- General

Getting a Grip on Everyday Tableware

When you are in a formal place setting such as a high class restaurant for dinner or other holiday meals, you can expect more than three courses in it.
In this setting, you will rarely find more than three types of each utensils laid in front of you. In more formal dining settings, you might find ceramic cookware, as well as an array of very specific food handling utensils, glassware and more.
The only exception to this rule is when you have an oyster dish, whereby you will have the fourth fork in addition to the three forks on your table.
In this article, we review the uses of each primary utensil that you will see in a formal dinner place setting.

Dinner fork

You might also know this fork as the place fork, and this large fork is placed at the left side of the plate.
This fork is saved for the main course or the entrée.
Other smaller forks such as the salad fork and the fish fork will be arranged accordingly next to the dinner fork depending on which meal course will be served first.

Salad fork

Like the name suggests, the salad fork is used for salads. Usually, salad is served before the entrée.
In this case, the salad fork is placed right next to the plate and to the right of the dinner fork.
However, if salad is to be served before anything else, followed by a fish dish, then the salad fork will be arranged the furthest from the plate.

Fish fork

If you have fish included in your meal, you can expect to have a fish fork. Fish courses are typically served before the entrée, so you will find this fork placed to the left of the dinner fork.
The arrangement of the salad fork will either be to the left or right of this combination depending on when it is served as mentioned above.

Dinner knife

The dinner knife’s placement and use is the equivalent of the dinner fork – for the entree.
While the forks are placed to the left of the plate, knives are placed to the its right side.
The arrangement of the salad and fish knives mirror those of the forks, so if you have your forks in the order of salad – fish – entrée, you can expect your knives to be ordered as entrée – fish – salad from the plate.

Soup spoon

Soups or fruits, if available in your meal courses, are typically served as the first course.
As such, you can expect this spoon to be placed at the outermost area from the plate. These spoons are usually placed to the right of the knives set.
Alternatively, you can also have these spoons brought to you along with the fruits or soup to be served.


Technically, napkins aren’t part of the utensils. Nevertheless, these crisp and clean napkins have rather flexible placements as compared to the other utensils.
It could be placed on your plate, folded in a simple yet elegant manner, or it could be placed to the left of the set of forks.
Alternatively, if space on the table is a little more limited, you might find the napkins neatly folded under the forks as well.
Rather than focusing on the placement, a napkin’s focus is more directed towards its presentation, design and linens.