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Whatever happened to the main course?
It’s vanished in an avalanche of sharing plates
Pundits are already predicting trends for the new year and, according to the booking site Resy, the big trend is small plates. (I’m not sure that hasn’t been the case for the past five years or so. Whatever.)
Apparently 37% of diners said they prefer to order small plates over main dishes and more than 1 in 3 diners (34%) “want to share food with other people so they can try more dishes”.
I certainly buy into the latter sentiment but think about it for a minute. If 37% prefer small plates that means that 63% or almost two thirds don’t unless there is a significant number of don’t knows.
I suspect that includes a lot of blokes. (Maybe women like sharing plates more than men?)
So why are so many restaurants going along with it? The research is endorsed by some of London’s leading chefs which makes me think that they’re already invested in that style of eating.
To be honest I’m getting a bit bored of small plates myself, not least cos the cost really mounts up. If you follow the advice of your server to order ‘3 or 4 dishes’ per person (which I rarely do) you’re looking at a spend of £35 to 40 a head before drinks and service. For food of unpredictable size which will appear in the order the kitchen cares to send it out.
Of course main courses are expensive too right now. Over £30 seems to be standard. At the River Café - never cheap - the secondi are currently all over £50.
But I would have thought there was a demand - particularly at this time of year - for the sort of comforting mains or entrées we’d like to eat but don’t always have time to make ourselves.
Maybe we just need to change our attitude to eating out.
For a start do we actually need 3 or more courses? French restaurants used to provide a plat du jour which is all you really need at lunchtime if you’re not to descend into a carb slump. (Thus speaks the woman who had an ox cheek pudding AND a half a pie at her local the other day 🙄)
And if you’re trying to keep the cost of eating out down we should really be focussing on veggie mains which are almost always better value than meat- or fish-based ones.
I’m not harking back to the heyday of meat and two veg (well, OK, I am but there are other options). A hearty bowl of ramen counts as a main for me. Ditto a good plate of pasta - though preferably not at 18 quid.
Love to know what you think …
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