- Matthew Mawtus is the managing director of Hide, a Michelin-starred European restaurant in London.
- Even at a venue as posh as Hide, Mawtus says he sometimes sees diners misstep etiquette.
- Don’t change tables without asking, mention dietary restrictions, and please don’t fight over the bill.
Michelin star restaurants are a high pressure environment. The staff works the craziest hours to bring you multi-course tasting menus and wines from volcanic vineyards and freshly caught seafood. Even the crisp linen tablecloths are measured with a ruler to ensure each guest’s dining experience is flawless.
But even if the staff would never say it, not all customers are as dreamy as the light soufflé they are served for dessert. So how can you make sure you’re not one of those customers?
Matthew Mawtus, general manager of the Michelin-starred restaurant Hide in London, says you can stay in your server’s good graces with proper etiquette and a few smart gestures.
1. Don’t relocate – ask the manager to move you
Michelin star restaurants run like clockwork because of all the planning behind the scenes. When a guest changes tables, it may seem like a simple move, but it can throw staff workloads out of sync.
“We divide the restaurant into sections, with a butler for each section,” Mawtus said. “Restaurants place people at specific tables because they don’t want to fill one section first and leave the others empty. our customers receive an equal amount of attention.”
2. Please don’t fight for the bill
Fighting over the bill may be rooted in generosity, but when you throw all your credit cards at the waiter, it can send them into a blind panic.
“I’ve been surprised by this in the past where it’s up to me to make the decision,” Mawtus said. “It’s like, ‘I don’t really know you guys, I really wish you guys could work this out between yourselves.’ I had two ladies insisting they each wanted to pay the full bill – one had a credit card and the other paid with
. The one paying with Apple Pay won because she moved her iPhone closer to the card machine.”
To calm the server’s nerves, decide who is going to pay this time or next time before the server comes to the table.
3. Stop ordering the second cheapest bottle of wine on the menu
A Michelin-starred wine list can be overwhelming in terms of variety and price. One strategy for many is to simply order the second-cheapest bottle of wine from the menu, but Mawtus says the best way to navigate the menu is to talk to the sommelier.
“Ask the sommelier. I always do, because they know what they have in their cellar,” Mawtus said. Also, don’t be ashamed to tell the sommelier your budget.
“When I went to dinner at Eleven Madison Park in New York, the waiter said to our table of four, ‘Things are getting pretty crazy here, so can you give me a budget to work with?'” Mawtus said. It’s easier for everyone.”
He adds that you should be able to order the cheapest bottle of wine on a Michelin-starred menu and not be disappointed. “I would be ashamed if I ever put a bad wine on the list,” he told Insider. “It’s bad business sense to serve people substandard products. If you do, they won’t come back.”
4. Don’t keep a complaint for Tripadvisor
If your meal or service wasn’t up to par, you don’t need to stay disappointed until you get home and then share your impressions online. Mawtus asks you to give the restaurants a chance to remedy the situation.
“Ask the manager who is equipped to change your section, change your dish and fix the problem,” Mawtus said. “If you raise the issue then it can be resolved, but if you leave and don’t say a word or go to TripAdvisor they can’t go back in time and resolve it.”
5. Don’t book your dietary requests at the last minute
From gluten allergies to allium allergies, when a chef receives specific requests from a restaurant, some can be difficult to handle. The more time you give the restaurant to meet your needs, the better.
“We have a lady who likes to come support us and who is on a low salt diet,” Mawtus said. “She sends us a few days in advance what she wants to order. We appreciate that because we have time to prepare.”
6. Remember this is a time of human connection
One of the few places where you are guaranteed a relaxing evening and good conversation is at a fancy restaurant. Don’t spoil the experience, turn off your phone and take the opportunity to spend some quality time with the people around you.
“I went to a table where there were four people in their twenties all playing Candy Crush Saga while we served their dinner,” Mawtus said. “They’re missing out on an experience that they’re ultimately paying for. It’s just a shame for me.”