Food Facts & Lore, Table Manners

6 Rules For a Perfect Dinner Date

Dinner for two. Sitting face-to-face. A good restaurant. You place the napkin on your lap. Sit up straight. Turn off the phone. Listen. Don’t brag. Remember to keep your elbows off the table, though did you know that leaning forward is a sign you are interested in what your dinner companion is saying?

You let your companion sit first and order first, because you are the one who invited him/her or because she is a lady. Yes, ladies sit and order first. This, it turns out, has nothing to do with chauvinism. A Valentine’s dinner is just the right setting to be a gentleman.

But you already know all of this the same way you know the multiplication tables. It is part of your upbringing. Nevertheless, our behaviors send a strong silent message about our character. Without further ado, let’s dine. If you don’t mind, for the sake of simplicity we will refer to your date as “her” and “she.”

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6 Often Overlooked Rules to Ace a Dinner Date

1- Your invite, your decision – Unless you know that your date has a special fondness for exotic barbecued squid canapés (if there is such a thing), and you think you can stomach that sort of cuisine, do not attempt to impress her by taking her to an exotic restaurant. Take charge, however. This is the first rule. An invitation including a clear and precise destination is far more romantic than indecision. A restaurant you both know is certain to provide a comfortable atmosphere and menu selection that will allow both of you to relax and enjoy your time together.

2- Look forward – You looked forward to this date, now look forward at your date. If you bump into someone you know, kindly introduce your date and kindly end the conversation promptly. This is not the time to chat. Your date is the most important person in the world right now. Make that clear. It’s easy to worry about offending a friend, but diverting your attention to someone else’s topic of the moment can be a slight faux pas with a huge impact.

3- Match the price, not the dish – Let your date know that you are not concerned about price. Don’t worry, she will be reasonable. As she orders, take a quick peek at the menu for an idea of the value of the dishes she has selected and order dishes within a similar price range. Why? If your date orders the Filet Mignon and you only have a salad, she may worry that you perceive her as an opportunist or glutton. If she is a glutton, be one also, just for this one meal.

4- Be as messy as your date – Your date may be in the mood for a generous serving of pasta, doused with tomato sauce. Or she may not be able to resist that gourmet burger she has heard about. If she chooses foods eaten by hand, or foods that may stain the tablecloth or even her clothes, you guessed it, order a similar dish for yourself. Put her at ease. Let her know she does not have to eat that burger with her little fingers fluttering in the air as if they could somehow provide enough lift for the hands to soar above the table. Have fun.

5- Don’t drown – That beer or wine may help you relax, but mind your limits. Be fully present, at the risk of remaining a bit fearful. These rules will help you relax more than you know.

6- Last but absolutely not least, honor thy waiter – How we interact with waitstaff tells a story a mile long. It is perfectly OK to be disappointed with a dish that does not meet expectations, and to ask for a new dish (should this happen on this night, of all nights), but you can be certain that blowing up at the waitress will not appear strong and cool to your date… and you won’t feel too cool yourself after the fact, because you are a kind soul anyway. Keep your focus on your date, but make it a point to thank the waiter when he brings dishes and drinks (or a solution), and make eye contact too. How you behave with people who serve you is very revealing to your dining companion.

Romance is not the goal; connection is the goal… and the path to romance.

Stay tuned for our Valentine’s Day Dinner Menu. We’ll announce it on our Facebook page.

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