Story and food photos by Manos Angelakis
Additional photo by Santiago City Promotion Co.

lobster salad plate

Pretentious Showmanship

Dining last month at a trendy, high-priced, full-of-itself  restaurant in Manhattan, was the proverbial last straw. The restaurant provided a noisy, pretentious, and uncomfortable experience, even during COVID time. The tables were small, the wine glasses and serving plates were very large, and something had to give.

It’s all well and good for fashionable eateries to want to be on top of current trends but -- and here’s the big butt (sic - see below) -- only if the “look” works with the restaurant’s design and size of furniture. The fashion of serving oversized dishes and multiple wine goblets of prodigious size only works when the restaurant’s tables are of sufficient size to accommodate the dimensions of the oversized plates and glasses. What is the purpose of being presented with a huge plate that contains a few slivers of lobster and frisée lettuce on a cucumber bed, artfully arranged like a toothsome Picasso, if the plate overhangs the table and juts into your gut?

Large Plate Minimal Food

The artful creations that look and smell as good as they taste, promising pleasure to all the senses, lose something when they’re served on a plate that is too large to be comfortably set on the tabletop. Or, takes up so much of the available space that the base of your, also huge, wine glass has to be extricated from under the rim by a twist of the wrist in order to drink the drops of nectar it contains. Sometimes the plates are so massive that the wait staff can hardly lift them or has to reach across the table to drop their heavy burden instead of maneuvering around the table to set the dish properly in front of you. Are you paying for fine dining or pretentious showmanship?

short skirt

It reminds me of years ago, when eyes and sensibilities were frequently assaulted by the sight of Rubenesque figures squeezed into miniskirts in defiance of the laws of supply (size of the garment) and demand (size of the butt) to satisfy the fashion of the day.

Good sense dictates a more realistic approach and demands that restaurants select their tableware according to the size of the table on which it is to be placed. Much better would be for a restaurant to use discretion in plating and choose unusual shapes or textures to enhance the presentation of a dish, rather than using size as the only standard. Or like the micro-miniskirted-abundantly-endowed-women of yesteryear, they should just select a larger skirt (table) on which to display their wares.




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