The custom of serving dinner a la Russe (dishes passed) has supplanted the form known as the English style, where the joints are carved on the table. This is for good reason, as the host cannot well fulfil his social part if he has to do the carving; therefore, unless on very informal occasions, when the number of servants may be insufficient, the carving is done on the side-table, or the garnished dishes are cut in the kitchen. The portions, whether carved or otherwise, are placed on dishes to be passed, and should be so arranged that each guest may remove a part easily and without destroying the symmetry of the whole. This need not preclude attractive garnishing, but such complicated constructions as are sometimes seen, which embarrass one to find how to break them, should be avoided.
Sometimes a dish is placed on the table to be shown, and then removed to be served.
The dishes are presented on the left side. Those of the first course are passed first to the lady sitting on the right of the host, and then in regular order to the right around the table. The dishes of each following course are started at some distance from the place where the preceding one was presented. In this way the same person is not left always to be served last.
At least one servant is needed for every six persons, otherwise the service will be slow and tedious, and the portion placed on one's plate becomes cold before the accompaniments of sauce or vegetable can be passed.
Many dishes may be garnished with the vegetable or sauce, thus obviating in a measure this difficulty. For large dinners two or more dishes should be arranged to pass on opposite sides of the table, so that every one may be served at about the same time. Plates, vegetable, and other large dishes are held in the hand of the servant. Small dishes, like hors d'oeuvres, bonbon dishes, etc., are passed on a tray.
When the wines are served, the servant should name the wine offered, so that it may be refused if not wanted; the glasses should not be filled entirely full.
When a plate is removed it should be immediately replaced by another one holding a fork or any piece of silver or cutlery which is needed for the next course.
Plates should be removed with the left and replaced with the right hand.