What is Fine Dining?

The words ‘fine dining’ immediately bring forth images of austere restaurants with impeccably dressed waiters, expensive menus, and opulent decor. These establishments offer high quality food coupled with professional service designed to make their customers feel valued and respected. As of December 2017, only 0.5% of all restaurants in the US can be considered as being ‘fine dining’, so they do offer a rare experience. Though these spaces are traditionally shrouded informality, the experience has evolved to prioritize quality above all else. In this article, we’ll further explore what makes an establishment a fine dining restaurant, and what you can expect upon entering one.

The Essentials of Fine Dining

Fine dining restaurants have several traits that separate them from more casual establishments. Primary among these are service, quality of food, and ambiance.


The first of the fine dining triad, service in these places will far exceed the experience one can have anywhere else. Waiters are rigorously trained to answer any questions guests might have about the menu. They also follow certain rules of etiquette that are not normally emphasized upon elsewhere. Little things like not clearing plates till every person on the table has completed their meal and not reaching out across a guest add up to the experience of being in a fine dining restaurant.

Quality of Food

Though service and ambiance have evolved with the times to often adopt more casual tones, the demand for high quality food in a fine dining restaurant has always remained constant. Ingredients in these establishments are sourced from better, more localized vendors. The selection is also likely to be much fancier, and if you find yourself in a fine dining restaurant for the first time, you might need a while to navigate around the menu successfully. While portions tend to remain small, it is likely prepared by some of the best chefs in the industry. Wine is also a common feature of most fine dining menus, and there will usually be an expert around to help you select one that goes well with your desired meal.


This is the third, and perhaps the most flexible aspect of the fine dining experience. The furniture and decor here lend these places an air of sophistication that makes them perfect for formal meetings or gatherings. Dress code is usually enforced, and some restaurants might even turn you away if you aren’t wearing the appropriate clothes. Children are generally not brought along, though there is no rule banning the practice.

Though this is the convention, many fine dining establishments have begun relaxing their requirements on dress code and formality. This helped them adapt to the shifting demographics of people frequenting such places, from the old and rich to the young and successful individuals, many of whom work in the tech industry.


Fine dining restaurants offer an experience, unlike any other establishment. Their rules of conduct and ambiance combine to lend these eateries a classiness absent from casual restaurants, while the superior quality of food sweetens the deal. These spaces are perfect spots to conduct business or meet anyone in a formal capacity. Alternatively, if you have some money saved up, a meal at one of these restaurants is a great way to treat oneself.

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