VIA WHAT’S COOKING AMERICA:
Arrive at least 10 minutes early unless otherwise specified.
Pass food from the left to the right.
Always say please when asking for something. Be sure to say thank you to your server and bus boy after they have removed any used items.
If asked for the salt or pepper, pass both together, even if a table mate asks for only one of them. This is so dinner guests won’t have to search for orphaned shakers. Set any passed item, whether it’s the salt and pepper shakers, a bread basket, or a butter plate, directly on the table instead of passing hand-to-hand. Never intercept a pass. Snagging a roll out of the breadbasket or taking a shake of salt when it is en route to someone else is a no-no.
Food is served from the left. Dishes are removed from the right.
Butter, spreads, or dips should be transferred from the serving dish to your plate before spreading or eating.
Never turn a wine glass upside down to decline wine. It is more polite to let the wine be poured and not draw attention. Otherwise, hold your hand over the wine glass to signal that you don’t want any wine.
Always scoop food away from you.
Taste your food before seasoning it.
Do try a little of everything on your plate.
Don’t blow on your food to cool it off. If it is too hot to eat, take the hint and wait.
Keep elbows off the table. Keep your left hand in your lap unless you are using it.
Do not talk with your mouth full. Chew with your mouth closed.
Cut only enough food for the next mouthful. Eat in small bites and slowly.
Don’t clean up spills with your own napkin and don’t touch items that have dropped on the floor. You can use your napkin to protect yourself from spills. Then, simply and politely ask your server to clean up and to bring you a replacement for the soiled napkin or dirty utensil.
Do not blow your nose at the dinner table. Excuse yourself to visit the restroom. Wash your hands before returning to the dining room. If you cough, cover your mouth with your napkin to stop the spread of germs and muffle the noise. If your cough becomes unmanageable, excuse yourself to visit the restroom. Wash your hands before returning to the dining room.
Turn off your cell phone or switch it to silent or vibrate mode before sitting down to eat, and leave it in your pocket or purse. It is impolite to answer a phone during dinner. If you must make or take a call, excuse yourself from the table and step outside of the restaurant.
Do not use a toothpick or apply makeup at the table.
Whenever a woman leaves the table or returns to sit, all men seated with her should stand up.
Do not push your dishes away from you or stack them for the waiter when you are finished. Leave plates and glasses where they are.