First date restaurant etiquette

2016-06-21 06:00


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

SOME restaurant dos and don’ts for that imperative first date! And we recommend some top spots.

Picture this: You’re at the office/gym/pub and the sexy stranger across the room catches your eye. You finally work up the courage to speak to them, and, wonder of wonders, they agree to go to dinner with you. Boom! Right?

Except, if you’re anything like me, five minutes after this the nerves hit and my brain starts spinning:

What restaurant do I choose? Do I let the guy choose? How expensive should it be? Will my date judge me if they think I’m being cheap? I asked him out, so do I pay for dinner? Do we split the bill? And what on earth will I wear?

Suddenly the excitement of the first date seems ‘n bietjie min in comparison to the minefield of potential embarrassment and disaster.

Here is a useful guide if you are experiencing the same reservations...

The venue

If you initiate the date, it’s up to you to choose the venue. It should be quiet enough for conversation, but busy enough to have a buzz. Don’t call unnecessary outside attention to your table. Rose petals and violins are fine for an anniversary, but way over the top for a first date.

Restaurant vs drinks

General consensus is that if you’re going out with someone you’ve only just met, a drinks date is a better idea than dinner. An effective way to “dip your toe in the dating pool”, drinks are a lot less pressure than a candlelit table for two.

Do relax and have a cocktail if you feel like it – it’ll calm your nerves and make you less self-conscious.

Don’t overdo it. Beer goggles make your date look hot and you look… drunk.

The price

This is one area where mediocre can be a good thing. Too expensive, and you’re showing off. Too cheap, and…well, nobody likes a miser. Don’t go over the top – a private dining room and 8 different forks tends to be more intimidating than impressive.

What to order

It’s pretty common knowledge that unless dinner is on you, it’s bad form to order the most expensive item on the menu. That said, if it turns out your date is a less likeable version of the Grinch, go right ahead and order the lobster. They probably deserve it.

Do pay attention to what your date orders – if he/she is only having a main, you might want to skip the starter.

Don’t order for both of you without consulting your date first – most girls I know find this arrogant and presumptuous, and guys may feel emasculated.

Who pays?

Call me spoiled, but in my experience on the downward slope to 30, most guys my age and older like to pick up the cheque. Chivalry lives! Splitting the bill on dates is more common for under 25’s.

It’s still unusual, though not unheard of, for the woman to pay for the whole meal. It is important for the girl to at least offer to contribute. A token reach for the bill when it arrives is considered good etiquette, as is conceding gracefully if he politely declines your efforts.

Do pass the after dinner mints to the lady first. Small things like this make a good impression.

Don’t stiff the staff – unless the service was terrible, not tipping appropriately reflects badly on you.

- Tracey Hadfield (Food24)

What restaurant do I choose? Do I let the guy choose? How expensive should it be? Will my date judge me if they think I’m being cheap? I asked him out, so do I pay for dinner?

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.