Fine dining mainstays: table service types to expect in London

table service

During your stay in London, there’s a high chance you’re likely to plump for various different kinds of meal-serving eateries. We might be talking fine dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant or dinner served at your expertly-identified excellent accommodation or you may choose to do as the locals do and have a meal or two at a pub-cum-restaurant or a café (even a ‘greasy spoon’!). But however you choose to dine you’ll probably encounter different types of table service during your trip. So, what to expect…?

Silver service

As far as luxury dining goes, it doesn’t get any more salubrious than silver service. Now, obviously it’s the type of service that immediately conjured up visions of glistening platters, plates, knives, forks, spoons and gloriously tinkling glasses – in addition, of course, to exquisitely tailored staff attending to it all. However, there’s also the serving etiquette that’s involved to consider too (dishes are always served from the left; beverages always from the right) and, as notoriously know, much cutlery to work one’s way through – you start in from the outside as you go through courses.


Buffet service

Who doesn’t love a good buffet? Sometimes only finger foods will do at a particular event; after all, so many of us like the idea of being able to pick and choose between the food on offer with our own eyes and, well fingers. Yes, it’s undoubtedly the ‘pick ‘n’ mix’ iteration of service. Buffet dining requires customers at an eatery (say, the restaurants in Hyde Park) or patrons at their accommodation (for instance, the hotel Park Grand London Hyde Park) serving themselves from what’s laid out for them before retaking their seat at a table and getting stuck in. This does make it sound like the poor man’s version of dining service, but that wouldn’t be a fair label surely, as buffets come in various shapes, sizes and forms, featuring many different cuisines and food-types.

American service

This is something of a universal term for the form of dining that sees one’s food plated up in a kitchen and brought out to the diner, ensuring they’re not in control of their portion-size. It also involves orders being taken by waiting staff and dishes cooked/ prepared, then (as outlined) delivered to the table – by the designated waiting staff. It’s, yes, a pretty universal form of dining in every corner of the world – and, of course, expectation for tipping a waiter/ waitress is a foregone conclusion!

english table

English table service

A more ‘personalised’ form of service when compared to the ‘American’ version, so-called ‘English’ service is based on notions of exclusivity and, well, elitism – yes, it’s old-school dining, all right! It’s both well thought-out and genuinely thorough – that’s because meat-dish carving’s done right before the diner themselves at their table. Indeed, even the actual serving cedes to superiority as the most important (and/ or the eldest) in the party is supposed to be the first to be served – and then, naturally, the rest of the group’s served one-by-one.