The Art Of Dining Etiquette Seems To Be Lost

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My family and and I went on one of our Family Date night to dinner and movie the other night. We chose a nice restaurant… granted it wasn’t a 3 or 4 star restaurant, but the plates were around $30 a dinner.

Prime Rib, Victoria cut fillets and salmon with a potato of your choice, baked or mashed and your choice of soup or salad and fresh in-season vegetable. The napkins were cloth, folded ever so perfectly around our utensils and the plates were white and stylish.

The dinner was nice and as always the company was the best part. Unfortunately, looking around I was reminded of something I figured out a while ago: the art of dining etiquette is lost on many…

The Art Of Dining Etiquette Seems To Be Lost

As I sat in a spot that could overlook most of the restaurant and its diners, my family unfolded our napkins and laid them upon our laps, I noticed immediately 5 men dining with their hats on. Right next to us was a man and his son with matching hats.

I was always taught that gentlemen should remove their hats at the dining table out of respect. The child clearly old enough to know better was standing at the table fooling around while the parents ignored his behavior.

This would have never been allowed in my house. NO fooling around at the table. This is a time to dine, not to play.

Sit down and behave yourself!

I also noticed multiple people with their elbows on the table. Another big no-no in my house. I realize that in the olden days it was due to the instability of the table and people were afraid that it would topple the table and people’s food to the floor, but as time progressed it became a sign of class.

A few people reached across other peoples plates for the salt and pepper or the bread that was served before our meal and I thought to myself, ‘If that were my plate they were reaching over, I’d slap their hand and tell them to ask for it to be passed (If it had been my Grandpa they would have been stabbed with a fork).

I can’t even tell you how many people I saw talking with their mouths full of food. GOOD LORD, you do realize how nasty that is? I’m pretty sure the people you are speaking to can’t understand a word you said…..plus….. I can see that food spewing from your mouth from here.

SO GROSS! I don’t want to see your chewed food… Chew with your mouth closed and don’t smack your lips. Terrific way to make someone lose their appetite!

I didn’t actually notice this, but it was something I was raised with and I know a lot of other people were also: It is not polite to start eating until everyone is seated and has been served their plates.

Nothing like one person waiting for their food to arrive and another person is half done eating theirs. “Check please!…oh, you’re not done eating? My bad…”

I remember when I was younger we would always eat at the table, T.V. off. Times have changed so much since then (I sound ancient) and so many families eat in the living room in front of the television (Guilty).

Dinner time was a time to discuss each others day and bond over a meal. My parents didn’t allow me to sing at the table because it distracted from the conversation and was just considered bad manners. While some people may disagree, I never discouraged my daughter from doing it, although she never really did.

But for the most part all the things I’ve mentioned above I’ve passed onto my daughter.

Proper etiquette also states that a man should stand when a woman leaves the table (to me that’s just gentlemanly and makes a lady feel important and acknowledges her soon-to-be absence).

It’s also proper to lay your utensils across your plate when you’re finished to let your server know that you are done and it is okay to remove your plate.

I can only imagine some of these people dining in Chef Ramsey’s restaurant behaving and eating like a wild animal…I shiver at the thought. Do you teach your children these things or these dining practices when you’re out?

Or am I the only one who thinks these things should be a continued tradition of dining etiquette?

Just for clarification, I’m not referring to fast food…although, we can still be civilized diners there as well.

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  1. I’m very proud of your parenting! I was a server, and a GM for a 24 hour family restaurant for many years. About 50 yrs. Total. I’ve seen it all I think! People judge others , not knowing situations, ect. I’m with you, you teach your children, especially Special kids, and make things ,everything, they do as normal as you can! It’s challenging, lots of patients , ect. If you are judging kids behavior, like in a restaurant, and don’t like kids… Don’t go to a Family Restaurant! This is where you teach kids, special, or otherwise, how to behave in a public restaurant, or place! Maked me irratated, to say the least, when adults would ask for Mgr. and complain . I would Nicely remind them it was a Family Establishment! People need to be more understanding, kind , and not judge anybody anywhere for anything!!! Just saying! Sorry, needed to be said! God Bless you and your family!!

  2. I used to have strict ideas about proper behaviour at the dinner table before I had a child with additional needs. The last time we went out she ate her dessert without using cutlery or her hands… and then just as we were leaving shd removed her shirt and walked out naked from the waist up (she’s only 6). She doesn’t “look disabled” so I know people will judge but what they don’t realise is the achievements of that meal – she waited for dessert until everyone had finished their main course, she did not scream, she did not run around the restaurant, she did not stand on her chair. All these things take work and regularly happen at home. I hope that people will notice that her brother and parents are behaving appropriately but it makes me sad to feel so judged when I’m working extra hard to get her to a level where she’s not impacting on other people’s dining experience directly. Worrying about elbows on the table or reaching for a condiment are so far down the list of my priorities. In fact, twice we have been out to dinner with her wearing (clean!) underwear on her head so a hat would be a desirable alternative.

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