4 Tips to Give Your Guests the Fine Dining Experience
Dining is an activity humans have been doing for centuries. Whether it was the ancient natives getting together to portion their food to survive, the European politicians gathering around to discuss matters, or a couple going on a date, the concept has always remained the same. To dine was to sit down with others and enjoy a meal together – for personal or business use.
Although the act of dining has been around for centuries, the industry has evolved in terms of business, culinary art, cuisine and much more. Going back to the medieval era, eating together was a tradition and it was normal for it to be done in a ‘Grand Hall’ with a large gathering. As decades passed, mealtime slowly became more of a private gathering and a new industry began to take form. Bakers and butchers are only two examples of food craftsmanship to arise in the medieval time. This transition opened up a new avenue to dining. Cooking in bulk went through many systematic changes, plates eventually downsized and food experts were able to create more delicate and personalized meals.
When eating at home, you can cook what you want, when you want and how you want – but this involves cooking and cleaning by yourself. Although many people arguably enjoy having dinners at home, there is nothing more special than a night out where you can thoroughly relax by getting served, and digest peacefully as someone else cleans up. Where we once had two options, eat in or eat out, we now have a variety of restaurants and eateries to choose from.
As the economy changed and grew, so did the foodservice industry. As this industry continues to evolve, so do the consumer options! Now in the 21st century, we aren’t just choosing between dining room or bar service – we can choose to order in, go to a restaurant, a banquet hall or even hire a bartender, server, or cook for our personal dinner parties.
No matter where you decide to eat, there are two distinguishable ways to be served – fine or casually. Typically, dress codes for staff and guests, table settings, table cloths and napkins, and proper table setting etiquette, is the big factors that differentiate a fine dining experience over a casual one.
However, it’s the good service that truly sets them apart. Whether it is fast food, or an upscale restaurant, the way your guests are served is what determines what kind of experience they are receiving. Here are four things you can do to ensure you give your guests the fine dining difference.
1. Know Your Menu
I am strong believer that every server should know what’s on his or her menu. Memorizing the items will help you serve guests more efficiently. When you are memorizing, pay attention to the plates that have important components such as added cheese, veggie-only dishes, and gluten-free dishes. When a guest asks your opinion about a dish, they are usually basing it on their food limitations or preferences. Since everyone is different, knowing your food will enable you to give your guests options without needing to consult the chef. In doing so, you are not only saving time, but also impressing your guests with your fine knowledge.
To work in a fine dining environment, you must be attentive and absorb information easily. Being attentive involves fully listening, checking up on the table frequently, and most importantly, double-checking your orders. If you don’t need a note pad, by all means go ahead! Just make sure you can memorize your orders without flaw. This is a skill that takes practice and isn’t for everyone. Writing down your order will always be the safest option, but as you grow, don’t hesitate to test your limits – as long as it’s not at the guests’ expense!
2. Use your Manners
This seems like a given, but surprisingly, many servers let it slip under pressure. As a server or bartender, you must be polite and must smile at all times. Your guests don’t have much time to get to know you, so your best bet is to be as personable as possible. A simple smile already opens the door for comfort, and your politeness will seal the deal as you start their dining experience.
Throughout the meal, you want to be professional. Start with your stance. Hold your head high, straighten your spine and slightly push your shoulders back. Speak with confidence as you introduce yourself and offer drinks. Still keeping in mind to be personable, avoid small talk. If your guest initiates conversation with you, than feel free to answer questions. However, don’t go out of your way to start a conversation with them or to continue it. Most people want to have an intimate experience when out for dinner, and not have the server taking over their conversation. You also have other tables to focus on too; don’t spend too much time in one place!
3. Always Offer
My biggest pet peeve when I am out eating is if I am waiting without a drink for too long. Yes, things get busy, but if you have the proper system in your restaurant, you should never have to leave a table without drinks. The safest way to go about this is to always offer. If you are walking by the table while helping someone else, quickly ask if anyone needs drinks. Never wait for the drink to be finished. You can send the drink order in while you continue your other tasks.
Forecasting issues will allow you to avoid problems throughout the night. After greeting your guests, offer drinks. If they didn’t order water, go out of your way to offer it. Not only will they be grateful, but also won’t be as thirsty either! Having more than enough drinks on the table gives you some slack to work with when prioritizing your tables’ needs. When you have a second, go around the tables with a pitcher of water and offer to fill everyone’s water glass. If you’re busy, utilize your busser to help you execute this plan.
4. Never Rush
When you’re in a fine dining restaurant, you definitely notice the difference in the quality of the food and the service. When working at a chain restaurant, it’s about getting as many tables in and out in a night. However, people tend to choose fine dining atmospheres when they want to relax, and enjoy the night without a time limit. So make sure you give them that. Even if you have a million things running through your mind, don’t show it to your guests. Execute their serving experience in a composed and timely fashion.
You can exemplify your dedication to your guests not just through mannerisms, but through direct actions as well. Lets take serving a bottle of wine as an example. Bring the wine to your guests with a napkin hanging off your arm, holding the bottle from the bottom and ensuring the label is facing towards your table. Bring it over and present the wine to the person who ordered it to clarify this was the correct bottle. Once confirmed, delicately open your bottle but never put the wine on the table when you are doing this. Pour your guests a splash to taste, wait for their feedback and continue pouring the rest of the glasses. Your napkin can be used to wipe off any drips, and then place the wine in the middle of the table. When serving food, vocalize the dish you are about to put down to keep the dining experience an interactive one.
A reoccurring theme is the idea that a guest can take their time to receive full service, and enjoy their meal as much as possible. Always wait until appetizers are done and cleared before serving the main course, unless requested otherwise. The last thing to remember when giving your guests the fine dining difference is to never bring the bill until they ask.
Mistake prevention is a key component to delivering great service. Of course, we all make mistakes, but if you follow these four steps, you are less prone to making mistakes, and if you do, customers will not be as upset because they can see all the hard work you have put in.
Bartendo offers the most professional bartenders and servers for hire in Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver. Hire a bartender for an event, or rent a server for your private or corporate needs. We will surely give your guests the fine dining experience they crave!