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You definitely all know one small family owned restaurant that is simply extraordinary, mindblowingly beautiful, a restaurant in which the wait staff is highly trained, beautifully dressed and always spot on. Food portions are also always visually appealing in this restaurant that we imagine. The decor seems torned from fairy tales, from stories with princes and princesses. A fine dining experience that we would all love to enjoy daily. In an attempt to embrace this superb attitude we have ahead a few fine dining etiquette tips from which we can all learn; along these 30 fabulous place setting ideas have been nestled here to feed your imagination and invite you into another dimension of fine dining.
It does look like a lot to take. The high end setups may require huge initial investments in tableware and consumables but at the end of the day it will all be worth it. Start small and accuire the things you need in increments. Think how many people of your friends would enjoy fine dining and make sure that you practice on them initially. First festive dinning experiences could become an opportunity to learn for both parties. Once you master the art of fine dining on both setup, tableware and dishes alike it is time to convert more of your loved ones to the dark side. It is normal to make the transition from fast food to fine dining in increments, it will benefit both your friends and your wallet.
Further on ten tips and tricks that will help you in fine dining experiences have been shared. Rules and etiquette are different from place to place and family to family but these ideas should match most scenarios
1. Knives and Forks
The most common problem is related to flatware that is usually brought to the table with each course. In fine dining, on a properly set table, you will face a series of forks on the left side of your plate and a series of spoons and knives on your right as the table is always set for right handed people. The simple rule is also very natural, it works from the outside in, the first exterior row of flatware is for the first course.
Make sure that you always take small portions of food and that between each mouthful you put your cutlery down on the plate, never back on the table, nor half on and half off the plate. If you are using two pieces on the course you can cross the tips or angle just the one to inform the server that you are not finished. When you are finished place your knife and fork together in centre of the plate vertically, the blade of the knife should point to the centre towards the fork while the tines of the work should point up to the blade of the knife.
A few things worth mentioning are that you should never cut the food entirely and just use the fork only, you should hold both your knife and fork. Keep in mind that while in America this thing is acceptable, it is not in Europe. The tines of your fork should point toward the plate at all times and for difficult foods like peas you should use your knife to squash them into the fork. Keep in mind that the fork is not a scoop and it should not be used like one. Make sure that you’re not picking up any cutlery that you will drop on the floor either, these should be replaced by the server if there is one present.
2. Soup and Pudding
Spoons do come in two shapes generally, one is shaped like a round bowl while the other one is shaped like an egg. While eating soup keep in mind that the bowl must stay on the table. In no case is the drinking from the bowl accepted.
Push your spoon away from you to the centre of the bowl down to the farthest edge when you eat soup. Bring the spoon to your mouth and drink the soup from the edge, make sure that you are no swallowing the entire spoon when you eat. Do not slurp.
Pudding should not be confused with dessert, these are entirely different courses even though one can take the place of the other. The desert is usually fruit or cheese where the pudding is a sweet course and it is usually served with both a fork and spoon. The pudding spoon is held in the same way as your knife : with the bowl of the spoon facing inwards and in the right hand, for right handed individuals. The pudding fork should be used only as a pusher. Never put your pudding fork into your mouth. Use the fork to push only small portions into the pudding spoon that will stay angled. When you lift the spoon into your mouth tilt it a little in manner that will make the bowl to face upwards. The same rules apply for placing your cutler when you are finished. In some cases you might find the fork and spoon directly on your plate rather than in the cutlery at the side.
The napkin should be used for one thing only- dabbing the mouth. You should never use the napkin to wipe your mouth. The napkin should be unfolded on your knees and it is not acceptable to tuck it in the front of your shirt or dress. This was permitted in the past but now is considered inappropriate. If for some reason you must leave the table before you finish, place the napkin on your seat, before excusing yourself to the hostess of course. This will inform the server that you plan to return. When you return just replace the napkin on your knees.
If the napkin accidentally drops on the floor, it is in some cases acceptable for you to pick it up if the house has no butler or servants near the table. In those cases they will replace the napkin with a fresh one. When you have finished eating the napkin should be placed tidily but not refolded to the left side of your plate, never on your plate.
4. Glasses and Wine
In normal setups more than two glasses should be at the table. They will be positioned on the right upper side of your plate. You can expect up to four glasses. They are usually arranged in diagonal or in a squared pattern. The top left glass is for red wine. The next one should be smaller and is meant to be use for white wine. At the top right, the champagne glass will be positioned; this can also be replaced with smaller glass for dessert wines or port. On the bottom right your water glass can be found.
If someone offers a toast you should remain seated while some may stand. You should never raise a glass to yourself nor you should touch glasses with another individual when toasting, just raise the glass in their direction and keep eye contact when toasting. If you want to make a toast yourself you should never tap side of your glass with a tableware, it is considered rude and at the same time you can damage very expensive glassware. Just clear your throat and catch the attention.
