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Be honest...is it 'uncouth' to share an entree in a (nice) restaurant?

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My husband and I are tired of the huge portions in restaurants - it's just gotten ridiculous, in my opinion. So, we often share an entree, but we usually only do this in chain, or 'mom and pop' restaurants. What is your opinion on doing so in a nicer restaurant? Will we look like goofs?

This comes up especially when we travel. Often we are sight-seeing after dinner, and don't want to carry leftovers around. Also, we are not at all opposed to paying a small charge for a sharing privilege. And, we're big tippers.

Still, I feel uncomfortable doing this in a nicer restaurant. What are your thoughts?

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  1. Nope, I would say it is perfectly "couth," especially if you don't mind a sharing charge. I have also found there are many restaurants (at least in my area) that will accomodate requests for 1/2 portions (which tend to cost 60-70% of the full portion).

    I used to have the same reluctance to share as well. But then we had visitors from Europe who shared their apps & entrees in every restaurant we went (they were a bit mystified by the portion size in US restaurants). Hurdle cleared & now we do it often.

    1. You are fine... Build some rapport with your server and tip well.

      1. Let them know that you won't be hanging out all night sipping iced tea and they won't resent you.
      2. Let them know you don't want to overeat, what do they recommend. May be 1 or 2 entrees or whatever. Let them know you aren't interested in left-overs, which unless you are going to an expensive steakhouse, you won't have anyway.
      3. Ask about half portions. I love pasta, but don't like to get 4 ravioli for a meal, they normally have no problem making me a half portion for an appetizer... sometimes I'll do 2 half portions for dinner... a few appetizers for my wife and I to split, etc.
      4. Go for lunch, especially on vacation so that you can have a glass or 2 of wine. Lots of the best restaurants in the country do amazing lunches at unbelievable prices. The waiters aren't trying to pay their rent, they know they won't make a ton at lunch, so less pressure.

      Have fun and go for it!
      Luigi

      1. I don't think it's uncouth, but if it makes you feel at all uncomfortable, try ordering only salads and apps. I sometimes think that's a better way to experience a lot of different things the restaurant makes anyway, instead of 2 big entrees. You could each get 1-4 apps and share them without it looking "weird" since apps are to be shared, and try more of what's available, without a lot of extra/doggy bag, or incurring a split plate charge.

        1. I've done it in a ** Michelin restaurant, after the first time I ate there, and I realized that I would have no room left for the AMAZING desserts if I didn't split plates.

          1. I see no problem with it. Others also feel uncomfortable ordering only from the appetizer menu. But it is your money and appetite right?

            Be prepared to pay for plate and set up (or whatever they want to call it) and please, tip well only if it is deserved. If your server balks or puts on an attitude, why tip that?

            One small final thing: If you know you will be enjoying just a couple appetizers and a wine and the restaurant is busy, consider opting for the bar. Then you are comfortable and the restaurant can have the table for customers ordering dinner.

            1. I guess it depends on the cultural norms wherever you are in the world. Where I am, we do not usually share plates at any level of restaurant.

              11 Replies
              1. re: Harters

                Harters, I see you are from England and the European visitors I mentioned in my first post were from the UK as well. I credit them for my no longer being shy to share or order 1/2 plates. Perhaps it has to do with serving sizes in London\rest of UK\US?

                1. re: Harters

                  Yes, but your restaurants also serve reasonable portions. Here in the US, the individual portions in some restaurants are what I would make for my entire family of four. I actually seek out restaurants where the reviews complain about the "small" portion sizes.

                  1. re: Isolda

                    Exactly. I once went to a highly recommended Italian restaurant and the food was very good. The problem: I ordered chicken parmegian. They had already served bread & oil and salads. When my entree arrived it was two very large boneless chicken breasts (with mozz and sauce) and a bowl of pasta. When I grew up, this would have been the meal for my family of six..

                    I'm with you Isolda--have never been back to that restaurant. I like the places where folks "complain" about small portions.

                    1. re: Isolda

                      Indeed. European portions are usually smaller than I often see in America.

                      So, yes, it will be cultural issues at play but when we visit America, we'd never share a plate. We order and leave on the plates what we havnt eaten (it's also not in our cultural norm to take doggy bags)

                      1. re: Harters

                        I'm with you on the doggy bags. As much as I hate food waste, I think it's disgusting to take food that is half eaten at the end of the evening.

                        1. re: Isolda

                          Wow. It's one thing when it's not social custom. But 'disgusting'? Strong word indeed!

