Special Report

25 Things You Should Never, Ever Do at a Fancy Restaurant

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6. Ask for too many substitutions

In restaurants with particularly creative chefs preparing highly original dishes, substitutions simply aren’t possible. In more conventional places, it’s usually fine to ask if you can have mashed instead of baked or ranch instead of blue cheese, but if customizing your order requires more than a couple of changes, you’re probably eating in the wrong place.

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7. Send the wine back just because you don’t like it

If a wine you’ve ordered has strong off flavors or aromas or flavors — if, for instance, it’s “corked” (having a moldy cardboard smell caused by a chemical called TCA) or tastes unpleasantly raisiny when it’s supposed to be dry — the restaurant will happily replace it with another bottle. Otherwise, you bought it, you own it. (Restaurants will sometimes replace it anyway to keep the diner happy, but it’s their call.)

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8. Start eating before everyone is served

If everyone’s food doesn’t come out at the same time, the time differential will likely be a small one and chances are you won’t starve to death if you wait until your tablemates are served.

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9. Salt and pepper your food before tasting it

Your mother probably told you this. If you’re in a good restaurant, the chef probably knows how to season food. Try it first, then add the salt and pepper if you really think it needs it.

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10. Tuck your napkin into your collar

If you’re afraid you’ll drip sauce on your necktie or silk blouse, just lean over your plate a little. Grownups don’t need bibs. (The exception, of course, is that staple of seafood houses — the lobster bib.)