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Let's go out for dinner

Remember these tips when you go out to dine.

Bon appetti: Dining out can be enjoyable provided you mind those table manners

DINING OUT is part and parcel of today's lifestyle. There was a time when conservative mindsets were deeply suspicious of the cleanliness of the cook, sanitation of the kitchen, freshness of the ingredients, etc. Now everyone is looking forward to an evening outto give "mom a break", or just chill out with friends after a hard day's work.

Wooing foodies

Most often one eats out for no reason at all! Restaurant owners are vying with one another to woo foodies with regional food festivals and international cuisines.

Certain rules of behaviour have to be kept in mind when eating at restaurants.

Putting it in perspective, this is public dining, you are not at your dining table, or in front of the TV, or wherever it is you dine at home. The basic rule is, "Every action done in company ought to be with some sign of respect to those that are present" - to quote George Washington.

* Making a reservation is easy, but showing up on time seems to be difficult. If you are going to be more than 15 minutes late, do call. Don't come late and make a scene at the door.

A word of caution here though, some restaurants take reservations and most don't, nowadays. The reason is simple. Patrons make reservations and do not show up on time, or just fail to show up with absolutely no thought to cancelling the reservation. This attitude has led to the new trend where many restaurants take a non-refundable deposit for reservations!

* If it is a special occasion, do let the manager know this at the time of the reservation, as also any particular table you wish to be seated at. Once you are seated, your impeccable table manners should be brought forth. First and foremost, turn that cell phone off.* Don't have a haughty attitude towards the wait staff. These people are professionals who have a pride in themselves and in what they do.

* Take your time to order. If the staff brings the wrong stuff, you are not going to be too tolerant about it.

* It is okay to make eye contact with the waiter, greet him and generally be pleasant and civil to him.

* Don't snap your fingers or make strange sounds to seek his attention. A raised hand or catching his eye to get attention will do.

* If the food quality, or the level of service is not what you expected or you find a hair/a bug in your meal - please do not make a huge scene. Call the waiter and convey the message firmly and politely.

If he cannot resolve it, ask to see the manager, again without any theatrics attached to it.

* Control your children. The wait staff is not a temporary babysitting service, nor are the other patrons doting uncles and aunts who will look on indulgently at the antics, screams and running around of little people.

* Napkin goes on your lap and stays there throughout the meal. It is not a bib to be tucked in, or a handkerchief to blow your nose or wipe your sweaty forehead or neck.

* Keep your voice down.

* Handle and hold the silverware, the way it is supposed to be held.

If there are several sets of silverware, the basic rule is to start from the outside and work towards the plate.

* Tipping is expected. The range is between 10 and 20 per cent. When you finish, don't forget to thank the waiter and the restaurant manager, and the chef too. Make the evening as enjoyable as you possibly can. The bonus? Next time you make a reservation, you will be treated like a VIP!


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