In doing research for my upcoming demonstrations at Williams Sonoma, I've been looking for illustrations on the Internet that correspond to what I'm trying to say. This morning I found a great teachable moment on The Sophisticated Student website. Here is the illustration I found:
While I appreciate the effort, and I was happy to find the image so highly ranked on the Google search engine, there are many mistakes with the illustration:
1. The napkin would never be placed in a water glass or any other glass. This is a bad restaurant procedure, not proper formal table etiquette; better to use a simple bookfold napkin and place the napkin on top of the forks on the left hand side of the lay (center) plate or atop the lay plate when there is nothing already there.
2. The glass is fine, but generally water at a formal dinner is served in a stemmed glass.
3. A formal dinner almost always has two or more wines served.
4. The bread plate is fine but 5. it is a butter spreader, not a bread knife.
6. That may be a soup bowl but it would never be placed on a 8. dinner plate without a liner beneath it--how else would a server remove the bowl and where would you put your spoon to rest when finished?
9. A salad plate would not be on the table at the same time as a soup bowl or dinner plate--a formal meal is served in courses. Yes, there was a time when a salad was a side course in a meal, but that is no longer the case, and salad is served now in the center of the place setting.
10. If you have a salad fork, it is most likely that you will have a salad knife. The salad knife and 12. dinner knife are not the same utensil.
13. A dessert spoon is almost always accompanied by a dessert fork, and sometimes even a dessert knife. You do have it placed in the correct position.
14 and 15. Coffee cups and saucers are never in place at the start of a meal. The placement is correct, but most often now, coffee is served away from the table.
There are many exceptions to many rules, and often you will find house rules trump formal etiquette but I'm suggesting only what the basics are here.
FYI, I did try to leave a comment for The Sophisticated Student but the ability to do so is disabled. Maybe the Student will find me here.