Never gulp your wine. Needless to say that is very inappropriate and impolite to get drunk in front of the guests or your hosts. Sip quietly and occasionally, the whole purpose of wine in fine dining is to complement your food. Never place your hand over or near the glass if a server attempts to refill your glass. Just mention to them that you’ve had enough and you do not wish to have anymore. You should never hold the glass for the server either.
5. Body and seating
In most cases there will be a seating plan drafted near the door of the dining room, if not, you will find cards on the table. If there are no cards nor plan you should wait to be seated by your hostess. Most of the time there are strict rules on positioning to avoid embarrassing moments . Keep in mind that the hostess usually governs the table and not the host, the host will sit at the head of the table and to his right will sit the wife of the guest of honour, to his left sits the wife of the next gentleman in order of importance. The hostess will have the guest of honour on her right side and the second most important gentleman on her left.
6. Food in General
In no scenarios you are allowed to start eating before everyone has been served. If there is a tremendous amount of guests the hostess may indicate when you can start eating. If by mistake you take a mouthful that contains something that cannot swallow you should remove it in privacy after excusing yourself to the hostess. You should never remove it on the table and place it on your napkin in plain sight.
If you are eating something that has either stones or pips in it you should use your finger and thumb to remove them. Place them on the side of the plate. Make sure that you never use a toothpick at the table nor should you blow the nose. Excuse yourself and go to the bathroom for each of these two scenarios.
Make sure that you never salt your meal before tasting it as it is considered an insult to your hostess. If you need salt use the tip of a clean knife, if a salt spoon is not provided, to transfer salt on the side of your plate. Also keep in mind that pre-dinner snacks should always touch your plate before placing them in your mouth. Never take directly from the serving tray and put it straight to your mouth.
For bread a small side plate on the left hand side, or above your left hand cutlery can be found, if there is one you should use it. If there is none it is acceptable to place your bread on the table to the left of your plate. Never position the bread on your plate directly.
Bread should never be cut but sized piece by piece off with your fingers. Do not worry about the crumbs if there are no side plates. From time to time on the dinner table you can find butter served, if this is the case you should use your butter knife that will be found either on the bread plate or on the extreme right of your setting to transfer sufficient butter to your bread in only one go. If there is no side plate, the hostess will usually ensure that each guest will have its own individual butter dish.
The conversations are a very delicate subject and unless you know every guest on the table you should avoid politics, religion and sex related subjects. Avoid any subjects that can start controversial discussions. Dinner should be enjoyed without debate or judgement.
You should give equal conversation time to the person sitting on both your left and right side. Even though it is very difficult to engage in conversations with a stranger it is imperative to do so. This is a very strict rule and you should be very careful in this endeavour to avoid small disputes.
Never yell at the dinner table. Speak in low tones without acting like you are in a sacred place. Dinner should be enjoyed along quality conversation which is a fundamental part . If you are less confident in conversations a great practice is to ask the person questions about themselves without touching personal subjects. Most individuals love to speak about themselves and you will take the stance of a good listener.
9. Difficult Foods
There is a blacklist on foods that can be served and are fairly difficult to eat in such environments.
Artichokes can be devoured by using your fingers to break one leaf at a time. Hold the spiny end and the dip the base in your dish of melter butter or sauce and suck out the fleshy interior with your teeth. The remains should be placed on your plate afterwards. When you reach the soft centre entitled heart use a knife and a fork to eat it as you would a steak.
Asparagus should be picked up stem by stem with your left hand. Dip the tip in either butter or sauce. Consume it one bite at a time and never put the whole stalk in your mouth. If the hard base remains, discard it on your plate. Certain thick white varieties may occur in Europe and should always be eaten with a knife and fork but never with your fingers.
Cheese in small rounds must be cut in small pie-shaped wedges. The large cheese portions that were cut previously should be cut from the pointy end, this pointy end is also entitled the nose.
Escargots are small enails that are usually served with a special gripping tools and small forks. Use the gripper tool to grip the snail and use the fork to extract the meat.
Fruits you should be served with a fork and knife.
10. What you should avoid during the dinner.
You should never make a fuss. If there is something that you do not like just leave it.
Never blow on hot food to cool it down but wait for it to cool down itself.
Unless you are invited by the hostess never smoke at the table.
Do not take pictures at the table, it makes you look desperate.
Do not move your plate after the meal has been served.
Do not treat your hostess or servers badly.
Do not eat chicken or chops with your fingers.
Never point with your cutlery.
Never hold cutlery while you are drinking wine.
Don’t overstay your welcome.
In the end you should always thank your host before leaving, it is common to send a letter of thanks the next day as well.
These tips and tricks are certainly something that has been long forgotten for some, but nonetheless there are worth memorizing . Experience fine dining once and let us know what you think.