Even before the bill comes, it can be a high price to pay when making costly mistakes at the dinner table. Whether a high stakes business meeting or a happy hour with friends where business relationships can be formed, pull up a chair and feast on some tips to taste sweet success at any table you’re invited to sit at.
APPETIZERS: Things to do before the meal.
- Know Your Company: If eating with someone new or important, knowing interesting facts about their favorite topics makes for great dinner conversation and helps you look like a pro. A quick LinkedIn browse can be a valuable five minutes of research. Casually insert your findings so you don’t come across as an investigative reporter. Making guests hyperaware that you did research may make you look like an opportunist or disingenuous. Pace yourself.
- Sample The Menu Online: Take a look at the menu on the restaurant website to get an idea of what you’d like. See food photos, user conversations on the best dishes and more on apps like Yelp. This helps you plan calories (if you’re counting), avoid foods you’re allergic to and impress dinner company with cool restaurant facts and your ability to guide them along the menu. BONUS: Through research you’ll also know food pricing, because you should never comment on how expensive things are when seated.
- Call Ahead: Giving the restaurant a call to ask if there is free, validated or valet parking around the location helps plan a more efficient trip. If you’re meeting a larger group there, asking if they split the check for larger parties helps you know if you need to bring cash. No need to be surprised later.
MAIN COURSE: Things to do during the meal.
- Quick Bites: Let’s get the easy stuff out of the way: Sit up straight, elbows off the table and make eye contact // Excuse yourself when leaving the table // Use phrases like “Please” and “Thank You”, because…manners. // Always pass the salt and the pepper together, even if someone only asks for one.
- No Phone Zone: The best two things to look at during a dinner are the other person and the menu. Use your phone sparingly, if at all, or try turning it on airplane mode so you don’t feel pressure if it goes off or lights up
- Be Inquisitive: Ask the server what their three favorite items are. Asking them to explain everything on the menu makes you look indecisive, but engaging their expertise shows you’re friendly and may open up unexpected options for you and your guests.
- Breaking Bread: Break off one piece of bread at a time, butter it, eat and repeat. You may want to butter the full piece or make a sandwich. But please avoid that. See, you noticed that “please”, didn’t you?
- Follow The Leader: If you are the guest, avoid ordering the most expensive item on the menu unless it is suggested by your host. Also, wait until your host eats before you do and delay ordering an alcoholic beverage unless they initiate it.
Read the full list of etiquette tips HERE.