Eating at a fine dining restaurant isn't the same as grabbing a burger from Wendy's. There are certain rules you need to follow and expectations you need to understand.
Without a basic knowledge of the way things are done at a fine dining establishment, you could end up looking foolish and just plain rude if you slip up without even knowing it!
Don't worry, I've got you covered. In today's article, I'm covering the essential things you need to know before attending your first fine dining restaurant experience.
We'll be covering:
- How To Dress The Part
- Why Should You Arrive On Time For Your Reservation?
- How To Order At A Fine Dining Restaurant
- Why Asking For Takeaway Left-Overs Is Trashy
- What Are The Correct Manners For Fine Dining?
- How Should You Tip A Waiter At A Fine Dining Restaurant?
1. How To Dress The Part
Attending a fine dining restaurant can be a daunting experience, especially if you're not sure what the dress code is.
While it's always best to err on the side of caution and dress up rather than down, there are a few guidelines that can help you avoid feeling out of place.
For men, a suit and tie are always a safe bet. If you're not used to wearing a suit, I would choose a charcoal gray or black suit because it's more formal and will make you look sleek.
If you don't have a suit, you can also wear a dress shirt with dress pants and closed-toe shoes. Just make sure your clothes are wrinkle-free and fit well!
As for ties, avoid anything too loud or flashy. A solid color tie is best as patterns can be too loud in comparison to the conservative atmosphere of a fine dining establishment. If you do opt for a pattern, stick to wide and dark stripes.
Make sure to go for an Oxford shoe rather than a brogue – the extra level of formality will make all the difference.
Finally, don't forget your watch! A fine dining restaurant is a perfect opportunity to break out that timepiece you only wear on special occasions. Just be sure not to check it every two minutes – fine dining is about savoring the moment, after all.
2. Why Should You Arrive On Time For Your Reservation?
If you're planning on dining at a fine restaurant, it's important to make sure you arrive on time for your reservation.
While you may think it's no big deal to show up a few minutes late, arriving late can actually have a number of negative consequences. For one thing, the restaurant may give away your table to another party if you're not there on time. Many fine dining restaurants are very popular and will have a long waiting list, which means they can't afford to have empty tables.
In addition, arriving late also disrupts the flow of service for both you and the other guests. The waiter may have to scramble to get your order in on time, which could throw off the timing of everyone else's food.
So, do yourself (and everyone else) a favor and arrive in a timely manner!
But here's the hard part: arriving too early can be just as problematic as arriving too late. If you arrive more than 30 minutes before your reservation, the restaurant may not be able to seat you right away.
As a result, you may end up last in line when your table is finally ready. So whether you're dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant or your local diner, make sure you arrive on time for your reservation to avoid any awkwardness or inconvenience.
3. How To Order At A Fine Dining Restaurant
Fine dining is an experience that should be savored.
When you're perusing the menu, take your time and really consider what you're in the mood for. Are you looking for something light, or are you ready to indulge? Once you've made your decision, stick with it.
There's nothing worse than ordering an appetizer, entree, and dessert only to realize halfway through your meal that you're not actually that hungry.
It's also important that you're mindful of your fellow guests. If you order too much food, you'll be taking up space that could be occupied by someone who is trying to enjoy their meal. Trust us, no one wants to see your half-eaten steak when they're trying to enjoy their own dinner.
When it comes to drinks, feel free to ask the waiter for their opinion. Ordering wine is a tricky business if you don't know what you're talking about, so it's always helpful to have a professional weigh-in.
If you're not sure what you want, ask the waiter for their recommendation. They'll be more than happy to help you choose something that will pair well with your meal.
4. Is Asking For Takeaway Left-Overs Trashy?
If you're full but there's still food on your plate at a fine dining restaurant, you might be considering asking for a doggy bag. After all, no one wants to waste food, and it seems like such a shame to let those leftovers go to waste.
But before you reach for the takeaway container, consider this: Asking for a doggy bag at a fine dining restaurant is actually quite inappropriate.
Here's the thing: When you go to a fine dining establishment, you're paying not only for the food but also for the experience. Part of that experience is enjoying your meal in the company of others, savoring each bite, and taking your time to appreciate the flavors and textures.
When you ask for a doggy bag, you're effectively saying that you'd rather be eating your meal at home alone in front of the TV. It's just not classy, gents!
So if you find yourself with more food than you can reasonably eat, don't be afraid to leave some behind. It's perfectly fine – and much more polite – to order smaller portions or share dishes with your dining companions.
After all, fine dining is meant to be enjoyed, not hoarded.
5. What Are The Correct Manners For Fine Dining?
Table manners are essential when eating at a fine dining restaurant for several reasons:
- First of all, good manners show that you are respectful and considerate of the other guests in the restaurant.
- Secondly, good manners make the dining experience more enjoyable for everyone involved.
- Finally, good manners demonstrate that you are knowledgeable about fine dining etiquette.
Some basic table manners that every man should know before attending your first fine dining experience include not talking with your mouth full, not reaching across the table for food or drink, and politely asking to be excused if you need to leave the table.
If there are multiple items of cutlery on the table, the easy way to remember which one to use is to start from the outside and work your way in.
So, for your starter, use the fork furthest from your plate; for your main course, use the fork next to it; and for your dessert, use the spoon furthest from your plate.
Pro tip: If you accidentally spill food on yourself at a fine dining restaurant, don't panic! Simply dab at the affected area with a napkin and discreetly excuse yourself to the restroom to clean up.
Remember, good manners make fine dining a more enjoyable experience for everyone involved!
6. How Should You Tip A Waiter At A Fine Dining Restaurant?
Tipping at a fine dining restaurant can be a tricky business.
- Who is responsible for tipping the waiter?
- Should guests divide the tip between them or is it the job of the person who organized the meal to tip the waiter?
- How much should you tip?
In the USA, it is customary to tip between 15 and 20 percent of the bill, but in other countries the rules are different. For example, in England, it's less customary to tip waiting staff because they are paid a livable wage.
If you're unsure about the tipping customs in the country where you'll be dining, it's best to ask the person who organized the meal or do some research in advance.
The last thing you want to do is offend your hosts or the waiting staff by not following proper protocol!
Some people argue that you should only tip in cash, as this makes it more likely that the waiter will receive the money. Others say that tipping on a credit card is fine, as long as you make sure to leave a good tip.
There is also the question of how to make tipping look subtle and sophisticated. Handing over money in an obvious way can be viewed as uncouth, so try handing money over using a handshake. You can do this by placing the money in your palm and shaking hands with the waiter.
This way, the tip is passed over subtly and discreetly.
Tipping etiquette can be confusing, but if you follow these simple tips you'll be sure to make a good impression at your next fine dining experience!
Some fine dining restaurants will even ask men to dress in black-tie! Don't worry, this guide to dressing up for a formal event will help get you up to speed!
What is a fine dining restaurant?
A fine dining restaurant is the height of culinary formality. It's the sort of place where you'll be expected to dress to the nines and observe your best manners at all times. The food will be expensive but also incredibly high quality and luxurious.
Do I have to wear a dinner jacket to a fine dining restaurant?
Not always. The simplest way of answering this question is to find the restaurant's website and see if they have a dress code. If you can't find one, look at the restaurant's reviews - chances are someone will mention the dress code in their review.
What if I don't understand the food and drink items on the menu? Should I just guess and hope I get something I like?
No. Don't be afraid to ask your waiter to explain the menu and help you decide on your meal choices. This rule also applies for the wine list - at a fine dining restaurant, waiting staff are well trained to explain every aspect of your dining experience.