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What Goes Where On A Restaurant Table?

Updated: Sep 8, 2020

Have a big meal coming up? Refresh your memory on what goes where on a table (before you eat your salad with the dessert fork!)

1. Avoid eating someone else's bread

If the table is set properly, bread or salad or any other food dish will be placed to the left of your dinner plate. Your glass will be placed to the right of your plate. You can use the mnemonic "BMW" to remember this: Bread - Meal - Water.

2. Start on the outside, work your way in

When it comes to knives and forks, the general rule of thumb is to work from the outside and work your way in. The fork and knife closest to the plate are for eating your main course.

When eating soup you should use the bowl-shaped or larger oval spoon. Never use your bowl to eat your soup: tilt the spoon and keep the bowl firmly on the table.

In America, it's acceptable to place the fork in the hand you normally eat or write with to eat the meat you have just cut. However, the British way to cut and eat meat is to not switch the fork, but to lift the meat to your mouth with the fork in the hand you don’t normally use. This saves the step of switching hands each time you need to cut the meat.

On the subject of knives and forks: Bread is a finger-food and not to be cut using a knife!

3. What about chopsticks?

If you are presented with chopsticks with your meal it can be difficult to know what the etiquette is. Here are some simple rules to bear in mind:

The end of your chopsticks (that come into contact with your mouth) must never touch the table. So either rest your chopsticks on the plate or on the rest provided.

Chopsticks can be used to cut your food: Indeed, in high-quality restaurants, food will be easy to break up if they have been cooked, marinated or are fresh.

It goes without saying that chopsticks should not be used to spear your food. If you have difficulty using them, either ask for western cutlery, or watch the video below to master the skill.


I hope this helps! Use LUX Rewards to enjoy up to 10% back of your restaurant spend in points whilst you practice and master these dining habits!

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