In the spotlight - sharing plates


In the spotlight - sharing plates


As concept-heavy dining with an emphasis on sharing, varied and sociable experiences continues to rise in popularity, the regular 'meat and two veg' main course has become a less frequent sight on British menus. Instead, inspired by international fare such as tapas, mezze and dim sum, the small plates trend has gained a loyal fanbase, allowing guests to explore flavours and ingredients while creating an informal and affordable version of a tasting menu.

A significant number of high profile hospitality operators have embraced this trend in recent weeks.

Michelin-starred Peruvian restaurant Lima London will be replacing its a la carte offering with a sharing plates menu this month, according to The Caterer. Co-founder Gabriel Gonzalez stated: "The restaurant economy is changing, and we need to make sure we're constantly evolving to meet the ever-changing needs of our customers... we have decided to develop our offering into a sharing, casual format rather than simply constricting diners to a starter, main and dessert format."

The Pizza Express chain has also taken note of the sharing plates trend and is trialling sharing dishes in more than 30 of its restaurants, according to Caterlyst. A successful run could lead to a roll out across its portfolio.

There seem to be a few common complaints with regards to sharing plates, all related to poor execution and service. If not handled in the right way, the sharing plates experience can be nothing short of chaotic, leaving guests feeling unsatisfied or disappointed with their meal and experience.

This is most likely to occur when a restaurant:

- Sells dishes as shareable when they are not constructed in a shareable manner.

- Fails to communicate dish size effectively.

- The coursing or pace of service is off.

- The table is not properly maintained.

Operators looking to capitalise on the trend should ensure dishes are shareable and not served as a traditional entree, expected to be cut and portioned by guests.

A well-designed and concise menu, along with proactive customer service that can tailor their information and advice to the needs of the guest will ensure expectations are properly managed.

Finally, excellent communication between front- and back-of-house is needed to bring out dishes in a logical manner, adjust the pace of service to suit guest preference, and keep tables clean and clear in between dishes.

The sharing plates trend requires a specific type of service to succeed. Ultimately, communication and flexibility are key to ensuring that you don't sacrifice the guest experience when embracing this trend.

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