Going out for a steak is routine business for a lot of people. In fact, a lot of people head to steakhouses for actual business meetings and dinners. Others just want a good cut of beef. Maybe it’s been too long since the last steakhouse experience, or maybe you’re the kind of aficionado who heads out regularly to your local chophouse. You might even be someone who visits a steakhouse only on special occasions.

In any case, it’s common for people to visit a high-end steakhouse they’ve never visited before, and find themselves wondering about proper steakhouse etiquette. Is there such a thing? For example, is there a right and wrong way to order a steak? What about silverware and other aspects of table etiquette? Are there any other etiquette-related issues to be aware of before making steakhouse reservations?

The answer is that stuffy or snobby etiquette is generally something to avoid at steakhouses. It’s about creating a warm and friendly experience that is also high professional. It’s not about making people feel uncomfortable, or beholden to a lot of pesky rules.

Dress code is something you’ll definitely want to be aware of, as there are plenty of high-end establishments out there that require a dinner jacket or a dress. Showing up for your reservation and being told that you’re not dressed properly to enter the dining room is an experience that every steak lover wants to avoid. These days, the finest chophouses are more likely to be full of customers who are dressed in a casual but modest way. Dress codes are often unspoken, if they do exist.

In terms of ordering a steak and asking questions, customers should feel very comfortable. It’s true that steakhouse chefs generally don’t like preparing a steak “well done” – but then, you’re going to be the one eating the steak. It’s your preference that matters, no matter what steak you order, or how you order it cooked. A waiter may offer suggestions, and valuable information about the source and quality of various cuts – but it’s ultimately up to you.

Etiquette will also depend upon present company. For example, if you’re at a steakhouse with a potential business partner or first date, you’ll probably want to avoid things like leaving your cloth napkin on the table, or chewing on your steak bone at the end of the meal. These are common sense points of etiquette that hold true for any type of restaurant.

Generally speaking, steakhouses often have a reputation for being “stately” and a bit more formal in their presentation of great steak; but steakhouses that put more emphasis on appearances than they do on food are quickly falling out of fashion.

It’s all about the steak

One thing you can be sure about – places that focus heavily on appearances and etiquette may not actually be the right choice if you’re looking for top quality steak. That’s not always the case – there are certainly some fancy steakhouses that deliver where it counts. On the whole, most steak aficionados and casual steak lovers head for establishments that have a good mix of warmth and professionalism.