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Dec 31, 2007 01:33 AM

Splitting appetizers

In the last few weeks I've been in three restaurants that mentioned a charge on the menu for splitting appetizers. I had never seen this before, and I'm curious about it. I fully understand the charge for splitting entrees, since there is an additional plate and service involved for no additional sale, but appetizers? Is "splitting" an appetizer the same as "sharing" an appetizer?

I had always thought of appetizers as sort of meant to be shared, at least if you're dining with a date/SO, so seeing this charge sort of threw me. Unfortunately I've been dining alone more often than not recently so I don't have direct experience, but I'm wondering if anyone else is seeing this, and if so what it means in practical terms.

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  1. A charge for splitting apps? I'd fully *expect* people to split an appetizer. I think that what they're trying to get you to do is order an appetizer per person instead of sharing just one. Personally, I think split plate charges are utterly ridiculous; it's not THAT much extra work for the restaurant, and I'd rather you come in and split a 20 dollar entree than not come in at all. I'd say to have the waiter retrieve the general manager of the restaurant, and ask him why on earth they have such a ridiculous policy in place. Then, if he's not willing to do anything about it, get up from the table and go somewhere else to eat. Enough people complain, he'll get the message and stop doing it.

    2 Replies
    1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

      Again, I'm not sure if there is a difference between splitting an app and sharing an app -- in my experience splitting involves the kitchen plating half of the portion on different plates, whereas sharing is both diners eating the one portion. But I'm not sure how that works with appetizers, so I was hoping for some clarification.

      I should add that all the places were moderately priced.

      1. re: JonParker

        Why wouldn't the splitting/sharing definitions apply to apps? Sharing is sharing, a split course is split. Split salads, split soups, split calamari abound. Occasionally people will even split dessert.

    2. I've never heard of splitting appetizers. It doesn't really make sense, unless there's an elaborate splitting and re-plating, and even then...

      I mean, isn't that what the bread plate is for? So when a tasty appetizer comes out, and your friend insists you try some, you take a forkful and eat it off of that little plate?

      1 Reply
      1. re: yumcha

        No, the bread plate is for your bread : )

        In many restaurants, 'share plates' are provided for shared courses. Often these are the same as the B&B plates, but clean ones that can be cleared after the course. There are still extra plates to deal with, but the presentation of the dish isn't compromised by splitting it in the kitchen.

      2. perhaps i would understand if the appetizer is a single serving, i.e., 1 or 2 seared scallops, 1 or 2 crabcakes, soup, salad, etc...but those are usually found in more fine dining situations, no? you mentioned moderately priced, so let's use a chain we are familiar with as an example, like the outback steakhouse..(yes, i realize many 'hounds would never go there)...anyway, i can't believe they expect that i would eat the entire bloomin onion or even the shrimps on the barbie...and if chicken wings are on the appetizer menu, surely the restaurant wouldn't expect me to eat 6 of those and still want my entree?

        so, what kind of appetizers are we talking about here?

        1. You are correct. Sharing and splitting are entirely different things.
          Share= no charge
          Split= charge

          Why split fees that some (who don't really know the costs of running an F&B operation)think are so out of line.

          Well... it isn't just "an extra side plate and 5 extra seconds of plating".
          First... many things come in piece portions. Saaaayyyy... 3 scallops. When a split plate comes in most better restaurants will do 4 so each plate has the same amount. Also, because a plate can look skimpy usually slightly more food goes out in general.

          And just because you or your usual dining companions are reasonable in your requests doesn't mean everyone is... how about the ap split three ways where 1 wants sauce on side, one wants extra sauce and one wants double sauce subbed from a different menu item? These days about 70% of tickets that come in have some kind of modification on them so while to a non restaurant insider this may seem like it would be an infrequent request- I assure you it is not.

          Not even to get into the number of people who order a split plate and ask that the meat be served at different temps for each person. Very common are demands for a burger split half rare, half midwell.. or steak, or duck.. you get the picture.

          Now some would say... why penalize everyone for special requests when some people just want the food as is on 2 seperate plates- why not just charge the people with the special requests? Well... THOSE people don't think they should get charged EITHER.

          So, for most restaurants it is simpler to have an across the board charge for splitting. Period. And one person paying for a low maintenance split covers the cost of someone else's obnoxious request. Just like when places don't charge extra for to go serviceware, flatware, etc that price is spread to everyone regardless of whether they ever order to go or not.

          One person orders an ap, the other shares a little.. no charge, no problem.

          1 Reply
          1. re: lebelage

            I agree completely that splitting (in the kitchen) and sharing (at the table) are different with the former reasonably incurring a charge, and the latter, not. I assume you do not think that the restaurant should charge for an extra plate to facilitate sharing (I don't).

          2. My wife and I almost always share (one or two) appetizers. I have nevewr asked the kitchen to 'split' them. Sometimes, as with a Caesar salad, they just do, and it is certainly appreciated. We then go on to a couple of entries, wine, desert, etc. I've never been charged for this 'sharing' and wouldn't expect to.

            This is NOT the same as two people taking up a table in a busy restaurant and 'sharing' one app/one entree and nothing else. I would certainly expect to pay extra for that.