There is nothing quite like fine dining. From exotic and oftentimes exhilarating menu items to ordinary yet entirely fresh ones reimagined in an avant-garde concept, engaging in a fine dining experience is to tickle the senses whilst unravelling a gastronomic journey like no other.
So it can get daunting when confronted with too many cutlery in a puzzling progression of sizes, or coming face-to-face with a complicated napkin fashioned after an elegant swan. Which fork is suitable for my dessert, you ask? Shall I unravel the napkin on my own, or wait for the server?
Of course, with every excellent affair, fine dining calls for faultless decorum, a fine set of rules and certainly, your best behaviour:
Dress to Kill
To go with its rather formal atmosphere, a dress code is typically implemented in fine dining establishments. That’s a hard pass on jeans, which are heavily discouraged – even if it’s Louis Vuitton. There are certain requirements for every dress code, namely, Casual, Business Casual, Casual Elegant, Formal, Jacket Required, Cocktail, or Black Tie. Although, if you went to Chef Graham Elliot's namesake restaurant, the chef insists that you "come as you are", explaining his desire to provide for a dining experience rather than to critic his guests' wardrobe. Chef Elliot's philosophy may highlight the slow and but sure decline of overly stringent dress codes, but take the wise words of Oscar Wilde: “You can never be overdressed or overeducated.”
Take a Seat
No matter the location, the host of the dinner takes the first seat. There might be cards on the table to indicate the seating arrangement; if not, it is simply mentioned at the door. You may wait for the host, who will be seated at the head of the table, to seat you if neither happens. Sitting upright is encouraged, with elbows never on the table.
Forks, Knives and Dainty Mouthfuls
Typically, if not always, a collection of forks lie on your left side, whilst knives and spoons fill your right. These are usually set for right-handed people, and a rule of thumb is to simply work your way in from the outside. In other words, use the furthest cutlery for your first course, and then slowly work your way in for the next ones. Still in doubt? Look at your host for clues. Cutlery, if placed back down between each dainty mouthful, should be on the plate and not the table.
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