Service with a smile – and more: table services to expect in London

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Park Grand London Restaurants

If you’re thinking of booking a short-break away in a hotel and spending your time in the magnificent metropolis that’s the UK capital then, along with everything else, you’re going to have to consider, well, eating. That’s to say, your eating and drinking experiences while away from home aren’t going to be like what you get up to at home or at work. Fundamentally because you’ll reliant on someone else to provide and, indeed, serve your food.

Now, if you’re familiar with eating and drinking out, the following pointers may be nothing new to you, but if you don’t tend to spoil yourself by eating out, one or two (or more) of them may be not what you’re used to – or what you might be expecting.

So, whether you’re looking to dine predominantly in your accommodation (and why not – should you be staying at a hotel of such quality as the Park Grand Hyde Park London?) or out in a number of restaurants or even if you’ll be attending a function like a wedding or organised party, the following may be just some of the table service types you might be exposed to in London…

Silver table service

Yes, le grande fromage in table service terms, silver table service is usually reserved for the most prestigious occasions at the most prestigious of establishments. It also, as you may have expected, incorporates several traditional rules, such as the table always being served clockwise, one’s food being served from the right and their beverages from the left and specific cutlery and crockery being used for specific courses of a dinner (start from the outside and work your in as you progress through the meal). Yes, expect all gleaming platters, exquisite plates, shimmering knives, forks and spoons and tinkling glasses. Glorious.

Buffet service

Generally applying to finger food-type meals or, certainly in the UK, breakfast servings in many a hotel, buffet service is common at many public events and so, potentially, at a wedding you might attend. In fact, buffet service might be said to be, well, a ‘false table service’, in that you’re expected to get up from your seat and help yourself to the food on offer from (usually) tables at one end of a dining room, pre-laid out for guests/ attendees. The benefit with buffets then is that you can actually pick and choose what you put on your plate, dependent on your tastes and the size of your appetite.

American table service

Yes, despite its name, this type of service is one you’re likely to encounter in the UK capital; although, for obvious reasons, it’s unlikely to be referred to by this rather internationally-recognised moniker! In short, the American-style service is when your plate, filled up with a course’s food, is delivered from a kitchen straight to your table. Yes, it’s as simple as that – and, frankly, the type of service most patrons will be fundamentally familiar with when dining out at one of the restaurants in Hyde Park, in a bar, café, pub, inn or hotel. Or even at a salt-of-the-earth London ‘greasy spoon’!

English table service

So why bother mentioning ‘American’ table service then? Well, that’s to distinguish it from what’s sometimes referred to as ‘English’ table service. The difference between the two being that this one is all about elegance, showmanship and entire value-for-money for the diner; insomuch that it involves the likes of meat dishes being carved next to your table and then served on your plate right before your eyes before it’s placed on your table in front of you. Moreover, you’ll find that with this old-school serving method, the oldest (and most deserving of respect?) in a guest party is usually served first. How reassuringly British, you might say!