Table Service: Styles, Placements, and Functions


Published on October 17, 2018

Every table service style is unique, from the English style to service à la russe. With training, you can master them all! Share on XThere are many different types of table service and different styles, placements and functions. It can get confusing to understand and execute the exact right table setting but there is no space to make mistakes here. Luckily, there is a handy guide we will provide you which you can memorise and practise that should save the day for even the most complex of setups, or most demanding of guests.

What are common types of table service in restaurants and hotels?

Although this can differ from place to place, the most common types of service are the following:

  • Informal silver service
  • Formal silver service
  • Russian service
  • English service
  • French service
  • American service

Especially if you want to be able to work in different types of restaurants, hotels, or yachts, it is vital to understand all these different types of service and the table setting that comes with it. In a restaurant, you might get a private booking. For example a party or a wedding that requires a certain type of set up. And equally, when working in hotels or yachts you need to be ready to provide exactly that type of service and table setting the guests are looking for.

What are common types of table setting in restaurants and hotels?

Informal Silver Service
At informal settings, fewer utensils and crockery will appear on the table.  As a general rule, informal settings will be dictated by the principal or manager and will be adjusted depending on the type of meal being served.  Informal settings will be used in high street restaurants and private, informal settings within the household.

Informal Silver Service Table Setting | Polo & Tweed










Formal Silver Service
Accuracy and precision become paramount in setting the table for formal and 5* settings. This silver service table setting is based on the informal setting. But is expanded and developed.  It’s used for multiple courses both in private homes and restaurants.

Formal Silver Service Place Setting | Polo & Tweed

Russian Service
Service à la russe (French: “service in the Russian style”) is a manner of dining that involves courses being brought to the table sequentially. It contrasts with service à la française (“service in the French style”) in which all the food is brought out at once in an impressive display.

Russian Silver Service Place Setting | Polo & Tweed

English Service
English style service, or family service, is a great way of bringing everyone together.  It’s closely linked with Butler service.  It’s a fabulous choice for special events, or when your guests require a high level of interaction from the host.


English Silver Service Place Setting | Polo & Tweed

French Service
Service à la française (“service in the French style”) is when food is brought out at once in a big display.  It originates from the French court and for modern diners is an impressive event that makes them feel like they’ve been transported back in time to the French courts.  Formal dinners were served à la française from the Middle Ages until the 19th century.

French Silver Service Place Setting | Polo & Tweed

American Service
This style of silver service table setting is typically used in less formal events. Such as when you want your cuisine catered, prepared and plated in the kitchen.  It is an efficient and simple choice.  Service is approached from the left and cleared from the right.  Functional and easy to manage, this is a technique that is used around the world.

American Silver Service Place Setting | Polo & Tweed

How does training help waiter and waitresses to master these skills?

Table service is difficult. Getting all the styles, placements and functions right can be tricky. It is a real art and it requires a lot of focus. And mainly, a lot of practice to become familiar with all the different settings and ways of doing things. You really do not want to have to do this for the first time on your actual job. When your boss, manager or guest might be watching you! Silver Service training will go through all (and more!) of these service types and table settings. And will spend lots of time for you to practice the different types of setup. And practise the actual service of food and drink. It simply is true that when you do something regularly, you will become better at it.

At Polo & Tweed, we run regular small group Silver Service courses. They were created, and taught by the absolute best in the industry. As well as online e-learning courses, which can be accessed by anyone all over the world. You can find all the information on the courses here and we look forward to welcoming you on one of our courses soon. And to teach you the art of all these wonderful different types of service!


  1. Nisar Masih says:

    I have gone through your website and I have learned a lot but there’s lot to learn more about the services of F&B!
    Thanks and best regards Nisar

    • mm LucyChallenger says:

      Hi Nisar, Thank you – we are pleased you’ve found our website and all the articles helpful! Yes it’s a big subject to learn, and we teach private and group classes to help individuals expand their knowledge. If you would like to join any of our in person training please don’t hesitate to get in touch! 🙂

  2. Rebecca Weadon says:

    Question rather a comment – When serving spaghetti, how is the table set considering a knife is not used to eat spaghetti?

    • Aafke Meelen says:

      Hello Rebecca,

      Great question! So when a spaghetti dish would be on the menu, a knife would still be placed in the table setting, but a soup spoon would be added too! Hope that helps 🙂

      • Sammy says:

        #rebecca, a knife still has to be on the table cos the spaghetti could come with a protein in nature of beef, chicken or turkey. And if it came with boiled or fried egg,u could still need a knife to cut through a sizeable portion to fit into ur mouth.

  3. Muhammad rizwan says:

    I want to learn about the different types of service – could you help?

