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Dinner served in a Soup Bowl.

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More and more lately, I've been served food in a bowl, Not a flat soup plate, but a bowl meant for pasta to be dished up from.

Where did this conceit come from?

It's extremely difficult to cut a piece of meat/chicken, or duck sausage (new menu item at DeYoung Museum in San Francisco) and not splash the other contents around. At the DeYoung there were also asparagus spears to manipulate. Dinner at Rue St. Jacques also came in a bowl.

I don't appreciate that kind of service and I think when it appears in front of me, I'll request it returned to the kitchen and put on a proper dinner plate.

Am I out of touch and not being trendy?

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  1. It hasn't happened to me and I hope it doesn't. If I was served something that was obviously awkward to eat I'd probably ask for a proper plate.

    1. Don't they do this a lot on Top Chef? I think I remember one of the judges or guests commenting on the awkwardness of trying to cut and eat a dish out of a dish that had high edges.

      I've personally never experienced it, but I don't eat at fine dining restaurants that frequently.

      1. Probably just a function of the cooks/chefs getting bored with the regular entree plates and exploring their options without fully considering functionality. Its weirdly exciting to get new plates when you work in a restaurant, suddenly square and rectangular are options, round is so boring! At my current job we fight over all the little canape dishes, its sort of funny.

        1. "Am I out of touch and not being trendy?"

          Yes. And so am I. I hate it. You cannot get to work with a knife and fork!

          4 Replies
          1. re: Harters

            I'm a hater too, but what really gets me is when you have to put a utensil down and inexorably it slides into whatever you are eating, usually handle first. GAK.

            1. re: grayelf

              Oh, yes.

              These new bowl affairs are splendid looking. But they have no rims upon which to put one's cutlery. The biggest joke was one of these plates that's more than a ten inch square with a little tiny "bowl" about three inches in diameter set in the middle. I tried to set my cutlery on the enormous rim, only to find out that it sloped ever-so-gradually downward. My cutlery plunged, noisily, to the floor.

              1. re: shaogo

                That's even worse! At least I could continue eating after some mopping up :-).

            2. re: Harters

              Me three. I alway thought it was so they could serve teeny portions and get away with it.

            3. Hate it most of the time, BUT there is ONE redeeming feature of food in a bowl. It helps retain heat. A small portion on a large dinner plate tends to cool quickly, and most restaurants don't preheat the dinner plates.

              1 Reply
              1. re: bagelman01

                Prefer Pot Pie in a bowl, with a spoon...

              2. I've seen it, but it was years ago. I remember looking for plates and seeing a lot of pasta bowls. In my house I usually opt for serving in a bowl as I don't have a dining table, ha-ha. I guess I am trendy now!

                18 Replies
                1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                  Hubby hosted a several course dinner at the French Laundry. Each course was served in a large bowl. Iirc, there were no knives needed. I did this last night, chicken marsala w/ spaghetti in a bowl.

                  1. re: Gail

                    What does 'lirc' stand for?

                    So, The French Laundry was serving in bowls; without being there, I can only imagine that nothing needed to be cut. Is that correct? You add no knives needed, but how did one get the food onto the fork, with a spoon, a piece of bread, or the fingers - was each course only served with a spoon?

                    Spaghetti in a bowl is nothing unusual, and I assume (you don't say) your chicken was in bite size pieces. No problem there either. Did you eat the pasta the American way, with a fork in one hand and spoon in the other, or the Italian way, with a knife replacing the spoon?

                    The whole point of my original post was that when a piece of meal/chicken needs a knife to saw through it, a bowl isn't a satisfactory place for it to reside.

                    1. re: toitoi

                      question #1: If I remember correctly
                      question #2: Correct
                      question #3: Oh heck we just cut and worked with the fork
                      question #4: There was a spoon and fork available with each course
                      question #5: Yes, the American way this time since the spaghetti was broken in half before cooking.
                      Final point: Yes, I agree. In China all is bite sized and served in bowls. I like that too.
                      I feel that way about food served in baskets. I send it back or if I know about it, I request that it be served on a plate. Case in point, Nepenthe in Big Sur serves their $14.50 hamburgers in a basket. I say nooo.

                      1. re: Gail

                        I've had fish and chips in a basket, too.

                        Burgers and fries are a natural for basket service, love it when the juices of the burger drench the fries.

                        But Gail, baskets ain't bowls; no need for knife and fork - just use both hands and chow down.

                        1. re: toitoi

                          >>>baskets ain't bowls; no need for knife and fork - just use both hands and chow down.<<<

                          True enough! I just consider it cheap, food shoved in a usually too small basket. But then, I never cared for the stacked food. Remember that? For example, mashed potatoes then steak topped with salad greens.
                          Mea culpa, a thread drift...

                          1. re: Gail

                            Let me get this straight - you think eating food with your hands is cheap? That's what I read - is that what you meant?

                            Granted, eating a hamburger that you've cut in half, on a plate, is a lot easier than picking up a four inch high bun and attempt to get it into your mouth, but think of all those TV commercials when the juice dripped all over the models. Those were/are fun !!

                            I take it you live in the Bay Area since you dine at The French Laundry (no need to answer that - merely rhetorical). How do you, maybe you don't, eat a whole lobster or crab? Then, of course there's chicken legs. Hmmm? How 'bout BBQ Ribs? Ya gotta chew on 'em to get all their delicious goodness.

                            I"m in total agreement about stacked food. Steak, atop mashed potatoes was how I first encountered THAT loathsome idea.

