A “Bowl”

When a restaurant puts the stuff patrons will eat in a bowl instead of on a plate, they call the dish a “bowl” and then charge more for it than if it had been on a plate.

Oh, another thing restaurants do, especially in Portland, is to sell “small plates.” They call them tapas so they and their patrons can pretend they’re multicultural. The idea behind “small plates” is to have a whole gang of people sit around a table with “small plates” and then take samples from each plate. It’s like one big Norman Rockwell painting or a movie where everyone has these big dinner parties and life is lively and splashy.

The only problem (well, one of many) is that most people eat in pairs or small groups that are not lively and splashy. Then you have this small table covered with a multitude of plates and there is nowhere to put anything. More often than not the plates have very little food on them, and certainly not enough to “share.” Also, if you’re like me and don’t eat a lot of what others eat, sharing isn’t really that appealing.

Basically the idea, I think, is to sell these “small plates” based on the marketing (you are a group of hip, culturally aware citizens eating together at a fancy restaurant with swiggles all over your plates!), knowing they can charge four times what the same four dishes on one bigger plate would have cost. You look at the menu and think, “Oh, it’s only $8.95 for a dish,” not realizing that it’s $8.95 per side, and you’ll end up paying 36 bucks for a plate of food. And since the portion sizes are smaller than they would have been on a bigger plate (allowing for fancy swizzling of sauce, etc.), you actually end up paying more because of that too. Overall, it’s just a big scam.

There was a restaurant we used to frequent frequently. They have gradually replaced all their meals in this fashion. They claim it gives “more choice” because you can mix and match your side dishes. No. All it does is make the whole enterprise vastly more expensive and the table more cluttered. We don’t like this. We don’t eat there anymore. Good for us and our wallets, bad for them. Or maybe not. Maybe they have other patrons who like the clutter and the cost.

Somehow this went from an observation on “bowls” to a diatribe on small plates. Funny how that goes.

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