The FoodboombloggerWest tackles another burning issue: the small plate trend and sharing.
I object. Enough. No more small plate formats please. I don’t like to share. Never did. That may explain why I went semesters without having a conversation with anyone.
L.A. quickly embraced the small plate paradigm when the trend hit town. L. A. usually jumps on any wagon that rolls through, tooting their trumpets and firing off 5 -Star Yelp reviews whether they are deserved or not.
The earliest years of my culinary adventure and enjoyment harken back to those days when you got a three finger thick slice of juicy meat loaf buried in mushroom gravy with a large enough puddle to push into your mashed potatoes and pile of fresh garden peas.
Main courses offered were recognizable, satisfying, and once served, ameliorated the pooling of drool from perusing the menu. There was always enough to share should the mood strike you and, overflowing with largesse, you offered your companions a bite because you wanted to and not because the server told you to. In the spirit of dining conviviality who wouldn’t ask, “Would you like to have a bite of my Tomahawk?”
Somewhere in the guise of keeping current with the burgeoning trend of “shared plates” which blossomed and bloomed like Cyanobacterial algae on a platter of poached Salmon became a compressed cube of sous vide Sock-eye with a fluted Cremini balanced on top stuffed with Smoked Trout Mousse and Nasturtium petals. Its like eating the hood ornament from a Bentley and sharing it as well.
A shared plate “special” appetizer on the menu at a hot spot well known for affected, snooty, behavior (no listed phone, no parking) finally pushed me over the top. “In house handmade Bucatini with Caviar,” intoned the waiter as he looked down his aquiline nose at we Philistines deigning to occupy a table in his station, “for $37 sir”, added the server as if the price alone would force me to order a cellophane package of two Saltines instead.
No sir, not me. All in. I want to sit on the porch with the big dogs. Besides it was a shared plate and my dinner mates were all salivating and nodding yes like Bobble Headed Hula Girls on the rear deck of a Camaro.
Half of my Whiskey Sour had headed to my brain pan when the detached waiter returned to the table carrying a small silver cloche. With all the flourish of a Carney Barker revealing a two headed cow at a State Fair Side Show, the server dramatically removed the dome.
There it was beautifully displayed on a lovely bone China plate. One strand of Bucatini coiled tightly like a Bosun’s rope topped with one glistening Sevruga, one Beluga and one Ossetra egg. I stared at the plate and the waiter stared at us. “Shall I carve, Sir?” he asked reverently. The evening cost out at $266 per couple. $260 for dinner and $6.00 for a swing through Burrito King on the way home for a shared Papas y Huevos Con Chorizo Wet Especial.
Sorry, but I want to eat an entire meal. I want to see my Wiener Schnitzel laying over the edge of the Porcelain Charger at all four compass points.
It’s just not the same to be served a one inch scalloped biscuit cutter version topped with half a caper and one fleck of Lemon zest. Nein, Danke.
Who is responsible for divvying the soulful bowl of deconstructed Vitello Tonnato? Why do they always serve five Falafel to four people? Just to foment unrest? Not quick enough, the cool looking crispy chunk you were eyeballin’ went elsewhere.
Then, for us germaphobes who wants to take a swish of the Baba Ganoush while your companion is blowing her nose and telling you she believes it’s just an allergy…or maybe MRSA. What cootie marched down those finger tips across the Pita points and swam from her Baba onto your Ganoush searching for a new host. Thanks anyway. And you thought Guacamole was a harmless bar snack. For some of us, meals in shared plate themed restaurants should come with surgical gloves and a mask along with squeeze bottles of Purell in the Chili Caddy. Okay, I agree that’s a little over the top, but the concept is sound.
So, small wonder as the Crown Prince, Heir Apparent, Pretender to the Throne, Narcissistic, ego-centric Solipsistic only child should eschew chewing from the same bowl like a litter of puppies.
No thanks, Thank God the shared plate idea may have run its five course moment. I’ll have the Chateaubriand for two, for one, thank you very much. Although, I am happy to share the bill.