Restaurant etiquettes is not only based on fine dining do’s and don’ts, but also about common sense. Yelling ‘Rakib oi uncle’r table theke khabar niye ashbana’ (Rakib don’t bring food from that uncle’s table’ at the top of your voice is not only lack of common sense, but also lack of common sense.
People mostly eat out in Dhaka so that they can usually dine in peace, sans the chaos at home with kids playing with their food and throwing temper tantrums at their whim. Alongside that, there are also a set of universal etiquettes, which are conveyed more through gestures, actions and body language and does not require foreign language or cultural expertise.
- Do always dress nicely – Unless you are at a DJ party, loud attire attracts attention and gossip of the wrong kind, and you will know instinctively that they are talking about your silver jeans or multi-coloured tank top.
- Do not put your personal belongings on the table – Nobody wants to see whether you have an iPhone 6S Plus or an original Prada clutch. It distracts not only your other dining companions, but also your waiter and the entire restaurant.
- Do let your guest/companion order first - The host, especially if it's a woman, has to make it clear that he or she is the host. Say phrases like, 'Will you please bring my guest...' or 'My guest would like to order first'
- Pay well ahead before the end of your meal if you are the host - A savvy host knows to give their credit card before they sit down, or even call the restaurant ahead of time. Also, the person who invites is the person who pays.
- Do take pictures of your food, only not in front of a client – It is only okay if you are not at a business lunch and secondly, if you can do it discreetly. The sound of shutters and joyful exclamations of ‘Eita amar Instagram er jonno’ (This is for my Instagram) makes you the odd apple in the entire restaurant.
- Do not reach across the table to taste your friend’s food - I don't recommend sharing if you're with someone you don't know very well, or if you're at a formal business meal. If you're with someone you know better, pass them your bread plate with a little sample of food on it.
- Never yell at your waiter - Try to make eye contact with your waiter. If that doesn't work, put up your right hand with your index finger raised slightly to get their attention.
- Please send back food that was not cooked properly - If you are with other people and you have to send your food back, it's your responsibility to tell everyone to go ahead and start without you. You are paying for your food after all.
- Never discuss business before the end of your meal - Business should not be discussed until the meal has been cleared away. Also, generally avoid complaining about business colleagues and work during the meal.
Another quick set of table manners –
- Wipe your fingers and mouth often with your napkin
- Cut one piece of meat or fish at a time on your plate and eat it before cutting the next one
- Butter bread on your plate, never in midair
- Look into (not over) the cup or glass when drinking
- Sit up straight, and keep your arms (including elbows) off the table.
by Wafiur Rahman