Akademia Restaurant Mokotów Warsaw
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How to choose a good restaurant - the Akademia Restaurant, blog
How to choose a good restaurant?

Savoir-vivre at the restaurant

Savoir-vivre is a word of French origin and means literally the ability to know how to live. Through the past few years the table etiquette has definitely lost its importance, but these rules can keep us from embarrassing ourselves when we are at the fancy restaurant and don’t know how to behave. On which side our glass is supposed to be, or what are we supposed to do with this tiny spoon the waiter just brought? Another reason is to simply be comfortable with other people and don’t have to dine with someone who talks with their mouth full or goes to the restaurant dressed up in sneakers and sweatshirt. Not to mention that in some places breaking one of these rules can offend someone deeply.

First thing before going to the restaurant is the dress code. Almost every restaurant has one and we have to remember about it. Usually men are obliged to put on a suit, and women – a dress. When it comes to the purses, it is better to have a small one, because with big bags there is always a problem where to put it. When women decide to bring a clutch purse, they can always put it on their lap.

After arriving to the restaurant and taking our seat, we see this mysterious napkin, usually folded in a decorative way, for example a swan. Not many restaurants have this, maybe that’s why it is not widely known rule, but this is not just a part of a decoration. You should place the napkin on your lap and after you finish your meal, place it gracefully on the right side of your plate, remembering not to place it on top of your plate – this is a common mistake.
This is surely a well-known rule, but it’s definitely worth mentioning: you start eating when everyone has their plates with food. When the waiter brings every person their servings, then we start our feast, remembering to moderate our eating pace with other people at the table. Out of these plain rules, there is also one that says don’t play with your cutlery, and don’t put your elbows on the table. Where is this coming from? Well, apparently, long time ago, the table was a loose plank and putting your weight on your elbows would risk everyone’s food and cutlery fall down. Back then it was simply called the common sense.

When we are given our serving and we can notice that there is something wrong, whether the steak is rare when it should has been well done or there is a hair in our soup, we should call the waiter and tell him about it discreetly, keeping in mind that mistakes can happen and we shouldn’t make a scene because of it. In some restaurants, the guests are given yet another serving. Asking for a discount can be seen as a lying just so you don’t have to pay for the dinner. Something else considering the food is the amount of food. A lot of people complain about their servings being very small, but there are many restaurants that like to focus on the quality of their food more than on the quantity. Our portions are tiny, but they are something to die for.

Surely nowadays phones are inseparable things in our lives and whether we can use it or not, it all depends on who we are having our dinner with. If these are our friends, I guess taking a photo of your food on Instagram or checking Facebook shouldn’t be such a big deal, but it doesn’t look very good when all people at the table, instead of talking, are using their phones. In case of a business meeting, you should put your phone into the silent mode, and not use it to text your friends, it can be most certainly seen as a rude behavior. If you’re expecting an important call, you can excuse yourself and go outside to answer it.

The most important and trouble making rule is what utensil should I use? When we eat at home we have a fork and a knife, in the restaurant we have soup spoon, which will be on your outermost right, then there is teaspoon or beverage spoon followed by your dinner knife. On your left there is salad fork, and next to the plate – the dinner fork. The rule is simple, you eat from the outside in. You start with the utensils that are the farthest from your plate. There are also dessert spoons and forks, that are put usually above the plate, but in some restaurants you don’t have to worry about it, since the waiter brings the small fork together with your dessert. Another phrase that can help you remember that, is: eat to the left, drink to the right, meaning that you use your utensils going from right to the left and always drink from the glass that is on your right side.

It seems like tips are being the most hard thing during the whole dinner, because people often don’t know how much should they tip or if they even should tip. Waiters are also human and we should respect them, not treat like they are our servants. We should take under consideration that these people are responsible for our food once it is made, so there is no smart reason to be harsh on them granted that they are treating us politely as well. Tipping percentages vary in different countries, so it is essential to learn about it as we are outside our country and before going to the restaurant. For example in Argentina tipping is illegal, in Australia this term doesn’t even exist, in Bulgaria one can leave a tip as a sign of appreciation, but it is not as common thing as in Poland, where it’s customary but not obligatory. You can tip whoever you want to show that the service was good.

These rules are not created to stick to them very carefully and not being able to enjoy your time at the restaurant, but simply to avoid discrediting yourself and not knowing what to do at the table because the waiter just brought you three different sets of utensils. Savoir-vivre has stopped being so important and people slowly forget, but the rules are not this complicated and it is good to know how to act in places where you don’t go on daily basis. Not embarrassing yourself and not letting your friends do that to themselves is definitely worth learning the etiquette.