Your significant other has been dreaming of eating at a fine dining establishment. The company president has invited everyone for a celebratory dinner. Your best friend’s parents are celebrating their golden anniversary at a surf and turf restaurant.
These are events that elicit an excited reaction. However, if you find yourself sighing with worry because you’re unsure about how you’re supposed to conduct yourself in a fine dining restaurant, then read on.
Hopefully, this article will help you dine with confidence when handed a steak and seafood menu.
Dining Decorum 101
Social etiquette and table manners are needed not to make your life miserable. These are practiced in society to express people’s respect for one another. Minding your manners at the table, for example, is required so you can show your affection to your host and consideration for other diners.
Much as you want just to order fine dining online and enjoy gourmet food and drinks in the comfort of your own home, you cannot avoid social events forever. There will be a point in your life when you might need to treat your partner to a dinner date or entertain clients over delicious food and drinks.
Typically, such occasions will feature steak or seafood in the picture. However, some people get butterflies in their stomachs when they find themselves in such a situation. Either they do not know how to use the utensils properly when cutting steak or picking the bones off their salt-baked sea bass.
To help you cope with such situations – and hopefully lead you to enjoy such decadent rewards – here are some valuable tips on proper etiquette when ordering and eating seafood and steaks:
1. Ordering seafood
When you don’t know what kind of seafood to order, feel free to ask the maitre d’ or the waiter. They are the best ones to tell you which of their seafood fare will best suit your taste. Ask for details such as whether the fish has already been deboned or served already filleted.
You can also do research ahead of time regarding which seafood is in season or which ones are the area’s crown catch. It will also help you familiarize yourself with the various cooking terms such as baked, pan-fried, or steamed. This will help you in reading the menu with greater ease.
It’s also crucial to tell your server if you have any allergies to seafood so they can take the necessary precautions or suggest something else.
2. Eating caviar
Caviar is a delicacy made of salt-cured sturgeon roe. The most prized caviar comes from the Beluga and Ossetra varieties and usually fetches a high market price.
Caviar is usually served on top of crackers or served with blini, although purists prefer to eat it with minimal or no accompaniments.
Other restaurants have also experimented with serving caviar in different ways. It can be added as a garnish for pasta or served as a starter like a caviar bread dumpling.
When eating caviar as an hors d’oeuvre, never scarf down the whole plate no matter how much you like it. Make sure that others will have a piece as well.
To taste its buttery fat, use your tongue to savor the beads of roe instead of chewing on them. That’s why it is also advisable to take small nibbles so you can luxuriate in the flavors and enjoy the rich experience.
3. Eating fish
Usually, fish is served whole, like when you order grilled sea bream or baked trout. In this case, remove the head of the fish behind the gills first if it was not removed in the kitchen.
If you want to debone the body, use a fork to hold down the fish and slit it from head to tail with a knife. Place the blade’s tip under the backbone, lift the skeleton off with a fork, and place the bone on the side of the plate. Filleted fish should be eaten with a knife and fork.
Should you accidentally eat a fishbone, discreetly remove it from your mouth with your fingers and place the bones on the side of your plate.
4. Cutting and eating steak
There are two primary schools of thought when it comes to cutting steak.
One is the American or zigzag style. Hold your fork on your left hand and your knife on your right. Extend your index finger along the spine of the knife and the fork. Do not hold or clutch the utensil in your fist like a pencil. Pin the meat to the plate with your fork and slice a bite-size piece of meat.
After cutting the meat, place the knife on the plate. Transfer the fork to your right hand, spear the sliced meat, and move it to your mouth. Do not cut the meat into tiny pieces all at once or chew several pieces of meat simultaneously. Repeat the process of cutting and chewing small pieces one by one until you’ve had your fill.
The other style of eating a steak is called the continental style. This way is more straightforward because you don’t have to transfer the fork to the other after cutting the meat.
5. Other steak etiquette
Aside from the proper way of cutting and eating your steak, you also have to mind other things when eating this juicy slab of meat.
If you do not know the difference between a ribeye steak and a strip loin, ask your waiter for advice. They can also help recommend the best way to enjoy the steak based on its level of doneness.
Most chefs would prefer for you to eat your steak medium-rare, but it’s really up to you how you want to enjoy your meat best. Just remember not to smother your steak with sauce. If you want to add sauce, just put a small dollop on the side of your plate and dip each cut into it before you move it to your mouth.
Etiquette can significantly heighten one’s dining experience. By making an effort to know the basics, you too can master the art of fine dining. Regardless of whether you are served steak or offered a platter of seafood, you can confidently eat your food and enjoy the whole encounter.
If you want to practice some more of the dining etiquette that you’ve learned here, then, by all means, go and dine at a highly recommended seafood and steak restaurant.
Mohamed Farzad is the Director of the Nippon Group of Companies. One of the Nippon Hospitality Division’s premium projects is Doors Freestyle Grill, a premium steakhouse and international fusion cuisine-lifestyle dining concept set across the spellbinding Al Seef heritage district Dubai.