rude.
7. Don’t short change
Bring enough money for the bill and the tip. Waiters only make a little over $2 an hour without tips, so it’s important you tip them for a job well done. Most of the time, waiters aren’t even taking the entire tip for themselves; bussers, bartenders, and hostesses also get a share. 15% is usually tipped for an “average” job, and 20% or more is tipped for a great job.