The Small Plates Movement
Did you know that the average person dines outside their home at least once a week? Once a week is a lot when the restaurant selection is limited in your area and chances are, you’ve encountered some repeat meals over time. When you get comfortable with a certain repertoire while eating out, you’re probably ordered from the same five tried and true entrees that you know you like and you’re not trying anything new. You’re also spending a lot of money and taking home a lot of food that you probably won’t eat as leftovers.
Something that’s happening in the restaurant world these days is the small plate movement. A lot of restaurants are expanding their menus to include a selection of tapas, or small plates. It started first in Latin cuisine, but has since expanded into all types of food. This type of dining has become increasingly popular in the high-end cuisine circuit and it’s a great way to try new things when you go out to eat.
Typically in a small plates restaurant, they offer a selection of delicacies – similar to appetizers – in smaller portions and served a la carte. Diners can then order a selection, at fair prices, and pass them around the table or try several different dishes, thus the basis of their appeal. Have you ever ordered Chinese food and gotten a bunch of different things so you didn’t have to settle for just one of your favorites? This is kind of like that, without the leftovers.
The Advantages of the Small Plate
• Portion Size – Yeah, these days we hear a lot about portion size as our country enters an obesity epidemic. Small plates are portioned for sharing of several items or eating one to two on your own. These plates – and way of eating in general – are in direct opposition to the gargantuan portions of food served by restaurants these days. People are served chunks of meat that is often four times the recommended portion size. Small plates make it easy to keep things healthy.
• Try New Things – Sometimes we see things on a menu and think that it sounds good, but we don’t want to commit to ordering the full entrée. Small plates allow us to try some new stuff without spending the money we would for a full entrée. Try a bunch of different things in one night or make it a theme. Try all Italian foods one night and then next time try different proteins. Usually small plate menus are pretty diverse so there are a bunch of options from which to choose.
• Save Money – Full entrees can get really pricey, especially when you’re feeding more than just one person. Small plates are economical, especially if you make a game of it and order enough to properly satisfy the whole table without letting people gorge themselves. Order four or five different items for the price of less than two entrees, and most of the time you’ll be pretty full. If you want to supplement your dining, order a small side salad and enjoy for a lot less money.
The small plates movement has already started to expand into larger mainstream franchises and people seem to be enjoying the camaraderie of sharing different meals. If you’ve got a hefty appetite, small plates are a great way to try a bunch of appetizers with the whole table before your entrée comes out. It’s creates a dining experience and its fun!