You’ve been invited to a swanky restaurant, so you’ve gone all out preparing for it. You’ve ironed out the wrinkles on your clothes, got your hair done, and polished your shoes so you’re feeling confident about the night. You take your seat and you notice that there are twice as many forks and knives on the table than you’re used to seeing.
So, what do you do? We’ve all been in this similar position where we feel that we should’ve studied up on our food etiquette at some point or other but never found the time. Don’t fret, we’ve come up with a list of the top food etiquette practices that you should know before you go out to that fancy dinner.
1. The Appetizer Fork
When you arrive at the table you might notice that there are two forks instead of one. Don’t be alarmed, this is simply the appetizer fork and part of the basics of food etiquette. At most fine dining restaurants, you will have two forks available to you, one for the appetizer and one for the main. You can distinguish one from the other by its size, for the appetizer fork will be smaller, or by its place as the outermost fork.
By having two, this prevents you from using the same fork to leave residue from your appetizer onto your main. There is nothing more awkward then tasting octopus when you have moved onto your lamb. In order to prevent any mixing of unwanted flavors servers will simply take away your dirty appetizer fork and leave you with your second one.
2. Utensil Order
At some restaurants they might have a variety of utensils that not only include the appetizer fork but a myriad of others. One of the most helpful food etiquette practices to know is to always start from the outside and to work your way in. Your utensils will be laid out for you according to the order in which your food courses will come out, therefore you should use them in that order. So, if you have three forks on the table then you should use the outermost fork for the first course, then the second outermost fork for the second course, and so on and so forth.
3. A Closed Or Open Menu
At many fine dining restaurants servers tend to work based on non-verbal cues. One of the most common food etiquette practices is when to keep your menu open and closed. When you are first deciding on what to get it is only natural you will have your menu open. However, once you have decided on your choice of meal it is proper to close your menu and lay it down on the table. This is a signal to your server that you have decided on what to eat and that you are ready to order without having to verbally tell them.
4. Utensil Placement
Many servers know when you have finished a meal or when you are still eating by the placement of your utensils. A good food etiquette practice to know is that you can signal your current meal status with how you place your fork and knife on your plate. By placing your utensils parallel to each other on the plate signals to your server that you are finished with your meal and they can take it. Placing your fork and knife at an “X” on the plate signals to your server that you are not finished your meal but simply resting.