If you've ever been embarrassed to order at a fancy restaurant, you'll understand. 

Elisabeth Sherman
September 19, 2017

You’ve probably experienced this before: You go out to a nice dinner at a French restaurant, but you when you open the menu, the names of the dishes are unfamiliar. Maybe you didn’t pay attention in French class in high school, or you just never had the opportunity to learn. Either way, you want to order your dinner, but the thought of awkwardly stumbling through the pronunciation of what you want while the waiter looks down on you judgmentally is just too much to bear. You end up ordering the steak. Well, a new survey of waiters across all five boroughs in New York found that you’re not alone.

The survey, conducted by Babbel, a language-learning app, according to a report from the New York Post, talked to 100 waiters and other restaurant staffers at 30 restaurants and bars in New York City. The app partnered with the New York City Hospitality Alliance on the survey.

44 percent of restaurant staffers reported that dishes with French names were the most often avoided menu items. Most people had trouble pronouncing mille-feuille, a puff pastry, and cassoulet, a French stew. The restaurant staff also reported that diners had trouble with Beaujolaisa type of red wine that comes from the Burgundy region of France.

Diners also had a little trouble with Italian, though not nearly as much as with French dishes; only 22 percent of waiters said their customers avoided menu items in Italian.  Overall, 41 percent of waiters said they had witnessed diners refuse to order certain menu items for fear of mispronouncing the name of the dish.

There’s no point in missing out on a delicious meal just because pronouncing a word in a new language is a little awkward. Here’s a handy guide on what to do if you’re at a restaurant where you don’t understand the menu. And if you don’t know the name of that fancy French or Italian wine you want to try? Don’t worry, there’s no longer any need to pretend you know what your server is talking about when she starts explaining the wine list. The only rule for going to a nice dinner? Enjoy yourself.