We Need to Have a Conversation About Small Plate Restaurants

Small-plate restaurants have bothered me for sometime.   They are horrible and I hate them.  I’m genuinely surprised they’re still a thing.  My experience at small plate “restaurants” is thankfully limited and will remain so.  In fact, I’m done.

The routine usually goes something like this…. friends want to go out to a small plate place for an occasion you can’t dip out on without feeling like a prick.  Each time I hear about going to one of these places my anxiety spikes, knowing I’ll leave hungry and frustrated after spending much more than I would in a spendy restaurant that serves actual meals.   However, I’m hardly ever in town.   So, the weekends when I’m in the city need to count with my friends and family.  Each time, I think my experience will be different.   It never is.

small
Shared between 12 people

I think to myself “This time I’ll get full for less than $20 and it’ll be great!”.  Maybe this restaurant actually services real portions that can fill the stomachs of all seated?  Maybe this time I won’t pay $6 for a tiny plate of an artfully arranged 20 calorie portion of lettuce with fat drops on it.  Maybe this time the server won’t act so fucking uppity when I don’t order $70 worth of shit initially?  Maybe we won’t be expected to share portions of food that I can easily eat in a single bite?  My low expectations are dashed once again.

The first types of places I remember that served small-plates were tapas restaurants.  I thought that was because Spanish people really ate like that.  You know, tiny portions of many different foods, none of which are filling on their own, nor altogether.   Although when I was in Spain I remember filling meals being served.  I’m sure there were tapas places but likely they were out of my price range so I went for the cheaper places that served entire meals.  Other sharing restaurants tended to be Middle Eastern, but included giant platters of food and everyone gets full.

sml3
It’d be adorable if it wasn’t $13

Here’s a non-comprehensive and interrelated list of my grievances with these fucking places:

  1. The portions are too small for one person much less the entire table you’re expected to share with.  I would have to eat the food shared with 6-7 people all to myself to be even close to full.  The portions are a joke… like comically small portions of food that are expected to be passed around and shared.  Like one fingerling potato sliced into 12 pieces or perhaps a 19 calorie beet salad that could fit on a silver dollar?  Mmmm, sign me up for like 53 orders please!
  2. It’s way too expensive for what you get, by nearly any standard.  You spend four times as much out as you would if you just went to ONE place that serves real meals with adult-sized portions.  Honestly, these portions aren’t even children’s sized.
  3. Everyone acts like they’re full and satisfied at the end, too embarrassed to admit otherwise.  I take one last look at the menu, tempted to order more food… thinking I’ll be full.  But it’s a fucking ruse folks.  You still wouldn’t be full, jokes on you.  Its like a casino that never pays out.  Take the $50 more you’d have to spend to be full and go to a fucking Taqueria and buy enough food for 10 people to be satiated.
  4. You leave hungry after spending some serious coin.  Everyone goes out afterwards and immediately orders meals or snacks, feigning surprise that they’re still hungry.  So you have to cap the night off at another bar or restaurant that you should’ve just gone to in the first place.
  5. The whole experience is sold as “Eat how X culture/country *really* eats!”.  This is BULLSHIT and stupid in its own right.  Do you mean to tell me that all these different cultures/cuisines eat little teeny portions of very fancy food for the highest prices possible?   No, of course they don’t.  Sharing foods?  Yeah, but they serve like actual portions with a caloric density requisite of calling something a meal.  I’ve been fortunate enough to have traveled to 20+ countries in my life, and all over the US and Mexico and nowhere did I see this type of shit occurring.  Real people in real places eat real sized adult meals.  End of story, no culture fucking eats like this, with these tiny ass leprechaun portions.
  6. The food is served randomly.  This is an issue noted in several other articles I’ve come across.  I mean, where the fuck on the planet to people eat random assortments of foods in no particular order, again, in teeny tiny amounts?
  7. Its an expensive snack bar posing as a restaurant.  Call it a taste exhibit, edible art show, or snack experience….be truthful…. cause it sure as shit isn’t a restaurant.
sml4
 Cost: $50, to be split with 6 people

This restaurant model/concept is designed to be a rip-off and presumably a more profitable, more efficient operation.  Don’t fall for it.  Spend your money elsewhere.  Its a scam dressed up as a cultural experience. It is more like a casino with no payout, ever.  You’re preyed upon… they know you’ll continue to be starving… but you don’t want to just get up and leave (rude)… so you go all in and order more, praying that the next plates do the trick.  They won’t.  Finally, you’re either tapped out of cash (likely) or eventually full (highly unlikely).

Our culture is quickly reaching its nadir, where we have restaurants that are purposefully designed not to fill you up.  Late capitalism at its finest folks.

mezza
THIS I can get behind.  Gimme a Mezza platter any fucking day
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