  4. Deb Thomas says:

    I have two Silver plated items that look like Napkin Rings from 1890-1920 in an original fitted box that is monogrammed and labelled Servet. Can not find reference to Servet anywhere. Would that be the formal name for the more common “Napkin Ring”

    • Aafke Meelen says:

      Hello Deb,

      That sounds like an amazing item to have. It is most likely a set of napkin rings indeed. The word ‘servet’ comes from the French ‘serviette’ which indeed, means napkin. So it sounds like you have a great antique napkin ring set – something to be treasured!

  5. Silvia Joseph says:

    Well understood sir.

  6. Penny says:

    Nice post. Thanks.

  7. Dhahabu Abdul says:

    Thanks a lot I have learnt many things… I would kindly like to ask for a question(What are factors that may determine the type of table service offered)

    • Aafke Meelen says:

      We are so pleased you have found this helpful! The restaurant or hotel will determine the type of table service and settings offered. However, someones for private dining occasions, if a guest prefers a specific type of service, this can be offered too. This is why it is important to know all the different types of service well so that you will confidently be able to provide these upon request!

  8. Ghulam mosa says:

    I want to get more information about service sequences

    • Aafke Meelen says:

      Thank you for your comment – we have many more articles on our advice hub on silver service that may be helpful for you. Do have a look at this article, for example, as well as this one. If you would be interested in our full silver service training course (we run full online e-courses for all our training courses!), you can find out all information about it here.

  9. Ruchita kolekar says:

    Thank you this information is very helpful for me

  10. James says:

    Can I ask a question?
    If the types of table service were to be categorized as formal and informal, how would they be?

    • Aafke Meelen says:

      Thank you for your great question, James! In the article, the first two types listed are ‘informal’ and ‘formal’ so hopefully, that will give you an idea already. Furthermore, American Service can also be considered a slightly more informal type of service too. Hope that helps!

      • James says:

        Yes. But my teacher’s question says: “What are the different types of formal and informal table service?” I need to know if which of your given types belong to informal or formal. I dont need the categories itself. I hope you can understand and help me. Thanks

        • Palman says:

          Hello James. The question from your professor is slightly abstract. It is said in article how formal and informal settings are placed. The right question would be on what occasions we can use formal and informal settings.The answer would be like some various buffets, special dinners or lunch like wedding parties, etc.

  11. James says:

    Yes. But my teacher’s question says: “What are the different types of formal and informal table service?” I need to know if which of your given types belong to informal or formal. I dont need the categories itself. I hope you can understand and help me. Thanks

  12. Tammy says:

    Can you compare and contrast 2 styles of table service adaptable for banquet service?

    • Aafke Meelen says:

      Thank you for your question!

      Service choice does depend hugely on the type of venue/occasion, however, the 2 main choices are: Plated Service (American Service) and Silver Service

      Plated service means that food is brought out pre-plated by an expert chef, which is ultimately the best way to showcase their food, this can sometimes be incorporated with synchronised service when there is enough staff present. It’s the most smooth type of service and allows for efficient service which lets the banquet flow and the guests to enjoy their meal.

      Silver Service- requires a large number of servers, relies on excellent communication, and precision is required when serving for consistent presentation accuracy. This type of service allows for portion control and a more special feeling for the guest that they are being individually looked after but timing is key, plates need to be hot and each part of the dish needs to arrive promptly after the other to be enjoyed at its best.

  13. Dennis says:

    As a male waiter is he allowed to work with long hair as long as he keeps the hair neat and tidy

    • Aafke Meelen says:

      It will really depend on the establishment or Principal what their preferences and rules are, it is always best to check but having hair neat and tidy is always a must!

  14. Bernadette maundu says:

    How much do you charge for your online course on table service

  15. Leslye Hunter says:

    What is the type of service where there is one server per diner, and all are served at once? Thank you.

    • Aafke Meelen says:

      Thanks for your question! When the server or waiter serves food by transferring food from the serving dish to the guest’s plate, this is Silver Service. Often in restaurants or during events, you will indeed have a waiter per guest, and all waiters will serve the food at the same time. Hope that helps!

  16. Chinyere says:

    I l want to know the type of items that should appear on a hotel table setting and their uses.

    • Aafke Meelen says:

      Every hotel can have different types of table settings depending on the style, and type of service. It’s therefore always important to know all the different styles and types of service as it might be changed per guest preference too. Perhaps this article on formal vs informal service on our website could help too. 🙂

  17. Dogbey Dorothy says:

    Do I make any payment before learning into detail?

    • mm Gabriela Pacurar says:

      Hi Dorothy, thank you for your comment. All our courses are available in free taster form and you can see the prices for all of our full courses here.

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