Before the beginning of the 21st century, in European restaurants, all the dishes were served on the table at the same time, and this system was called service à la française. Nowadays, modern service is called service à la russe and it means that the dishes are served gradually. The Russian Ambassador, Alexander Kurakin, is credited with bringing service à la russe to France. Today, this principle is accepted all around the world and there are many other rules that the owners, and even the patrons, of restaurants follow. Following these rules can help you enjoy the food more and leave looking like a good guest (and maybe even save some money).
Enlighten has made a small list of almost unnoticeable, but very popular mistakes we make in restaurants.
Ignoring the rules of the fork and knife
Before you go to a restaurant, it is better to remember the rules of using a fork and a knife that will signal to your waiter what they need to do with your dish. And this is not only a matter of politeness: this way, your table won’t have any useless things on it, or, the opposite, everything will remain exactly as it is while you step away for a moment.
Besides, by placing a fork and a knife in a certain way, you tell the kitchen workers how much you like a certain dish. The thing is, there is a chance that you will accidentally offend the chef if, for example, you insert the knife blade in between the fork tines and place them crisscrossed. These are signs that the food was not tasty.
Not using the soy sauce and ginger correctly
Most people are used to putting the entire piece of food in the soy sauce. However, the Japanese themselves do it in a different way: they pour enough sauce for it to cover the bottom and they only slightly touch it with their sushi. This salty sauce has a very distinct taste that doesn’t let you enjoy the food itself if you use the sauce wrong.
Ginger that is traditionally served during any Japanese meal is not used as a spice for sushi or rolls. It is used in order to help you differentiate the taste of 2 and more dishes: ginger helps to clean the taste receptors between foods.
And about the wasabi, you also shouldn’t eat too much of it. In good national restaurants, it is added in small portions during the cooking process in order to help you distinguish the ingredients.
Helping waiters clean the table
It seems to us that if we place the plates on the edge of the table, it will be much easier for the waiters to take them. But, in fact, this is not true: every waiter has their own system of collecting plates and, most of the time, we only make their jobs more complicated. Also, don’t put plates on top of each other because they are never carried this way. The thing is, plates on top of each other are more prone to cracking.
Besides, if you broke a glass or a cup, don’t try to collect the pieces from the floor: if you cut yourself, the waiter will not only have to clean the floor, but also help you with your wounds.
Asking the kitchen to cook a dish that is not on the menu
Sometimes, guests ask waiters to bring them a dish that is not on the menu. Of course, most of the time, the kitchen can still cook what you are asking for, but this is not a good thing to do.
The first reason is that the price of the dish is calculated in advance and if the head chef is not at work at the moment, it is very hard to calculate the new price. And the second reason is that all of the food in restaurants is made in accordance with technological cards, which means that the amount of ingredients are very precise in order to make the taste as balanced as possible.
Finally, every cafe and restaurant teaches its employees to cook exactly the food that is on the menu. And even if the chef is highly-qualified, and you are at an expensive restaurant, there is no guarantee that the steak that is not on the menu will be cooked correctly and that you will definitely enjoy it.
Leaving a bad review about a restaurant on the internet if you didn’t like the service
On the internet, there are a lot of different websites where people go to leave reviews about cafes and restaurants. These websites are obviously very useful for people who want to find a good place to eat at, but none of what people write in their reviews actually influences the inner workings of the place.
If you really want to make a place better (service or food quality), spend your time writing a letter to the manager or the owner on paper or using a form on the website. These reviews are always checked and taken into account.
Starting to eat before others in your party
According to dining etiquette, if you came to a restaurant in a big group, everyone should start eating only once the waiter brings the food to everyone in the group. If your salad or steak was served before the food of your colleagues or relatives, you should wait until all the other dishes are on the table. Besides, remember not to eat too fast, it is better to try to match the pace of the people you are sharing a table with.
Also, there is a rule for the employees of cafes and restaurants: if there are 2 and more guests, all plates with food should be served at the same time.
Don’t bring wine with you
Usually, the prices for alcohol in restaurants are not much higher than they are in stores, but they are still a little bit higher. If you don’t want to order a drink at a restaurant, you can bring it with you if you ask the restaurant if it is okay in advance.
The restaurants that allow their guests to do that will ask for a corkage fee, which is around $25-40. After you get your table, give your bottle to the waiter and your wine will be served exactly as it would be if you ordered it there. Of course, there are some etiquette rules, like don’t bring a product that is extremely cheap.
Being too shy to ask for a doggy bag
Every cafe and restaurant has their own containers or bags that are used to pack your leftover foods to go. You can use them to take something that you were unable to eat. All you have to do is ask the waiter to bring a container for you to put your food in.
But don’t overdo it. Etiquette rules say that you shouldn’t take anything that has been cut or tried even a bit. Of course, this is not a strict rule, so it is up to you when it comes to what to take with you and what to leave.
Not taking national nuances into account
If you are going to visit a restaurant in another country where you’ve never been before, learn about the rules this country has. For example, in Japan, you can’t stick chopsticks vertically in the food because it is a part of another unrelated ritual. Also, there is a rule that describes the proper way to disconnect the chopsticks: by placing them parallel to the table.
Of course, in most cases, nobody is going to tell you anything if you do something wrong and break a tradition, but it is still better to avoid these situations.
Have you ever thought about the mistakes you make in restaurants?