Ordering food in a restaurant in a foreign country can be an intimidating experience. There are so many pitfalls awaiting the unwary guest. What are the rules of etiquette? How to decipher the menu? How best to get the attention of the waiter? How do I greet my guests? Am I pronouncing the food I’m trying to order correctly? What is it polite to talk about? What are the suggestions on tipping?
Hopefully, in this brief blog, we can make visiting a restaurant in Estonia a less stressful and more enjoyable experience by offering up a few dos and don’ts as well as some phrases and vocabulary to help interpret the menu and order food in Estonian restaurants.
When You Get To The Restaurant
If you have agreed to meet some new Estonian friends at a restaurant, it doesn’t really need to be said, but arriving on time will give a good impression. Arriving late is just irritating and not the way to give a good first impression. If you are unavoidably detained, try to contact the person you are dining with or leave a message with the restaurant.
When greeting others at the restaurant, depending on how well you know the other guests, in Estonia, it is best to err on the formal. It is usually expected that the younger person will initiate the introduction to an older guest. Men should also be the first to greet female diners.
When you are greeting the other guests, it is polite to be standing and ready to offer a firm handshake. A simple hello “tere” is the most common way to introduce yourself. In Estonia, it is impolite to start using someone’s first name before you have been invited to do so. Titles are important, so try to use “Härra” for Mr, “Prova” for Mrs, and “Preili” for Miss, followed by that person’s surname.
During The Meal
Try not to initiate any conversations about business, money, or your personal problems if you are dining with people for the first time. However, your new Estonian friends are likely to be keen to know about your life back home and your family.
If it is somebody’s birthday or a special occasion it is a nice idea to bring a gift. There is no need to break the bank when buying a gift as it is the thought that counts. Expect the gift to be opened as soon as it is given, so do make it appropriate for others to see. A top tip when giving someone flowers in Estonia is to make sure there are an odd number of stems.
In Estonia, it is impolite to rest your elbows on the table. Your fellow diners will be impressed if you try to finish all the food on your plate as they do not appreciate food going to waste. A rather charming custom if you drop your bread on the floor is to pick it up immediately, give it a kiss, and put it back on your plate. You are likely to hear the phrase “Jätku leiba” which means “May your bread last.” This is an appreciation of the Estonian black bread that is served with most food in Estonian cafes and restaurants.
If you are of drinking age, expect to be offered vodka with your evening meal. It is okay to decline the beverage; a waiter will bring you fruit juice so you can still participate in the toasts.
Tipping is not compulsory after eating food in Estonian restaurants. However, adding at least 10 per cent to the price of the bill is considered polite if the service has been good.
Common Phrases To Help You Order Food In Estonian
Now the general etiquette is dealt with, let’s look at the menu. Here are a few of the phrases that will help you navigate your dining out and order food in Estonian like a pro.
|A table for one person/two people, please||Laud ühele/kahele (inimesele), palun|
|Can I look at the menu, please?||Kas ma saaksin vaadata menüüd, palun?|
|Can I look in the kitchen?||Kas ma tohin vaadata köögis?|
|Is there a local speciality?||Kas teil on kohalik eriroog?|
|Is there a house speciality?||Kas teil on eriroog?|
|I don’t eat pork||Ma ei söö sealiha|
|I don’t eat beef||Ma ei söö veiseliha|
|I only eat kosher food||Ma söön ainult koššertoitu|
|Can you make it “lite”, please?||(less oil/butter/lard)Kas te saate teha seda väherasvaseks, palun?|
|fixed-price meal||fixed-price meal|
|à la carte||à la carte|
|I want…||Ma soovin…|
|I want a dish containing…||Ma soovin rooga milles oleks…|
|(fresh) vegetables||(värsked) köögiviljad|
|(fresh) fruit||(värsked) puuviljad|
|May I have a glass of…?||Kas ma saaksin klaasi…?|
|May I have a cup of…?||Kas ma saaksin kruusi…?|
|May I have a bottle of…?||Kas ma saaksin pudeli…?|
|(bubbly) water||(gaseeritud) vesi|
|red/white wine||punane/valge vein|
|May I have some…?||Kas ma saaksin natuke…?|
|black pepper||must pipar|
|Excuse me, waiter?||Vabandage, kelner?|
|I’m finished||Ma olen lõpetanud|
|It was delicious||See oli maitsev|
|Please clear the plates||Palun koristage taldrikud (ära)|
|The check, please||Arve, palun|
Order Estonian Food Online
In today’s world of the internet and the simple ability to order food online, you can always forego the perils of ordering food in Estonian restaurants by ordering food to your door from one of the many excellent delivery services to be found throughout Estonia. There are plenty of food options just a click away.
Order Food In Perfect Estonian With Ling App
Also, just a click away is the Ling language learning app. The Ling App is the perfect application for improving your Estonian linguistic skills. Unlike other apps that concentrate on standard teaching techniques, Ling focuses on making learning fun with features such as quizzes and games. The Ling App is available to download to your device today from Google Play and App Store.