5 common dining etiquette mistakes

Guys, we're looking at you. But there's help

You’d think we’d moved beyond certain etiquette blunders at the dinner table, but Melody Borgstrom (Hospitality Management ’06) knows better. The maître d’ at Ernest’s, NAIT’s fine dining restaurant once watched a husband take his wife’s chair after she pulled it out for herself. More common is the cellphone on the table.

“These are things you don’t want to do,” Borgstrom says. Especially if you’re looking to impress. After all, good manners never go out of style.

Here are 5 dining rules to follow, as told by Borgstrom. The rules apply equally at home or a swanky restaurant.


1. Let her take a seat first

“The gentleman should pull the chair out for the lady,” says Borgstrom. Only when she’s seated should he take his own seat.


2. Use your napkin properly

At most formal restaurants there will be a linen napkin at your place setting. Place it on your lap when you sit down. Open it like a triangle – it should not be completely unfolded, says Borgstrom. 


3. Ignore your phone

Avoid the temptation of picking up your cellphone. You don’t need to text, and Facebook will still be there after dinner. “Enjoy the person you are with." says Borgstrom. "Give that person your full attention.”

Borgstrom says she and her friends have a rule when out as a group: the first person – male or female – to pick up a phone has to pick up the tab. 


4. Don’t drink beer out of the bottle

Ordering a brew is OK, but drink it from a glass. At home, pour your beer before bringing it to the table, Borgstrom advises.


5. Just say no to ketchup

You're likely to raise a few eyebrows if your request a bottle of ketchup for your $35 steak. In general, don’t ask for extra condiments when dining out, says Borgstrom. This includes steak sauce and hot sauce.

But there are exceptions. For example, asking for sour cream with a baked potato is fine. When at home, consider serving condiments in glass or ceramic bowls.

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