Although it’s not a rule, proper manners and behaviour in a formal diner matters a lot and it highlights your personality.
Some restaurants think they are being fancy by setting the dessert spoon and fork at the top of the place setting (the fork closer to you and with its handle pointing to the left, the spoon further away with the handle pointing to the right). You can’t control what restaurants do, but when you’re setting a table at home, especially for a formal meal, the dessert spoon and fork should not be part of the table setting. It’s more appropriate to have them accompany the dessert.
Your glassware is set to the right side of your table setting, just above the knives and spoons. The types of glasses used will vary depending on what beverages are going to be served. The glasses are arrayed in descending size, from left to right. The water glass — the largest — is on the far left. To its right comes the red wine glass, then the white wine glass, followed (in theory) by a champagne glass and a sherry glass. Of course, that’s a lot of glasses! It’s more common to have a water glass, a red wine glass and a white wine glass arranged from left to right.
The butter plate and butter knife (if there is one) are set above the forks on the left side of your place setting. The butter knife is typically placed on the edge of the butter plate.
If you don’t order a particular course at a restaurant, the waiter will remove the utensils that would ordinarily be used for that course, so you will have the proper utensils for the next course on the outside of the place setting.
During the meal
Don’t toss your tie over your shoulder to keep from dribbling on it.
Do hold the red wine glass by the bowl. It’s easier to balance it that way, and the warmth from your hand won’t affect the wine. However, always hold your white wine glass by the stem, to prevent your body heat from taking the chill off the wine.
Nose blowing: A quick wipe in an emergency is okay, but true nose blowing should happen in the rest room.
Yes, you may tip your soup bowl to spoon up that last bit of soup. At a formal dinner, tip the bowl away from you, and fill your spoon with a motion that moves your spoon away from your body — not to be pretentious, but to avoid splattering your clothes.
At the completion of the soup course, if the soup bowl is a shallow one, leave the spoon in the bowl with the handle pointing to the right. If it’s a deep bowl and there is a plate under it, place the spoon on the edge of the plate, again with the handle pointing to the right.
Never put a dirty utensil directly onto the table.
There are two opposing rules about when to start eating. One person may believe in enjoying a meal while it was still warm. Following this philosophy, when you’re with a group of friends in a relaxed situation, it’s acceptable to begin eating once at least three people have been served. In a more formal situation or at a business meal, however, you should wait until everyone has been served or until the host or hostess says something like, “Please start right away. Don’t let your food get cold waiting for ours to be served.”
If you are the host, once three plates have been served, let the people who have been served know that it’s all right for them to start. It would be a shame to let that delicious food start cooling, just because every guest hasn’t been served yet.
When you need salt and/or pepper, always ask for both. Likewise, if someone asks you for “the salt,” pass both.
Don’t salt or pepper your food until after you’ve tasted it.
If you want to take a break from eating, simply place your knife and fork on the plate with the tip of the knife and the tines of the fork positioned at the top of your plate. Tines up or tines down? Knife blade facing one way or the other? It doesn’t really matter — just do it neatly, and you’ll be fine.
I can’t stand to leave a really good sauce sitting on a plate. But use bread to mop up that fantastic sauce, not your fingers. Break off a small piece of bread, then use your fork to push the bread around in the leftover sauce and then bring the morsel to your mouth.
When you’re cutting your meat, slice off one bite-size piece, eat it, then cut the next piece. Unless you’re preparing a plate for a young child, don’t cut a whole steak into bite-sized pieces and then start eating.
If you need to leave the table during the meal, gently fold your napkin so that any soiled parts are covered, then lay it on the table to the left of your place setting. Do the same thing when you leave the table at the conclusion of the meal.
At the end of each course, picture your plate as a clock. Then place your knife and fork on your plate side by side in the four o’clock position. Don’t get anal about whether your dinner partner “made a mistake” because he or she placed the fork above the knife, or left the blade of the knife facing away from the fork. If you are that focused on other people’s faux pas, then you’re missing the real point of good table manners and formal dinners, which is to enjoy the company you are with.
Dessert arrives. As the host, you’ve made the choice to serve dessert at the table. You cut the first piece of black forest cake and place it on the nearest plate. As you do, some frosting gets on your finger. “Man, it looks good,” you think to yourself. “What about just a quick lick?” Don’t do it. Either wipe your fingers on a napkin, or keep serving as if nothing happened.
If wine or coffee is being served and you don’t care for any, don’t turn your glass or cup over. Simply tell the server, “No, thank you.” If you are served anyway, simply leave the glass or cup alone and go back to your conversation, which is much more important, anyway.
At dinner’s end
As a guest, do not take it upon yourself to call a close to the evening. As you’ve done throughout the evening, take your cues as to the proper time to leave from other guests and from your host.
When the time comes for you to bid farewell, thank your host for a special evening with all the warmth and sincerity you can muster. Also, make sure to say good night to the people who were sitting on either side of you and to the other diners who were near you at the table.
Finally, when you get home that evening, take a few minutes to write a brief thank-you note of three to five sentences to your host. Address and stamp the envelope, and put the note in a place where you’ll see it and remember to mail it the next morning. Your host will appreciate your thoughtfulness, and you will have cemented your reputation as an engaged, gracious dinner guest — ensuring that you’ll get invited back again.
Hope this is informative…!