Steak Dinner Etiquette

Savoring a well-crafted dinner in an upscale steakhouse provides one of life’s finest culinary pleasures. Patrons get the most from the experience when they’re prepared, and this means knowing and practicing proper steakhouse etiquette. Fortunately, etiquette is mainly a matter of common sense. You’ll be able to navigate the waters of upscale dining just fine if you use table manners along with several strategies designed to create enjoyable evenings in fine restaurants.

Make Reservations

Ensuring that you and your dinner guests have a flawless dining experience begins before you even set foot in your restaurant of choice. Contacting the establishment for a reservation shows respect for the business as well as makes certain that you won’t be turned away upon arrival. Popular restaurants simply can’t absorb all of the walk-in traffic that they get. Make your reservations as soon as your dining plans for the evening have been solidified. If you must cancel the reservation, do so as soon as possible. Under no circumstances should you simply not show up as scheduled.

Research the Menu Online

If it’s your first visit to the establishment, go to the restaurant’s website and familiarize yourself with the menu. It’s not necessary to make an entree selection at this time, but being prepared in advance makes the ordering process go more smoothly. If you haven’t had much exposure to steaks, take a little time to learn about the various cuts and preparation methods to gain an idea of which menu selections might best suit your personal preferences.

Dress Nicely

Even if the restaurant doesn’t have a clearly stated dress code, it’s respectful to the establishment’s owner and staff to arrive nicely dressed. If the event is a corporate dinner, your attire should be business formal. If you’re dining with family or friends, wear something dressy and save the sandals, jeans, and t-shirts for casual beach eateries and coffee shops.

Table Manners

Guests often place items such as cell phones and keys on tables without even thinking about it, but this practice is distracting to dining companions as well as servers. Also, unless it’s imperative that you can be reached during the dinner, turn your cell phone off. Otherwise, turn on the vibrate setting, keep necessary conversations short, and speak as quietly as possible. Leave the dining room in the event that you must have a cell phone conversation lasting longer than 10 minutes.

If you’re gathering with friends or family to celebrate a special occasion, the guest of honor should have the best seat at the table. If it’s a business dinner, the highest ranking person in the other company should be treated as the guest of honor and seated accordingly. If your dining companions consist only of members of your own company, the best seat goes to whoever holds the highest position.

Use continental table manners when handling utensils. Hold your fork in your left hand with the tines pointed downward, and hold your knife in your right hand with your index finger slightly extended over the top edge to provide optimal balance for cutting steaks.

Ordering Wine

Unless you’re an experienced diner who knows exactly what type of wine you like best with specific cuts of steak, make your wine choices with the assistance of the restaurant’s sommelier. Keep in mind that although red wine is universally recommended for serving with steaks, some pairings are better than others. For instance, a rich, well-marbled filet mignon may be better complemented by a medium-bodied cabernet sauvignon rather than a deep Shiraz. Because steak is a quintessential American dish, it’s best to stick with classic cocktails as pre-dinner beverages. Think smoky malt whiskies with splashes of club soda or traditional dry martinis.

Ordering Steak

Again, personal preference dictates the cut of the steak and how it is prepared. Steak generally tastes best when cooked to medium rare no matter what the cut. Skilled chefs know exactly how to cook a steak to bring out the best in the meat, so don’t be afraid to trust the guys in the kitchen to provide you with the best possible meal. Be sure to leave room for dessert at the end of dinner — great steakhouses always have sumptuous dessert items on the menu.