A report completed by Datassential, concluded that small plates had reached “the proliferation phase” of the menu adoption cycle, meaning that the small plate trend has hit the mainstream.
A recent Technomic study of 2,000 people discovered that these downsized portions are eaten in a variety of ways—as starters (39 percent), snacks (14 percent) and as sides (19 percent)—proving their flexibility, but a third of the time they are eaten instead of more expensive main entrees.
With more and more British chefs and restaurateurs setting aside space on the menu for small plates, it begs the question as to why small plates have become so popular?
Well, the appeal of this cuisine is easy to understand. In contrast to conventional dining where one chooses a heavy carb based main course and perhaps a few starters, small plates offer customers the opportunity to try numerous dishes.
Evolving from tapas, small plates is essentially a style of eating rather than a form of cooking. It means sociability, friends and family, they encourage a fun experience for diners, which is all about people talking and drinking in a relaxed atmosphere while nibbling away on little bites of intense flavour.
Another facet that has played into the success of small plates is the sharing experience. Not only are these dishes easier on the wallet, customers can easily combine a few plates to create a diverse, well-rounded meal. For millennials, this is especially attractive as this generation seeks more adventurous interactions with food and beverage than previous generations.
The rise in small plate restaurants can also be linked to health sensibility. Many people are looking for healthier options when dining out and in a world full of oversized portions, which according to Cambridge university have grown by 50% in the last 20 years, small plate restaurants stand out.
Not just popular with diners, small plates are loved by chefs too as it gives them the freedom to be more creative. It also proves to be an economical way for chefs to try out new dishes or ingredients also. Rather than offering little freebies, you can sell a small portion and see how your customers are reacting to it.
In London, Italian casual dining restaurant, Polpo, offer tasty small plates, prosecco and spritz in a setting that reflects the gloriously faded elegance of Venice, and the charms of its backstreet wine bars. On the menu, you’ll find octopus carpaccio, classic beef meatballs and chicken cotoletta. Polpo is much loved for its casual environment and atmosphere, as well as for its delicious small plates. The restaurant has been so successful that it has received the Michelin Guide’s Bib Gourmand for the last six consecutive years.
Small plates aren’t just restricted to the restaurant environment, street food market, Kerb London, has a selection of traders that all serve small plates. At Kerb London, you have the option of going for dumplings, tacos, loaded fries, curry chips, sliders and much more, all served as a smaller portion, encouraging customers to try more than one dish.
If serving small plates within a street food environment then you are in need of the correct packaging. Luckily, there’s an abundance of choice; from plastic plates, bowls and deli pots to foil containers and paperboard boxes, with and without lids.
An Innovative packaging option that is ideal for serving a variety of small plates is Combione hybrid packaging from our partner supplier Colpac. Combione combines a paperboard base with a plastic lid to create an easy one-piece solution that is both leak-proof, and offers excellent visibility. Combione is available in sizes large (1110ml) and extra-large (1280ml).
Open containers (without a lid) are ideal for small plates like jalapeno poppers or topped fries. Try our exclusive brand Sustain bagasse trays, made from sugar cane and fully compostable – for your environmentally conscious customers.
Images sourced from: https://haricovertundergroundrestaurant.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/carne-argentina-unica-or-cau-to-you-and-me/small-plates/