Uber Eats Expert Myka Meier Shares Tips for First Date Dinner Etiquette


Waiter taking order

Couple having dinner | Minerva Studio/Getty Images

First dates can be anxiety provoking. This is especially true if your first outing is a dinner date. You’re probably not only worried about what you’re going to wear and what to say but also what you should and shouldn’t do during dinner.

If you’re nervous about the rules for dining out, have no fear. The Cheat Sheet spoke with Uber Eats Etiquette Expert Myka Meier to learn more about how you can put your best foot forward during a dinner date with that special someone.

The Cheat Sheet: Why is dining etiquette so important?

Myka Meier: Dining etiquette is important because by having good table manners you are showing respect to those you are dining with.

CS: What’s the biggest etiquette mistake couples make on a date?

MM: The biggest mistake couples usually make on a date is to be on their phones. The point of dining with someone, whether it be at a home or restaurant, is to have a conversation and enjoy each other’s company in person. There’s little worse than being on a date and having the other person ignoring you and on their phone the entire time.

CS: Should you ditch a date with poor etiquette?

MM: Bad dining etiquette can either make or break a date. The amount of times I have heard people say they would not go out again with someone because of their dining manners is more common than you think. Not only can it be a turn off, but extremely unappetizing. The number one offense in my book is being rude to wait staff if you’re at a restaurant. I always say you can see how a date may treat you one day by the way they treat service staff! If you’re being hosted at someone’s home always remember not to arrive empty-handed and bring a host or hostess gift to show gratitude for being invited.

CS: Where can our readers go if they want formal etiquette training?

MM: We teach in-person dining etiquette courses at Beaumont Etiquette in New York City and at The Plaza Hotel, and also travel nationally to teach corporate and private groups. Additionally, if you can’t make it to New York for a course, we offer online learning videos on our website ranging from how to hold cutlery correctly, set a table at home and even how to eat tricky foods.

Additional dining etiquette tips from Meier:

  • Never lift your menu off the table: In formal dining, the menu should always be touching the table in one place.
  • Once you sip from a glass, you must sip from the exact same place on that glass for the rest of the evening. When you drink, you want to drink from the same place on the glass every time to avoid that lip ring, whether it’s from natural oils or chapsticks or lipstick, then you put the glass back in the same place where you picked it up.
  • Don’t clink. Not even for the ‘gram: Clinking for a cheers could damage the glass, especially if you’re using very fine glassware.
  • Never ask for an oyster fork: If there’s no oyster fork on the table, don’t ask for one; the lack of an oyster fork means that the oyster is already loosened and ready to go.
  • Keep the rim of your plates as clean as possible. This is out of respect for the service staff who have to clear the plates and will be grabbing the edge of the plate.
  • Place “discards” on the upper left part of your plate. Let’s say you had a lemon rind or a fish bone you didn’t want to eat; that would go on the upper left-hand part of your plate. The bottom right is for sauces and butter.
  • Keep your bread on the plate at all times unless you are delivering it to your mouth. That means you should butter the bread while it is still on the plate, but do not butter the whole slice at once. Break off the piece you plan to eat, butter that piece, and then lift the piece to put in your mouth. This applies to bagels, muffins, biscuits, and other bread-like products
  • Fold your napkin with the crease toward you before putting it in your lap. Napkins are to be folded in half with the crease facing toward you.
  • Never say you are going to the restroom. If you have to leave to use the restroom, excuse yourself.
  • Don’t say “bon appetit”: The expression isn’t proper here or in France. As etiquette coach Marie de Tilly told The New York Times in 2007, “When people use it, it sounds just like an invitation for good digestion and suggests that you are so hungry that you may jump on any food that would cross your mouth.” Instead say, “please enjoy.”
  • Leave one bite left on your plate. This shows that you enjoyed the meal, but you weren’t so famished you cleaned the whole plate—which could indicate that you are still hungry, or there wasn’t enough food.

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