We are not perfect, we all have made these mistakes, some more than others. Knowingly or not we all continue to make these big faux pas. Here are 10 Mistakes Everyone Makes at Fancy Restaurants. Hopefully, this will help you with proper etiquette and what not be doing when dining out.
10. Improper or No Tipping
One of the worst mistakes dinners make when eating at a fancy restaurant is not leaving enough tip or worse still, nop tip at all. Tips should be between 17-20%, or higher for good service, 15% if mediocre or even bad. Bad service or overspending on your meal is not a good excuse for undercutting the waiter, they already get paid very little and rely heavily on tips. Before heading out to a fancy restaurant you must do your research and familiarize yourself with the restaurant’s concept and menu by looking it up on their website or by calling in. Checking your bank account or credit card limit, before heading out is also a good idea and will save you lots of embarrassment in the end. Factor in the cost of cocktails, wine, taxes and tip as this can exponentially add to the tab. Do not assume anything. Many diners have been caught red faced when they got the bill at the end of a lavish meal and realized it was more than what they budgeted and their credit card was rejected. In a fancy restaurant, there are no bargains. If you cannot afford it, stay home or choose a cheaper place to dine in that better suits your budget. Avoid looking cheap and or knowledgeable, chances are the staff will remember you next time you make a reservation. Tips should be based on the full cost of the meal, and if using special gift cards or discount coupons, base it on the original price.
9. Splitting the Tab is a Splitting Headache
Another mistake many people make when going to a fine dining establishment is splitting the tab when in a large group. While splitting the check into two or three is not so bad and not a big deal in many establishments, splitting the tab into 12 individual bills is. This will not only frustrate your server but is very time consuming not to mention confusing. Before visiting your fancy restaurant, make arrangements with your group ahead of time to divvy up the bill, put one person in charge that can assume the full cost of the bill on their credit card or ask your guests to only bring cash. If you must pay separately, tell your waiter at the onset of the meal, and let him know who will be paying together if in couples. This way, the server can keep better track of exactly who ordered what. This will not only avoid waiting a long time at the end of the meal to get the bill, it will simplify things for all entailed and ensure you get the correct charges. Also, once you’re seated, do not play musical chairs. If you must go to the bathroom, return to the same seat. Moving place in mid-meal will confuse your server and all those separate checks could end up in front of the wrong people. Many restaurants use seat numbers, moving around all over the table to sit next to your best friend can make remembering difficult, especially on a busy night.
8. Being Picky
Many diners have real deadly food allergies and most fine dining restaurants these days are very aware and have taken the proper steps to ensure that mishaps do not occur. They provide allergy information on their menus or discuss it with their customers before they order. But with so many people claiming food sensitivities these days, some restaurants are skeptical about certain claims. Especially when gluten intolerant customer asks if a dish contains sugar, potatoes, or rice, which are all gluten-free anyways. While most restaurants will gladly accommodate any food allergy request. What restaurants dislike is when customers are too picky and want to change everything in the dish by asking for too many substitutes just to suit their needs. A restaurant can easily spot clientele who is being too picky and faking food allergies to suit their narrow taste. There is a constant need for some customers to substitute side dishes and seasonings for request items, not on the menu. Most fancy restaurants have top chefs that have carefully planned out the evening menu, making changes is frowned upon and also flat out denied in some establishments. Usually, in any restaurant each meal is a carefully thought out and masterfully executed. A right amount of food was purchased to fulfill the daily menus and even though there is always extra stuff in the kitchen, a chef will be insulted if your try to re-write his masterpiece.
7. The Disruptive Foodie
Everyone is on social media these days; it has become quite common to take food pictures and to post them immediately on Instagram or Facebook. The biggest mistake people make while dining in a fancy restaurant is to pull out their phones and start taking food pictures. Flashing phone cameras are disruptive for the dinners who are trying to have a quiet dinner. Keeping your phone on the table is also wrong, it should be tucked away with keys and wallets in your purse or coat pockets. Not only can food spill on it, but it clutters valuable space reserved for plates. There is nothing more annoying while fine dining than to hear a phone ringing and someone talking loudly, while others listen in. Diners don’ t want to hear your squabbles; they are here for enjoyment. The rudest and disrespectful thing a diner can do in a fine dining establishment is to talk on phone while the waiter is ready and waiting to take the order. Their time is precious and you are holding things up. Some foodies take it one step further by befriending neighboring tables to take food pictures. Obstructing a waiters’ path, by getting up and circling tables to take pictures is not a smart move. Many restaurants and waiters do not take lightly to these types of diners and find them totally annoying. It impedes proper table service and makes them uncomfortable. They never know what to expect with these types including the bad review on Yelp!
6. No Quirky Hand Movements or Elbows on the Table
We all love to talk with our hands, but there are some dinners who just can’t sit still. Being very animated can be very dangerous. Wither you are a nervous person or just very excited to be dining here, acting overzealous can get you in trouble. One of the most common mistakes many people make while dining in a fancy restaurant is talking with their hands. There is a reason your mother always said no elbows on the table. Not only is its improper table etiquette, but it is also done for a reason. If you are sitting straight with your hands under the table there is less of a chance for you to knock into trays or glasses with your fist during an animated conversation, or hitting the waiter as they creep up behind you with a tray full of hot soup bowls. Notice next time you visit a finer dining establishment how the waiters watch the crowd. You can almost hear them saying Ah la la or nodding their heads at obnoxious guests. They know to be super careful with those inebriated types who are falling all over the place, or just those goofy types who are feeling awkward and who just plain talk too much. These are all potential risk factors for waiters and restaurants. They are careful to avoid lawsuits from scalded clientele or dry-cleaning bills for wreck some woman’s dress with red wine. They expect to mop up people’s messes a few times during the night.
