Saturday, June 03, 2017

Of small plates and anxious diners


Restaurants matter!  I’ve harbored an almost religious attraction to places serving tasty Chinese food, Italian food, steaks, etc. since childhood.  Now in my 50s I’m speaking out against a form of dining that started to proliferate across the U.S. about 10 years ago. 

I dislike a restaurant concept called, “small plates”. It’s not the portion size that bothers me.  OK, part of the problem is size-related, but one can obviously consume as many little bites as one wishes and leave satisfied.  Nor is the problem entirely due to flavor (I've enjoy tapas and tiny treats served at other small plate eateries).  The problem is the convoluted experience of a small plate "dinner".  For me, there are several problems with this dining style, but here's a taste of what I mean...
Small plates photo -- Wikipedia
After eying a group of baby plates spewed across a table that's invariably too small to accommodate them -- I’m drawn to some of these gastronomic strip teases more than others.  Now -- how many pieces of the great stuff shall I eat?  I want to be mindful of my fellow diners, but if I ignore the less appetizing small plate items I'll leave hungry.  Wait, did he order those marinated artichokes as his main dish?  OK, how many small plates shall we order for the next round?  One?  Two?  Twenty?  Who votes for which plates to order?  You going to finish those artichokes?   

I hear a sharp rebuke coming from Small Plate devotees, “Just order more small plates that you like, Bozo and don't sweat the rest!”   No.  Thanks for the appetizers, but I’ll go elsewhere to enjoy an entrée in simple, adult-plate bliss.