Saturday, May 12, 2012

Restaurant Etiquette: Awkward Situations and How to Handle Them

Have you ever had an awkward event happen at a restaurant that made you just want to crawl into a hole? Or do you labor though social meetings and business lunches with a high degree of anxiety, as you fear that you might do something embarrassing or offensive? Here are some guidelines for how to handle awkward situations at restaurants.

Lack of Food Expertise

If you are not an expert restaurant connoisseur, you may at times have found yourself reading a menu and having no idea what the entree items contain. This may especially be the case at an ethnic restaurant or at restaurant in which many of the entrees in the menu are in a difficult to pronounce foreign language. To avoid the embarrassment of ignorance or from mispronouncing words, ask friends or associates at the table if they have any entree suggestions. You could also call over a waiter for entree recommendations.

Special Dietary Requirements

Many people have special dietary requirements, such as a gluten-free diet, vegetarianism, or low-carb diet. Perhaps you want to avoid the attention that might be directed to you regarding your dietary choices when choosing a menu item. Scan the menu. Many times menu items will be denoted as being vegetarian or gluten-free. Sometimes there are even sections of the menu devoted to vegetarian food. If your dietary requirement does come up in conversation, just be subtle about it and explain that it is just a personal choice to help meet your lifestyle needs.

Spilling Food or Beverages on Other People

The quintessential image of awkwardness in a restaurant is spilling your beverage or food on other people. If you find yourself caught in this embarrassing situation, sincerely and profusely apologize for this action. Offer to pay for their meal and the cost of cleaning or buying new clothing. If necessary, give the recipient of your culinary projection your contact information for sending you a bill.

Food Caught in Your Teeth

Have you ever looked in the mirror after eating a meal at restaurant and turned red in the face as you realized you unknowingly had chunks of food caught in your teeth. Avoid this embarrassing situation at future meals by carrying a pocket-sized mirror with you. Many restaurants will also have toothpicks for picking food out of your teeth.

Paying for a Meal

One of the biggest sources of awkwardness at a restaurant is deciding how much to contribute to the bill. The easiest way to avoid any awkwardness is to outright offer to pay for the entire meal yourself or directly pay the waitress before your friends, family, or associates can see the bill. At the very least, err on the side of generosity if you divvy up the bill between other people.
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