Regardless of the formal or informal nature of the setting, dining out in Australia tends to be a more relaxed experience. As patrons, we no longer follow archaic rules like keeping our elbows strictly off the table at all times or fretting over where we place our napkin when it isn’t in use. However, there are several basic principles of polite dining etiquette that you should familiarise yourself with before you dine out in the future.

Booking Ahead:

With exclusive restaurants in particular, it’s simply good sense to book a reservation ahead of time. If you plan to dine out on a weekday, consider booking up to a week in advance. For a Friday or Saturday night at a popular fine dining restaurant, it is wise to book several weeks in advance, especially if you have a group of more than eight. Family or casual restaurants don’t often require a booking, but with a large group, it’s quite courteous to the staff to make a reservation either on the day, or several days prior Walking into a restaurant and asking for a table of ten on a weekend is rather presumptuous and can come off a little rude if simply demanded. Booking online with Yumtable (www.yumtable.com.au) will ensure that you reserve a table for the correct date, time and for the exact number of people, with exclusive meal offers that aren’t afforded to walk-in customers.

Tipping:

Since most hospitality workers are well compensated, it isn’t customary to tip in Australia so there is no need to feel obligated to tip your waiter. There are exceptions of course, for instance, if you are at a fine dining restaurant it is often a polite gesture to tip your waiter approximately 10% of your bill total. If you are dining anywhere with a large group, a generous tip will always be appreciated by your waiter. Although a tip isn’t required, if you feel the service was exceptional then you should happily leave a tip.

Keep Your Phone Out of Sight:

There is nothing more rude or annoying than dining out at a restaurant with somebody who can’t physically tear themselves away from their phone for more than ten minutes at a time. Constantly checking or using your phone while at a restaurant defeats the purpose of even going out, and it’s insulting to the person sitting opposite you. Unless you’re waiting for a life-changing phone call, place your phone in your handbag or pocket, preferably on silent. This goes for whether you are out for dinner with a friend or entertaining a client. That text will still be there when you finish your meal.

The Etiquette of Splitting Bills:

Paying the bill when dining out is where things can get a little awkward if you don’t follow a general rule of thumb. Some people are divided on what works best; paying for what you order or splitting the bill evenly. Splitting a bill evenly can cause some grievances if certain people have ordered extra courses or several alcoholic drinks, and always results in a person underpaying or overpaying. If you are eating out with a group, the fair way to go is for everybody to take a few minutes to calculate their share and simply pay for what they have individually ordered. It can be rather impolite to pay your precise total right down to the final cent or to demand exact change, so be sure you have enough to cover your share and if there are a few dollars to spare, leave a tip with your bill.