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Restaurant Etiquette: Playing Cards vs. Appropriate Dress [Moved from General Topics board]

my wife and i live in asia and our western dining experiences are severely restricted to about 3 acceptable restaurants in the entire city! fortunately we have found one that we are quite fond of and go there a few times a year for a nice treat. it is a very nice restaurant, but i wouldn't classify it as super-fine dining by western standards. the food is creative, adventurous and well executed. today was no different.

we decided to go for lunch instead of dinner as a good way to celebrate my birthday and our day off. we ordered some really interesting dishes, the service was ok and were having just a great time as always.

after desert, we ordered up some espressos, followed by port (which is even more of a rarity in our parts than the western restaurants!) and decided to play a hand of scopa (cards). the restaurant was winding down after their lunch service (about 2:30pm) but by no means closing or even finished serving all the desserts. halfway through our game, a server comes over and tells us to stop playing cards. i was a little shocked and didn't say much, but the longer i sipped my port, i started to get more irritated.

my source of irritation was rooted in the fact that there were several diners wearing jeans, hoodies, sneakers and even sandals. while i'm not the fashion police or care much what others are wearing, i wasn't sure that the lunch service at this restaurant at this exact moment was portraying itself as a 'fine dining' experience and how a little game of cards over after meal drinks could be construed as offensive. moreover, that it was so offensive that we had to be told to stop playing immediately...i mean, if i lost the hand i may have even ordered another couple glasses of port for the victor and for the re-match!

i find it hard to believe that this restaurant (or any restaurant for that matter) has a specific policy about playing cards and that it is deemed so offensive that it could not be brought up upon us paying the bill, hence salvaging my final opinions on the eating experience (which now is somewhat soured and tainted).

so, i pose this scenario to anyone who can give me their take on the situation:

restaurant etiquette...

what is acceptable and not accebtable in a restaurant?
are cards really more offensive than jeans, hoodies, sneakers & sandals in a nice restaurant?


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  1. IMO, playing card is not acceptable in a restaurant; go to a cafe or a bar.

    About dress code, I find that except for a small number of restaurants; dress code is relax enough to allow jeans, sneakers, ... especially for lunch.

    1. What would an equal class of restaruant in Italy think of a Taiwanese couple playing mah jong after their lunch?

      1. I'm not sure about Asia, but in the US, card playing is not really acceptable in any restaurant (well, maybe with the exception of something like Mc Donalds where the workers probably wouldn't care less what you do). If a restaurant serves port, I would definitely say it's not a place to play cards.

        1. This does not sound like the kind of restaurant where playing cards would be acceptable. In terms of dress codes, I just came back from Taiwan and was treated to many high-end restaurants, and noticed that most of the people were "dressed down." So I don't really think the comparison sticks. Like Sam, the first thing I thought of after reading your post was would someone feel comfortable playing mah jong after a meal at such a restaurant? I don't think so.

          1. It was probably unacceptable to play cards there. That said, I am very bothered by the casual appearences that people find acceptable these days. Which makes me sound like a fuddy duddy. I loved dressing up to eat out. I miss it.