The worst mistake a guest at a fine dining restaurant like Peter Luger can make is to belittle the waiters, whether it’s in words or in actions! Keep in mind that waiters are the people who serve your food and drinks, who work hard at their jobs, and who contribute to your dining experience. As such, they deserve your respect and, in turn, you will also be respected – or at least, both parties will treat each other with kindness, courtesy and generosity.
In other words, the relationship between the guests and waiters in a fine dining restaurant is a two-way street. You, the guest, have a role to play while the waiters have theirs, too, and these roles should be followed for an enjoyable evening. Here, we will discuss a few of these roles and the realistic expectations that come with them.
On Your Part as a Guest
When you enter a fining dining restaurant, you’re immediately a guest – a valued guest, too, if you’re a well-mannered one. As a guest, you are expected to be on your best behavior, just as you should be when you’re a guest in a home, an office or a city. You should follow the dress code, mind your table manners, and use your low voice, among others.
Other things that you should be mindful of as a guest are:
Avoid making loud comments or obnoxious complaints about your table not yet being ready, whether it’s because another group hasn’t finished their meal yet or the table isn’t set yet. Your reaction to such an unfortunate situation will mean the difference between a good and bad dining experience.
Instead of making a scene, you should discreetly talk to the manager and ask when your table will be ready, perhaps even say that you’re in a bit of a hurry. You will find that your table will be ready in no time because the staff will want to make your dining experience better after the initial snafu. Your waiter will also be more attentive because of it.
Call the waiter’s attention in the proper manner. Never, ever, raise your voice at a waiter when calling his attention – unless, of course, somebody is choking and you don’t know the Heimlich maneuver.
The best way to do so is to use eye contact and slightly raise your right hand’s index finger, a surefire way to call your waiter’s attention. In fine dining restaurants, it’s an easy thing to do as waiters are trained to keep their eyes on the guests and anticipate their needs.
Always strive to be courteous and kind toward your waiters, even when you feel like losing your temper. In fine dining restaurants, the waiters are also trained to prove stellar service but there are exceptions, and you may be one of the unlucky few who were at the receiving of subpar service. In this case, your best bet is to ask for the manager and calmly state your case – the manager will handle the erring waiter and you can go on with your meal.
Basically, behave toward your waiters as if you were in their shoes. You will find that they will work better at making your mealtime better, too.
On the Part of the Waiters
The best waiters in fine dining restaurants know that the things that make the most impact on diners aren’t the luxurious ambiance and the delicious food – it’s the human touch! The human touch, of course, comes most from the waiters since they have the most interaction with the guests.
What then can you expect from waiters in exchange for being a good guest? Here are a few things that we think are the most important.
Your waiter sets the tone for your dining experience so he will likely give a friendly greeting coupled with a smile and open body language. You may also be informed of his name and the day’s specials, perhaps give the menu and make recommendations; the actual spiel will depend on the restaurant’s policy. You will also be the recipient of frequent eye contact and good manners, such as saying “Please” and “Thank you”, and it’s best to return them.
Your waiter has reserves of patience but you shouldn’t try to use them all up either. You will not be rushed to order from the menu but you should also not keep him waiting for 30 minutes while you flip-flop about your choice. You will not be asked several times whether you’re ready to order obviously but you should avoid calling them again and again because you changed your mind yet again.
In many ways, the waiters are the representatives of the restaurant and, as such, they are expected to be well-versed about the food and wine menus. Their knowledge can even extend to the ingredients used and the processes used in preparing the dishes, even interesting facts that customers may like to know. You can take advantage of it by asking for recommendations and actually taking them.
In the end, everybody’s experience at a fine dining restaurant will largely depend on their behavior and actions. Are you ready to be a good guest?