Fine Dining Etiquette 101

There are two sides to every table.

If you are a server, you already know there are certain procedures to follow at a restaurant. You can be the carefree, casual server working at a restaurant with some fun theme or the wrinkle-free, button-up shirt and apron-wearing server at the 5-star hot spot that everyone is trying to get a table at. Depending on your kind of taste, food and people, if you want a place that pays attention to the place settings and posture, fine dining is for you!


If you are a server in this scenario there are a few things to pay attention to:

-The types of table service.

If you are in an American fine dining setting, the most common, you are to know the details of the items on the menu. From how the food is prepared to where the wine came from, no detail is to be spared. Being able to give a few suggestions to the guests could help them and yourself in the long run as well. Even if the type of dish they’re inquiring about is not your favorite, describe it like it is something that you can’t live without. Your guests will appreciate the extra service and the helpful tips.


-Table Etiquette — More than just taking orders and delivering food

For a fine dining restaurant, more will be expected of you. From polishing the silverware to possibly folding the cloth napkins in unique designs, they will want you to take that extra step to exceed the guests’ expectations. Always set the table for right-handed people and start to arrange the glasses, silverware, napkins, etc. in a clockwise direction. Make sure that the table is symmetrical and aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Check that the linens are wrinkle-free and the dinnerware is always shiny. Guests can tell when you have gone the extra mile and will let you know (ahem - tips!).


If you are the customer at a fine dining restaurant, here are a few tips:

  1. Do not be overwhelmed by the number of forks and knives beside your plate. There is a simple way to figure out which one to use first. Always work from the outside in and if you are unsure when it comes down to it, ask your server.
  2. When you are eating, eat smaller portions and put your cutlery down between each mouthful, crossing the tips of the two pieces to show the server that you are still eating. When you are finished with your meal place the fork and knife in the center of the plate and your server will know that you are done.
  3. Get to know the differences between certain wines and each type of meal in which they are best paired. Different wines go with different dishes. Do not gulp your wine — wine is there to compliment your food not move you along to getting drunk quicker so sip occasionally and quietly.
  4. Lastly, do not eat until everyone has been served. It is in poor taste to begin eating your food until everyone at the table can do so together. This is the time to have polite conversation and, unless you know everyone, avoid sensitive subjects that could offend people easily. Stick to enjoyable topics and your evening will continue to be enjoyable.


Do not let a different, more upscale dining experience deter you from taking in all that a fine dining restaurant has to offer. It can be a learning and delicious adventure for the whole table to enjoy!


It’s Noja’s attention to detail and our focus on farm-fresh ingredients that has allowed us to continue to serve this area for so long. For an intimate meal in one of the Port City’s longest-running restaurants in Downtown Mobile, make a reservation to Noja. We have both indoor and outdoor seating in a secluded area, just steps from Dauphin Street in LODA at 6 N. Jackson Street. To reserve a table now, call 251-433-0377. Learn more about our cuisine and offerings at or on our Facebook page.


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