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Picking Up Lamb Chops at Dinner?

Bite Me Jun 26, 2008 10:42 PM

What's acceptable at a nice restaurant? Pick them up? Cut them with a steak knife? If you cut them, can you then finish off the bone by picking it up??? Thanks!

  1. KaimukiMan Jun 27, 2008 02:15 AM

    If they are intended to be picked up, which can be quite acceptable if done in a "genteel manner", they should have those little paper booties on them.

    1. BobB Jun 27, 2008 07:21 AM

      This has been discussed pretty thoroughly (albeit with somewhat of a business dinner slant) here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/453388

      The general consensus seems to be that classical etiquette does allow picking them up, but it also presupposes that the restaurant will provide a finger bowl for you to clean your hands afterward. And I don't recall ever being offered a finger bowl for anything other than lobster and shellfish dishes. So the quandary remains...

      1. Axalady Jun 28, 2008 12:40 PM

        One of my favorite things, so I'm not going to waste a bit! What I can't cut off with a knife I get off the bone by picking it up. I've never been offered a finger bowl in any restaurant I've eaten lamb chops in - but I don't let that stop me!

        1 Reply
        1. re: Axalady
          rudysmom Jun 28, 2008 02:52 PM

          this is why i only eat them at home...

        2. c
          cimui Jun 29, 2008 08:10 AM

          I believe it was moh who passed on her solution in a post, once: she eats with a knife and fork at the restaurant, asks for the remainder for her 'dog', then goes home and gnaws on the bones in peace. This is pretty much my strategy, now. And sometimes I really do share them with my dog.

          1. thew Jun 29, 2008 08:50 AM

            pick them up. cut them. it's your dinner. do as you please.

            i mean acceptable to whom? and why do you need their acceptance?

            9 Replies
            1. re: thew
              cimui Jun 29, 2008 09:59 AM

              i understand the sentiment, thew -- but how often do you fart and/or pick your nose in public?

              1. re: cimui
                Veggo Jun 29, 2008 10:25 AM

                Come on now, are those fair and equal comparisons? Is finishing a lamb chop hand -to- mouth that much more repelling than eating an ear of corn? Your eyes may be sensitive to etiquette issues, but my olfactory and auditory senses are more so.

                1. re: Veggo
                  cimui Jun 29, 2008 10:42 AM

                  the point i'm trying to make is that everyone is aware of and abides by etiquette in certain ways. if you observe some rules of etiquette, why?

                  i personally don't find picking up lamb chops in a restaurant with my hands repellent, but if i were among dining companions (i.e. very polite clients) who might find it off-putting, then i won't. if i'm among friends who know i'm a barbarian cave woman already and love me anyway, i might. ultimately, it comes down to a desire not to offend the sensibilities of those you are around.

                  all i'm really saying is that the op's worry about doing what's "acceptible" is a legitimate one.

                  (fyi, farting isn't considered taboo in many countries. ppl think we're nuts and unhealthy for holding it in. it's not so much a matter of the sensitivity of your nose or eyes as it is a matter of social norms.)

                  1. re: cimui
                    Veggo Jun 29, 2008 11:15 AM

                    fun repartee until we got zapped- thanks!

                    1. re: Veggo
                      cimui Jun 29, 2008 11:46 AM


                    2. re: cimui
                      lynnlato Jun 29, 2008 11:57 AM

                      My mother always thought it was shameful to see a bone on a plate w/ meat still left on it. When we were kids, she would snatch our bones and work them over - professionally.

                      FYI, she also always said that farting and burping are natural bodily functions that everyone has and you shouldn't hold it in. However, I don't really want to share other's bodily function experiences - ha! Man, reading this post one might take away that my mother was a barbarian. Not so! Just a passionate Italian & a free spirit!

                      1. re: lynnlato
                        cimui Jun 29, 2008 02:10 PM

                        i think i would have loved your mother, lynn. my kind of person, completely.

                        1. re: cimui
                          lynnlato Jun 30, 2008 06:13 AM

                          Thanks cimui! That's so nice. :-) She was a pretty cool chick. And she is responsible for planting the food-loving seed in me. Her recipe box is a veritable treasure trove!

                  2. re: cimui
                    thew Jun 29, 2008 02:03 PM

                    as often as the situation requires. and if i choose not to it isn't because i'm worried if it is acceptable to strangers around me.

                    but back to the topic at hand.... i always clean my bones by gnawing them clean

                2. MMRuth Jun 29, 2008 02:06 PM

                  I don't know what the rules are on this (though I'd never pick up a chop in a restaurant or at home and gnaw on it because I would feel uncomfortable doing so), but I have certainly seen lamb chops and ribs completely voided of any meat or fat by those wielding only a knife and fork to do so.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: MMRuth
                    Veggo Jun 29, 2008 03:21 PM

                    MMR, it is so much more fun, and you will find nooks and crannies in roasted sheep you did not know existed. God gave us 32 teeth, and we scarcely use half of them.

                    1. re: Veggo
                      MMRuth Jun 29, 2008 05:03 PM

                      Honestly - if you saw the bone left when my husband is done using his knife and fork with a lamb chop - there is nothing left. Nothing. The dog is barely interested in it!

                  2. c
                    coasterphil Jun 29, 2008 03:35 PM

                    I'm getting every last bit of meat off those bones and if that means using my teeth to gnaw it off, so be it.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: coasterphil
                      Veggo Jun 29, 2008 05:01 PM

                      Lamb flesh, OK , but otherwise, tenga cuidado (be careful). I lost a left bicuspid to a stronger Maine lobster claw, and the repair set me back $800.