                          1. re: Lizard

                            Personally, I would not go with "disgusting," but it is also something that I am not usually going to do, even if I am dining in PHX, at anything above a "neighborhood" greasy spoon - if their food "travels" well.

                            I'd rather have logical portions (for us), than great quantities. Small and great is much better than any quality and giant. Of course, I am not trying to feed an extended family of 20 on US$10.

                            Hunt

                          2. re: Isolda

                            That depends on what the food is and what you are going to do with it.

                            The bagelman dogs certainly enjoy doggie bags containing steak, chicken, veal, but wouldn't want a styrofoam container of pasta.

                            Why would bringing us home the end of a Porterhouse be disgusting?

                            OTOH, if the Bs are not going directly home, they don't transport leftover food that could suffer from poor handling/refrigeration issues.

                            1. re: bagelman01

                              Maybe I have a different feeling, because none of my Bulldogs has ever had "people food." Now, a friend's Lab DOES get a doggie bag, but that is their call. I have not had any leftover restaurant food, that was even close the next day. That said, I have zero issues with any personal leftovers, unlike that Lab's "family."

                              Hunt

                          3. re: Harters

                            I agree completely. Europe/UK seems better with portion sizes, but many US chefs are "learning."

                            I grew up not wishing to "waste food," but there is a limit. I'd rather wish to order something else, in addition to my first order, than leave tons of food untouched.

                            Hunt

                          4. re: Isolda

                            This is a common problem for me, especially in the Deep South, where I come from. As we are most often traveling, taking a big bag of "leftovers" is not an option, and even when home, not one that I really like. Maybe "doggie bags"would be fodder for another thread?

                            I want to eat AT the restaurant, and want portions to allow me to experience the fare from the kitchen, even if it's 4 appetizers, spit.

                            We also have not issues with say, a 14-course "tasting menu," so long as the kitchen has a handle on what a "normal person" might actually eat. More courses, in smaller portions, are the way that we like it.

                            Hunt

                        2. This is such a good question. I feel the same discomfort when asking to share an entree, but why? I'm willing to pay a sharing charge, within limits. I just feel guilty somehow because in the end, the tip will be less than if my DH and I ordered two entrees.
                          But, this bothers me and here's why. My sense is that overall, a server's tips will even out over the course of a shift. Some higher tippers, some lower tippers, some large tabs, some smaller tabs. Why should I feel that I have to tip excessively to "make it up" to our server? I tip well, but guilt-induced, over-inflating of tips makes me uneasy-something that is pretty counterproductive to enjoying a dinner out.
                          Same goes for alcohol. Many times, we've seen our server's attitude change when we order soft drinks with no intent of drinking alcohol.
                          Bottom line is, I won't over-eat or drink to be "worthy" or get good service.
                          eta: I don't mind doggy bags at all! When I'm going straight home, that is.
                          I also won't skulk off the bar just because I'm not eating a 3-course meal.

                          1. Thanks all for your input - I appreciate it! I have more confidence now about doing this, and the ordering of several appetizers is a GREAT idea.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: librarianjen

                              Please don't restrict yourself to appetizers if there's an entree you really want to try. And don't restrict yourself to the bar area if the dining room has a great atmosphere.

                              Also, I know if we're going some place with killer desserts (have I mentioned I have a huge sweet tooth?) we just do apps and dessets. Haven't been thrown out once; haven't been refused a table once.

                              Enjoy the food you enjoy, tip well and the staff will always welcome you back.

                            2. absolutely not.

                              anyone who thinks that would also think it uncouth to order two entrees.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: jfood

                                Hey, I have done that too. Also, I have ordered a soup, a salad, and appetizer, and then an entrée, though seldom a dessert.

                                Usually, if I have ordered two entrées, I do ask for smaller portions, if at all possible - 'cause I hate to waste food.

                                I just did 4 appetizers the other night, as that is what I wanted. No issues, or none that were brought to my attention.

                                Hunt

                              2. I mentioned above that I'd pay a sharing fee within reason, and this came to mind:
                                "A split entrée will require an additional $19.00 plate charge and will include bread and butter and the appropriate starch and vegetable"
                                From
                                http://www.elizabethscafe.com/sample_...

                                This restaurant was highly recommended but I found their website to be haughty and the sharing fee exorbitant. And I wasn't even thinking of sharing a plate!

                                18 Replies
                                1. re: monavano

                                  Uh, yeah, that is ridiculous!! The most I've ever paid for a sharing fee was $1 or $2.

