Whether you operate a large event space, intimate restaurant, or catering company, providing a five-star guest experience should be reflected through every step of the meal. We often hear that the dining experience is becoming too casual and has lost its sense of occasion. But this does not need to be the case. An individual does not need to be a guest at the Ritz Carlton or dine at Downton Abbey to experience a touch of formality or sophistication. There are small, yet stylish, details you can implement into a formal event for one hundred, a dinner party for twenty, or a celebration for two that can set the scene and leave a memorable impression.
Table Service to Reflect Formality
The table service that you establish will help to set the formality of the experience. These classic table service styles can set the tone for a five-star guest experience when carefully orchestrated and performed correctly.
Service à la française
In traditional French table service food is served on platters which are placed on the table and passed between guests who serve themselves. This type of service is the origination of the American family style and buffet style which are common today. A more formal and modern style of French service involves a server presenting a platter of food to each guest and they serve him or herself.
Service à l’anglaise
English table service also involves a server presenting a platter of food, but instead of guests serving themselves, the staff serves each guest one at time. This allows servers to better measure out the serving sizes.
Service à la russe
In the Russian style of table service, platters of whole meats are brought to the table and then individual servings are carved on a sideboard or rolling cart. Plates are arranged and served to each guest.
The table service your guests will be more familiar with is American service or plated service. Food is arranged in the kitchen and served directly on the plate from which it will be eaten.
No matter which type of table service you choose for your event, platters or plates are always served from the left, cleared from the right, and ladies are served first.
A Staff that Can Read the Room
A five-star guest experience doesn’t totally rely on what food is being served or how it is served. It also relies on the efforts that are going on behind the scenes. Your servers and other staff members can mean the difference between a great guest experience and a standard guest experience.
When your servers have a sixth sense of reading their customers, they’ll have a better idea of what type of service their guests are expecting. Everything from the clothing they wear, to the level of conversation, or the presence of young children at the table, will give a server social clues about how to guide your guests’ dining experience.
Small Details of Extra Refinement
Treat your guests to something unexpected, perhaps a touch of European flair that they wouldn’t normally find in a typical American guest experience. We recommend adding these small details to your table service.
A more common feature of a European breakfast table, an egg cosy is used to keep soft boiled eggs, served in an egg cup, at the ideal temperature – warm without being overcooked. A welcomed luxury to start the morning.
Keep a beautiful table setting looking that way by avoiding red wine drips, or even white wine for that matter. A crisp, embossed drip catcher on the neck of a wine bottle can catch any stray droplets from the table-side wine service. You can also offer stem drip catchers on individual wine glasses to catch drips while guests imbibe.
Formal table service etiquette outlines that a server’s fingers should not touch the rim of a plate. Using plate holders, your servers can formally and hygienically serve your guests. As an added bonus, plate servers also protect your staff’s hands from heated plated.