Don’t pick up your fork until you read Ask Ann.
Got a dining question? Our critic answers it.
I’M SEATED AT A LARGE TABLE WITH 11 OTHER DINERS AND THE SERVER HAS TO MAKE SEVERAL TRIPS TO THE KITCHEN IN ORDER TO GET EVERYONE SERVED. IS IT RUDE TO START EATING BEFORE EVERYBODY ELSE GETS THEIR FOOD?
This is a great question. You would not be in the wrong to start if the host of your party gives the signal to go ahead and eat. The general rule of thumb is to look to that person, be it your boss or the person who organized the dinner, as the guide. If that person is waiting until everyone is served, follow suit. What if there’s no “host” per se? That’s when I’d show respect for the whole group and wait for everyone to be served before beginning.
And how about napkin placement? Once you’re seated, one of your first actions should be to place the napkin on your lap. If you need to visit the restroom at some point, leave your napkin on your chair. When you’re finished, just as the silverware has proper placement, leave your napkin to the left of your plate.