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A gentleman's time at a restaurant

January 28, 2016

We believe it's the little details in a man's behavior that make or break the impression he makes -- during business meetings, the theater and, of course, even on less official social occasions such as dinner dates.

In order for you to perform at your very best when eating out, we prepared a list of useful tips you can follow. Let's delve into them.

Image source: http://goo.gl/5Nb1t3


Before you go

Sure, you can just give it a shot and show up without a reservation, but that's far from being the brightest idea. Unless it's a spontaneous decision, of course, you should always book a table.

Here's a tip from our manly skills series: call or (ideally) stop by in person between lunch and dinner. The staff won't be too busy, and you'll get to choose the perfect table.

Personal reservations have one big advantage, especially if you haven't been to the restaurant before -- you'll see how fancy it actually is, and that will give you some idea about what outfit will be appropriate.

You might also want to check with the staff to make sure there isn't any large group of people coming in at the same time as your reservation. The restaurant might look decent and the food might be the best you've ever had, but none of it will really matter if there's a football team celebrating their title right next to you.

Image source: http://goo.gl/DbHoUI

The last thing you should do is check if the menu is actually suitable for your companion. Otherwise you might find yourself in a fancy pizzeria on a date with a girl who's lactose intolerant and can’t eat anything but a side of bread. Nothing enviable.

Image source: http://goo.gl/cU9iht


When you're there

Those of you who follow our blog and read our manly skills digest might know we cover this topic quite often, mainly because from an etiquette standpoint, eating out is not as straightforward as, for example, going to the movies.

Here are some tips you might have already seen in the digest or on our Facebook page:

  • A gentleman always walks into a bar / restaurant / pub / club first. Why? So he can protect a lady, should there be a fight going on.
  • Tasting wine at a restaurant before getting a bottle? Take just a small sip. Never down it.
  • Always let your date order first. Or order for both of you.
  • Wearing a ‪‎blazer‬? Button when walking or standing; unbutton when sitting.

Now, the thing that's most confusing for many people is cutlery. The ugly truth is that the fancier a restaurant is, the more pieces of cutlery you'll likely find on the table and the more important it is to know which to use for what course.

There's a simple rule you can follow in order to avoid making a mistake: work from the outside in. The fork and knife that are the farthest from your plate are for the first course.

Also, don't pretend you're a wine expert if you're not. It's perfectly OK to ask the waiter for a recommendation, as they should know best which wine will go nicely with your main course.


“Can we get the bill, please?”

It's time to pay! Now, if it was your first date, you're pretty much expected to take care of it. However, there's no general rule for that, and the whole thing is simply up to the two of you. But it would be rather rude of you to just sit there and watch the bill on the table, waiting for your date to break the silence and offer to pay for it.

Image source: https://goo.gl/t3qPdD

As for giving tips, there's one piece of advice we can give: if you're in a foreign country, find out in advance how the locals feel about it. In some countries tips are already included in the meal price, while in others you're supposed to tip the staff on top of it. And then there’s, for example, Japan, where tips are considered insulting. (Read the manly skills digest where we cover this).

Image source: http://goo.gl/kTkdhQ

OK, how about the time when you're actually leaving the restaurant? That's when your ability to behave like a proper gentleman peaks:

  • Putting on a jacket is not a question of ability. In other words, although she can obviously do it herself, a true gentleman won't let her.
  • Make sure she doesn't have to walk home. Offer to get her a cab. No matter how close she lives.
  • Walking up stairs? Let her go first. Walking down? Let her go behind you. Then you'll be able to catch her if she stumbles.

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