It is interesting to take a look at a few of the unfathomable social graces that are considered useful in creating a favourable professional or personal impression.
Reservations: Prior table booking with a mention of special occasion or preferred seating is advised.
Seating: Gentlemen should seat the ladies if the server has not already taken care of it.
Posture: Sit upright with your arms near your body. You may lightly place your elbows on the side of the table while leaning forward, but heavily placing them on the table is improper.
Napkin: Once seated, napkins may be placed on your lap right away. When leaving the table, it may be placed thereon without refolding.
Beginning: Wait till everyone is served to begin eating. Since the food may become cold, it’s also all right to start if others indicate you may commence without them.
Soup: Circle the spoonful of soup away from the bowl before bringing it to your mouth rather than directly to your mouth. You may tilt the bowl away from your body for the last few spoonfuls.
Passing the salt: Place the salt-pepper shaker, bread, etc. on the table within reach of the guest rather than directly in someone’s hand. If the same are not within your reach, ask the other person to pass them to you rather than reaching out yourself.
Portioning: Serve yourself / others a little bit of everything. Decline dishes not to your liking politely. Eat small mouthfuls at a time at the pace of the other diners.
Finger foods: It is acceptable to use your fingers with items like chips, appetizers, cookies, small fruit, sandwiches, bread etc.
Selection: It is desirable to develop a working knowledge of food, wine, service-ware and cigars to help make a selection.
Removing inedible morsels: While removing inedible morsels from your mouth you must be discrete so as not to offend your fellow diners. You may place the article in the spoon / fork that carried it to your mouth or even the pit of your hand. While extracting an embedded piece of food with a toothpick, your free hand should cover your mouth.
Conversing: If asked something while chewing, smile close mouthed and reply after swallowing your food.
Excusing yourself: You may excuse yourself to answer nature’s call or if you are feeling unwell.
Put offs: Smoking, answering your phone and objectionable food related noises.
Dropped articles: If you accidentally drop an item of cutlery or a napkin within your reach, you may reach out for it yourself and request that it be replaced. If it is not within a “dignified” reach you may signal the server to pick it up for you.
On completion: When you have finished your meal, do not push your plate away. You may indicate the same to your server by placing the knife and fork alongside each other either in the 12-6 o’clock position or the 10-4 o’clock diagonal.
Paying the check: Signal the server for the check and settle the bill. If you are not the host you may offer to help paying. If the host declines, let it go and thank him for the meal.