The Dining Out Etiquette 411 That’s More Important Than You Think


Picture this, you were invited out to dinner and your date is taking you to the hottest restaurant in town. You’re seated and look down at what lies on the table before you and see four forks, two knives, three spoons, and an arrangement of glasses. Do you know which flatware to use for the salad versus entree? How to properly butter your bread? Which bread and drink glasses are yours versus your date’s? A first date is hard enough without having to slyly google under the table which fork and spoon you should be using, or where you should place your utensils when you’re done with the meal versus resting. Then, at the end, what about splitting the check? Don’t fret, we’ve got you covered. These tips and tricks for dining etiquette will definitely be a huge lifesaver and help to lower your first date stress levels!

Which utensil for which?

The best way to figure out which utensil you should be using depends on how many courses you’re having. Fancier restaurants tend to make meals into an event, after all, you’re not at a fast food counter. At a nice restaurant you can sit back, relax, and enjoy your many courses for hours!

A good rule of thumb to remember is if you don’t know which flatware to use, always work from the outside in. Usually you’ll get a salad or soup course first, those would be outermost fork on the left and spoon on the right of your plate. Each piece of silverware has a specific use. Check out the diagram below for a detailed explanation of which flatware piece you would use for the proper course

How about Bread & Drinks?

Bread & drinks calls for b & d! If for some reason you can’t distinguish which bread plate or water glass is yours simply put your index finger to your thumb on your left and right hand. You’ll notice that on the left this forms a b while on the right this forms a d. This is a nice reminder that your bread plate is always to your left while your drink glasses are always to your right!

Yes, there is a proper way to eat and chances are you’ve been doing it wrong (sorry!)

First off, we have the bread. You’re not eating a sandwich before your meal, you’re eating a small course while having a conversation, so don’t overdo it with the butter and butter your entire roll. Just pick off what you’re going to eat and butter that piece. Of course, if you’re given olive oil instead of butter, do not double dip.

Secondly, soup. Most people tend to scoop towards themselves when drinking it, but the proper way of drinking soup is to scoop away from you. This way you don’t accidentally spill bits of soup near you on the table!

What if I want to take a break during my meal?

It is simply the worst when you have a really tasty meal sitting in front of you and you leave to use the restroom only to return and find the wait staff has taken it away. Well, there’s a way to prevent that from happening and it has to do with your utensils. If you don’t want your plate taken away, place your utensils in a “resting position” with the knife at the top right edge of the plate and the fork on the left of the plate at the 8’oclock position. This will let your waiter know that you’re not done and you’ll never to return from the restaurant to the sad sight of your plate missing ever again!

Last but not least what is the rule for splitting the check?

The simplest answer is that there are no rules. Gone are the days when men are expected to pick up the bill as are the expectation that regardless of what you ordered, everyone must split the cost evenly. In the 21st century, while the cost of dining-out may be high, your stress over the bill doesn’t have to be! For modern meal goers, there are a few solutions to this tricky situation.

On a date? The rule of thumb is the person who invited the other, pays. Male, female, young and old, if you invited someone out to dinner, you should be ready to pick up the check. If you’re the invitee, it is always polite to offer to pay even if it’s not expected.

However, if you’re eating out with a group like on a double date or just a casual date with a group of friends there are a few different ways to handle the check dilemma.

  • If it’s a group of 6 or less, ask your waiter or waitress before you order if it is possible to have separate checks. Depending on the policy of the restaurant, this can save you the hassle of discussing the cost at all at the end of your meal.
  • If you’re a larger group or the restaurant does not separate checks, it is completely acceptable for everyone to offer to pay for their own meal and their portion of the tip. In this scenario, people should be paying in cash. Alternatively, if one or two people offer to pay for it on their credit cards, the other individuals would in turn pay those people in cash or through apps like Venmo.


  1. My husband is taking me and a bunch of friends out to a restaurant to celebrate my birthday, and I’m afraid I don’t know much about table etiquette. Thank you for all of the tips about the proper etiquette. I never knew that you were supposed to scoop it away from you so you don’t accidentally get soup on the table.


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