When you’re dining out at a restaurant, chances are you’re there to have a nice time and enjoy a meal, without having to worry about cooking or cleaning up. And the restaurant knows this — that’s the whole point! So when it comes to plates on the table, there really should be no need to stack anything yourself. The wait staff is meant to clear the table when guests are done eating, so you should trust that this will happen as part of the experience.
But I can understand instances where stacking dishes might seem like a good idea. Maybe you’re at a small-plates restaurant and have ordered a bunch of stuff. You’re still enjoying the first round when the server comes to drop off more. Only you’re at a tiny two-top table and there’s not enough room. So you combine dishes and stack them on top of each other to free up some space.
Or maybe you’re done enjoying a meal and it’s been a while since the server’s come to check on you and you’d rather not have a bunch of dirty plates just lingering on the table, so you stack them to let the staff know that you’re done.
It might be well intentioned — surely this will make it easier for whoever eventually clears the plates. But unless you’re at a fast-food restaurant or a fast-casual spot where you’re expected to bus your own table, your dish Jenga might actually make it harder for the trained staff, who have their own practiced method of doing it. They might even end up having to unstack and restack the plates, or make more trips to the table than usual.
Instead, position your cutlery to signal to the server that you’re finished (on the plate with the fork and knife handles placed at the 4 o’clock position and the tines and blade positioned diagonally at 10 o’clock), and wait for someone to clear your setting. And for goodness’ sake, please don’t put your napkin on your dirty dish. Unless you’re using disposable tableware and paper goods, it’s really unnecessary to add a cloth napkin to the dregs of your spaghetti Bolognese.