Best way to serve a meal of small plates at home?
I'm having a small dinner party and want to make a dinner of small plates. What's the best way to serve this (not for efficiency, but to make a nice evening)?
1 - Put individual small portions on individual small plates and bring out one course at a time.
2 - Put individual small portions on individual small plates and bring out every dish at once.
3 - Put all portions of a dish on one serving platter and bring out one course at a time with a stack of empty small plates.
4 - Put everything in serving dishes, serve it all family-style with stacks of small plates at the table.
5 - Have a buffet. Small plates or buffet plates?
What do you think?
Option 1 is essentially a small plate tasting menu and what I generally do. Looks great, takes a lot of plates and cutlery and don't expect to be eating with your guests because you're going to be busy cooking and plating each successive dish (note: really dumb idea to have everything cook to order if you do this).
Option 2 is the way to go if you want to eat with your guests. Here you'd want a couple of plates of each item so that each end of the table isn't missing something. If you have a round table and a lazy susan, you don't worry about that.
Options 3-5 sound like the buffet line to me.
I hosted a dinner earlier this week where I did four courses and did small plates...I brought out each course separately and that's the way I like it so that the guests can focus on each course. If you're going to serve buffet style or family style then it's not considered small plates.
Good idea and great question and replies. I've never thought about doing that at home although it's my favorite way to dine. I know I definitely wouldn't want to be hopping up and down during the course of the meal. I've done soup in the living room in small Chinese soup bowls prior to dinner. We've been going to a tapas place recently and everything is brought out at once and we share each of the three dishes. I hope you get plenty of suggestions.
It might depend on what you're planning on making for the food. I think one "small plate course" at a time could get a bit frustrating for you as the cook, and perhaps for the diners. Perhaps you could combine a couple of your ideas - #1 for a salad small plate and perhaps an amuse bouche or appetizer small plate course, but #5 for the rest?
Again, I think it depends on what you're making.