5. No Hollering
Another mistake many diners make while eating in fine dining restaurants is calling out to the waiter or waitress by hollering in a loud condescending voice. Restaurant personnel in finer restaurants have been professionally trained to keep a close eye on you. With professional waiters, you never will have to even lift up a finger, they are trained to follow your body language and take cues. They know exactly when to refill your wine glass. They will ask before leaving your table if there is anything else you require. If you drop a fork, even before hitting the floor, they are there with a replacement. If you want to really aggravate your waiter, call on them while they is serving other guests, just turn around and pull on their shirttails or tap them on the shoulder like a prima donna. the waiters’ job is to give each guest his undivided attention while they are serving, they will come back to you if required. Another mistake many people make in fine dining restaurants is being rude by calling them Garcon, even if you think you are being cute or funny. If you need attention, the proper way to call your waiter or get their attention is through eye contact or by lifting your right finger when he is looking your way. Another mistake is being overly friendly and flirtatious, it can be crass and you will look like a complete pervert and ill-mannered. We are not at the O.K. Corral; some decorum is in order.
4. Table Etiquette
Table etiquette may not be so evident with some diners, but there are many books written about the subject that after a few readings one can master the basics and become a natural expert. One of the biggest mistakes at fine dining restaurants, but not uncommon, is the use of wrong flatware and improper napkin etiquette. You don’t have to worry too much about choosing the right glassware, as waiters will do that for you. The problem lies in the proper choice for flatware. The golden rule which is simple, always use the utensils which are farthest from the plate. Large knives with teeth are for steak, butter knives are smaller but with flatter ends and usually positioned near bread plates. Desserts spoons are usually at the top near the coffee cup. Keep linen napkins on the lap and not on the table. Never tuck them in your shirt collar. If leaving the table leave the napkin on your chair. Do not blow your nose in the linen napkin. Do not slurp when eating soup, use a spoon from front to back, slowly lift to your mouth, sipping not slurping, and do not drink out of the bowl, like a dog. Do not talk with food in your mouth or hog the breadbasket, ripping chunks of it with your mouth. The proper way is to take one slice of bread, place in on your bread plate, tear it apart gently, butter it lightly and eat one little piece at a time. Animal-like behavior would not please other guests and will get you much un-needed attention, with mouth agape in awe at your bad manners. Guaranteed you will be the talk of the town for many years to come.
3. Asking for Condiments
This is another mistake everyone makes in fancy restaurants; asking for condiments like ketchup, mustard, tabasco or salt and pepper is blasphemy. If you have not already noticed many fancy restaurants do not have any of these items on the tables. That is because the chef has already taken care of and fine-tuned the dish to contain all the proper seasonings. Dousing condiments on your burger or adding ketchup to your eggs at your favorite local diner, may be acceptable, and it is your prerogative. But if you go to an upscale restaurant, and order a gourmet dish and then ask for a regular condiment to pour all over the meal, you’re going to earn the lots of nasty looks and the wrath of the chef. This is one of chefs’ biggest peeves and insulting. No matter how much you like spicy food, do not ask for tabasco in a fine dining restaurant unless it is given to you with your oysters. If a dish’s seasoning isn’t hitting the spot, let the chef know so they can meet your expectations.
2. Dress Accordingly
Long gone are the days of fine suits, cocktail dresses, and fine jewelry. These days even fine dining is more relaxed and casual. We’re seeing less formal wear required, except for some fancy hotel dining rooms were jackets may be due process. One of the many mistake’s patrons make when dining at a fancy restaurant is wearing disheveled or improper attire. Going to a fine dining restaurant wearing dirty jeans, t-shirts, or even looking like lumberjack is not acceptable. Young women these days will wear scantily dressed clubwear, super short skirts, high heels, and too much perfume. Baring a little too much and not looking very classy. Some younger clientele shows up in sport or streetwear, like baseball caps and joggers, as if they are going to the gym. Some restaurateurs will just sneer and not say anything, but others may not allow you entrance. Most fine dining restaurants usually have a dress code and a reputation to upkeep. A nice pair of clean slacks for men and women are acceptable. According to the concierge service website Table Agent, “fancy restaurants want their guests to experience luxury and top-notch service, looking your best and feeling first-rate is the essence of fine dining.” “To truly be part of such a supreme culinary happening one must look the part and dress the part.” Also please leave Tinkerbelle at home with your Louis Vuitton bag.
1. Reservations & No Shows
One of the biggest and most notorious faux pas these days is not honoring reservations, or showing up really late without calling and expecting to be seated. These days, many restaurants use online reservation systems to make sure their tables are booked for the evening. This ensures that they know how many people to expect and how much staff to hire and how much food is needed. Large groups are notorious for last minute cancellations or no shows. When this happens, the restaurant suffers immensely, losing much of their night’s profits, unless they have tons of walk in’s, which is not likely. Being late is frowned upon as fancy restaurants have a few sittings during the night, showing up late means you will be served later or rushed out. In major US cities, 30 % of reservations are no-shows, and another 20 percent are late. The invention of online reservations has also been a curse for some restaurant owners, who say that groups are mass-reserving tables for the same time at numerous restaurants and choosing where they will go last minute before the reservation. This hurts restaurants big time and is totally unfair to customers who could have made a reservation and attended.