The Restaurant Etiquette Guide


 We’ve all been there… you’re sitting in a fancy restaurant, feeling out of your comfort zone. The row of forks is tormenting you as you sit unsure of where to begin. Fine dining restaurants can be anxiety-inducing for some, the embarrassment of not knowing how to pronounce the wine you want to order or having absolutely no idea of what to order on a menu written entirely in French. Restaurant etiquette isn’t exactly something any of us learned in school and it’s not something a lot of our parents taught us, but it’s just as important to be mindful and polite at the corner diner as it is at the five-star French restaurant. But what is the proper protocol for dining out?

Trusting the server is an important part of making your dining experience better. I always consider their suggestions and I never make any major changes to a dish, but even with small ones I always make sure to ask if removing or adding an ingredient will compromise the dish. Of course, if you have allergies or dietary restrictions, you might need to remove ingredients from a dish more often than most and that is completely acceptable! No restaurant wants to make any-one feel sick, or worse, send someone to the hospital. Letting the staff know about your dietary restrictions and allergies is very important and the restaurant will greatly appreciate your transparency. You can also help the restaurant to create a nice experience by placing your full order at once, not including dessert. Most restaurants are able to pace your meal out for you, making sure you have plenty of time with appetizers before entrees are ready.

Through my own years in hospitality, I have seen a lot of bad manners, everything from a person screaming at a host for giving up their table when they showed up forty-five minutes late to couples sneaking off into the bathroom together after a few too many drinks. Of course, most people would agree all of that is bad behavior in a restaurant, but there are also small, subtle things you can do (or not do) to make life easier for the staff and make your experience seamless. I am personally of the belief that no one knows how to have a better experience in a restaurant than the people who work there, they’ve probably tasted all the food, they know which dishes are the most popular and they understand the best pacing of service.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember when dining out is to have a great time. Life is too short to fret about a pretentious maître d’ or feel embarrassed to ask what that ingredient is that you can’t even pronounce. I guarantee you that any question you feel embarrassed about has probably already been asked my ten other people that night. Any great restaurant only wants you to have a good time and enjoy yourself, but it’s always important to remember that restaurant staff are humans too who work very long hours on their feet and their job is much harder than most people think it is. In all areas of life, be kind.

(James Mallios is the managing partner of Bar Marseille.  He was born and raised in what he recently learned is called “North Queens” He is joined this week by colleague Natalie Crooks).


By Natalie Crooks and James Mallios


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