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Does the type of restaurant influence your etiquette?

cocktailqueen77 Sep 15, 2007 11:06 AM

Of course there is the obvious answer of comparing (let's say) Applebee's to The French Laundry, but I think I am asking something a bit differently.

Here's the scenario:

Two restaurants that are very similiar in price ($5 salads to $30 entrees) and atmosphere. I would say that the ambiance is casual bistro style, linen tablecloths, soft lighting and candles. Yet, the customers act differently in these similiar restaurants. Additionally, both of these establishments share the same clientele (who expect different types of service when dining). Here's an example: diner in restaurant #1 will keep silverware for next course but in restaurant #2 will request a new fork or knife. Is it because in rest#1 we dress casually (in rest#2 we dress in all black, with tie and bistro apron)?? I am not quite sure in the dynamics of it all. I usually bring fresh silverware anyhow, regardless if asked or not, but it has been quite interesting seeing how customers act when placed in different settings.

So overall, my question(s) are: Does your table etiquette change in accordance to atmosphere and restaurant type? Or does it stay constant no matter what? Do you see yourself expecting more (or less) from restaurants that are similiar but have different protocols?

  1. rockandroller1 Sep 15, 2007 11:20 AM

    I think it changes depending on what your etiquette knowledge and upbringing are, and also where you're dining. The less expensive and/or formal a place, for example, the less I can expect new silver for new courses. At chains, for example, they sometimes physically take your dirty fork or knife and replace it on the table and say "You'll need that." Which I am always surprised about. But if I let the silver go I am always asking for more.

    When I go to a nicer place, I do expect new silver with each course if it's not already provided. I rarely go anywhere expensive enough that they actually have everything you'd need already on the table, though that's what I prefer instead of guessing whether or not I'll have to ask or automatically be brought new utensils.

    2 Replies
    1. re: rockandroller1
      f
      fara Sep 15, 2007 12:36 PM

      almost invariably clearing of the silverware is a good indicator of the "class" of the restaurant. also, whether the waiter hands you the check before you've asked for it, and whether the waitstaff clears everyone at once.

      1. re: rockandroller1
        cocktailqueen77 Sep 17, 2007 11:02 PM

        I completely agree with that philosophy. The "you'll need that" is something that really bothers me.

      2. jfood Sep 15, 2007 06:45 PM

        To answer your question, the etiquette of the custo should not change in different restos. You treat the servers the same, you have the same manners whether it's a local diner or a 5-star resto. why would anyone think that you can have less etiquette in different eating environments?

        4 Replies
        1. re: jfood
          cocktailqueen77 Sep 17, 2007 11:08 PM

          I think that "etiquette" is confused with manners. Manners should never change no matter what situation. No elbows on the table and a "please" or "thank you" should be applied to every situation. What I am asking is that customers may become chameleons when dining at different establishments. I have witnessed many situations, and am just wondering if this is something that others experience or practice.

          1. re: cocktailqueen77
            jfood Sep 18, 2007 07:45 AM

            C

            Jfood agrees this has been a confusing thread, and he responded to "your" etiquette in your OP.

            So what etiquette are you exactly asking about from the custo other than manners?

            TIA

            1. re: jfood
              cocktailqueen77 Sep 18, 2007 06:51 PM

              Adapting to atmosphere is one way to put it, I suppose. Keeping used silverware, asking/not asking for another plate if sharing, requesting steak sauce (even if the steak comes already "dressed"). Just a few things that I have noticed that a customer may request in one establishment as opposed to another.

              1. re: jfood
                cocktailqueen77 Sep 20, 2007 05:46 PM

                Oh, this isn't actually "my" etiquette or manners. Just observations from restaurants that I have worked at that share some of the same regulars. They are the chameleons, and it made me wonder if other diners take on those qualities as well (sometimes).

