Dining Out Etiquette

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Dining out should always be a pleasant experience, be it a intimate dinner for two or a party with friends and family.  When dining out, it is expected that you, as the guest behave in a manner which is in keeping with the sort of restaurant you are visiting.  Be it a casual brunch on a weekend to a formal dinner there are a handful of guidelines which can ensure your dining experience is an enjoyable one.

Make a reservation.

It is the host’s duty to call ahead of time to arrange a reservation.  This avoids unnecessary queuing as popular restaurants may be pre-booked for days in advance.   The time of booking is also an opportunity to check in advance and advise of any special dietary requirements of your guests.

Ensure you arrive in a timely manner at your reservation.  In the words of Ita Buttrose it is “unforgivable” to reserve a table and not turn up.  Always ensure you cancel a booking even if it is at the last minute.

Some restaurants may not take reservations.  In this case, be sure you arrive ahead of time to ensure you are at the top of the waiting list and may be seated before the arrival of your guests.

Arrival

Upon your arrival at the restaurant, wait for the maitre d’ to escort you to your table.  Some restarants may offer to take your coat or umbrella before being seated.  At a table with a banquette, women are traditionally seated on the banquette, the men on chairs opposite them.  Once seated, you’ll probably be offered pre-dinner drinks.  It is perfectly acceptable to politely decline until once you have perused the drinks menu further.

Ordering

Styles of menus various enormously, from  fancy handwritten menus that change daily to elaborate printed menus which feature a Table d’hôte or fixed price menu with limited choice.  In contrast, other restaurants may have a À la carte menu, which simply means that each dish has a stated price and the dishes can be ordered in any combination desired.

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The basic rule of ordering from a menu is to ask the waiter about any dish you do not understand.  Asking what a particular dish contains does not make you look stupid as there is no point in ordering what you do not recognize!  Any waiter will know what is on offer or at least be able to find out.

Complaints

What if something is wrong with the food you ordered?  The dish is not cooked, the food is cold or the salad tastes nasty!  Whatever your complaint be sure to quietly explain your issue to the waiter.  Any reputable restaurant will be obliging and willing to resolve the problem and replace the dish.

The Bill

When the meal draws to a close, attract the attention of a waiter and request the bill.  Don’t forget to discreetly check the bill for errors. Signal the waiter when the payment is ready for collection.

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The Family Circle in Society

“Nations expire, human goverments are constantly re-cast; political systems are built up by one generation to be pulled down and re-cast by another; false religions, accomompanied by the licentious vehemence of human passions, effect the greatest social changes; peace and war, infidelity and revolution, shape and re-shape human destiny: but amid the decay and the wreck, the confusion and the crimes, which constantly disfigure the face of the earth the asylum of Home has never been overthrown.  The family circle…survives amid the waters of universal change…”

– Happy Homes and How to Make Them pg 4.

Style File: Michelle Obama

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Michelle Obama, First Lady of America

Biography: As a African-American woman born in the 1960’s Michelle Obama has faced many setbacks and difficulties in her life but has pressed forward with resolute courage and unfaltering determination. Raised in a simple one-bedroom apartment on the top floor of a brick bungalow, she understands what many colored American’s face on a day-to-day basis. Michelle and her brother grew up witnessing events that ingrained in her the determination to fight for the black people of America. – One such incident tells of a carpenter, who happens to be her grandfather who was denied union membership due to his race, was shut out of the city’s top construction jobs. Rather than sinking into despair and hopelessness of what may become of the future, Michelle encouraged by her family, pressed on with even more determination and courage to fight for the recognition that colored men and women deserved. And she has done, just that with phenomenal success!

The Look: Michelle channels the 1950’s and 1960’s streamlined and simple look. Appearing on many best-dressed lists she draws frequent comparisons to Jacqueline Kennedy – famous for her elegant 1960’s suit and pillbox hat. Often opting for light summer dresses, with floral prints on informal occasions; or on more formal occasions she often favors a classy knee-length dress or a simple pencil skirt and jacket. Reggie Wells who performfs power-puff duties for Michelle and her husband claims that “she will be the next Jacqueline (Kennedy) Onassis. She has perfect skin. She’s gorgeous, clever and elegant” And isn’t that just want America wants their next First Lady to be?

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“…I’m extremely happy with her, and part of it has to do with the fact that she is at once completely familiar to me, so that I can be myself and she knows me very well and I trust her completely, but at the same time she is also a complete mystery to me in some ways. And there are times when we are lying in bed and I look over and sort of have a start. Because I realize here is this other person who is separate and different and has different memories and backgrounds and thoughts and feelings. It’s that tension between familiarity and mystery that makes for something strong, because, even as you build a life of trust and comfort and mutual support, you retain some sense of surprise or wonder about the other person.”

President Barack Obama

Attitude is Everything

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The longer I live

The more I realize the impact of attitude on life.

Attitude, to me, is more important than the past,

Than education,

Than money,

Than circumstances,

Than failures,

Than success,

Than what other people think or say or do.

It is more important than appearance,

Giftedness or skill.

It will make or break an organization,

A school, a home.

The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day

Regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.

We cannot change our past.

We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way.

We cannot change the inevitable.

The only thing we can do

Is play the string we have.

And that is our attitude.

I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me

And 90 percent how I react to it.

And so it is with you.

– Anon –