Ladylike Laws: Restaurant Dining

Ladylike Laws: Restaurant Dining

Imagine you’ve just sat down to an insanely romantic dinner with prince charming. (Let’s be honest, you totally won him over with your impeccable manners during the first date.) He’s taken you to the nicest joint in town. Just as you get settled in and catch one another’s eye, a loud screech interrupts your gaze: A woman at a nearby table drags her teeth along her fork. The sound is piercing. Next thing you know, the electronic tune to “Baby Got Back” fills the room as a cellphone buzzes against white china. WHAT IS GOING ON? No manners, that’s what.

There are certain do’s and don’ts when dining out. Things that many of us forget to consider. Below is my Ladylike Laws guide to dining out:

Arriving. Greet the host kindly. If there is a wait, don’t make a huge fuss. It’s up to you to decide whether or not it’s worth it. Restaurants get busy and it’s not the host’s fault.

Napkins. Once you are seated, place your napkin onto your lap with the crease facing you. If the napkin is particularly large, you may fold it in half again. Never take your drink or begin eating without placing your napkin on your lap. When you leave the table or get up for the restroom, fold your napkin (try to hide any food stains you may have left) and place the napkin to the left side of your place setting. (You can thank the 18th Edition of Emily Post’s Etiquette for these tips.)

Menu signals. When you’re settled in, it’s time to look over the menu. Once you have decided what you want to order, close your menu and place it in front of you–this will signal to the wait staff that you are ready to order.

The wait staff. I think a lot of people forget their manners when it comes to the wait staff at a restaurant. It’s important to be appreciative of their service. After all, isn’t it nice to be attended to? Look your waiter in the eye when ordering or asking for something and always say your please and thank yous!

Table tools. When selecting which utensil to use for each course, start with the outermost utensil and work your way in.

The bread basket. If a breadbasket graces your tabletop, tear off one piece and place it onto your bread plate. If you want to butter your bread, take a pat of butter and put it onto your bread plate so you have your own personal butter stash. Never butter your bread directly from the shared butter dish. It’s rude. Finally, tear your bread into bite size pieces and butter as you go.

Turn it down. Please turn your phone to silent or vibrate when you arrive. And try your very best not to text or talk on your phone throughout the meal. If a call or text is particularly urgent, kindly excuse yourself from the table and take care of matters in the restroom. Furthermore, it’s especially important not to try and draw attention to yourself in a dining setting. Translation: Turn down your volume and speak in a soft, pleasant voice. No yelling, loud gawking or anything other audible missteps that might turn heads.

Mind the purse. Believe it or not, you’re not supposed to hang your purse over the back of your chair. I was pretty surprised to learn this. Apparently, you should either leave it on your lap or place it at your feet. And never, ever put your purse on the table. As for our male counterparts, wallets, keys and phones should not be piled onto the table either.

Um, you have something in your teeth. According to Lizzie Post, make eye contact with the individual and signal by lightly tapping your teeth or mouth. If all else fails, just let them know. I would definitely rather someone tell me, wouldn’t you?

Fin! When you are finished with your meal, rest your utensils diagonally across the plate. This is another key restaurant signal that will alert the wait staff that you are done.

What’s the worst dining offense you’ve witnessed?

XO Lauren

P.S. For more details on the intricacies of restaurant dining, I highly recommend the 18th Edition of Emily Post’s Etiquette.

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Party Planning: Say Cheese!
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The Ladylike Laws: Manners Matter
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Photo: Tumblr
Categories: Etiquette, Grow
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  • Bonnie Schanck

    love your ladylike laws posts :)

  • Lauren Hoffman

    I can’t stand when people leave their cell volume on full blast! It’s so rude. An ex taught me the “”I’m done”” signal years ago, works like a charm.

    Looking for a great swim suit without bearing it all?