          2. steve h. Sep 15, 2007 06:56 PM

            howdy cocktailqueen77,
            deb and i are restaurant chameleons. we try to fit in whether we're dining in manhattan, chicago, singapore, rome, wherever.
            bottom line? we change our expectations based on the individual restaurant. way too many variables to stick to a rigid set of rules.

            1. j
              jmcsherry Sep 15, 2007 07:01 PM

              To some extent, the establishment sets the tone by which many people will gauge their behavior. If I am greeted in a respectful manner, by someone who looks at me and speaks clearly, understands and responds to my request (dinner for three) and places menus politely at each place - well, no elbows on the table here. I will expect clean flatware and prompt refills on the water.
              But greet me with a wad of gum in your mouth, see only two of us and not hear that the third was parking the car, plunk two menus on the table and walk away - yep, I'm clutching tight to the only fork I expect to see this evening.

              And don't let me get started on young couples with underage children who have NOT been taught table manners!

              1. Gio Sep 15, 2007 07:06 PM

                My expectations are always high. Like jfood I believe that manners/etiquette ought to remain constant no matter where you eat and who serves you. If I require something on the table that is not there, I ask for it.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Gio
                  Brian S Sep 17, 2007 09:57 AM

                  It's true that you should treat a waiter at the lowest dive with as much respect as you'd treat anyone else, but if you went into a barbecue shack in rural Oklahoma and ordered food with the same diction and cadence as you'd use in the most elegant restaurant in New York, everyone would fall over laughing. I usually ask for a knife and fork with the barbecue (just as you'd use with a braised rib entree in NYC), and while no one falls over laughing, that's because they are trying very hard not to.

                  1. re: Brian S
                    p
                    Pampatz Sep 17, 2007 12:38 PM

                    On vacation, we ate at a family-style Southern restaurant where the schitck was for the server to throw the dinner rolls to (or at) the dinners. Food and the rolls were really good, but the servers and the other patrons were a little too casual for us. We just wanted a good meal and conversation with our family. Hard to do with rolls whizzing by your head.

                    1. re: Pampatz
                      t
                      thinks too much Sep 18, 2007 08:38 AM

                      Missouri, right?

                2. chowser Sep 17, 2007 04:01 PM

                  It does with pizza. If I had pizza in a nicer place w/ cloth napkins, soft lighting, etc. I'd use fork and knife. In the corner mom and pop place, hands.

                  1. Richard 16 Sep 18, 2007 02:19 PM

                    Sure, I'll adapt. I'm not rude, or disrespectful, and I tip well. I tend to err on the quieter, polite side, but if it's an elbows on the table place I have no qualms about doing the same.

                    1. f
                      Fleur Sep 20, 2007 01:33 AM

                      The idea of not changing the silverware with each course is tacky and cheap.

                      Why would anyone ever want to eat a Fish dish, or Seafood dish, with a knife and fork that had been used for Salad, Pate, or whatever?

                      We have the same manners and respect the same etiquette whether we are dining home alone, at a neighborhood Cafe, a top restaurant, or a diplomatic reception.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Fleur
                        cocktailqueen77 Sep 20, 2007 05:54 PM

                        It's not just about silverware. Most restaurants that are above a certain caliber will replace silverware for every course no matter what. But (as an example) would you demand that same service at a neighborhood BBQ joint where you ate family style and the plates were butcher paper (okay, a bit extreme in example but just trying to make a small point)??

                        All I am saying is there seem to be certain places and situations where etiquette (as in new silverware but not limited to) differentiates accordingly.

                      2. dbug31 Sep 22, 2007 08:41 PM

                        Manners should always stay the same. We don't have room in this world for that to shift downwards.

                        Etiquette can shift a bit depnding on where you are. I might put my elbows on the table in a more casual place, but never in a high end dining room.

                        Silverware (more correctly, flatware, as it is not silver) should never, ever be placed back on the table once on the plate. Never, ever, ever. I won't even set my silverware on the table in a more casual place. I must have a fresh napkin to put them on.

                        That's just me. Everyone's got there something is what I always say.

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