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Daily Quick Links | Formal Entertaining Tables

displaying art :: formal tableware fine china :: tea at the St-James

This is my daily collection of noteworthy stuff that I saw online.

+ AT San Francisco taught us unusual ways of displaying art by looking at how Maya and Michael of Visualingual did it in their home. Their way makes all the difference. If you wish to know more about their home décor, Rearrange Design featured a house tour of their 2000 square feet apartment. Via Apartment Therapy San Francisco

+ This table featured the best in fine china from Legle Limoges to Bernardaud, Haviland and Royal Crown Derby. Again it demonstrates the added value of mixing and matching. Image from an undisclosed issue of Martha Stewart magazine. Via Toast and Tables.

+ The girl behind QlinArt is the second friend who told me that the English Tea at XO restaurant of Hotel Le Saint-James is second to none in Montreal. The impressive tea menu is served in superb tableware. Le Thé St-James comprises a sherry or a white Port glass. I always plan a visit but I never seem to find the time. Jerome, my husband, is a tea drinker so I have no excuses to avoid this unforgettable indulgence.

+ Seven Spoons tested drive two chocolate cake recipes. Look at the impressive multi-layer chocolate cake she did by combining Martha Stewart’s One Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes and Beatty’s Chocolate Cake from Ina Garten.


The Art of Formal Table Setting

formal place setting chart :: flatware by christofle :: knife rests :: ala crumb collector by alessi

Toast and Tables talked about the art of table setting yesterday. Sarah Dennis made the point that formal entertaining is a disappearing act. Sadly, I must agree with her.

I feel there are times that call for strict etiquette and beautiful table manners. It is one way to clearly state that an event is out of ordinary. All this made me realized that I was overdue for a post on table etiquette. I will review a few rules in well mannered eating customs.

Napkins and Flatware

The napkin at a formal dinner sits at the center of the plate. The fold must be simple. The place card is put on top of the napkin. Place cards are a must at a formal dinner party.

Silverware is used for formal dinner. Stainless steel cutlery is reserved for less formal events. Some people prefer eating the fish course with fish utensils made of stainless steel to avoid the metal reaction with lemon.

Soup and Fish Utensils

In a formal dinner, there can be from 6 to 12 courses. The rule is that you cannot put more than 3 utensils on each side. The idea is to leave comfortable space between each place setting.

The solution is to bring the extra utensils during the meal. Based on the menu, the soup spoon and the fish utensils are often brought to the table before serving. If you bring utensils at the table, the servers will put them in a tray for carrying.

British versus French Formal Table Setting

The formal table chart is set according to the British rule. One huge difference between the two cultures is that no butter knife and bread plate appears on the French table. In fact, the sales director at Arthur Quentin explained to me the other day that old French dinnerware ceramists adjusted their production for the North American market. Now they make the bread plate and butter dish.

Butter is never served at a formal dinner. Bread is optional and it only serves with certain dishes. In fact, bread cannot be served before the meal has begun. You put the bread on the tablecloth in France.

Dessert Cutlery

The dessert utensils are allowed on the table at the top of the plate. It is a common method but it is not the most elegant one. If the dessert utensils are already on the table, the server must then move the fork on the left and the spoon on the right of the place setting before serving the cheese or dessert course.

In the ultimate formal table setting, dessert utensils are brought at the table just before serving the cheese or dessert course. It feels so much more sophisticated. Visually, it also makes a better tabletop from the start.

Before serving cheese or dessert, the table should be cleared of everything except the centerpieces. The serving staff will clean the tablecloth with a crumb collector and carry the crumbs with a small plate. You probably have seen this practice in high end restaurants. Cheese and dessert silverware is then placed on the table.

Casual Luxury Table Accessory

Knife rests are a stylish table accessory if you plan to reuse the knives for more than one course. Do not put the knife on the knife rest when you are setting the table. The guests will deposit the knife on the knife rest between the courses to avoid spoiling the tablecloth. The knife rests signal to your guests that they should keep their knife. Knife rests are used exclusively in casual dinner.

There is no need for knife rests at a formal dinner. The utensils intended for the course are always removed at the end of each course at a formal dinner.

Stylish Tableware Accessories

If you are looking for items to set a formal table for yourself or as a wedding gift, check out these luxurious items.

  1. Butter Dish by Ercuis at Bloomingdales – price: $87 USD
  2. Fish fork and knife from Isatis Flatware Collection by Guy Degrenne – designed by Agnes Descamps
  3. Silverplated Galet Knife Rests by Christofle at artedona – price: $210.60 for a set of 4
  4. Vertigo Individual Butter Dish by Christofle designed by Andree Putman at Bloomingdales – price: $215 USD
  5. Vertigo Knife Rests by Christofle designed by Andree Putman, set of 4 available at Bloomingdales
  6. Crumb Collector Ramasse-miettes inox de poche at – price: 4.60 ?
  7. Alessi Ala Crumb Collector by Achille Castiglioni at All Modern – price: $30 USD

Have a look at the top picture that Sarah published on Toast and Tables. It is fine example of a formal place setting. It showcased China by Lenox, Stemware by Waterford/Wedgwood, Flatware by Vera Wang and a Tablecloth by Sferra.

>>> Sourcing:
Via: Disappearing Act: In this casual world, is formal passé? [Toast and Tables]