    -Lauren

  • Melissa Panici

    These tips are good to know! I need to be reminded of this once in a while because it’s easy to let things slip! I never really had a terrible dining experience but I had an ex boyfriend who never made eye contact with the waiter. I thought it was rude. Thanks for the tips!

  • Stacie Grissom

    These tips are so helpful. I hate it when cell phones ring during dinner. :)

    My latest DIY: how to make a two-tone cardigan!

  • Alba Cuci

    These are great tips Lauren! Thank you!

  • Kristy Doyle

    I feel like most of these are common sense, but I was surprised by a few. I’ve worked as a waitress quite a bit in my past, so I’ve seen some atrocious manners. I don’t care if you are dining at the fanciest restaurant in town or the pizza joint on the corner, having good dining manners is just good practice. It was always so frustrating to me as a waitress when people were on their cell phones the entire time. Why do you even go out to eat with your loved ones if you’re going to spend the entire time on your phone?

  • Jennifer Brodigan

    “”Never butter your bread directly from the shared butter dish. It’s rude.””

    Um, why exactly? The rest I totally agree with, especially phone etiquette.

  • Tiffani Stuart

    I have the Emily Post 18th Edition Etiquette book as well… and it’s definitely worth getting. Literally, it’s bigger than a family Bible! lol. I love all of these reminders; However, I still think I will hang my purse on the back of my chair, just b/c I don’t like getting my purse dirty. I never put it on the table, but putting it on the ground– I only do that when every other option is exhausted, lol. I will even try to put it behind me in my chair, before putting it on the ground. The floor is so nasty & I hate to think that I might sit my purse down for a brief moment on a table if it’s ever been on the ground.

    One of my worst dining experiences happen w/an ex co-worker. She was SOOO RUDE!! She was treating the wait staff so rudely. Yelling at them, snapping her fingers & waving her fork in the air to get attention. It was at a business breakfast. I finally looked at her (in front of my boss who wasn’t saying anything) and told her that her behavior was rude & unacceptable. I also told her that it reflected poorly on our agency & I don’t like being represented that way. Needless to say, we’re no longer friends… but who needs friends like that anyway??

  • Jennifer Fox

    What’s your advice for when the check comes???

  • Katie N

    I’m a host at a restaurant and my husband is a waiter at a different restaurant…people can be so rude when there is a wait or when they see open tables. They don’t realize that just because a table looks open and ready, does not mean there is a server for that section of the restaurant. My husband also makes HORRIBLE tips on average even though he gets great comments on the customer surveys that people fill out. I don’t think people understand how to tip well. Working in a restaurant will really give you perspective on how to act when you’re eating out.

  • aja munsell

    Once when I was invited to eat dinner at a friends house, her Dad reached across someone’s plate to grab a water pitcher by grabbing the rim with his hand. So basically he put his fingers in the pitcher and hauled it over to his side of the table. Additionally people that chew with their mouths open need to learn that no one wants to see that.

  • Alexandra Arreola

    Great advice! Although I’ve heard that if you are getting up to go to the bathroom you should place your napkin on the chair to indicate to the staff that you will be returning. Also, while you are eating soup and taking a break you should leave the spoon in the bowl. If you rest the spoon outside of the bowl it is an indication that you are done.

  • Larissa Wilhelm

    My ex would constantly shove food into his already stuffed mouth and then chew with his mouth open. Then when he would finally swallow, he would belch loudly and long. It was disgusting and be very embarrassing.

    Thank you so much for your advice Lauren. This will definitely come in handy!

    http://fitnessmisc.blogspot.com/

  • Shelbs

    Great tips! I think the WORST manners ever, even outside of dining, is when people text. I don’t mind someone occassionally looking at their phone, and I completely understand when it’s urgent, but talk with the people you’re WITH! It seems like my friends barely even look up at me these days because they’re so glued to their phones.

  • Jennifer Brown

    I thought it was bad luck to put your purse on the floor…?

