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Place to take a girl for dinner [Moved from Ontario board]

I want to take a special girl out for dinner. We have been seeing each other for a while. Any suggestions? Price is not really a problem.

The other question I have is what are some definite no-nos at the dinner table. I am more interested in hearing from women on this one.

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  1. Give us some parameters, please. Location? Price? Atmosphere? Type of food?

    What not to do at the dinner table: gasp at the menu prices, order for or before her, chew with your mouth open, use your thumb as a knife or spoon, look at other women, cut up all your food at once, burp or fart, not be willing to try anything she offers you, make any derogatory comment about how much she eats, esp, if it's dessert.

    1 Reply
    1. re: thenurse

      I know it's petty but it really bothers me when people don't know how to grab a fork or spoon properly. I've witnessed guys grab their spoon or fork with the palms of their hands and shovel food into their mouths.

    2. Agree with nurse-y that more parameters are needed for specific restaurant recommend-ing.

      Meanwhile, another "don't" for dining... don't be rude or condescending to your servers or to the restaurant staff. Even if service is less-than, downright rude-ness is never attractive. I'm also always embarrassed if my date is a cheap tipper. And never tuck your napkin around your neck - ack!

      1. How about not using the word girl to describe a woman over the age of 18 (which I assume your date is).

        The above lists on what not to do are great. What to do - ask questions and then listen to the answers; offer to share an appetizer or dessert; be aware of and sensitive to her comfort (i.e. if the restaurant is cold, crowded, etc.).

        1 Reply
        1. re: lupaglupa

          What about cooking a nice meal at your place...lotsa good recipes here. Women love a guy who can cook (or so I'm told)

        2. Don't get offended if she leans over to take a bite off your plate (that means she's probably quite comfortable with you and is being a little saucy). Don't assume anything about her taste and/or wine knowledge (ie: I hate when a guy orders wine without asking and/or consulting).

          And fully, completely agree with Rabbit; cheap tipper = no second date (ewww!)

          1 Reply
          1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

            I wouldn't dream of defending cheap tippers, but how would the date know? Another rule: if you're taking someone out... don't show them the bill or your credit-card slip.

          2. This thread is full of great suggestions www.chowhound.com/topics/380519 (chowhounders really came to my rescue! Thanks


            I agree, more info please. But without it, I would offer the following: Mildred Pierce before it's gone or Globe.
            Also, don't try too overly hard to impress - I mean this in the sense that you don't have to order the most expensive bottle of wine and have the knowledge of a sommelier. Kind of romantic to experiment and make decisions like that together... Be respectful of the restaurant staff, tip appropriately. Be gallant, but not condescending. She might appreciate it if you pushed in her chair for her when she sits, but she won't want you cutting her food...if you get my drift. (Also, maybe this is a generational thing? Without wanting to offend, I've found that sometimes women of my mom's generation really go for the chivalry, while it puts off some women of my generation. Women are perfectly capable of opening doors themselves, just it's nice sometimes to have one opened for you....depends on what type of woman she is. You'll know if you've gone too far!)
            Don't fret about conversation. Let it just happen. Listen to what she says. (If you panic - don't resort to complaining about everything just to keep conversation going, or to try to show how refined you are...)
            Just be yourself, you've been seeing each other for a while - you must be doing something right.

            124 Danforth Avenue, Toronto, ON M4K1N1, CA

            Mildred Pierce
            99 Sudbury St, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

            1. wherever you end up - make sure is is somewhere where you feel comfortable! Nothing is worse than being in a stuffy restaurant where you don't feel you can relax (and lord knows, there are lots of those in Toronto)..make sure you know the type of food she likes and offer up a few suggestions (maybe she can make the final choice)..can't really give specific recommendations till we know location/food..

              I'd prefer to give a yes-yes rather than a no-no (more postive really)...be really enthusiastic about the food..I personally love it when a guy gets really passionate about what he is eating....picky-ness is a turn-off!

              1. Ok, I know I am not your mother but I would like to congratulate you on her behalf. I will be presumptuous and say I am sure she would be proud to know she has raised a son who is caring enough to ask about table manners. That already says a lot about you and I am sure you'll do just fine at dinner if you relax and pick a place you'll both be comfortable. It's not about how much you spend that makes the evening special. But you already know that.

                When we were raising our son (he's now 27) we were fanatical about table manners and it drove him crazy. But I remember vividly after a dinner date with a young woman he was lusting after, he called to tell me what a disaster her table manners were and that it affected his perception of her. Now he thanks us and says table manners often tell him a lot about a person. Interesting.

                The previous posters have made some great suggestions. But one suggestion that hasn't been mentioned is about how to properly hold a knife and fork to cut your food. It's awful to see a person hold their fork in their left fist stabbing into the food while sawing away with their knife. There is also the preference for knife in right hand, fork in left and NOT switching the fork to the right hand to eat, which is very American, though not wrong. I just think the other way is preferable, which I may get slammed for. Plus it allows you to use the knife to push the food onto the fork if needed, in an elegant way.

                A few other thoughts:
                When you're finished a dish, place the knife and fork side by side across the top right of the plate on a slight angle, fork tines up.

                Napkin stays on your lap until the end of the meal. Before you get up, fold it loosely and place it to the left of where the place setting was.

                Don't order house wine. If you're not sure what to order you can get the waiter's help by pointing to one or two bottles in your price range on the wine list and asking him if he recommends either, or which he thinks would pair well with the food you've ordered (you should decide on your food before you order the wine). This gives the waiter and indication of your price range but you still look "smooth".

                Don't ask for a doggy bag.

                Have fun.

