Enormous plates or a myriad of appetizers – Seems like the single-sized entree has some competition

Let’s face it, sharing a meal with another person or group is really intended for the interaction. If meal time was just about providing sustenance for a biological mass we would all do well to stay home and drink protein shakes, but it’s not. We are increasingly more aware of the exotic options available and want to experience the taste. Today, it seems dining establishments are open to the consumer’s desires and are offering a few different dining options for taste-conscious, socially-inclined restaurant-goers.

Option No. 1: The Small Plate

Small Plate Meal

Sometimes referred to as the half plate or even ordered from the appetizer or side dish portion of the menu, the increasing popularity of the petite portion has prompted some restaurateurs to develop entire menus based on this concept.

Instead of the traditional entrées served with two sides, with these dishes you can expect an appetizer-like helping. If you’re just out with friends for cocktails, this gives you a great opportunity to indulge in a small helping of a larger menu item or try a fresh, seasonal flavor without the commitment to a whole meal.

If you’re engaged in the main culinary event of the evening, utilize the small plate to escape the norm of a single entrée and set sail on a gastronomic journey of varied taste. It’s simple: The small plate lets you enjoy flexibility and flavor without the feast.

Option No. 2: The Entrée for Two

Full-Sized Meal

The large format dish is for those of us still seeking to be social over a meal but not interested in the petite or fork-sized portions. Think of these as comparable to a family-style or at-home meal.

Delivered to the table in serving dishes, these meals allow the kitchen to show off unique presentation and plating skills often felt lost to the days of formal, multi-course dining. After all, how often do you see a perfectly prepared and intact bird outside of thanksgiving?

The large format dishes are bringing back a certain nostalgic feel and appreciation for the family table in the gourmet chef’s arena. I certainly hope you are hungry.

Option No. 3: The Classic Entrée

The good news is it’s not gone for good. The classic entrée, two sides, and a soup or salad is still an option in many family restaurants. However, consider yourself warned: If you arrive in a trendy establishment, there is a good chance the menu may not include your go-to format. Try something new and be ready to share. Luckily, it looks like the old standby will be around for a while if the small plate or entrée for two are not your thing.

Chelsea B. Sanz
Chelsea B. Sanz

Chelsea Sanz has lived in East Tennessee since her family moved here from South Florida just before she started high school. While she initially begrudged her new home state, she eventually realized she had come to not only love it, but to “bleed orange” as University of Tennessee Volunteers fans here like to say. She and her boyfriend Hunter, a trail worker for Great Smoky Mountains National Park, enjoy exploring the nation’s most visited national park and coming up with their own farm-to-table recipes.

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