Colleen Rush, author of The Mere Mortal's Guide to Fine Dining, gives advice on how to dine with panache:
Keep your personal doodads off the table. Keys, cell phones, day planners and purses create an obstacle course your waiter must navigate while carrying liquids that stain and plates of hot food.
Place your napkin (folded in half) in your lap when everyone is seated. If you leave the table, loosely fold the napkin and lay it to the left of your plate—not on your chair because the odd crumbs or grease spot could end up on your rear.
Pass hand-to-table. Set salt and pepper shakers (which should always be passed as a pair), bread baskets, and butter dishes directly on the table, not in another diner's hands. And never intercept a pass by grabbing a roll or a shake of salt if the item is en route to someone else.
Don't clean up your own mess. As tempting as it is to "help" the staff chase after the cherry tomato that rolled off your plate, stay in your seat. Crawling around the floor while trays of food and drinks whiz about could cause a bigger mishap.
Bones and olive pits can stay on your plate, but discreetly spit anything else, like gristle, into one corner of your napkin and roll it up.
Toothpicks, lipstick, contact lens solution and hankies should never appear at the table, nor should you attempt to remove a stain from your blouse in the company of others.
Tables are not phone booths. If you do have to take or make a call, step outside. The only person who should be inconvenienced by this call is you.