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Proper Clearing Order

Another misconception exists here. Should plates be cleared as soon as each guest is finished, or should you wait until the last guest in the table has finished that course? The rule is simple. You should wait until all guests have finished with a course before removing the first dish. Just as the ideal of service is to present each course to the entire party at once, it is best to clear the plates at the same time, too.

It has become common for waiters to remove plates as each guest finishes, in violation of this rule of serving etiquette, perhaps because it can be interpreted as extreme attentiveness on the part of the waiter. Nevertheless, the rule holds firm. The most elegant service calls for the removal of all dishes at the end of that course. There is nothing more irritating than to have a plate removed from under you while you are still chewing your food. Not only should you wait, but you should also give some time between courses. Food should not come out as soon as one course is finished. The idea here is to make a nice evening of the affair, and multi-course meals should take hours.

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