At Smart Restaurants we went along for a meal at a well known restaurant chain which has recently updated its menu. Not only has the menu changed, but it would appear as though the plates had been thrown away along with the old menu and been replaced with blocks of wood and paper bags. One of us ordered a classic meal; a simple beef burger with fries, this was served on a block of wood with the fries served inside a brown paper bag. As different as this was to serve this way, it was not very practical with the grease from the fries starting to show through the bag which was very off-putting and the tomato sauce for the fries being soaked up by the block of wood.
You may of noticed this on-going trend for a while now in many restaurants and gastro pubs, with food being served on pieces of slate or blocks of wood and plates seem to have disappeared completely. This is something that some people like and can enjoy their meal eating this way, whereas others dislike this new trend and send their meals back to be put onto the traditional dinner plate which they are used to.
If you are eating at a takeaway you may expect your food to be served in paper or in a box and don’t mind eating this way as it is practical, especially if you are on the go, however if you are paying to eat out at an expensive restaurant then you may not be happy with your food being served in the frying pan or the same oven dish which it was cooked in. This may provide an unsatisfactory experience which may result in the customer not returning to the restaurant they have been going to for years.
The “We Want Plates” Campaign
“We Want Plates” is a campaign which has started to stop food being served in many ridiculous ways and in result hope to bring back plates once and for all. It is not just pieces of slate and wooden blocks but it has also been reported on different occasions that food is being served in flat caps and cocktails are being served in jam jars, something the customers are not very pleased with. “We Want Plates” aims to name and shame the restaurants that are serving food this way and hope to bring back the plate which most customers want.
You may find that your food has been served sizzling away in the frying pans or the oven dishes which they have been cooked for. Not only is your food dangerously hot, you’re often still trying to finish your main meal whilst everyone else is deciding on what dessert to choose.
There are times that we don’t mind our food being served this way but most of the time we don’t appreciate having a dangerously hot frying pan sitting in front of us whilst we try to enjoy our meal. It may also be embarrassing when your food is served loudly sizzling away in a hot frying pan and the rest of the restaurant turn around and look at you to see what you are eating which is making so much noise.
We used to see our plates being served on a table mat made of slate, but now it seems the plates have been taken away and our food is now being served directly on what used to be known as a placemat. Slate naturally soaks up moisture and liquids so if you have a dish such as a pasta dish you will find that your sauce is already being soaked up before you get a chance to eat it. As nice as it may look having a meal presented this way there are many restaurateurs that believe slate is better serving its purpose as roof tiles on houses.
Using cutlery on slate is not the nicest experience as well as some may feel the same as they do when using chalk on a blackboard. The humble plate is better paired with a knife and fork than slate is.
As nicely presented as this may look, it is not always practical to serve food on a block of wood. Sauces tend to soak into blocks of wood which they are served on and there is every chance that you could find splinters of wood in your burger roll. It is also difficult to use cutlery with blocks of wood. If you are cutting a piece of tough meat on a wood board you may find your knife making groves into the wood.
The question has also been raised about how hygienic this new way of serving food is. Plates, bowls and other dishes could always be put into the dishwasher, whereas pieces of wood and slate are not always dishwasher proof, so how clean are the items which your food is being served on? As a customer in a restaurant you have every right to send back your food to have it put on a plate. At the end of the day you are paying for a service and if you are not enjoying the experience then you may want to choose somewhere else to eat.
Hopefully with the “We Want Plates” campaign many restaurants will choose to bring back the plate and start serving food how it is meant to be served. Presentation isn’t always what the customer is after, with restaurants and food outlets as long as the food tastes and looks good then that is all that matters and that way you know your happy customer will return for more.