                                  1. re: monavano

                                    a lot of restaurants have over the top fees if resort located.

                                    Jfood favorite part of the site is the menu with the description of the shrimp as "6 extra jumbo shrimp" right next to a plate with three shrimp. Oops, guess they found a couple willing to pay.

                                    1. re: monavano

                                      LOL! That was amazingly pretentious. The first thing on their menu was the 5 stage reverse osmosis purified water with "obvious" benefits.

                                      1. re: Isolda

                                        I know! I was so excited to try the restaurant out after hearing great reviews (from a local chef, even) and I was so turned off that we took our business elsewhere.

                                      2. re: monavano

                                        I can see a $19 charge, if they're giving each person full sides and just splitting the main meat. They still need to plate it and serve it so the only thing the restaurant is saving on is half a meat. It is a lot but I'm assuming their entrees are in the $30 range with New Zealand rack of lamb or Prime Angus tenderloin. The statement at the bottom sounds more business like than haughty to me. I think there are better ways to put it but I don't find it off-putting.

                                        I do think it's funny that the water is the first thing they mention. It seems like it should be a side or post note. And, what does "continuous pour of San Pellgrino for $6" mean? Does it mean for $6, you get unlimited San Pelligrino, or does it mean, they'll keep pouring it, at $6 a shot? I've been to places that charge $5 for Pelligrino so it could go either way.

                                        1. re: chowser

                                          Jfood would agree that the disclaimer is a good thing but the message is a huuuge overreach.

                                          $19 for the plate charge is outrageous. Look at the photos. It is not as if there are tons of sides on the plate. It has some sauce, a few veggies and some potatoes. Jfood also appreciates that it includes bread and butter. sheesh.

                                          Now here is the kicker and would place this on the DNR forever, "An appetizer served as an entrée...will require a $19.00 plate charge." How DARE they charge an addition $19 for someone ordering an appetizer for their entree. But it does get bread and butter. Guess you do not receive b&b with the apps.

                                          Then dressing on the side is not permitted.

                                          Jfood not interested in giving his money to places like this.

                                          1. re: jfood

                                            Maybe I should have looked further at the menu. I didn't see the other part about charges for having an appetizer for an entree, or no dressing on the side. Perhaps they'd just be better off saying, "You must spend $xxxx per person in order to dine here.":-p

                                            Is this a good restaurant? Popular? Do people, other than tourists, go there?

                                            1. re: chowser

                                              Years ago, I once ate at a tapas restaurant in which the server informed us that we had not spent the required minimum when we first placed our order. The funny thing is that there were 7 of us seated at a round table designed for 5 at the most, so we only ordered as many dishes as would fit on the table at the beginning, with the intention of ordering more as required. One of the people I was with was so annoyed that he whipped out his calculator and demonstrated that yes, indeed, we had ordered the minimum cited by the server.

                                              1. re: Isolda

                                                sorry, I'm afraid I would have just stated that they had miscalculated their propensity for pissing off customers, and gotten up and left.

                                            2. re: jfood

                                              The problem with ordering an appetizer for an entree is you have no way of knowing if they've increased the portion. I went to a French restaurant where they had sweetbreads as an app. but not an entree. I asked and was told they could make it into an entree. They did but, did they just add potato and veggie to the app portion and double the price or did they also increase the portion of sweetbreads?

                                              1. re: mucho gordo

                                                Dollars to donuts they do NOT change anything (remember they will not even give you dressing SOS).

                                                Jfood would love to go in and oder an appetizer and a soda. Then when they charge him the $19 for the entree up charge state, "but i did not have an entree, i had an appetizer, and so did everyone else at the table".

                                                Jfood wonders how the chef gets his ego into the kitchen.

                                          2. re: monavano

                                            it gets better ..."(Please, no salad dressing on the side. We use a very small amount of dressing) " wow. they are very controlling of their guests!

                                            1. re: Wannabfoode

                                              What I want a small, or medium, or large amount of dressing?

                                              1. re: viperlush

                                                Ah, it's those cultural norms again. Here in the UK (and generally in other parts of Europe), salad comes ready dressed or there's oil and vinegar on the table for you to dress your own.

                                                1. re: Harters

                                                  but you're showing YOUR cultural norms, Harters -- in the US, the tendency is to overwhelmingly drown your salad in dressing, and it renders it completely inedible, so I always order dressing on the side. In Europe, I agree -- the salad almost always dressed just right...everything tossed so it's just coated, with no disgusting puddle of dressing at the bottom of the bowl.

