February 5, 2017

silverware etiquette

Ever found yourself dazzled yet lost by the complicated table layout at a high-end restaurant? These fancy places which serve multiple courses simply take the informal place setting to the next level, by adding glassware, dishes and utensils for the foods and beverages served with the additional courses.

The most formal table is strictly symmetrical. The centrepiece is kept in the exact centre and silverware lined up and at the same distance from the edge of the table.

1. Plates

  • Service Plate: This large plate, also called a charger, serves as an underplate for the plate holding the first course. When the first course is cleared, the service plate remains in place for any other courses, such as a soup course, until the plate holding the entrée is served, at which point the two plates are exchanged. The charger may serve as the underplate for several courses which precede the entrée.
  •  Butter Plate: The small butter plate is placed above the forks at the left of the place setting.

silverware etiquette

2. Forks

Always remember: Forks go to the left of the plate, and knives and spoons go to the right.

  •  Dinner Fork: The largest of the forks, also called the place fork, is placed on the left of the plate. Other smaller forks for other courses are arranged to the left or right of the dinner fork, according to when they will be used.
  •  Fish Fork: If there is a fish course, this small fork is placed to the left of the dinner fork because it is the first fork used.
  •  Salad Fork: If the salad is served after the entrée, the small salad fork is placed to the right of the dinner fork, next to the plate. If the salad is to be served first and fish second, then the forks would be arranged (left to right): salad fork, fish fork, dinner fork.
  •  Oyster Fork: If shellfish are to be served, the oyster fork goes to the right of the spoons. (Note: It is the only fork ever placed on the right of the plate.)
  • Dessert Fork: The dessert fork is placed directly under the desert spoon also at the twelve o’clock position.

silverware etiquette

3. Knives

  •  Dinner Knife: The large dinner knife is placed to the right of the dinner plate.
  •  Fish Knife: The specially shaped fish knife goes to the right of the dinner knife.
  •  Salad Knife: If used, according to the above menu, it would be placed to the left of the dinner knife, next to the dinner plate. If the salad is to be served first, and fish second, then the knives would be arranged- dinner knife, fish knife, salad knife.
  •  Butter Knife: The small spreader is placed diagonally on top of the butter plate, handle on the right and blade down.

silverware etiquette

4. Spoons

  •  Soup Spoon or Fruit Spoon: If soup or fruit is served as a first course, then the accompanying spoon goes to the right of the knives.
  •  Dessert Spoon: The desert spoon is placed directly over the service plate in the twelve o’clock position. The desert spoon is the smallest spoon in this arrangement.

silverware etiquette

5. Glasses

These are placed on the right, above the knives and spoons. They can number up to five and are placed in the order they will be used. When there are more than three glasses, they can be arranged with smaller glasses in front. The water goblet is placed directly above the knives. Just to the right are placed a red or white wine glass. A sherry glass or champagne flute, to accompany a first course or for an opening toast, go to the right of the wine glasses. Glasses used for a particular course are removed at the end of the course.

silverware etiquette

6. Napkin

The napkin is placed on top of the charger or in the space for the plate. It can also go to the left of the forks, or under the forks if space is tight.

silverware etiquette

For more on table etiquette, click here.