Nine Simple Tips For Improving Your Table Manners At Fancy Restaurants

Nine Simple Tips For Improving Your Table Manners At Fancy Restaurants

In this video from the ZAGAT YouTube channel, Simon Kim, the owner of Piora restaurant in New York City, lays out some easy ways you can practice proper dining etiquette. Here are some of the key points:

  1. Don’t jump into the best seat: When the host is seating you, don’t scramble for the seat that looks more comfortable or has the best view. Let the guest you invited, or your date, have the best seat.
  2. Put your napkin in your lap first: As soon as you sit down, put your napkin in your lap. Think of it as pulling up the covers as soon as you get into bed.
  3. Don’t toss napkins on the table: If you need to get up, place your napkin on your seat, not bunched up on the table (unless you’ve paid and you’re ready to leave).
  4. Use the “b and d” rule to get your bearings: Make a circle with your index finger and thumb on each hand and straighten out the rest of your fingers. The “b” shape of your left hand tells you where your bread plate is, and the “d” shape of your right hand shows you which drink is yours.
  5. Use the proper utensils for each course: When in doubt, start with the utensils placed on the outside and work your way in.
  6. Use your knife as a food guide: If you need to move food around on your plate or scoop food with your fork, use your knife.
  7. Place your utensils on your plate when you’re finished: When you’re done eating, place your knife and fork fully on your plate with the handles facing to your right. This signifies that you’re finished with your dish.
  8. Ask for your check subtly: Give your waiter a quick glance to get their attention. Don’t wave your arms or shout.
  9. Place the check presenter away from you: Once you’ve placed your credit card or cash in the check presenter, stick it near the edge of the table so your waiter knows it’s ready to be taken.

It won’t be the end of the world if you forget some of the more nuanced tips listed here, but you’ll look good if you do remember them. Plus, knowing proper dining etiquette will help you feel comfortable at the fanciest of meals, even if it’s not your usual cup of tea.

Easy Ways to Improve Your Table Manners [YouTube]


    • You should never cut your bread with a knife at the table. You break a roll in half, then break off pieces and butter them one at a time.

  • Watching Masterchef, I noticed that they all eat with their forks curving down as they put them into their mouths. Is this some etiquette thing? Wouldn’t a fork work better with the points upward and gravity pressing downward?

    • If you’re using a fork with a knife, and are holding your food with the fork while cutting a piece off, then that’s just the way the fork should naturally face. If you’re eating something with only a fork, e.g. noodles, then fork facing up would be the way it goes.

    • The correct etiquette is always to hold your fork with the tines pointing downwards. A fork is a stabbing implement, not a shovel. You never pile stuff onto your upturned fork, it is the height of bad manners.

      • Thank you for the response. It seems quite impractical for foods that don’t have great structural integrity either because they’re soft to begin with or soft from cooking. I apologise if this seems rude, but it re-enforces my thoughts that etiquette is like fashion and more about exclusion and elitism than it is about genuine behaviour.

  • With napkins, you should shake them out below the table, at your side, not make a big song and dance about it.

    On point number seven, the correct etiquette is to lay your knife and fork down crossed over one-another, with the fork tines down, while you are still eating. When you have finished, lay them down parallel with the fork tines up and your server will know you are done.

  • I’m a little superstitious. When someone says ‘touch wood’ I often follow this up by grabbing all the table salt possible and heaving it over my left shoulder.

  • When you’re done eating, place your knife and fork fully on your plate with the handles facing to your right.

    That’s the American way and seen as quite rude here.

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