                                                  Another restaurant to wholesale avoid...another restaurant who has completely forgotten that I am coming in to give you my money...therefore while I don't have the right to be a princess, I refuse to give up my right to make small, manageable requests.

                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                    Indeed - although what pisses me off is the salad that comes undressed and there's no oil/vinegar on the table so you need to send staff off to find it. It always seems to be a problem finding dressing in places like that. Never happens in Mediterranean countries - but here in northern Europe......

                                                    1. re: Harters

                                                      and when it comes undressed, it also seems to be a rather sad plate of limp, pale lettuce with a pale tomato and a slice of cucumber...one that so desperately needs some help!

                                            2. re: monavano

                                              Interesting. Considering the bleak nature of their photography, I would not really be tempted to dine there. Those images looked like a diner's "flash-on-camera" snapshot, rather than images to entice me to dine there.

                                              When I want to share, I do not wish to complete courses, with just smaller portions, but one dish split, and that DOES seem much too high. It seems that they wish to discourage diners from splitting.

                                              Hunt

                                            3. I'm amazed you find entrees of "huge" portions. Usually want to take my companions entree instead of share one entree.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: observor

                                                This is why my husband and I make good dinner companions. I eat half-ish, he eats 1 1/2 ish.

                                                1. re: chowser

                                                  My wife and I have a similar arrangement.. Works for me.

                                                2. re: observor

                                                  I agree. Maybe at lower end places there's a quantity-over-quality mentality, but where I dine, the portions are sized properly.

                                                3. Definitely ok.

                                                  1. I think it is absolutely fine. You should be allowed to do whatever you want (so long it is not disruptive to other diners) at nice restaurants. There is a reason why you pay the money you do at certain places. Often times, if you can predict that the plate will be large or your server tells you so, you can request for a dish to be shared between two people.
                                                    I hope this helps

                                                    1. I'll be the contrarian and say that I think it's tacky, 100% of the time. And you, OP, obviously feel this way in some form, as you're uncomfortable ordering as such.

                                                      This discussion has already been had in another thread, but IMO, a pizza is meant for sharing, not 7 seared scallops over cauliflower puree, for example. I mean really, who can't eat that entire portion? Or an 8 ounce Filet Mignon?

                                                      I never see these ginormous portions people talk about, unless we're having American Chinese or I go to The Cheesecake Factory for a salad. Then, yes, the portions are huge. But the OP was talking about fine restaurants, which neither of those are.

                                                      20 Replies
                                                      1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                        Even the nicer, independent places where I live have had to get on the "bigger portions" bandwagon. Several local chefs have complained about it. They'd start their restaurant with normal size courses, or different price points for different amounts of food, but the only thing that gets ordered are the big, hungry-man size portions (I think this is inherent to where I live - the Midwest), and they had to abandon their small plates concept and go to the traditional apps, salads, huge mains menu. I've seen several complaints about nicer places both on my local board and on other food boards about some of the upscale locals having "miniscule" portions (when they're anything but). People here sit around at social events and talk about how GOOD the take-out chicken is from Wal-mart for parties because THE BREASTS ARE JUST SO BIG! THEY'RE AWESOME, THEY'RE HUGE! It's all about size, not about quality.

                                                        1. re: rockandroller1

                                                          I'm near Boston, so perhaps it's regional.

                                                          Pretty sure the people eating WalMart chicken don't dine at the kind of places I do. ;)

                                                          1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                            This was at a baby shower. That's where I hear that sort of thing, regularly. Weddings, showers, family picnics, etc.

                                                            1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                              You might have seen the thread recently on the Boston board where people said that Bergamot had to increase portion sizes due to customer demand (which was generally viewed as a negative thing on the CH Boston board). Sure, that's not Menton, but it's far from Cheesecake Factory.

                                                          2. re: invinotheresverde

                                                            7 seared scallops over a cauliflower puree sounds fantastic and finishing it all wouldn't be a problem.

                                                            1. re: mucho gordo

                                                              That's what I'm saying. Oversize portions aren't common near me.

                                                              1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                oversized portions aren't the norm at nicer restaurants here (midwest), unless it's a steakhouse etc. i would expect big portions at a lot of italian-american (as opposed to italian) restaurants, depending on region-- but the portions served at nice restaurants are not imo unmanagable. i also don't see a problem with finishing 5 oz of halibut and some veg for a main. even if the op goes to a steakhouse, there is usually a petite steak option.

