Setting a Table for Dinner

The Top 35 Restaurant Etiquette Fails

According to the Telegraph, these are the ‘top 35 most irritating restaurant faux-pas’. They go on to say …

If you’re reading this while dining at a restaurant, well, you’re beyond help. But the rest of us can take note: pollsters have identified 35 of the most inexcusable eating-out faux-pas, and, bloody hell, Brits, this is shameful stuff. Number one on the list? Clicking fingers for the waiter’s attention (rude). Two: talking with a full mouth (gross). The third on the list is “being too loud and raucous”, which at least suggests that someone – if not the poll’s joyless respondents – is having fun, but we can all agree that wiping hands on the tablecloth (no 4) and blowing your nose in a napkin (no 5) are objectively unhygienic, depending, possibly, on the nose-blowing alternatives.

When you look at the list there’s a mix of what are definite etiquette-fails in a restaurant, and a mix of some things you’d never see done or considered in a Michelin Star restaurant, as well as a lot of things you’d find quite normal and expected these days.

Times change, and while some prudes may find in unacceptable to Photograph Food (number 17), most restaurateurs want to embrace social media as it is so important to restaurant marketing and is the new word-of-mouth. Also, Going Outside to Smoke (number 26) is odd because there is no other place you can go to smoke in the UK, and why should smokers be forced to be chained to the table for the duration of their meal?

So, I decided to present the list with my responses …

  1. Clicking your fingers for the waiter’s attention.
    — Have to agree. We’re humans too, not dogs.
  2. Talking with your mouth full.
    — Just rude anywhere to be fair.
  3. Being too loud and raucous.
    — Having fun is a good thing, but too much of a good thing spoils it for others.
  4. Wiping hands on the tablecloth.
    — True now, but that is actually one of the original uses for tablecloths.
  5. Blowing your nose in a napkin.
    — Yup. Gross.
  6. Letting children come and go as they please from the table.
    — Very annoying for other diners, and hard work for servers.
  7. Licking a knife.
    — Basic table manners this one, so please don’t do it while dining out.
  8. Letting children listen to videos on a phone.
    — The alternative is screaming and shouting these days. I know which I’d prefer, even if videos at the table is a faux-pas.
  9. Texting at the table.
    — Agreed, especially when the waiter’s actually trying to take your order.
  10. Answering/making a phone call.
    — You should excuse yourself from the table and go outside if you really have to take the call. A call is a polite request to answer, not a demand.
  11. Letting your children play with cutlery and condiments.
    — Most people move them out of hands way, but I agree it can be very noisy and annoying.
  12. Touching up makeup at the table.
    — That’s what restrooms are for, though most people wouldn’t object to a bit of lippy.
  13. Asking for a toothpick and removing food from your teeth at the table.
    — Most restaurants I know accommodate this, though you should shield your mouth while doing it so everybody else isn’t watching your dental incursions.
  14. Placing your phone on the table next to you.
    — Where’s my man-bag? Annoying as it is, in your average restaurant you’ll always see this. Just move the thing when the waiter is trying to serve so you can have your food! At the high-end, you would not expect this.
  15. Not leaving a tip.
    — To be honest, if it’s been a crapshoot for service (or food), this is expected. Not bad etiquette but expected as a reward system for good service.
  16. Blowing on hot food too loudly.
    — Just wait a while. There’s no rush. Unless you’re five.
  17. Taking a picture of your meal.
    — Sorry, normal these days and helpful for most restaurants who wouldn’t object.
  18. Not sharing a ‘sharing platter’ and eating more than your fair share.
    — Faux pas? No, just bad manners on the greedy person’s part.
  19. Asking for ketchup/mayo in a fine dining restaurant.
    — Fair point, though a good restaurant would accommodate and anticipate their diner’s needs, even if the chef thinks it’s sacrilege to do so.
  20. Flirting with the waiter/waitress.
    — Makes things very uncomfortable. And just not right.
  21. Tucking your napkin in your collar.
    — Just a different way of dining? Some of our more well-heeled clients always dine like this. Aristocracy, upper class, etc.
  22. Holding a knife like a pencil.
    — Sounds like an Americanism to me. Not a crime in my book.
  23. Scooping out the ice from your drink with your fingers.
    — Eew. Pass the spoon! Unless you’re five. We’ve all been there!
  24. Holding a knife and fork in the wrong hands.
    — Faux pas, maybe. But this sounds like it stems from branding left-handed people as evil in olden times. As somebody who does this, it’s no big deal. It would be a lot messier if I was forced to conform!
  25. Paying your exact share when splitting the bill.
    — Usual these days with some tables. Frustrating as it can take forever to work out the splits, especially if the group ask the server to do it for them.
  26. Going outside to smoke.
    — Where else do you go? OK in my book.
  27. Pouring white wine into a glass that was being used for red.
    — Technically incorrect. You should have a fresh glass, but if that’s what the customer wants, then it’s OK to go right ahead.
  28. Downing a drink as soon as it arrives.
    — Some people are thirsty, though I would not do this in a high-end restaurant as it’s not good etiquette.
  29. Using the wrong cutlery for the course.
    — Major crime. Not really! At the high-end (again) you’d be expected to know which cutlery is for which course, but in most other restaurants you wouldn’t get that much cutlery to begin with.
  30. Making a signing gesture for the bill.
    — I don’t think I’ve seen somebody NOT do this. Again, at the high-end, it shouldn’t be necessary, and if the waiters are on-point they will know what you want when you look at them in any case!
  31. Moving around chairs and tables to accommodate your party.
    — Yes. Please ask the team at the restaurant to do this. It’s not your house.
  32. Ordering a fussy meal (no chips, no dressing etc).
    — There’s a big trend here with people asking for variations. Some shouldn’t be asking, but some have to. Only a faux pas if you’re creating unnecessary work, like the guest who wanted bread and wheat removed from everything then tucked into the bread basket when it came because she ‘was just trying to cut back’.
  33. Mispronouncing the name of a dish.
    — So, we need to take language courses before dining in a foreign restaurant? I don’t think so.
  34. Asking for a knife and fork because you can’t use chopsticks.
    — Oh, come on people? Are you saying you should go hungry instead?
  35. Asking if a meal is vegan, dairy free, gluten free etc.
    — Nothing wrong with this if you’re vegan, allergic to dairy, etc. See 32.

Here’s the original if you’re interested: