How To Be Polite When Dining

I recently ate at a fancier restaurant than I usually do. I'm not loaded with money by any means so this was rare. I realized in a panic I do not know all my dining etiquette. From the minute they laid the fabric napkin on my lap for me, I knew I was in trouble. This is not my comfort zone.

I got to thinking about all the different etiquette issues: How do you lay the knife down? What do I do when I'm done? Etc.

I got so caught up in it all I didn't even think until later about how to give compliments to a chef.

There was some delicious food. There was some not as delicious food. There are manners involved in both.

I decided to try escargot for the first time and regret my reaction. I was with a group of my family and after eating it, lightly told them that the sauce was amazing but it would taste good on anything. Once you get to the snail it still tastes like dirt. I said this with the waiter close by (I think he had been waiting for my reaction). Luckily, he was a very nice waiter who just laughed, but still. I should have just quietly stopped eating. No need to make a fuss about it. Especially when it wasn't any cooks fault, it was just a preference issue.

Then there was a fettuccine alfredo. Oh boy, was I in heaven. It was the best alfredo I'd ever had. With heavy cream and mascarpone cheese, it lay in a baked parmesan mini-dish. I ate the entire thing.

That in and of itself shows some compliment, but how does that get back to the cooks? There has got to be more. I wish now I had sent some compliments to the chef. But after coming home, I looked up a few more ideas.

  • 1.  1/2-3/4 of the way through the meal, send your thank you to the chef or cooks. They will appreciate your thanks (don't we all love to hear those words?) If they aren't too busy, some may even come to speak with you.
  • 2.  Ask for an autographed menu. I loved this idea. It doesn't take too much time, and it's a huge way of saying you truly enjoyed the meal. I feel it shows a lot of respect for the chef who made your dish. Remember he may not be able to if his hands are tied up, be understanding if he is busy.

  • 3.  Respectfully ask to thank the cooks (instead of chef) if you know there are multiple ones cooking for you.
  • 4.  After trying one dish (that you end up loving), ask what the chef is particularly proud of or one that he would suggest for you to try. Asking for his opinion would be a compliment. Be courteous if he doesn't have time.
  • 5.  If you don't like something, quietly make eye contact with the waiter (or say excuse me) and explain specifically what you didn't like. Being specific helps the cook know what to change. And don't go through half the dish before saying something. Furthermore, Be polite and understanding. Most people truly want you to have a good experience at their restaurant and aren't going to be offended if you ask kindly. Remember it may not even be their fault (especially if you're speaking with the waiter).

Hopefully these are a few things you or I could use on our next excursion to a restaurant. Being kind, smiling, and giving thanks helps the world run smoother. Remember that.


    Sydney Hill
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2012
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