A table setting or place setting refers to the items needed to set a table for dinner. Table settings differ with formal and informal settings. Table settings can use proper high-end silver or flatware, or a less expensive trendy version. You can use plate ware or fine china, stemware or crystal glasses, and everything in between to design a beautiful table setting. Tablecloths, napkins, and table runners can also be used to dress a lovely table.
A basic table setting includes:
An entrée plate or charger
A salad fork and dinner fork to the left of the plate
A bread and butter (B&B) plate, with a butter knife, to the left of the forks
A dinner knife to the right of the entrée plate
A steak knife and soup spoon to the right of the dinner plate, if applicable
A teaspoon to the right of the knife
A water glass above the dinner knife
A red wine glass to the right of the water glass
A white wine glass to the right of the red wine glass
A champagne flute in the two o'clock position
A napkin — proper placement and fold varies, but if in doubt, fold it and place it on the entrée plate or charger
Formal settings may include more silverware, such as a seafood fork, a seafood knife, and claw crackers for shellfish. A mother-of-pearl spoon for caviar may be included in the place setting, as well as utensils for escargot.
In a restaurant environment, the table setting may include simply a dinner fork, knife, napkin, and water glass. The server will then bring the necessary utensils as the meal progresses. This way the table will not get overcrowded during the course of the meal.
Caviar is a delicacy that comes from fish eggs (also called roe) harvested from sturgeon and other types of fish. Caviar spoons are traditionally made from mother-of-pearl or wood. Avoid using any metal when serving caviar. The metal clashes with the taste of the caviar, making the caviar taste tinny and metallic.
In a restaurant setting, a client may have specific requests that might require you to rent china, flatware, or glassware. For example, your client may request Riesling, a white wine varietal from Germany, to be poured in a proper Riesling glass. In this case, you may need to rent the glassware. Your restaurant, for the most part, should be equipped with the proper table settings.
In the service industry, positions of a clock are often used to determine placements for table settings and even food on plates. The top of a plate is considered twelve o'clock. If a plate has a logo or monogram, it should be positioned at twelve o'clock.
In the catering world, rentals are a large part of the planning process. Some event-planning and catering companies have large warehouses to stock basic plate ware and glassware. Smaller companies rely on rental companies for events.
Rentals for table settings are usually built into the per-person price. An exception to this rule is when a client desires a high-end item. For example, if your client must have lead crystal champagne flutes, the difference in price ($10) from a basic champagne flute would be passed on to the client.
For events taking place in a private home, it is always a good idea to take stock of flatware, plate ware, and glassware. One of the vendors you'll use most frequently is your rental supply company. To cover against breakage, always add to the count of rentals needed.