How To Share Food At A Fancy Restaurant

You're out to eat at a fancy restaurant. Maybe it's a special occasion, maybe it's just for fun, but either way, you've donned a shirt that hasn't seen the light of day in ages. Maybe you even broke out the ironing board to prep your outfit for the evening.

But, now, the food is finally arriving at your table. You're shaking with anticipation. Everything the server sets down looks impossibly delicious, including your dining partner's meal: It looks awesome. Your salivary glands are making their Niagara Falls impression. While you might want to slam that eager fork across the white tablecloth and grab a big honking bite off your companion's plate, hold back. Fancy restaurants don't particularly like that move, as Business Insider notes.

From knowing which fork to use for which course to not providing their chefs with knives, fine dining comes with a pretty elaborate regiment of secret etiquette tips — plate sharing included. Here's how to do it.

Sharing isn't always caring

Patricia Napier-Fitzpatrick of The Etiquette School of New York knows a thing or two about the idiosyncrasies of manners — and the first tip for plate sharing is: don't do it at all. "I don't recommend sharing if you're with someone you don't know very well or at a formal business meal," Napier-Fitzpatrick says via Insider. Although, if that round roast steak on your companion's plate looks too tantalizing to resist, keep your fork to yourself and slide them a plate instead. "If you're with someone you know better," explains Napier-Fitzpatrick, "pass them your bread plate with a little sample of food on it."

This also helps with controlling portion size for the person with whom you're sharing, says Spoon University — no one wants to offer up a sample bite and look down to find a half-empty plate. On the flip side, if you're the one doing the sampling, make sure to be conscientious of how much you take. Wayne Sych, executive chef at Joe Fortes Seafood and Chop House, suggests always allowing the other person to have the first and last bite (via OpenTable).

Candace Smith Etiquette agrees, adding that it's also best to refrain from sharing when you are not seated next to that person. Otherwise, you risk creating a scene by reaching across the table or disrupting the flow of conversation by shuffling a bread plate from one end of the table to the other.