The One Menu Rule You're Probably Breaking At Fancy Restaurants

There's a certain amount of etiquette you should always follow in high-end restaurants, and these unspoken rules vary depending on the overall environment. The sheer number of expectations can be hard to remember, especially in an upscale Michelin-star eatery. Per Stubborn Seed, napkins should always be folded and placed on your lap, and if you get up for any reason, you should leave them on the seat rather than the table. After you finish your meal, the most proper practice is laying your silverware across your plate so the server knows to clear it. Other frowned-upon faux pas include eating too quickly, blowing on your food, and understandably, slurping.

These guidelines, although the most appropriate way to dine out, aren't strictly enforced like, say, dress codes. Some restaurants have strict rules on their websites that when in doubt, you should check. According to Penn Live, one Philadelphia restaurant Steak48 not only had a strict dress code but also required a minimum of $100 per person to be spent. This information can no longer be found on its website, so it's not clear whether it's changed. Either way, you best not show up in hats or athletic clothes. Furthermore, elegant tops are preferred over T-shirts. 

An extensive list of dining rules could fill a book, but there is another one that's probably never crossed your radar.

Think twice before lifting your menu

One menu-related restaurant etiquette secret was shared at a class with Beaumont Etiquette's Myka Meier, and Food & Wine was in attendance to learn the ins and outs. Apparently, the menu should never be lifted fully from the table, meaning at least a corner should be touching the table in some way. This could cause an issue for diners with poor eyesight. 

When an inquirer reached out to "Miss Manners" with The Mercury News about the topic, she believed that the rule doesn't necessarily apply to her after she revealed she's nearsighted. "Surely this bizarre directive was intended for children who think it funny to fold their menus over their heads like hats," she said. There's no evidence to back up if this is the true reason, though.

A server shared another tip regarding menus with Today, but it has less to do with properness and more with cleanliness. According to Darron Cardosa, menus are extremely dirty — he even compares them to Petri dishes. "I would never use a physical menu without washing my hands immediately," he said in part. He also doesn't recommend eating anything, such as bread on the table, until your hands are cleaned from the menu filth as well. In conclusion, if you keep your hands clean and your menu on the table, you'll be fine.