I read an article on my local newspaper’s website yesterday. I don’t normally peruse articles in this section — “Food and More with John Kessler” — because I’m honestly not doing a lot of fine dining as of late. Thank you, student loans! But the title of this piece caught my attention: “Is the entree dead?“
The article cites a trend of small plates and tapas (appetizers/snacks in Spanish cuisine), both in traditional restaurants and tapas “themed” ones as well. I don’t think this is a new trend, at least not in Atlanta — Urbanspoon finds 50+ tapas bars and restaurants in Atlanta, while Zagat lists 15 designated as small plates. The author of the article also says that he is “seeing so many menus that offer a couple dozen starters to consider and then maybe a handful of entrees” as an argument that the entree is “dead.”
Tapas and small plates can definitely be fun. Passing the dishes around the table and sampling a lot of different flavors is a new way to experience food and the communal aspect of dining out. With that said — I just don’t think it’s realistic for most Americans. Maybe that’s our problem — that we can’t re-focus our views on eating, and that these small plates will somehow feel incomplete when compared to the larger-than-life entrees served at most restaurants. All I know is that I would like a choice between traditional menus and small plates menus. Let’s overhaul the taste and healthiness of these entrees before giving them a death sentence.
Tapas in the U.S.: Small Plates and Bigger Questions (Bon Appetit | August 2012)