Restaurant Etiquette: Getting It Right When Dining Out

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Eating out is not always the big deal it used to be. 118.com has come up with a few things that people often forget when they are eating out, but shouldn't.

Eating out is not always the big deal it used to be. In the past, people only really ate out if they were quite wealthy or if it was a really special occasion. These days people can afford to visit restaurants more often, and restaurants available for any budget. People eat out for lunch, dinner and even breakfast, but while they are happily munching away, are they forgetting their manners?

118.com has come up with a few things that people often forget when they are eating out, but shouldn't. This is not along the lines of which knives and forks to use when or how to properly excuse oneself to go to the loo: this is just plain simple etiquette.

1. Being punctual. If a reservation has been made at a restaurant to have a romantic meal, a curry with the lads or an office lunch, but diners show up 15 minutes late, things have gotten off to a bad start. People seem to forget that a restaurant reservation is no different to any other appointment. No one would show up to work late or to the doctor, and it's equally inappropriate to be late to a dinner reservation. Restaurants are businesses and busy ones schedule tables tightly. If a person thinks they are going to be late, they should call ahead and apologise: it's likely that a restaurant will keep the table if the caller is polite about it.

2. Dressing the part. This doesn't always apply, but people do regularly forget to check what the dress code is for a restaurant. A Michelin starred restaurant will expect its patrons to dress relatively smartly. Obviously, one person's idea of smart is different to someone else's, but it is barely rocket science to deduce that a worn t-shirt and trainers is not appropriate at a high-end restaurant.

3. Ring Ring. The dreaded mobile phone: it's impossible to go anywhere without hearing one. Unfortunately, people seem to find it acceptable to leave them on in restaurants and regularly use them to send texts and check emails. If the restaurant in question is McDonalds, it's okay to leave it on, but almost any where else, it isn't. In some ways, it depends on with whom one is dining: if out with family, consider that no one would use a mobile phone at home during a family meal, so it's probably inappropriate in a restaurant.

4. When to speak up. No one likes a gobby customer in a restaurant ruining the experience for everyone else! It is inappropriate to make a fuss for no reason, however if food arrives cold or otherwise badly prepared, it is perfectly acceptable to send it back. If something is seriously below par, customers have no obligation to put up with it. It would be a mistake, however, to take it out on the staff. It's often not the wait staff's fault, and they shouldn't have to take the flak. Dining out is meant to be a fun experience, so it's best not to ruin it with unnecessary confrontation.

And finally, it's is a great display of appreciation to tip if the service was good, it's the most obvious piece of restaurant etiquette but surprisingly one of the most ignored.

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Rob Kerry

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