  • Cupcakegirl

    Applying make up at the table, or picking at your teeth, or blowing your nose! If you have something in you teeth, or need to blow your nose, or reapply powder or lip gloss, please excuse youself to the restroom. I went to dinner once with a friend who brought a friend with her and the friend kept blowing her nose on the linen napkin. It was HORRIBLE!

  • Christina Reiko Napier

    This is great! The PRSSA chapter I’m in is having a Dining Etiquette 101 workshop this Tuesday! We’ve had some people rudely tell us they think this wont be valuable when they’re the ones who clearly need to work on their manners. Lol.

    So, thank you Lauren I’ve already tweeted this post to let others know :)

    @christinareiko

    http://www.facebook.com/events/150149245100634/

  • OH SO PRETTY

    I haaaaate when people smack their food. It’s one thing to do it in private but when you are out in public, CLOSE YOUR MOUTH!!

    Check out our new nail tutorial! http://ohsoprettythediaries.blogspot.com/

  • Mary Lauren

    I’m so glad you mentioned the wait staff! As a server we always get those people who treat us like dirt. Yes it’s our job to serve you, but majority of us go out of our way to make you really comfortable. Getting an extra 20 napkins and your complicated order exactly to a T right is not in our job description so make sure we know you appreciate it :D

  • Jennie Raimo

    Great post LC. A lot of us ladies aspire to be like you. Thanks for the tips :)

  • soupforthegirlysoul
  • Caren Halsey

    The purse thing is fascinating, I guess I’ve been unintentionally being rude :/ oops! Thanks for posting this, these are useful tips that everyone should be aware of

  • JackE Sands

    These are great tips! Would love to see them in a list like this one on Date Night Makeup Must Haves! Dinning/dating etiquette is something that everyone can use a few tips on! Thanks for sharing these :)

  • Cali Y

    I am a waitress and I appreciate you giving these great tips. So many people are rude or just plain mean to the waitstaff. I always wonder why, when people walk through the door of a restaurant, their normal etiquette goes out the window.

  • Julie Haugan

    The worst thing I have ever experienced happend on a date. The first and last date with that man! We went to a nice restaurant and he was incredibly rude to the waiter. He whistled and snapped his fingers whenever he wanted something, didn`t make an eyecontact and he was stingy when it came to tip the waiter.. What a baaad date…. :P

  • Kimmy S

    Excellent tips! I love the bit about what to do when people have food in their teeth–that’s always such an awkward moment at the dinner table. The worst offense I see on a day to day basis is people yapping louding on their phones… especailly in nail salons!

    You should do a post about nail salon etiquette : ) Anyone else agree??

  • Cate McLaughlin

    I definitely love the advice, however, I thought you were supposed to place the napkin on your chair when you intend to return to the table? If you are leaving for good, then you are allowed to place it on the table. I’m never one to argue with Ms. Post, but I could have sworn that’s what I have always been taught.

    Also something interesting, you are allowed to put your elbows on the table as long as it is inbetween courses and no one is eating.

    Thanks for the advice Lauren! You are awesome.

  • Stephanie A Escamilla

    Thank you LC for mentioning the purses, be very careful- leaving your purse on the back of your chair can lure sneaky thieves who’ll wait for you to get distracted so they can snatch it up.

  • karly goins

    All of these tips are very helpgul! Sadly, I cannot agree with the purse tip. Bacteria is on floor, and holding your purse just looks plain silly! Like my God-mother always said “”Where you keep your purse says how much you think its worth””. So I guess this is why purse hangers were invented :)

    http://www.silverhooks.com/purse-hangers?gclid=CI7A36W8-K0CFakbQgod7UvZtA

  • marianne garcia

    …when is being a slob coming in style?

  • Ashley Thayer

    These were great tips! Certainly want to see these Ladylike laws more often!

    xox

  • Amber Phelps

    I try my best to follow these rules everytime I go into a restaurant! Thanks Lauren :)

  • Stacie

    I usually hang my purse off my knee.. is that weird? I don’t like putting it on the floor b/c it’ll get dirty, and I don’t like it on the back of my chair b/c I worry about someone taking it.

