I mean, it's not totally like Fawlty Towers...


... but, and I have whined about this before, very few people seem to consider waitering much of a career in these parts. And by "these parts" I mean pretty much all of the US outside of larger cities like NYC or LA or whatever.

Hey, it is what it is I suppose and common sense and general friendliness can frankly push any server to a good level. Yet there are just a few basics I miss when I visit local restaurants -- some, like Latah Bistro and Sante, are often exceptions -- and I wouldn't be me if I didn't list them here. They might seem minor, but they truly can make a difference for a diner's experience. Trust me. I know these things. I have a blog.

  • Pour wine or whatever from the guest's right side. It's just easier than leaning over the plate and a bit more elegant than the age-old "could you pass me your glass?".
  • Likewise, serve plates from the right side. If you serve from a dish onto a plate already on the table, serve from the left. 
  • When one guest has finished his or her meal, for the sake of everything that's good and holy, don't remove their plates. Wait until everybody at the table is done. This is one I don't get why people can't understand. Removing individual plates at different times interrupts the other guests and pretty much says "Hey! Hurry up!" 
  • And finally, this one is for the guests, but can assist the server. If you place your utensils down when you're not finished eating, point them toward the center, fork on the left (approximately 7 or 8 o'clock position) and knife on the right (approximately 5 or 4 o'clock position). When you're done, place the fork and knife in the 5 or 4 o'clock position. Teeth point down and the blade points inward in both cases. This way you discreetly tell the waiter you're done.

That's four. Well, three and a half. There are many more, I'm sure, but I do think something as simple as this really makes for a happier dining experience for both customers and staff.