Why You Shouldn't Ask For An Oyster Fork At A Fancy Restaurant

When dining at a nice establishment, oysters are a common item on the menu. They take a lot of work to go from the sea to the table, making them somewhat of a status symbol. It may have something to do with the fact that you're eating something that produces pearls? Pretty neat to say the least. Whether you like them on the half shell, steamed, or broiled for Oysters Rockefeller, it may come off as rude to throw 'em back at the dinner table — and nearly impossible if you don't have an oyster fork. However, you might want to think twice before asking for one.

It's similar to asking for A1 sauce at a steakhouse — it's an insult to the chef. It shows that the steak isn't tender, seasoned, or a good enough cut of beef to eat by itself. According to Food & Wine, when you ask for an oyster fork at a restaurant, it's an insult to whoever prepared the oysters. Basically, the oysters should be loosened enough to where you won't need a tiny fork. A request for an oyster fork tells the staff that the meat is tough and either overcooked or simply not a great batch to serve.

How to eat an oyster with confidence

What happens when the meat is really clinging to the shell? Food & Wine states that a polite way to go about your meal without asking the wait staff for an oyster fork is by simply using your knife to loosen it. The publication also interviewed Chef Kyle Bailey, partner of Washington D.C. 's The Salt Line, on the subject (via Food & Wine). Bailey emphasized that oysters started out as a common man's food and shouldn't be intimidating to eat. He said the best way to correctly eat them is to "bring the oyster shell to the lip of your mouth, tilt slightly, and enjoy."

One last tip before we send you on your way to tipping those oyster shells back at the fanciest of restaurants — be sure that once the meat is gone, you place the oyster shell face-down on the plate, per Woodman's. This is a signal that you are finished with your meal. While oyster etiquette is new to most of us, no one has to know that. Try these tricks at your next outing to look like a pro consumer of these tasty mollusks.