    If there’s an extra chair at the table (or I’m sitting in a booth) I’ll set it there.

  • Danielle B.

    Thanks for these tips they were very helpful!! The worse dinning offense I have ever witnessed is when I was younger I went with my friend and her family out to a nice restraunt and the mom’s food wasnt cooked all the way so she got the waiter and cussed him out and then the owner and demanded for the dinner to be free it was funny but embarrassing. lol!!:DD

  • Julia Renkert

    I think this post is pretty important. I sometimes feel like I’m the only one who practices good manners at a restaurant anymore, so hopefully this post will open some eyes! I can’t tell you how many times people leave their purse on the table and text through a meal. So rude! Thanks for the great post!

    Julia
    Cup of Tea
    http://cupoftea-style.blogspot.com

  • Jordan Barnes

    Will definately be using these tips in the future!

    The worst offense I’ve ever encountered at a high end restaurant was when my father and I had a dinner date a few years ago. We were seated, greeted and tended to by our waitress. But then, as we were waiting for our food, the waitress, as we thought, was walking to our table. Then all of a sudden she passes our table to the one diagonal from us and sits down… next to her boyfriend! And she sat there for twenty minutes basically sitting in his lap and groping him in, well, lets just say inappropriate ways.

    My father finally notified the manager, who then escorted the waitress to the back. And then , well , we recieved a new waitress so to speak!

  • Elysa Costante

    Worst offense I had to whitness: Someone eating food off the table at a fine dinning restaurant :(

  • LS

    When people chew with their mouth’s open, and speak with food in their mouth.

  • 6elii

    Also remember that you must wait until the food is served for both, to start eating at the same time

  • Alejandra Favela

    i really thought that the purse on the back of the chair it was ok :/

  • Steamy BainMarie

    What I usually do is to check the menu online so I already know what to order when I get there and how much cash I need to bring.

  • Natasha Pereira

    I work in a very small Fine Dining establishment which my family owns. We wash and iron all of our own linens. My beggest per peeve is when people put their cloth napkins on their dish… it is so very rude and just unnecessary.

  • Laura Estrada

    Wow I love the post!

    I’m a Chef and usually see these kinds of mistakes when people came to eat, and what’s worst is that most of the time who do that are womeeeen!! Sometimes many of them for have the attention of the table try to do more scandal about his movements, but we see it from another point, and note that it is ridiculous and ielegant.
    I think most of us need to be careful with these situations, reading or taking some classes about etiquette.

  • carena klerkx

    Thankyou, those tips are very helpful for every women. XO

  • Elisee prummel

    Those tips are very helpful, thanks for sharing them with us Lauren!
    Believe it or not, you’re not supposed to hang your purse over the back of your chair, i didn’t know that….. But now i know it!

  • tinamarie

    good to know. this is helpful with business dinners too!

  • Susannah Williams

    my ex made me pay for a super fancy resterant. It was our second date. again it was super fancy resterant and i was in a very nice dress (LBD classic) and he wore jeans and a t-shirt. I used a clutch had my phone on silent. He put everything on the table i was so mad because he took a phone call from his ‘buddy’ and that took an hour. I was like that’s it one more thing i’m done. This night is supposed to be about me and you.

  • db_blacky

    When my parents were in town last time I took them to a really nice restaurant that I found with my friends. In the middle of our meal we hear someone’s ringtone “”sexy and I know it”” going off a few tables down. Classy…

  • Melissa Nugent

    these tips are so good.. i learn something new lol.. thanks

  • Rose Andrews

    @ Susannah- There’s always a reason someone is your ex… and it sounds like you were better off without him anyway!

  • Ale Colmenero

    Love this! I have always thought manners are crucial in the every day life! =]

  • fashionsontop
  • Hagit Wong

    But the thing is.. Where do i put my purse if i can not put it behind my cheair or my feet? I think is really tricky.