                    2. h
                      hsk Jun 29, 2008 09:41 PM

                      I'd say it depends on the restaurant. If "nice" means the waiters are wearing tuxes and there's starched linen, fine china and a huge array of silverware I'd tend to just get what I can off the bone using the provided cutlery. If it's more of an upscale but casual "nice" place I'd pick it up, but only if I were still hungry.

                      1. maria lorraine Jun 30, 2008 01:40 AM

                        Well, like so many things, you use context and appropriateness as a guide.

                        There is one tip off: is the lamb bone is Frenched -- completely cleaned when it arrives,
                        it will not soil the hands and necessitate a finger bowl. Here in Northern California we call these "lambsicles" and they are found often at nice parties while folks are milling about and standing. Yes, they are held in the hand and eaten. Lambsicle appetizers are also often served -- viny tiny lamb chops, completely Frenched again. About 3 bites, and it's gone.

                        At a table, especially one with a linen tablecloth, the deft handling of a knife and fork seems best. Maintain some sort of propriety, and get a doggie bag for later. If you don't know whether or not others at the table will be offended, the answer is
                        don't risk it -- don't risk offending: practice your utensil skills.

                        At a business meeting, at a job interview, with your boyfriend's parents or those you don't know, don't pick a lamb chip. More casual restaurants and with loved ones, yes, pick it up, but only if the bone is Frenched.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: maria lorraine
                          hill food Jun 30, 2008 12:30 PM

                          Maria: I almost posted that a few days ago. I was at a very nice party a few years ago in Potomac, MD - think Orinda or Piedmont for reference.

                          huge crowd, too many to properly seat, (they booked the entire kitchen staff of a favorite restaurant for the night) beside the circulated nibbles, frenched lamb cops were served intended to be eaten exactly as you describe. but I'd call them "chopsicles"

                          and believe me the hostess transgresses NO etiquette boundaries.

                        2. rabaja Jun 30, 2008 10:37 AM

                          OOOh, I did this last night and totally thought of this post too.
                          Went to an upscale Vietnamese place. Cloth tableclothes and napkins, subdued lighting, even a sommelier.
                          Boyfriend wants the lamb chops, we agree to share everything. Lamb comes, three chops, not frenched, lots of yummy fat and meat on the bone.
                          BF finishes one his way, and hands the rest to me for a proper cleaning. "Are you sure it's okay?" I demure before tearing into it, delicious! I am trying to be as polite as one who chews on lamb bones can be, but I am also worried I may be offending someone at a neighboring table-noone was seated directly next to us.
                          In the end, I picked up all three and cleaned them fairly well, though not down to the bone as I would do at home.
                          Figured as long as my hands were good and greasy I would tear into the whole fried red snapper too and fish out the cheeks for my thoughtful guy.
                          In the end I asked for a second napkin to use after I'd made a trip to the ladies room to wash up.
                          Would I do it again? At this place, probably, it was pretty low-key, someplace a little more ritzy, probably not.
                          Now what's this fork and knife method you all are talking about? ;)

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: rabaja
                            BobB Jun 30, 2008 10:58 AM

                            My wife and I are the same way with bones - any bones - at least when we're at home. I finish them with a knife and fork (and certain types by hand, like lamb chops and fried chicken), then pass them to her. She not only gnaws them dry, she then cracks them for the marrow. We don't do this in restaurants though, unless they're VERY casual.

                            Interesting that most of the other comments I've noticed out here along these lines indicate that it's the men who hand the bones to the women to finish. Pure chivalry, or is bone-gnawing more of a female trait? Certainly I know men who do it, but when I think of my friends and relatives, it's mostly the women who REALLY get into it. When my mom was still alive I used to save her the bones from my rib roasts, they were her favorite.

                            1. re: BobB
                              lynnlato Jun 30, 2008 01:19 PM

                              Ya know, Bob, I think you're on to something. It does seem to be a woman thing. After reading your post, though, I have to say I couldn't help but recognize the unintentioned sexual innuendo - ha! Perhaps there's more at work here than we thought. ;-)

                              1. re: lynnlato
                                link_930 Jun 30, 2008 01:44 PM

                                In my world growing up it was always because the women let their husbands and children have the meat in times of scarcity. A gesture of selflessness and sacrifice. The corresponding image to sexual innuendo makes me never want to pick up another... erm... bone... again.

                                1. re: link_930
                                  BobB Jun 30, 2008 02:08 PM

                                  Not the case with my wife, she just likes 'em. Polishes (almost literally) off her own, then takes mine.

                                  Nor with my mother, growing up. We weren't rich but my grandfather (her father) was a butcher so there was never a shortage of meat, even if it tended to be the cheaper cuts.

                            2. re: rabaja
                              Veggo Jun 30, 2008 12:17 PM

                              rabaja, what wonderful imagery you project! Summons up the line in the scene of When Harry met Sally.... "I'll have what she is having".

                            3. GodfatherofLunch Jun 30, 2008 05:49 PM

                              The best, most wonderful thing that you can do for that lamb chop is enjoy it to the very best of your ability. Anything less would be insulting to the chef, the lamb chop and the lamb it self. Pick that bad boy up and Get Down With It.!!!
                              Using your fingers is not Baaaaaaaad

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