08/21/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

5 Things You Should Never Order at a Work Lunch

Busi-ness lunch [biz-nis luhnch] n. The perfect opportunity to pig out on the most expensive item on the menu of a restaurant you'd never be able to afford on your own.

Okay, so that's not the exact definition. Actually, a meal involving business is never about the food--it's about building a relationship. So when it comes to ordering, don't toil over the menu (you can run to Subway afterward if you're still hungry). Just be sure to avoid these five selections that could leave you looking less than suave.

1. Linguini. First there's the wrapping of the noodles around your fork, then there's trying to figure out how to fit the dangling ones in your mouth, and finally there's the splattering of the sauce on your client's lap. You've never left a spaghetti dinner with a clean blouse--what makes you think this go 'round will be any different?

2. Soup. "So Jon, how is (slurrrp) over at (slurrrp) these days?" Nothing kills conversation like the sound of a rookie guzzling her Cream of Broccoli.

3. Foods you can't pronounce.
Fois gras, gooteow kua, agnello alla ciro... Your mother isn't here to give you hints this time. When in doubt, don't sound it out--stick with the steak.

4. Shellfish. Any menu items that require hands-on finger-licking activity should be avoided (this goes for greasy overstuffed sandwiches, too). And while we're on the subject of seafood, stay away from tuna salad. The lingering stench of your handshake will leave the worst kind of lasting impression.

5. Alcohol. The only exception here is if your host orders an alcoholic beverage, in which case it's okay to follow his lead. But keep it to one--you do have to go back to work, remember?