    CAN ANYBODY EXPLAIN ME PLEASE?

  • Hannah Kinney

    My boyfriend took me to Lawry’s in Chicago for Valentine’s Day a few years ago. Our meal was deleicious, and the date was romantic. He’d been telling me he was going to take me to Lawry’s since the second time we’d hung out (before we were dating). Anyway — at the table next to us was a group of extremely obnoxious adults. They were so incredibly loud. I do beleive I threw a few dirty looks their way, but no one was paying attention to me.

    I’m sure that’s the most common offense: Not minding the other people around you who are trying to enjoy their experiences. I don’t care if you’re at a diner, a TGI Friday’s or a 5-star restaurant; keep your conversation at your own table!

    Please and thank you, of course. :P

  • Jade Harvered

    Lol I wish I knew that when I first started dating :)

  • Jennifer Funderburg

    May I ask that you add in one final item? Don’t forget to tip your server. The server wage is 2.13/hr so their source of income comes from their tips. As a guest in a restaurant, you are receiving a service. Your waitstaff is making sure you are taken care of from the moment you walk in until the moment you walk out of their establishment.

  • Jen

    not the worst offense, but I was turned off when a waiter cleared the table before I had finished eating. I think that waiters should wait for everyone to be done with their plates before clearing the table. I felt kind of lonely eating all alone… :-)

  • Lyn

    My Mum and I were in the city eating at a cafe. While we were waiting in line to pay our bill, we both noticed a couples table nearby. All of a sudden the guy picked up his plate and licked it clean!! I was mortified for the poor lady that was with hin, but then she proceeded to run her index finger over her entire plate to scoop up the leftover sauce. I couldnt believe my eyes!! When we walked past them on our way out the door, my mum couldnt resist and called them disgusting!! :-/

  • Boobear

    Try putting it behind you on the seat. I never use the backrest anyways, it’s what I do and if it’s a small purse push it up against the corner of the chair behind you.

  • xxmeghan

    My boyfriend and I were in Atlantic City having a late dinner at a french restaurant. It was almost midnight and there was hardly anyone in the restaurant. A man and what I believe was a female escort, for reasons I won’t get into, sat down at the table behind us. Immediately the man started complaining about the waiter not being there as soon as he sat down. When the waiter took his order, he refused to order from the late night menu and ordered a very specific, complicated salad. He continued to complain obnoxiously about the wait time (was under 15 minutes). He was rude to the lady he was at dinner with, and then complained to the waiter that his order was wrong, the chicken was over cooked and demanded it be remade. This poor waiter was literally the nicest, most innocent man who truly gave me the best service I’ve ever had at a restaurant, even offering us blankets because it was chilly. I couldn’t believe this obnoxious douche and left the waiter a big tip because I felt so bad.

  • xxmeghan

    My boyfriend and I were in Atlantic City having a late dinner at a french restaurant. It was almost midnight and there was hardly anyone in the restaurant. A man and what I believe was a female escort, for reasons I won’t get into, sat down at the table behind us. Immediately the man started complaining about the waiter not being there as soon as he sat down. When the waiter took his order, he refused to order from the late night menu and ordered a very specific, complicated salad. He continued to complain obnoxiously about the wait time (was under 15 minutes). He was rude to the lady he was at dinner with, and then complained to the waiter that his order was wrong, the chicken was over cooked and demanded it be remade. This poor waiter was literally the nicest, most innocent man who truly gave me the best service I’ve ever had at a restaurant, even offering us blankets because it was chilly. I couldn’t believe this obnoxious douche and left the waiter a big tip because I felt so bad.

