I know valentines is around the corner and most of you, gents especially, are almost on your wits end just thinking about this day. It’s just a day, and it doesn’t have to be depressing. It should be something you look forward to, and get excited just to think about. But you being the gentleman you are, you probably have to panic over the fine dining etiquette and the overpriced menus, and the elaborate performance from folks who are eating at the fancy schmancy restaurant for the first time, trying to navigate the norms of fine dining.
Don’t get intimidated by the demeanor of the ‘classy’ forks at the restaurant. Believe me they are also figuring this out as you are. Chances are they are watching what you do with the napkin, and the glaring silverware staring at them. If you decide to drink the water from the small bowl, you know the one with slices of lemon inside, we can bet that the couple you were openly ogling at in awe of their dining manners will drink it too. Well, let’s hope that one of them is cultured than the other and will knock the bowl off her/his hand before they take a sip.
I’m not trying to scare you out of taking your date to a fine dining restaurant this valentines. On the contrary, I’m trying to build your confidence when you visit. This is like rehearsing for an interview. So, here are a few guides to looking like a veteran in that high end restaurant. Easy peasy!
Don’t seat just yet! When you arrive at the restaurant and are shown to your seating area, please pull a seat for her. Don’t just pull and leave. Once she sits down, help her push it in closer to the table, then go sit. You do that, you get a mark for chivalry.
Once you are seated, wait for your date to put the napkin on their lap. Once that is done on their end, please proceed and put the napkin on your laps immediately you sit down. Keep the napkin on your laps until you either need it, or are done with your meal. I know it’s too hot in the country right now and you’re probably all sweaty, but please don’t use the napkin to wipe your face or blow your nose.
Also, no matter the occasion, don’t wave your napkin like a flag or tuck it under your shirt like a bib.
On the low end places, meaning a late night chips joint like sonford., a farmers heavy meal joint like Kilimanjaro or an almost fish joint like Kosewe, you only need to look around. Is the joint filled with ‘youngins’ from campus, or middle class trying to impress their girlfriends? Do they look miserable, or are they enjoying themselves? Even if the soup is being ladled out of a well-crusted sufuria, what’s the worst that could happen? A little extra time on the toilet seat tomorrow? Surely a fair trade for a delicious and classic experience.
If you find yourself on the ‘upper East Side’ of town, your table will definitely be laid with more cutlery than you can count (okay, I’m kidding). It’s nothing too overwhelming.
If you have more than one fork on your table this means you have more than one meal course. When you start eating start from outside as you work in. Use the outside fork and leave it on your plate when done. Please don’t start asking who went diving for scallops or if the vegetables are organically grown. Do you really need to know about provenance of the sea food?
Order what you are familiar with. Don’t go trying new drinks in excess and end up throwing up all over the place. You also want to create an impression of a man under control. Whatever you drink, don’t stagger.
Don’t order coffee, or she might not invite you to her place for a cuppa.
You’re definitely paying the bill this Friday. When the bill is placed on the table, don’t let her touch it or take a peek. Pull it to your end of the table away from her prying eyes. Please carry enough money to pay for the meals. Some ladies might want to go dutch, and it’s okay. If she absolutely insists on going dutch, don’t haggle over it. Ask her to pay for the bottle of water instead…or buy you coffee, which we both know won’t be happening. Either way, the decision on the bill will leave you both happy.
After the date get her coat and hold the door for her. On the sidewalk, walk on the outside and let her walk on the inside of the sidewalk. If you’re taking a cab, don’t let the driver open the door for her. Be a gentleman and do it. If you’re driving, please open the door for her, wait for her to get in and close it before assuming your position. Don’t forget to smile like a Colgate model as soon as you’re strapped.
Happy valentines day!