                            1. re: toitoi

                              I have no problem wielding knife and fork in a shallow bowl, even a small one. I suppose I would if I had a very tough steak to cut, but I avoid those... now, if you hold these things in a fist, as I see too often these days, I can see the problem.

                              I've got to plead guilty to liking some stacked food, particularly breakfast ones: when I was in the Air Force I'd get my eggs on top of hash browns on top of sausage, with SOS poured over all. An old highschool friend with whom I lunch frequently has the same dreadful quirk. Steak on mashed potatoes sounds unwieldy, though steak-frites, with the steak laid over a pile of shoestring fries, is a standard presentation.

                              1. re: toitoi

                                Your post just reminded me of watching in abject fascination as the person at the next table peeled her prawns with a knife and fork.

                                1. re: Paulustrious

                                  Ah, memories of the dreaded food tower! I used to get such pleasure from knocking them sideways, spreading things out, and eating in the fashion I prefer.

                                  1. re: Seeker19104

                                    I'm always so mystified that people complain that they don't know how to eat tall food. Knock it over, duh! Sure the chef had fun stacking it up, but it was meant to be destroyed, so cut the anxiety and just eat it!

                                  2. re: Paulustrious

                                    >>""watching in abject fascination as the person at the next table peeled her prawns with a knife and fork.""<<<

                                    i have to confess to giving mr. alka the "look" as he was cutting a chapati (CHAPATI!!!) with his knife and fork so that he could eat his lamb curry with it! (and *he's* from sri lanka!!! LOL).

                                    ...
                                    same thing for chicken wings. just pick them up, for goodness sake!

                                    1. re: alkapal

                                      OK, maybe this goes back in the "foods I eat strangely" thread, but personally, I hate to get my fingers messy while eating. If something's the least bit sticky or wet, I eat it with a knife and fork. Pizza, ribs, chicken, etc.

                                      Yeah, I'm wierd!

                                    2. re: Paulustrious

                                      >Your post just reminded me of watching in abject fascination as the person at the next table peeled her prawns with a knife and fork.

                                      Peeling prawns with a knife and fork is easy. I once watched our bishop peeling and eating an entire ORANGE with a knife and a fork. My mom put the orange on his plate and he never once touched it with his hands. Amazing knife and fork skills.

                                    3. re: toitoi

                                      >>>Let me get this straight - you think eating food with your hands is cheap? That's what I read - is that what you meant?<<<

                                      Oh no, I mean the restaurant is serving the food in a cheap, easy-to-do manner. I say, if you have to, charge me another $.50 and put my burger or fish and chips on a plate. It has nothing to do with finger food. Love to get up to my elbows in cracked crab, etc, but put it on a plate.
                                      You gotta stop watching those Carl's Jr. commericals.

                                      1. re: Gail

                                        Love ya !!

                                        1. re: Gail

                                          fried shrimp in a basket helps keep it hot. if you don't want that shrimp basket, please pass it over to me. ;-).

                                          1. re: alkapal

                                            Deal !!!!!!

                                      2. re: Gail

                                        My issue with overly small casual baskets is that they usually leave no space to put the ketchup for the fries, and even if you do manage to briefly tunnel out a spot for condiments, the fries inevitably slide back into that space, and I don't like my fires messily resting in the ketchup long enough for the red stuff to get unpleasantly above room temperature.

                            2. I eat out of a pasta bowl all the time. We have our salads in it, then when we're finished with that, dish up the rest of the meal in it and voila - fewer dishes to wash. It also makes for darn less mess when we decide to bum it and eat on the sofa.

                              Hm, I'm showing my redneck side here. Y'all mostly meant in restaurants. Never-mind.

                              Peace! P

                              1. Funny this happened to us the other night at a steak house. The steaks came in what could easily have been a soup bowl. They were very awkward to eat.

                                1. This is an interesting post... I guess I never thought much about it, but at home, over the past couple years, I've started putting more and more into bowls, and I actually rarely use my large plates anymore. And I have no idea why.
                                  Now, I'm a vegetarian, so I never have the issue of cutting pieces of meat - but I do eat other things that need to be cut with a knife. I guess there is something comforting about eating out of a bowl?

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: anakalia

                                    >>>I guess there is something comforting about eating out of a bowl?<<<
                                    anakalia, I think you have hit on something here. A few posts above mentioned something about a basket keeping food warm. I think the bowl enhances that too; ie spaghetti, soup, etc.

                                    1. re: anakalia

                                      "I guess there is something comforting about eating out of a bowl?"

                                      Yes, anakalia, and Gail too, you've definitely hit the nail squarely on the head. It's all about comfort and soothing memories, like childhood when Mom fed you cereal out of a bowl, and then, when you were older and able to pick up the spoon; you ate it out of a bowl.

                                      But we've grown up. The chef's don't believe that, their idea is that we're all still children wanting to be spoon fed.

                                      Think long and clear about that thought.

                                      1. re: anakalia

                                        I eat out of pasta bowls a lot because I don't eat at a table much. With a plate, if I accidentally push the food too far to the edge, it falls right off. Not so with a large bowl.

                                      2. Any chef who puts food in a vessel that makes it hard to eat is failing at a primary aspect of the job description.

                                        There's one much-lauded Chicago restaurant whose platings absolutely assure me I'll never darken their door. Totally ridiculous and very Nero-like, if you ask me.

                                        1. Hi. I was served two steaks in bowls in North Wales on Saturday. I sent them back and didn't pay. What an idea!

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Bruce Atkins

                                            STEAKS in bowls? what kind of a place was it?

                                            ~~
                                            aww, you're pulling our leg!