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Going Fancy—The Dos And Don’ts Of Fine Dining

A well-set table at a restaurant

While we all know we're not supposed to stuff our faces or eat using our feet, and you can't cut a steak with a spoon, fine dining etiquette isn't something we're taught explicitly—unless you're born in Buckingham Palace, of course. 

But the fact is, most of us learn fine dining etiquette mainly through observation, awkwardness, and our fair share of embarrassments. So, to save you from any more of those, we've rounded up a general list of dos and don'ts you should keep in mind for the next time you visit a fine dining restaurant. 

DO: Dress Up

While most fine dining restaurants have become a lot more laid-back about dress codes now, it's still a good idea to dress formally when you're headed to a chic restaurant. It'll help you blend in. Because imagine walking into a very quiet high-end restaurant in a t-shirt and flip-flops; you'd attract a lot of unnecessary attention almost instantly. 

DON’T: Pretend To Be A Wine Connoisseur

A person pouring wine in a glass

It's nice to know your wine but don't act like a wine connoisseur, especially not in front of the sommelier. They might start talking about the subtleties of a left-bank Bordeaux, and you'll just embarrass yourself. 

Instead, just tell them the sort of wine you usually go for and let them make suggestions. You can also choose to go with a wine pairing and just go with the flow from there. 

DO: Make Good Use Of Your Napkin But Don’t Go Overboard

One of the simplest parts of fine dining is using your napkin right, and people still manage to mess this up. 

As a general rule of thumb, you should never try and "tuck in" the napkin anywhere. Just pick it up from your plate and place it on your lap. Also, don't use it for anything other than lightly dapping the corners of your mouth; this means spitting or blowing your nose into the napkin is out of the question. 

Also, if you're leaving to go to the restroom or taking a call, leave the napkin on your chair. If you're done eating, leave the napkin on the table. These serve as cues for the waiters waiting to clear your plates. 

DON’T: Overlook Proper Use of Cutlery

Typically, in a fine dining place setting, there are enough types of cutlery for every course. If you're not sure what to use to eat what, start with the outermost setting and work your way in through each course. 

And, make sure not to put used cutlery back on the table. Instead, place it on the empty plate for the waiter to clear. 

DO: Keep Your Plate Neat And Organized

Make sure to eat from one side of the plate, the one closest to you on the left. The bottom right is where you should have the sauces or dips, or butter. Also, keep any food discards on the top left part of your plate. 

And while you should eat from the side, it's important to keep the rim of the plates super clean. This is to help the service staff and makes it easier for them to clear the plates later; it's not a rule, but just common courtesy. 

These are the most common dos and don’ts and can feel overwhelming at first. But don’t worry and just practice at our restaurant in Carmel, CA. At SUR, we’re not really uptight about all these rules, but we are one of the chicest restaurants in Carmel and can promise an amazingly luxurious experience. 

Give us a call to make a reservation.