Remember that fine dining is designed to be a leisurely time. Always eat small portions of food and remember to put down cutlery between each mouthful. The cutlery should always be placed on the plate instead of the table. Cross the tips of the pieces in order to inform the server that the meal is not yet finished. The knife and the fork are the two most commonly used utensils. Food should be cut up as it is eaten, not cut up at the start. Remember that the tines of the fork should be pointing toward the plate.
Napkins are also another area where etiquette is important. A napkin is one of the aspects of dining that is commonly misused. However, napkins are designed to dab at the mouth. Don't use them to wipe. At the beginning of the meal, the napkin should be unfolded and then placed on the knees and should never be tucked into the front of a shirt. If leaving the table before the end of the meal, the napkin should be placed on the seat. This signifies a temporary leaving and the napkin will not be removed by the server. At the end of the meal, the napkin can be placed tidily to the left of the plate.
Seating etiquette is an important part of dining. When seated at a table, feet should remain firmly on the floor. Avoid crossing the legs or leaning back in the chair. Elbows should be at the sides throughout the meal. A relaxed, but upright posture is most appropriate and do not lean over the plate while eating. Always bring the food to the mouth instead. The hands should generally remain in the lap when not being used and, as most know, elbows are not permitted on the table.
One final area is the meal itself. No one should start eating until the entire table has been served. If there are a large number of people present, the hostess may indicate a start to the meal by eating a small bite or asking people to begin the meal. If something is eaten that cannot be swallowed like a fish bone or similar, be excused and then remove it in privacy. Also, depending on the food choices, food may become stuck in the teeth. This is normal and when it happens, be excused to the bathroom to remove it. Never pick at the teeth or the mouth area while at the table.
These are some of the basic dining skills needed. For more advanced help in this area, dining etiquette training is an asset and can help anyone achieve confidence in a formal dining setting.
Marcy Breault "Etiquette Training Guru"