If you stroll into a packed restaurant without making a reservation, don’t expect to be seated right away.
You can get away with pronouncing mille-feuille wrong (it’s “meal-fay”), and maybe you can get away with not mastering how to say haricots verts (it’s “ah-ree-ko vair”), but if you pronounce the Ls in quesadilla, expect a funny look from your server.
As mentioned above, there’s a reason why the hostess stand exists. Never seat yourself unless you’re told to, because you’ll most likely just have to move anyway.
Sushi? Raw. Steak tartare? Raw. Carpaccio? Raw. If you don’t know that, you probably shouldn’t be ordering them to begin with. Which brings us to…
It’s not a smart move to order a dish without thoroughly reading its description on the menu. It’s one thing to send a dish back if the menu doesn’t mention that a dish has peanuts in it when you’re allergic to them, but it’s just dumb to send a dish back because it has mushrooms in it when it clearly says so on the menu.
If the restaurant you’re in is loud, the restaurant will be loud no matter where you’re sitting. Want quiet? Go to a quieter restaurant.
It’s the host or hostess’s job to bring you to your table, not take your order. It’s the busboy’s job to bring you your food and clear your plates, not take your order. You may be desperate for that dirty martini, but just be patient and let your server do his or her job.
If you’re unhappy with your table for whatever reason, just tell your server or the hostess and one of them will take you to a different one (the earlier in the meal the better, so fewer items need to be transferred). Don’t just up and move without telling anyone; it can throw the whole dining room out of whack, and that table could be reserved for another party.
If you have an issue with your food, take it up with your server, or with the manager if there’s a larger issue. Pulling the chef away from his or her busy kitchen to properly instruct them on the definition of medium-well isn’t just dumb, it’s mean.
Dovetailing with the previous slide, if you have an issue with your food, bring it up as soon as you realize it, which usually happens at around the time you take your first bite. The only possible reason to wait until you’ve polished off the whole plate of food to complain about it is to get a free ride, and everyone knows it.