So you decide to go to a fine dining restaurant such as Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. Perhaps it’s a very special occasion, or perhaps someone’s taking you there for a date. Maybe it’s a work thing. Or maybe, you’re suddenly curious at what the big deal is and you’ve finally decided to try it out for yourself. Whatever the reason, you can definitely make fine dining an experience you will never forget.
When people go to fine dining restaurants, this means they’re willing to pay the premium for the extra special ambience, service, and experience that they get. As a diner, you should be well aware of this and you should also expect this for yourself. To make sure that you truly get the most out of your fine dining experience, you have to know the etiquette and keep it to heart.
Here are 5 generally helpful tips to remember when eating at a fine dining restaurant:
Dress to the nines.
If you know you’re going to a fine dining restaurant, you have to make sure you’re dressed appropriately. You can’t waltz in there with a pair of tattered jeans, a loose t-shirt, and some slippers, because you will stand out like a sore thumb. You will not only get frowned upon for sure, but some fine dining restaurants explicitly turn you down and will not allow you to enter.
Remember that in fine dining, things are as fancy as fancy can get. So dress the part. Women don’t have to wear a ball gown, but a dress with heels will do. Men don’t necessarily have to wear a three-piece suit unless specifically required, but most restaurants require a jacket and won’t let you in if you’re just wearing a shirt and shorts. Most people dress up as ‘business casual’, but if you’re unsure, it’s always better to overdress than underdress.
The table is for the food.
A table in a fine dining restaurant is not only reserved for the food, but you usually get a number of plates, cutlery, and glasses. Then there’s the napkin and the centerpiece (if any). Add the food, and that’s a pretty full table. There’s no room for your purse, wallet, keys, and especially not your mobile phone or any other device you have. In fact, you shouldn’t even be taking those out.
Placing your phone and all other things on the table may be common in casual restaurants or even at home, but it is a definite no-no when it comes to fine dining restaurants. So don’t even attempt.
Forget your phone.
Speaking of mobile phones, it’s best if you forget about it for a while. Make sure it’s on silent mode, or turn it off if you can. Not only will your mobile phone be a distraction, but it will keep you from fully enjoying the experience. When you’re fine dining, you should be fully there and allow your senses to feast on everything – from the ambience and the food to the meaningful conversations you’re having with the people around you. A phone that suddenly rings or buzzes will only ruin that.
Another reason why you should forget your phone is that it removes your compulsion to take a photo of the table, or of every single dish that comes your way. Understandably, it looks fancy and you want to make memories, but it also ruins the vibe and you will only look desperate.
Go outside in.
The sheer number of cutlery that you see staring back at you can be confronting and overwhelming for many, especially if you have no experience dining in restaurants like this. If it’s your first time, it’s best to research beforehand and know what fork is for what, or what glass matches what drink.
When in doubt, the general rule for the cutlery is that you go outside in. This means the first course that comes out matches the outermost cutlery, and as the other courses get served, you go outside in. So your outermost fork is for the salad while your outermost spoon is for the soup. The dessert spoon or fork is usually placed horizontally, above the service plate.
Take your time.
If you wanted to eat fast, you might as well have gone to your neighborhood fast food joint. Part of the experience of fine dining is the time you spend waiting for the food, which is freshly prepared for you by the chef. So when you go there, don’t expect the food to come out all at once.
Once the food is on your plate, you should also take smaller bites and avoid stuffing your mouth with food. You will be eating while having conversations at the same time, so it will do you no good to stuff your mouth (and belly) silly.