Fine dining is what many people imagine when they think of opening a new restaurant. Crisp tablecloths, violins in the background and seven-course meals are few things that come to mind. But today’s fine dining has evolved into a full-service experience…
There are 3 things that differentiate a fine dining restaurant from any other restaurant: the service, menu, and atmosphere.
1. Fine Dining Customer Service
In this type of restaurant, service has to go far beyond taking an order and delivering food. Remember, in high-end restaurant people didn’t just come to have a dinner. They came to have an experience. Here’s what’s usually expected:
• Escorting customers to the table, holding the chair for ladies
• Escorting gentlemen to the restrooms
• Crumbing the table in between courses
• Replacing linen napkins if a gentleman leaves the table
• Explaining menu items without notes
• Serving food directly on the plate at the table
All of the details that are expected of a fine dining server requires that your staff be rigorously trained. They should be able to answer any and all questions customers may have about a menu or item or wine. They should also be ready to make menu recommendations if asked. Details matter, a lot.
2. Fine Dining Menu
This kind of restaurants are often a choice for special occasions, so the food must not disappoint – in either selection or quality. You don’t need to feature a huge menu, but it should be interesting, offer unique items that your customers won’t find at any other restaurant.
Top menu trend for the past decade is definitely local food, meat, and seafood which offers superb taste and instant value. Many restaurants of this type offer limited menus that change on a daily or weekly basis.
This type of smaller, rotating menu also encourages buying locally sourced foods when seasonal items are at their peak of freshness. Your chef can exercise his or her creativity when designing dishes to fit with the season.
Wine and liquor selections must be on the high end. Focus on top shelf liquors and a wide selection of cognacs, brandies, and other after-dinner drinks. Your wine list should compliment your menu. With the rise in artisan beers over the past decade, many fine dining restaurants offer a wide variety of microbrews in addition to wines and spirits.
Your wine list should compliment your menu. With the rise in artisan & craft beers over the past decade, many fine dining restaurants offer a wide variety of microbrews in addition to wines and spirits.
Fine dining servers should be able to offer a wine or beer choice for each menu dishes.
3. Fine Dining Atmosphere
Fine dining concept used to be synonymous with snooty French waiters and restaurants with complex French-sounding names. Today it can be in any type of setting and feature a wide variety of cuisine, from ethnic to organic, in other words – everything’s possible.
Standards you should always include are fine china, glassware, and flatware. While tablecloths are hard to escape, the rest of the atmosphere is up to you.
You can take the traditional route, with silver candelabras and rose centerpieces, or go for hip and trendy with a bold color scheme and modern furnishings. Music playing subtly in the background should reflect your theme, such as classical for a traditional fine dining restaurant or jazz tunes for something modern.
Lighting is incredibly important in setting the tone at your restaurant. Again, remember to match the lighting to the concept. Grand crystal chandeliers and candlelight would be appropriate for an elegant, romantic restaurant…
Fine dining etiquette requires a lot of attention to detail, but it can pay off in the end when you have reservations months in advance, waiting to eat at your restaurant. Fine dining is no longer synonymous with white table cloths and servers in tuxedos.