Fine dining restaurants operate to the highest standard, be it of food or service. Becoming a server in a fine dining restaurant takes a lot of work, as it entails hours of training to adhere to the restaurant’s standards. For aspiring waiters, it is essential to learn the proper steps and etiquette on how to wait tables in fine dining.
Steps to Waiting Tables
Master these steps on how to wait tables in fine dining, and in no time, you can become a top server at the best fine dining restaurant in your area.
1. Greet your guests.
The first step is to greet your guests and introduce yourself as their server for the meal. Learning how to wait tables in fine dining takes practice, but making a warm greeting doesn’t need practice. It has to come out naturally. Although the maître d’ or concierge usually welcomes the guests, make sure you repeat the welcome to make them feel comfortable. Take this time to learn about any dietary requirements or restrictions that your guests have, entertain any questions about the restaurant, and fill their water glasses.
2. Take the drink order.
Drink orders are first up. Make sure that you provide the drink menu once the guests have been seated comfortably. Entertain any questions they may have about the available drinks. If you have house specials, make sure that your guests are aware of what they can order. You must serve drinks 5 minutes after taking the order.
3. Take the food and wine order.
Provide the guests with the food menu and wine list. Be sure to give them suggestions on the best pairings based on your food specials and wine list. If your restaurant has a set menu for a few courses, make sure that the guests have the option to order this.
When presenting the menu, make sure that you stop to answer any questions. Don’t just read or recite the menu to the guests.
At this point, you may also ask for the assistance of a sommelier or wine expert if your restaurant has one. This will ensure that the guests will enjoy the best food and wine pairing.
4. Serve the food.
Once the food is out of the kitchen, immediately serve it hot (or cold) to the table. Make sure that all guests eat simultaneously, meaning that you will serve all the appetizers, entrees, and desserts at once. It is not a good practice to serve just a few guests at the same table at a time.
5. Clear the plates.
When clearing the plates from each course, make sure that you follow this simple rule: serve from the left and clear from the right. Before bringing out the next course, be sure that you have cleared the plates from the previous course first and set up the correct silverware to be used for the next course.
6. Always check on your guests.
Check on your guests a few times during the meal to ensure that everything is up to par. If you notice that some of the guests aren’t enjoying their meal, be sure to ask if everything is okay or if they have any complaints. Relay any complaints immediately to the manager or head chef, depending on your restaurant’s protocols.
During meals, you notice some of the guests have empty water glasses, so make sure to fill them at once. If they ordered a bottle of wine, offer to top up their glasses once empty.
7. Take the dessert order.
When the entrees are done, make sure to clear the plates before presenting the dessert menu. Again, let the guests know of the house specials and explain each item clearly. Also, ask the guests if they want to look at the drink menu again for a nightcap.
8. Check if the guests want to order anything else.
While the guests are having dessert, be sure to check in on them if they need anything else. Make sure that the guests are comfortably enjoying their meal.
9. Present the check.
Once the guests are finished eating and will not be ordering anything else, promptly bring the check. You may just leave the check on the table or hand it directly to the person who asks for it. Make sure that you don’t let the guests feel that you are rushing them to pay for the meal. Once they provide the payment, have it processed immediately with the cashier, so the guests don’t have to wait long.
10. Thank the guests.
Once the payment has been settled, be sure to thank the guests and welcome them to come back at any time. Immediately clear the table once they have left.
Aside from knowing the correct steps on how to wait tables in fine dining, it is equally important that you learn the proper server etiquette. Here are a few tips that will go a long way to becoming an excellent fine dining server.
Always be polite.
No matter who you are talking to, always greet everyone in warmly and pleasantly. When addressing guests, make sure to make eye contact. They will surely appreciate your attentiveness towards them.
Patience goes a long way.
When working as a server, you will encounter all sorts of guests that may test your nerves. Remember that in the service industry, patience goes a long way. If a guest has difficulty choosing what to order, you may make a few suggestions, but never overstep and order for the guest.
Understandably, some guests will have a lot of questions, especially if it is their first time at the restaurant. Be sure to answer all questions pleasantly. Follow the proper procedure when clearing plates, and always ask the guests if they are done before doing so.
As a server, you must be attentive to the needs of the guest. Maintain a proper distance that you can always see your tables, especially if you are handling multiple tables at the same time. However, don’t hover around the table. Guests appreciate attentive servers but frown upon servers that don’t give them enough privacy to enjoy their meal.
This guide on how to wait tables in fine dining is just a peek into this luxurious industry. It will take some time to get used to the different standards and processes in fine dining, but with the proper training and practice, servers are well-paid and well-tipped in this industry. So if you are looking into this line of job, this article is a good introduction for you. Go and pursue your dream.