Ways To Optimize Your First Dining Experience At A Fine Dining Restaurant

If you have never before experienced the fine dining scene, it can seem a bit overwhelming when you first step foot into such a restaurant. Many fine dining restaurants like Gabriel's Restaurant Bar & Grill feature various food options ranging from steak to seafood. They also often feature a separate wine list. While the options may seem a bit dizzying, there are some dining and etiquette tips you can follow to help improve your dining experience.

Knowing Where to Place Cutlery and Napkins

Fast food restaurants allow you to unleash your primal side by eating primarily with your hands. Laid-back, casual restaurants often feature one fork, one spoon, and one knife. However, fine dining restaurants often arrange a number of cutlery next to your plate, which can be confusing if you are new to the experience.

Your waiter, or sommelier, reacts to non-verbal cues in order to optimize your dining experience. One example of a non-verbal cue is knowing where to place your cutlery when you are finished eating. You should not place your cutlery on the table. Instead, place your utensils on the center of plate pointing upward or at an angle on your plate. Make sure you do not cross the utensils and always place the edge of the knife pointing inward.

The placement of your napkin is yet another silent cue that you are finished with your meal. Your napkins belongs in your lap at all times while eating your meal. If you should find that you need to excuse yourself to use the restroom, place the napkin on your chair and return it back to your lap once you have returned to the table. You should only place your napkin to the left of your plate once you are finished eating.

Understanding Your Beverage Glasses

Some fine restaurants may place more than one glass in front of you. Each glass should be used with a different type of beverage. Fine dining restaurants often serve wine or champagne to patrons. Knowing which glass belongs to which beverage will help you optimize your dining experience.

  • Red Wine: Red wine glasses often feature a larger bowl, which allows you to swirl your wine around in the glass to help release the aroma. The rim taper on a red wine glass may vary, with less of a taper preferred for aromatic and flavorful red wines, whereas a smaller taper directs the wine toward the back of the mouth.
  • White Wine: A white wine glass generally has a thinner, taller bowl than a red wine glass, yet it still retains that bowl-like shape. You will often find that a white wine glass is wider toward the center and thinner toward the top and bottom of the bowl.
  • Sparkling Wine and Champagne: Champagne flutes are often used for both champagne and sparkling wine. The glass features a tall, narrow bowl with just a slightly narrower rim.
  • Dessert Wine: Dessert wine glasses are only used for dessert wines, and dessert wines are typically only paired with desserts or foods with sweet components, such as a fruit compote. The dessert wine glass is fairly small in size with the bowl widening toward the top of the glass compared to the bottom of the glass.

Pairing Beverages with Your Meal

Dining out has quickly increased in popularity among many Canadian consumers. In fact, the average Canadian household spent approximately $1,487 on restaurant food in 2003, which is a 27 percent increase from 1997. Even more interesting is the Canadian love for seafood. Approximately 88 percent of Canadians consumed seafood over the course of three months in 2011.

When you enter the fine dining scene, you will often notice that steak and seafood are major components on the menu. In order to optimize your experience, you need to know which beverages to pair with certain foods. For example, a red wine may go well with a certain type of steak, but it may not taste as pleasing with a certain type of seafood.

Shellfish tends to pair well with white wines compared to red wines. Keep in mind that shell fish often tastes best with light white wines whereas grilled fish tastes better with a more robust and flavorful white wine. A spicy seafood dish tends to pair well with a bit of a sweeter white wine, such as a white grape, to help offset some of the heat.

If you prefer to eat fish with a darker flesh, such as mackerel, pair it with a substantial white wine or a light red wine as it can pair well with either. However, if your fish features any savory flavors, such as those provided from mushrooms, consider ordering a red wine instead. On the other hand, steaks often pair better with aromatic red wines. If your steak features sweeter spices, it is okay to lean more toward a white wine instead. Otherwise, you cannot go wrong with red.

If you are still feeling overwhelmed about your experience, do not be afraid to quietly ask a friend or family member for assistance. If you and your guests are new to the fine dining experience, speak to the restaurant manager or sommelier privately. Staff members can assist you in optimizing your experience and providing you with a few useful dining tips and information.