Fancy Dinner

"Attention. I'd like to make some toast..."

Either at an expensive restaurant, at an expensive club or a dinner at the Richies'. Very common in princess training or rags to riches. Played for comedy or drama. For instance, if someone is dispensing Sacred Hospitality, it will likely include a Fancy Dinner.

Expect one of the following:
  • Tables longer than 50 feet or circular tables.
  • Sometimes only two eating at opposite ends, amplifying distant relationships or played for comedy.
  • If the tables are round, you're at a club, so expect a speech.
  • Protagonist gets confused which knife to take, how to raise a glass, etc.
  • Protagonist gets served escargots, lobster and does not know how to eat it.
  • Protagonist is in France and orders sheep brains.
  • Protagonist gets served a wet plate... no wait, that's the soup!
  • A snooty waiter
  • Protagonist getting mad at said waiter.
  • Children or protagonists hiding under the table
  • A butler with a big silver plate.
  • Butler serving a pig with an apple in its mouth.
  • Trouble in the kitchen, in G-rated movies.
  • A cook who searched for months for that special ingredient, being told that it was the last of an endangered species
  • Food poisoning
  • Dramatic pause.

A common variation is the "heroic feast" in which a given chieftain gives a feast to a large number of Badass people. The food is usually Badass style food such as mead and roast oxen. While they eat a bard will of course sing of famous deeds and heroes.

After(or before) dinner might be the time for Dances and Balls.


Film - Live Action
  • Northanger Abbey: Both the adaptations of the book use it when Catherine is overwhelmed by the fancy style of General Tilney who is very demanding and is very particular about his food and meal times and everything. In the 2007 adaptation, the "protagonist gets confused with knives" variety is used. Catherine confuses spoons but kind Elinor shows her which one to use.
  • PrettyWoman: Edward takes Vivian for a formal dinner with his business rivals. She is nervous because she can only recognize a salad fork, so Mr Thomson gives her a quick lesson in eating etiquette. At the actual dinner, the old gentleman owns he can never recognize the forks as well, and he takes his bread in hands. Vivian lets Edward order her meal, which is French gourmet food. It's slippery, and Vivian drops a swear word. Nevertheless, all are charmed by her.

  • Northanger Abbey: Catherine Morland is awed by the abundance of food and fancy dining style of General Tilney who is very demanding and is very particular about his food, how it gets served and meal times.
  • In Dune, just before the attack by the Harkonnens, the Atreides give Fancy Dinner at their palace.
  • Discworld
    • The cooks at Lancre Castle are traditionalists who think every meal should be a medieval banquet, preferably involving a roast pig with a baked apple in its mouth, and are frustrated first by Duke Felmet in Wyrd Sisters, who likes porridge, runny boiled eggs and vegetarian sausages, and then by Very-Nearly-Queen Magrat in Lords and Ladies, who likes quiches and raw apples.
    • The cutlery question is invoked in Going Postal, when Moist tells Miss Dearheart that she can't stab Reacher Gilt in the middle of the poshest restaurant in Ankh-Morpork because she's using the wrong knife.
    • The big dinner the University throws for the captains of the football teams in Unseen Academicals, which Glenda quickly realises is intended to throw these stolid working-class blokes off-balance.
  • In A Brother's Price, a fancy, only-family dinner is used as a test for whether the Whistler family can be presented as guests of the royal family without embarassment, or whether they need to be taught manners first. They easily pass, as their grandfather, Prince Alannon, had the grandmothers wrapped around his little finger, and insisted on good table manners and such.

Live Action TV
  • Our Miss Brooks:
    • The School Board Banquet in "Stretch is in Love" (radio) and "Suzy Prentisss" (television). It's a black tie event, tuxedos for men and evening gowns for women.
    • To a lesser degree, Miss Brooks' dinner at an expensive French restaurant in "French Sadie Hawkins Day".
  • Several times in Downton Abbey, shown from the perspective of the hosts (the Crawley family) and the servants. An interesting variation was the austere one held under World War I rationing. Both diners and the servants have gotten confused by the correct protocol: Matthew Crawley, a middle-class solicitor, holds his knives wrong and gets confused about utensils when he first arrives at Downton. Alfred, trained as a restaurant waiter, screws up the silver service (a kind of table service characteristic of British aristocratic homes, rather different from the way things are done at restaurants) the first time he serves as a footman. The former earned Matthew the supercilious scorn of Mary and the Countess Dowager, while the latter got Alfred an earful from Carson; both, however, become accustomed to the traditional ways over time.
  • Emma (2009), a BBC miniseries adaptation: During her first dinner at Hartfield, Harriet Smith has to be shown by Emma where to put a kerchief (on her lap, unlike gentlemen who tie it under their neck) and also how to eat her soup delicately. Emma is discreet and encouraging, while Harriet gives a little nervous laugh, looking slightly amused by her own ignorance.
  • Red Dwarf: Ambitious but hopeless Rimmer was once invited to dine with officers, and the waiter brought him a cold soup. He sent it back to have it heated. Too bad he didn't know that gazpacho is served cold. Rimmer thinks this incident and his lack of upper-class upbringing stopped him from becoming an officer.
    • The novel adds the "confused by the choice of cutlery" subtrope (among many other hideous embarrassments):
      Rimmer: I'd bought this etiquette book, and I know two things. One: never wear diamonds before lunch, and two: with cutlery, start from the outside and work your way in. I start from the outside. I start so far from the outside, I inadvertently take the spoon of the woman sitting next to me. Eventually we sort it out, and start to eat.
  • In the Supernatural episode "What Is And What Should Never Be" (S02, Ep20), they celebrate Mary Winchester's birthday at a fancy restaurant, complete with Dean's salad of asparagus spears bound into an upright sheaf. Dean's girlfriend says they will get him a cheeseburger later.
  • Once a week on Gilmore Girls. Part of the premise of the show is that Lorelai and Rory visit their parents/grandparents every Friday for dinner.

Light Novels
  • In the anime of Kaze no Stigma, Ayano and Kazuma go to fancy restaurants multiple times. The most memorable one results in a serious battle, but a least the wine is saved.
  • In Slayers there was an episode about eating a very fancy dinner of dragon.

Manga and Anime
  • Occasionally seen in Ranma ˝. Best example would be the martial arts dining arc.
  • GUN×SWORD has a fancy dinner played for comedy in episode 15. Wendy doesn't know which silverware to use, and Van displays his terrible table manners to the fullest.

Web Video
  • In Episode 12 "Dinner" of The Autobiography of Jane Eyre, Jane, a live-in tutor, is invited to dine with Mr Rochester, his daughter Adele, and his personal assistant Grace Poole. They have a formal dinner every other Sunday together when Mr Rochester is at home. The viewers got to see just the events before dinner, so no faux pas is shown, but Jane is visibly nervous.

Western Animation