  • xxmeghan

    My boyfriend and I were in Atlantic City having a late dinner at a french restaurant. It was almost midnight and there was hardly anyone in the restaurant. A man and what I believe was a female escort, for reasons I won’t get into, sat down at the table behind us. Immediately the man started complaining about the waiter not being there as soon as he sat down. When the waiter took his order, he refused to order from the late night menu and ordered a very specific, complicated salad. He continued to complain obnoxiously about the wait time (was under 15 minutes). He was rude to the lady he was at dinner with, and then complained to the waiter that his order was wrong, the chicken was over cooked and demanded it be remade. This poor waiter was literally the nicest, most innocent man who truly gave me the best service I’ve ever had at a restaurant, even offering us blankets because it was chilly. I couldn’t believe this obnoxious douche and left the waiter a big tip because I felt so bad.

  • aJAY13

    I love this tips. So useful
    http://creativeajay.com

  • Queen bee

    You actually can put in at your feet. You must just avoid to put it behind your chair.

    http://qbeeblog.wordpress.com

  • Queen bee

    You can actually leave it at your feet. You just must not put it behind your chair.
    http://qbeeblog.wordpress.com

  • Queen bee

    You can actually leave it at your feet. You just must not put it behind your chair.
    http://qbeeblog.wordpress.com

  • Queen bee

    You can actually leave it at your feet. You just must not put it behind your chair.
    http://qbeeblog.wordpress.com

  • Queen bee

    You can actually leave it at your feet. You just must not put it behind your chair.
    http://qbeeblog.wordpress.com

  • Queen bee

    You can actually leave it at your feet. You just must not put it behind your chair.
    http://qbeeblog.wordpress.com

  • nicole Smith

    That was very useful.

  • nicole Smith

    That was very useful.

  • nicole Smith

    That was very useful.

  • nicole Smith

    That was very useful.

  • nicole Smith

    That was very useful.

  • Jessica Clark

    Thank you so much for the first comment. As somebody who works in the food service industry, I cannot believe how many people get upset because they decided to wait twenty minutes after seeing a line. I went to my local Starbucks on day, there was a line, and I politely waiting. I believe that I was the only one. It was sad. Anyway, I knew there was a wait so I bought a pretzel to sit and enjoy. The man next to me had his coffee already and was making rude comments about the service. It was absolutely ridiculous.

  • Jessica Clark

    Thank you so much for the first comment. As somebody who works in the food service industry, I cannot believe how many people get upset because they decided to wait twenty minutes after seeing a line. I went to my local Starbucks on day, there was a line, and I politely waiting. I believe that I was the only one. It was sad. Anyway, I knew there was a wait so I bought a pretzel to sit and enjoy. The man next to me had his coffee already and was making rude comments about the service. It was absolutely ridiculous.

  • Jessica Clark

    Thank you so much for the first comment. As somebody who works in the food service industry, I cannot believe how many people get upset because they decided to wait twenty minutes after seeing a line. I went to my local Starbucks on day, there was a line, and I politely waiting. I believe that I was the only one. It was sad. Anyway, I knew there was a wait so I bought a pretzel to sit and enjoy. The man next to me had his coffee already and was making rude comments about the service. It was absolutely ridiculous.

  • elliotre

    My mother has the horrible habit of never putting her cell on vibrate. Sometimes she will sit at the table and talk on the phone at the restaurants. It’s always embarrassing when the other diners give us dirty looks but I’m not really sure how to talk to her about it.

  • elliotre

    My mother has the horrible habit of never putting her cell on vibrate. Sometimes she will sit at the table and talk on the phone at the restaurants. It’s always embarrassing when the other diners give us dirty looks but I’m not really sure how to talk to her about it.

  • elliotre

    My mother has the horrible habit of never putting her cell on vibrate. Sometimes she will sit at the table and talk on the phone at the restaurants. It’s always embarrassing when the other diners give us dirty looks but I’m not really sure how to talk to her about it.

  • elliotre

    My mother has the horrible habit of never putting her cell on vibrate. Sometimes she will sit at the table and talk on the phone at the restaurants. It’s always embarrassing when the other diners give us dirty looks but I’m not really sure how to talk to her about it.

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