Silver service (in British English) is a method of foodservice. This usually includes serving food at the table. It is a technique of transferring food from a service dish to the guest's plate from the left.
It is performed by a waiter using service forks and spoons from the diner's left. In France, this kind of service is known as service à l'anglaise ("English Service").
Features of silver service
- Silver service food is always served from the left, drinks and plated meals from the right.
- Meals are served to the diner from platters, not plated in the kitchen.
- The guest to the host's right is served first. (Usually a female guest)
- Service continues clockwise.
- Plates are cleared from the right, glasses from the right; again starting with the guest to the host's right.
- Glasses are stacked in a diagonal to the right and away, with wine (by course) in order, and then lastly, water glass in front.
Silver service is orientated for a right-handed waiter. Thus to serve the food, the waiter stands behind the guest and to the guest's left, holds or supports the platter with their left hand, and serves the food with their right hand. It is common for the waiter to hold the serving-fork above the serving-spoon both in the right hand, and use the fingers to manipulate the two as a pincer for picking up, holding and transferring the food. This technique requires much practice and dexterity.
A modification of silver service is known as butler service. In butler service the diner helps himself from a serving plate held by the waiter (butler). Traditionally, this type of service was used on Sunday evenings when the waiting staff had the evening off and the butler helped out at dinner. In France, this kind of service is known as service à la francaise ("French service").
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