Food has always been closely connected to human culture since we as a species figured out how to cook it. Numerous important-looking books have been written on the subject, and we have an entire television channel dedicated to celebrating the divine relationship between our meals and ourselves. We even frequently judge other people based on their digestible choices, as every vegetarian knows. It comes down to this: We Are What We Eat.
The style and quality of our food represent the style and quality of our lives. This means that sometimes I feel like a sloppy, greasy, fattening Quarter Pounder, but I don’t want my girlfriend or boss to see me on those days. In your quest to be the cultured, civilized man, you will have to put on the suit and tie and eat the best to be the best. Don’t worry too much, though. I’ll help you with this Men’s Guide To Restaurant Etiquette, using Gustino Italian Restaurant as an example.
1: Choosing The Place
If you can choose the location of your fine dining experience, like on a date, you’re already at an advantage. Take hold of this opportunity and Google up a locale that you might be comfortable with while keeping your company in mind. Italian Restaurants are great options because they always impress, they’re inherently romantic, and they straddle the line between overly fancy and ridiculously casual. (Please note, for the purposes of the Men’s Guide to Restaurant Etiquette, The Olive Garden does not count as an Italian restaurant. For example, the 4 Diamonds Award-winning Gustino Italian Restaurant in Cancun’s JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa is a perfect date location, sporting a beachfront view and a live saxophone player, who I hear will play “Sexual Healing” if you slip him a $20.
Italian restaurants are also great for the non-foodie because you can point to anything on the menu and know that it will be friggin’ delicious. Gustino’s seasonal menu features manly, dude-approved meats in creative ways like lobster lasagna and roasted venison. If you don’t want to range too far from the farm, you can always order a steak at an Italian restaurant, and no one will think any less of you. There will probably be some vegetables that make you look fancy or something.
< strong>2: Wine, Dine, and… You Know the Rest.
At fancier meals, wine is a big deal, and if you’re not an experienced wine connoisseur, you might find the task a little daunting. However, Men’s Guide To Restaurant Etiquette (And Basically Everything Else) rules state: When in doubt, ask. You are not the first to ask about wine selections, and chances are your server knows a little more about your meal than you do. If you actually do know a bit about wine, though, it’s always a great way to impress a prospective business client or date. (Keep track of the number of words you use to describe the wine, though. Bathroom rules apply: More than three times, and you’re just wanking.) If you’re still not a wine guy, however, cocktails are fine, as long as you restrict yourself to one before dinner. And restaurant etiquette dictates no beer from a bottle. Ever.
3: Silverware and Place Settings
You will never need to know this.
4: General Rules.
If you listened to your mother, I wouldn’t need to include this section. But you didn’t, did you? You should call her sometime. She misses you very much.
You should already be familiar with basic rules. Dress to impress, no elbows on the table, don’t play air hockey with the fried zucchini, etc. But there are a few Men’s Guide to Restaurant Etiquette-specific concepts will set you miles above the competition. For example, go to the bathroom before you sit down. This does a few things for you. It decreases the number of times you leave the table, allowing you to suck up to the boss while your colleagues relieve themselves. You can also use your smartphone to look up the restaurant menu and decide what you want (and Google what you don’t recognize), so you don’t need to waste time looking at a menu when you should be paying attention to your company. If you need an extra minute to decide, be polite and offer the rest of the table to order first.
Treat the table as a movie theater. This means the cell phone is silent. (This is why you used it ahead of time when you went to the bathroom! Aren’t you clever?) Never snap your fingers, or whistle to get a waiter’s attention, but don’t be afraid to take charge with a polite wave and an “Excuse me?” if you need to. Respect the waitstaff and thank them when you can. It’ll get you your food faster and make them more attentive. And do not skimp on the tip.
Never applaud when the food comes out. And never order a salad as the main course. Act like a man, man.
Never tuck your napkin into your shirt. You’re not at Tony’s Rib Hut. However, it is totally cool to ask for a box to take leftovers home. This food is expensive. You might as well get the most out of it.
It’s a primal evolutionary idea. The lead dog in the pack gets the prime choice of the kill. In short, if you want to be the best, you have to eat the best. (That sounds like a PowerBar ad.) Hopefully, you can nail your next date or business lunch with these Men’s Guide To Fine Dining tips. Just make sure you dress for the occasion. If you show up to Gustino wearing socks and sandals, there is just nothing I can do for you.
2 comments on “Dinner Like a Dude: The Male Guide to Restaurant Etiquette”
This is great advice. I am a little surprised that you skipped over silverware and place settings. While I agree that the minutia of what fork is for which course is out dated, I think you missed an opportunity to highlight the importance of properly holding silverware. I have seen far too many people hold their flatware in a clenched fist and proceed to shovel food into their face. Not a good impression. Otherwise, nice work.
Great idea Jessica. Any tips to add on how to best use silverware and place settings?