When Dining Out
More and more I’m convinced that common decency is as rare as an Ortolan, especially when it relates to restaurant dining. Having worked in hospitality, I’ve seen my fair share of transgressions that ranged from not-so-nice [belligerent patron] to downright egregious [said patron flinging a rock glass at a server]. Below is my gentleman’s guide to dining out.
Well you shouldn’t be, but sh*t happens. If you realise that you will be late call you date/friends/pastor and let she/he know that you’re going to be a late. Halfway there call/text to advise of your ETA. If you’re more that 30 minutes late call the restaurant and ask them to send over a plate of nibbles to tide your dinner companion[s] over until you arrive.
If you’re dining with a woman, I don’t care if it’s your mom, a blind-date from Plenty of Fish or great-aunt Myrtle pull out her chair and ‘seat’ her at the table. [Note: If you’re with a group, seat the lady who is sitting beside you].
Have you seen our server?
Good servers are trained to spot when a diner is in need of something or simply knows how much time to give you to look over the menu. Snapping, clapping, hooting or hollering just highlight your gaucheness. If the matter is indeed urgent, go over to the host/hostess and inform him/her that you’d like to see your server as soon as he/she is available.
Is this yours or mine?
Please know which water-glass and bread plate are yours, especially when dining with a group. Bread plate is to your left [fork position] and water-glass to your right [knife position].
So many options. However, refrain from piling food on your plate. It is better to go back a few times than to have Mount Vesuvius on your plate. Survey the buffet, see what’s being offered – skip senseless items such as rice or pasta-from-a-box [how many times have you heard “If I knew they had lamb I would have skipped the tater-tots”?] then choose what you’d like to sample. Always remember to close the lids on the chafing dishes, return serving utensils to their proper place and offer a plate to the person behind you.
Ok, I’m sorry but unless you’re a social-media guru, Prime Minister or an ER doc on-call, you don’t need to check your phone at the table. Or worse, keep it on the table. If you’re expecting a call let your dinner guest[s] know in advance and excuse yourself when the phone rings. Otherwise, use your bathroom visits to check messages. Oh, upon arrival at the restaurant, please turn your phone to vibrate only, the other patrons don’t need to hear your Feist & Constantines Islands in the Stream ringtone.
The business lunch
Nothing kindles more fear than eating with your boss whilst trying to land a deal. My rule of thumb, order what is practical, not what you really want. Therefore skip pasta [sauce on your tie, tsk tsk get ready to go back to the copy room junior] and anything with bones [it’s just messy]. Also, don’t be afraid to leave a little on your plate, this shows civility and restraint. [Note: recommend a restaurant where you’re a regular or you know someone who works there. The extra service that you receive coupled with the complimentary amuse-bouche, send a positive signal to your business partners that you’re the man.
Drinking during the business lunch
It is acceptable to have one drink during lunch, but take your cues from your boss and clients. Don’t be the only one having a drink. You lush. Order something that won’t render you useless such as a glass of wine and don’t down the glass, sip intermittently between sips of water. Your boss and clients will be impressed with your class.
I’m all about having a good time and laughing and chatting animatedly. However, be mindful of others within earshot – don’t be the table on the receiving end of glares or scornful side-eyes.
Oh how cheap some people are. Standard basic tip rate is 15% and if the restaurant took especially good care of you and honoured your “in stead of the fries may I get half frisée salad and half steamed veggies, no butter?” then tip 20%. If you felt that service was shoddy and that by leaving a crappy tip you’ll ‘show them’, don’t. Ask for the manager, explain your self calmly, include the statement “I know that you’re busy and things sometimes go wrong…” and let him/her know that you couldn’t leave without him/her knowing of your experience so that he/she has the opportunity to remedy the situation. That’s how a gentleman operates.
Hail cabs for your dinner guest[s] who don’t drive and aren’t taking public transit. Open the doors for the ladies and if it’s a late night, ensure the driver knows where he’s taking them.