Dining out Etiquette how to Behave Stylishly at Restaurants

It’s strange how perspectives on etiquette can vary so drastically. My (European) parents made it very clear to me how best to behave at the dinner table (or restaurant) from as long ago as I can remember. I certainly do not know perfect etiquette, but I like to think my parents taught me well.
Here is a list of things to note when dining out at a stylish place (or just dining out stylishly);

1. Appearance!
A t-shirt with your favorite sports team (yes, even the Red Sox), shorts, and sandals do not go with $30 plates. If you’re going out somewhere nice, dress the part.
Wear a dress shirt, slacks, a belt, nice shoes, maybe even a suit-jacket, etc. Give the impression that you belong there. Ladies, wear a dress.
Clean clothes, clean face, clean hands (no dirty nails!), clean smell (take a shower).

2. Behavior

a. General Behavior
No one likes rude people. Be polite: Say “Excuse me” when you’re trying to get a waiter’s (or waitress’) attention. When you ask for something, always say “Please” and “Thank You”. People react well when someone appreciates what they do for them.
Try not to give attitude. People make mistakes all the time -you do too! (Politely) repeat your request.

Try not to be excessively loud; there are other people in the restaurant who are trying to enjoy a peaceful meal. This includes burping and farting. If you absolutely must burp, it should not be heard or smelt. If you have to, excuse yourself (go to the bathroom). Farting should never happen under ANY circumstance. If you feel the urge, excuse yourself to the bathroom. The bathroom is your special fart-party. If you like to pass gas, that’s the place to do it.

b. Posture: Sit up-right. Do not slouch (even after you’ve finished eating). Keep your elbows off of the table -instead, rest your forearms on the table.

3. Eating
Rest your napkin on your lap -not down the front of your shirt/dress.

When you’re chewing your food, your mouth stays closed (not only is it rude to open your mouth while you eat, but it’s extremely disgusting; no one cares to HEAR you eat or SEE what your food looks like going down). Breathe through your nose. Cows open their mouths while they eat. If someone asks you a question while your mouth is full, finish what’s in your mouth (swallow) and then reply.

Do not pick your teeth! Not with your finger(s) or with your utensils!

a. Portions:
Do not stuff your mouth to the point where your cheeks bulge or you cannot close your lips. Ideally you should be able to stop chewing and someone wouldn’t be able to tell you have food in your mouth. SMALL PORTIONS: your food won’t run away!

b. Utensils:
USE THEM. Do not eat with your hands (this depends on the food).

Knife in the right hand, fork in the left hand. These do NOT SWITCH HANDS. Do NOT cut up your food, put down your fork, put down your knife, pick up your fork with your right hand and then eat your food. Don’t square-dance with your utensils. When they’re not in your hands, they should be resting on their respective side of the edge of your plate.

Use BOTH of your hands (knife and fork). If you’re eating a soft meal that only requires a fork (like fish), the free hand should have its forearm resting against the edge of the table -NOT UNDER THE TABLE ON YOUR LAP. This is a common misconception.

Cut away a small piece (secure with your left [fork], cut with your right [knife]), use the fork to bring the food to your mouth <- (that’s important; your mouth does not go to your food, your food should go to your mouth -yes, even soup).
No matter how good your food was, do not lick your utensils -especially not your knife. Spoon? Maybe..

c. Drinking
Don’t slurp your drink (or soup!) -making noises will not make your wine taste better (this includes situations with straws -don’t suck air and drink through your straw to make sure you get every last drop.

4. Wrapping Up
If you’re satisfied with your meal, place your knife and fork on the plate together so that they’re parallel to one another. If you’re unsatisfied with your meal, place your knife and fork far away from each other -crossing their ends. Varying degrees define your level of satisfaction.

Do not slouch, undo your belt/pants/zipper, or take off your shoes when you’re finished: you’re not at home on your couch.

Wipe your mouth with your napkin, fold it and place it on the table to the side of your plate. This will also signal the waiter/waitress that you’ve finished.

Standard tipping is 15-18%. Often times at up-scale restaurants you should give 20%. For those who have trouble doing the math in their head;
Total: $84.36
Take 10% of your total (move the decimal): $8.43
(if you would like to make it easier, round [up]): $8.50
Multiply this number by 2: $17.00
(8+8 = 16) + (.5 + .5 = 1) = 17
So, about $17.00 is a good tip.

In conclusion, try to follow these guidelines and you’ll be bound to impress your date. They may seem overwhelming at first, but repetition will make it second nature.
Bon Appetite!