Can we please go back to serving food on plates?

Updated on 07 April 2015 | 0 Comments

Matt Brady is sick of having food served on everything and anything but a plate.

A campaign to end the practice of restaurants shunning plates and glasses in favour of the likes of gardening apparatus and lampshades is building up a serious head of steam.

The Twitter account @WeWantPlates has gained over 30,000 followers in just a few weeks, and there are plenty of photos now circulating which demonstrate the insane (and often inane) lengths chefs are going to just to appear a little bit different.

Too hip for plates

Those who desperately want to appear to be straying from the path beaten by millions of restaurateurs before them have developed something of a competition to see who can serve up simple food in the most ridiculous way.

Personally, and to name just a few, I've been served ginger beer in a jam jar (overpriced and tacky), chips in a little silver bucket (why would I want that?) and most recently a Mediterranean-style breakfast from a chopping board with no ridge to stop olives and grapes escaping.
Butter on a rock
Butter served on a rock - totally practical

Ross McGinnes, creator of We Want Plates (which also has a Facebook page) says that he started the campaign after a friend posted a picture of an “average-sized steak on Facebook, which had been served to him on a large chopping board. It was captioned, unironically, ‘That is a big meal!’”

But it wasn’t a big meal at all, says Ross, it was just the presentation that made it look large. In his words, it was “style-over-content nonsense.”
trolley and steak
Shop while you eat

While he admits that there are exceptions – “If I went to a Heston Blumenthal restaurant I’d be disappointed if my food wasn’t served in a left-field, inventive manner” – he says that so many restaurants are serving up food in unusual ways that it has become the norm. But as he says: “Ask people what their extravagantly-presented meal tasted like: ‘It was OK’.”

The most ridiculous of all

“High-end dining isn’t the problem,” he says, “it’s gastropubs charging £17 for an average burger on a plank with some manky salad out of a bag and chips in a flowerpot.” His favourite example of such practices so far is a picture sent in to the Twitter account of bread served in a flat cap.
bread in a flatcap
Pray that no one has worn this hat

He also makes special mention of a restaurant in the US that throws your spaghetti onto your table and hands you a fork. Which sounds pointlessly messy.
Mixed grill
Shovelling food down your neck

Ross insists that the campaign isn’t supposed to be challenging small businesses or embarrassing them, saying that he has only directly named larger chains “who [he is] sure can rise above it.”

Making little picnic benches to serve afternoon tea on diverts attention from the real reason you go to a food establishment, which is to enjoy great food. When the serving receptacle is the main talking point rather than the quality of the meal, there’s a problem.
tea bench
Your picnic has gone picnicking.

Are roof tiles hygienic?

The campaign caught the attention of the University of Huddersfield, who showed it to food microbiologist Dr Helen Martin. She examined the hygiene surrounding the use of wooden boards, wicker baskets and even a log. Unsurprisingly, she didn’t really fancy the thought of eating from most of them, as the video below shows.

Do you hate it when restaurants serve food on slate? Would the return of the humble plate make eating an easier experience? Or are you OK with the gimmicks? Let us know in the Comments below.

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