                7 Replies
                1. re: GRobin

                  "But one suggestion that hasn't been mentioned is about how to properly hold a knife and fork to cut your food. It's awful to see a person hold their fork in their left fist stabbing into the food while sawing away with their knife. There is also the preference for knife in right hand, fork in left and NOT switching the fork to the right hand to eat, which is very American, though not wrong."

                  Oh, lord; my grandfather was one of those who would stab his fork vertically into his meat, and saw with his other hand. My mother was always appalled by this, and never failed to mention it on the ride home. I went to Upper Canada College as a teen, and I was equally appalled to see the scions of the rich and famous demonstrate the same disgusting technique.

                  I'm not sure if your comment endorsed or slammed the practice of keeping the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right, but certainly my mother was adamant that you did not switch the fork from left to right hand, and that you never - NEVER - cut up all your meat into little cubes before eating it; she thought that made you look infantile.

                  Am I a bit of snob as a result? Probably, but I remember my mom's first rule of dining
                  ettiquette - "Do not offend your fellow diners". So, no elbows on the table, no chewing or talking with your mouth full, no reaching over other diners' plates, etc.

                  1. re: KevinB

                    Well put KevinB. While not slamming the practice of switching the fork from left to right hand, which is very American, I do prefer to keep (and to see) the fork remain in the left hand and the knife in the right.

                    1. re: GRobin

                      Not sure why anyone would judge a person by the hand in which their fork is held. I might tend to judge a person by what's coming out of their mouth, rather than the manner in which food is inserted. Personally, I prefer the two-handed approach to burritos. falafels and shawarmas.

                    2. re: KevinB

                      The knife in the right, fork in the left makes sense when you are cutting something, but what about food that is soft and difficult to push onto the fork? Is it correct and/or very American to switch at that point?

                    3. re: GRobin

                      Actually, GRobin, the 'American' way of using silverware is the practice of holding fork in left, cutting with knife in right, then putting the knife down and switching fork to right hand to eat. The 'Continental' or 'European' manner is to keep the fork in left hand with tines pointing downwards and to keep the knife in the right. My Grandma would have smacked us if we didnt put our knife down between bites.

                      1. re: mojoeater

                        Yes, mojoeater that's what I was trying to say. My preference (though neither one is incorrect) is European/Continental. That said, in either case, no one should be stabbing and sawing.

                      2. re: GRobin

                        "When you're finished a dish, place the knife and fork side by side across the top right of the plate on a slight angle, fork tines up."

                        Funny, I've always been taught that when you're finished with your meal, you cross the knife and fork on your plate, fork tines turned down. This is meant to be a signal to your server that you are finished with your meal.

                        Anybody know what Miss Manners would say?

                      3. Folks, please keep responses here focused on garycooper's request for etiquette information. We've moved this thread from the Ontario board because almost all the responses have focused on that part of his question.


                        1. As far as "ordering for her" goes - my boyfriend orders for me in nice restaurants all the time. Of course, he asks what I want to have first. I always thought this was very chivalrous gesture. While I understand this offends some women, I am from the south, I like it!

                          As far as "what not to wear". Once again make sure you are comfortable. If you normally don't wear a tie and you think you might be fidgeting with it all night, don't wear one - that kind of thing.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: cheftori

                            The OP orginally posted in the Toronto board. Chivalry is less valued here, although manners and respect are important (just interpreted differently). What I originally meant when I posted was don't order for her without consulting with her.

                            1. re: thenurse

                              I think I am getting the point.

                              this has been very helpful. I will let you know.

                              I may want to marry this girl someday.

                              1. re: thenurse

                                I think I would just be in shock if someone ordered for me with out consulting me first.

                            2. garycooper, go as yourself. Forget about all the tips. Do as you do, wear the clothes that you wear. Why? Because you don't want to start a relationship on false premises.

                              So if your'e an elbows on the table, burping & farting, "order for the gal", mean tipper, picky eater, looker at other women, white-socks-high water pants, pocket protector, meat slab only eater, funny twitches, foot tapping, no-funny food type of guy...your partner will know you quickly and possibly be with you for a long time...or possibly not.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                Yes, be yourself... just a little bit better than your *everyday* self, to show her it's a special evening.
                                Nothing wrong with dressing up a little, but if the dark blazer/light pants thing doesn't sound right to you (and it does not sound right to me), DON'T DO IT. A new dress shirt should do it, dress pants or jeans depending on the restaurant (lots of nice, romantic places are not that formal in TO).
                                She's also probably seen you eat before; so don't lick your fingers, but adopting a whole new style of eating is going to come off as weird. Follow her lead.

                              2. I am totally getting a vicarious thrill out of GC taking this girl he may want to marry out for dinner. Is this a special dinner for a specific reason or just moving from friends/lunch to dinners? I'd love to give more specific recos on restaurants but need to know more about the situation

                                All the advice given so far is good, just want to emphasis the offer her a taste of whatever you order bit. I mean, if you don't have table manners by now, it's a wee bit late.

                                At some point in this relationship, are you going to do the Ethiopian test i.e. go out for Eithiopian food and see how eating with the hands goes over?

                                1. My no-no's go for any dining companion, but a date especially... If you have offered to pay, when the bill comes, don't gawk over and dissect the check with your date, while pretending to try and cover the prices. Also, do not niggle over additions or surcharges added to your date's meal, i.e. don't say, "Do you know they charged us 5 dollars to change your potatoes to broccoli? I mean it's okay I'll pay for it, but can you believe it?" Yes, this has happened to me, but it was at a sushi bar. It went on for 15 minutes as my date started to get into it with the sushi chef, and it took me taking out my credit card and saying I'd just pay for it for my date to get the point. [I had already decided this was not the man for me way before this event, but it certainly sealed the deal.]

                                  1. not at "at the table" thing but make sure you go to a place that takes reservations. not all places are set up for a comfy wait. make sure she doesn't have any food allergies or diet issues before you pick the place