What Fork to Use in Fine Dining

Most people will at some point in their lives come across the age-old discomfort of sitting at the dining table staring at their forks, wondering which fork goes to what thing.

Fork Placement

Knowing which fork to use helps avoid embarrassment
Depending on where you go, whether it is a fancy restaurant or a dinner party, it is typically up to the host how many forks there will be. However, there are at least some general guidelines you can follow. .

When it comes to the flatware, this is laid out so that you start with the fork furthest away from the plate and continue inward. In a typical arrangement, there will most likely be three to five forks to deal with that are placed on the left side of the plate.

The Salad Fork

The salad fork is roughly 6 inches in length and, unlike its name, can be for either your salad or some type of appetizer, except for seafood. When it comes to seafood, you will typically be provided with a different fork, better known as a cocktail fork. The cocktail fork only has three short tines on it, making it relatively easy to identify. The tines on a salad fork are slightly wider and flatter than those on a dinner fork. The left tine may be extra wide in order to better assist you with cutting through lettuce or an appetizer.

The Dinner Fork

This is the fork that will be used for the main course. It is roughly 7 inches in length. However, if you are eating fish, it may be replaced with a fork better equipped for such an entree. That fork will be roughly the same size, perhaps a little bigger, and may also be equipped with an extra wide left tine.

The Dessert Fork

This fork looks fairly similar to the salad fork in that it may also have an extra wide left tine and ranges from 6 to 7 inches in length. This fork is most likely to be placed closest to your plate. However depending on your dessert, it may be replaced with a pastry fork or an ice-cream fork. This fork looks like a cross between a fork and a spoon, with three tines on the end of spoon-like flatware. The pastry fork, which looks also relatively similar to the salad fork, only shorter, is likely to have a notched left tine in order to better assist you with cutting through your dessert.

About the Author

Jean Asta has been a freelance writer for domestic and international clients since 2005. She also acts as a training consultant to businesses and nonprofit organizations in the southeast United States. Asta holds a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in nonprofit management and a Bachelor of Arts in English literature, both from the University of Georgia.