This Is How You Deal With Splitting The Bill

Can you nitpick over a glass of wine or do you have to suck it up (regardless of who had the rest of the bottle)?

It's a question as old as, well, eating out in a group. How do you split the bill at a restaurant?  If you have a green salad and a glass of water, are you expected to pay as much as the woman at the table who had a bottle of Krug and a lobster?

And what kind of restaurant IS that?

And why didn't you have the lamb, it looked delicious.

Well according to Zarife Hardy, director of the Australian School of Etiquette, we're sorry to say, if you're out in a group, you're just going to have to suck it up.

"Look if you go out for dinner to meet with someone, it is traditional to just split the bill regardless of what the other person has chosen to eat," she told 10 daily.

"When you go out with someone you really should be gauging what the other person is going to be having. You know, check in and see if they're going to be having an entree, main and dessert or just a main, and honour that and have a similar kind of meal."

Of course, unfortunately when you go out with other people that rarely happens. Instead, it gets split. But, added Hardy, "to get nitpicky over 'I had one glass of wine and you had four' really takes the joy out of dining."

You know it.

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Image: Getty

But, if you really do object to paying for Mrs Richie Rich's lobster meal,  is there way to say so that isn't going to be offensive?

"If you are going out on a budget then frame it before you start," Hardy told 10 daily. "Say, 'I'm on a budget', or 'I'm dieting at the moment so do you mind if I just pay for what I eat' -- tell the person or the group beforehand so the expectation is set. That's about the only way you can get away with it."

These days there are bill-splitting apps available -- plates by splitwise forexample, lets you split a bill with up to 10 people, enter each dish, split shared items, add a tip and share the result via text or email -- but according to Hardy, it's just all a bit, well, tasteless (a little like that boring salad and water combo you had.)

"When it comes to etiquette it's about not causing drama at the table and and being polite," she said.

"If you know you're going out with people who are going to eat or drink a lot, make the choice whether to go out with them at all. Sharing the cost is just what happens with the billing part of it."

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If you really can't afford it, Hardy suggests you offer up another idea. "Suggest some sort of cafe style meal instead. Or just don't go, Or pop in at the end if it's possible, for a drink.

"Don't make any sort of negativity at the end about the bill, it should be an easy clean process."

Feature Image: Getty