Delhi Darbar


The word Etiquette is thrown about a lot when people talk about Fine Dining. Etiquette means nothing more than common sense that call on one to be Considerate, Polite and Appropriate. Beyond that it is upto the individual or the circumstances. In one circle, a small dinner out will call for a jacket with jeans while in other circles, a black tie would be appropriate.

Here are some commonly accepted Dos & Don’ts -

  • Respond to any invitation you receive to Dinner. Don’t assume the host knows to expect you.
  • Never take a guest along unless the host has okayed this or the invitation indicates that you may take guests. If you are the host and a guest has turned up with a friend, be polite to the unexpected friend and raise the issue with your inconsiderate guest some other time.
  • Dress appropriately as per the invitation or the venue. Don’t overdress but do make an effort to look your best. Never try to outdress the host.
  • Be punctual. If you are going to be more that 10 minutes late, please call and inform your host.
  • It’s a good idea to take a gift for the host or hostess flowers, chocolates or a bottle of wine.
  • Allow the host to suggest where you should sit.
  • Once seated, spread the napkin on your lap and use it occasionally to wipe your lips and fingers.
  • If you are dinning at a restaurant, take your cues from the host when ordering. Let the host suggest something to drink and never pick the most expensive drinks or dishes. The host will order the wine. If you are unfamiliar with any dish, ask the waiter to explain.
  • Whilst eating, rest the knife and fork on either side of the plate between mouthfuls. When you have finished eating, place them side by side at the center of the plate.
  • If there is something you don’t like, do eat atleast some of it. You may leave some food on the plate and indeed, you should never polish off everything and leave your plate so clean it looks as if you have been starved for  days.
  • Use the cutlery from ouside in. Most three course meals will require that you use the smaller fork and knife for the starter or the soup spoon for a soup course, followed by bigger cutlery for the main and the cutlery on the top of the plate for dessert. You may use both the spoon and the fork for dessert, or just the fork if it’s a cake or a pastry.
  • Don’t start eating before a signal from the host.
  • Don’t burp, slurp or make loud smacking noises with your lips. And never talk with your mouth full. Don’t lick your fingers  as a fingerbowl will be provided if you have been eating food that requires you use your fingers, or pick your teeth, if toothpicks are provided at the end of meal, use them discreetly using the napkin to shield your mouth or leave the table and do this in the bathroom.  
  • Ask someone to pass any item that you may need from the table if it is not within reach. Don’t lean over any guests or stretch across the table to get at something.
  • If you have really enjoyed your meal, complement the host & chef.
  • Thank the host at the end of the evening.


  • Give your guest enough time to plan their calendars, so do your invitations as early as possible.
  • Always indicate, very discreetly, whether guests will be paying for some or all of the meal before extracting an RSVP.
  • Make a reservation in advance and even decide where in the restaurant you would like to sit. Pick a restaurant that you are familiar with so that you can recommend dishes to your guests but NEVER FORCE any dish on anyone or challenge any of your guest’s choices. Choose one appropriate to your budget and put your guest’s preferences before your own.
  • Get there early. Speak to the Maitre d’ before your guests arrive, informing him/her that you are the host, what kind of price range you have planned for wines and any special notes that he should be aware of.
  • Be unfailingly polite to the restaurant staff.
  • As  host you have to ensure that  all your guest’s glasses are  topped up and that they are being attended to by the restaurant staff.
  • Make sure the conversation is flowing and steer guests away from sensitive or difficult conversation. DO NOT dominate the conversation. A good move is to change your place mid way through the meal if you are at a very large table, so that you can spend some time conversing with other guests.
  • If you are cancelling a reservation do it as early as possible.
  • If you are unsure about the dress code, please ask and inform your guests accordingly.


  • Ask the Sommelier for advice or assistance. Communicate your price range non-verbally by indicating a bottle on the wine list within your range and enquiring about it.
  • If the wine you ordered smells or tastes ‘off’, send it back. If you order a bottle and simply don’t like the wine, you should not send it back. You may do so, however, if the wine was recommended by the waiter or sommelier.


  • Never get loud or aggressive. If you are the host, quietly point out anything you are unhappy with, be discreet and do so with the intension of resolution.
  • If you are the guest, it is best to not say anything unless the dish is inedible or badly cooked, then point it out to the host and let them raise the issue.


  • Give what you believe the staff genuinely deserve. 10-15% is the expected norm and upto even 25% if the service was exceptional. You are under no obligation to add a further tip if the service charge is included in the bill.

Dr. Das Suman Kumar
(President & CEO)
- India Roaming: +91 9311115901
- Global Roaming: +91 9899992477


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