8 Etiquette Mistakes Everyone Makes at a Steakhouse
Steakhouse etiquette is designed to create a formal-but-friendly experience, but all those stuffy rules can make you feel uncomfortable. Warm up the experience by learning some of the most common mistakes.
Steakhouse etiquette mistakes to avoid
The $65 steak entree isn’t the only intimidating thing about an upscale steakhouse restaurant; they can be stuffy and full of rules. Since most of us only go out to eat at these special-occasion restaurants once or twice a year, it’s hard to keep track of what you should and shouldn’t be doing. Once you’re brushed up with your steakhouse etiquette, find out which rude conversation habits you need to stop ASAP.
Dousing your steak with steak sauce
If the chef wants the steak to be slathered in sauce, it will come to the table that way. Otherwise, it is definitely faux-pas to dump A1 steak sauce on your meat, especially if you haven’t tasted it yet! If you’re a sauce-on-your-steak kind of person, ask the server about house-made sauces that will pair well with your particular steak. They probably have things like garlic butter, peppercorn sauces or chimichurri.
Cutting the steak all at once
Believe it or not, there is a correct way to cut steak, and it involves cutting one bite at a time. You should hold the knife in your right hand with your index finger extended down the back of the utensil. Then, holding the fork in your left hand, pin down the meat and cut a single bite in a zigzag motion. Finally, place the knife on the plate and transfer to fork to your right hand to take the bite.
Eating every last bite
You might think a clean plate means you loved every bite, but according to etiquette experts, it actually sends the wrong message. Leaving one bite of food on the plate shows that you were satisfied but not so hungry you licked the plate clean, which may indicate that you weren’t served enough food.
Here’s more dining etiquette for tricky foods—including sushi!
Putting your napkin on the table
When you excuse yourself, don’t plop the napkin directly on the table. Instead, loosely fold it and place it on your chair. The napkin shouldn’t ever be thrown onto your plate, even when you’re finished eating. It should be placed (again, loosely folded) to the left of the plate.
Chewing on the steak bone
This piece of advice may seem obvious, but you should never gnaw on an animal bone at the table if you’re in a fancy restaurant. It might seem tempting if the meat is delicious, but it’s best to keep your fingers away from the food at all times. That’s what the fork and knife is for!
Etiquette experts agree—these are the foods you can always eat with your hands.
Spitting out chewy pieces into a napkin
No matter how fancy the steakhouse, you may find a gristly piece of steak in the mix. If you spit it into your napkin, you may forget it’s there, stand up and have the bite go rolling around the dining room! It’s best to discretely take the piece out with your fingers and place it on the upper left corner of the plate. If you don’t like looking at it, you can ask the server for an extra napkin to remove the piece from sight.
Want to recreate your fancy steakhouse dinner at home? Try these tricks to make cheap meat taste expensive.
Not following the dress code
Dining is an informal business in most parts of the country, but many high-end restaurants still have a dress code (especially in cities like Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto). No one wants to show up for their reservation and be told they can’t enter the dining room, so be sure to ask before you arrive. Need help deciphering what “black tie” really means? Check our handy guide to dress codes.
Ordering steak well-done
You should order steak how you like it, so if that’s a well-done steak then go for it. On the other hand, most steaks taste juicier and more flavourful if they’re cooked to medium-rare or medium. Strike up a conversation with the server and let them know why you prefer well-done meat. They may be able to suggest a menu option that will still taste great when cooked to well-done temperatures.
Next, check out 20 dining etiquette rules no one follows anymore.