                                                                sometimes i've seen folks order a starter to share, then one has a main and the other has another starter as their main, or a soup. this is fine, i think. particularly in nice restaurants with normal (for nice restaurants) portions, some things are not meant to be split-- it looks funny to give someone 2 oz of protein, and it throws the whole presentation of the plate off. it's nearly impossible to sauce it correctly-- it's imbalanced. it's not something you want other diners to look over and see coming out of the kitchen, because something looks "off" about it, unless it's plated on weensy little plates or something. it doesn't make someone look over and say to their server: "i'll have that." so the 1/2 spatchcocked quail is. . .sort of embarrassing, when the whole spatchcocked quail is a beautiful plate of food. some things i'm just not sure how you'd present at all-- what if a main is 3 scallops-- one person gets *1* scallop for their 1/2 portion? a 3 rib rack of lamb? again, one person gets *one* bone? this is where the chef refuses to send it out like that. . .

                                                                1. re: soupkitten

                                                                  I agree about the whole presentation thing involved in splitting a main (even though I'll grant that a restaurant should try to give the customer what he/she wants). But as a customer I can't recall ever doing that, or wanting to do that. If I'm feeling less hungry I'll usually just order two appetizers, one to be eaten as my "main". That has never gotten me any dirty looks and is usually a very manageable amount of food.

                                                              2. re: mucho gordo

                                                                I'm not with you, though it could depend on whether you are talking bay, or day-boat scallops. Still, in most dishes that I have encountered, a count of 2 - 4 day-boat scallops are much more the norm. Seven day-boat/diver scallops would be considered very large by most of those restaurants' standards, and mine too.

                                                                Hunt

                                                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                  I'm talking about the sea scallops; they're the large ones, I believe, as opposed to the little bitty bay scallop. There's nothing to them; 2 bites at the most.
                                                                  I think that most restaurants don't want you to still be hungry when you leave. They have to strike a balance between giving you your money's worth and still make a profit. I'm sure it's not an easy business.
                                                                  Another factor in whether or not you can eat 7 scallops is if you filled up on apps, soup, salad and bread/rolls.

                                                                  1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                    I was referring to the larger scallops, and not the "itty-bitty" bay scallops.

                                                                    I do agree that a chef/owner does have a fine line to walk. I like many tastes, rather than great quantities of one, but may be the only person to feel that way.

                                                                    I cannot recall having left a restaurant still hungry. Before that would happen, I would just order another dish, whether a repeat of a great dish earlier, or something new - more likely.

                                                                    Hunt

                                                              3. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                7 seared scallops? Thats pretty ginormous, if you are using U10 or U8 scallops that's almost a pound of scallops!

                                                                1. re: Wannabfoode

                                                                  I don't see too many U8s. They're the largest size available normally. I was talking about more of the industry standard size, which is probably a U12 or 16ish.

                                                                2. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                  So you've never eaten at a fine dining restaurant with me. Between the bread, salad, apps (and I must save room for dessert), I rarely finish an entree. I am told that I don't each much, but I fill up quickly.

                                                                  1. re: gaffk

                                                                    I fill up quickly, too, especially since I got pregnant. If I don't finish a meal, my husband usually will. The boy can eat.
                                                                    He also thinks splitting an entree is tacky, so we always get our own. That, and we don't want to have to both want the same thing.

                                                                  2. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                    I have to say I'm with you, invino -- I have no issue with splitting an appetizer (Salads here are ginormous, even as appetizers, so we tend to split them) or splitting a dessert, but splitting the main plate is tacky.

                                                                    A few years ago, I ate at Carrabbas with a good friend -- I ordered a dish with slow-cooked beef over pasta, and it was truly delicious...however -- I ate until I could eat no more (no dessert that night!) took the leftovers home with me (if it had been a bite or two I wouldn't have, but this was crazy) -- and THREE of us split it for lunch the next day. That's ONE meal that fed FOUR people. Insane.

                                                                    I would never ask for a doggy bag anywhere except the US...first because it's tacky anywhere else, second because serving portions are actually sized for a single person to consume almost anywhere else, and third, because I find it far more offensive and disgusting to throw away 75% of a dish because it was too much to eat, than it is to take MY food home for ME to eat later.

                                                                    1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                      "I never see these ginormous portions people talk about... "

                                                                      Could well be the geographic area, where you dine. I find overly-large portions in the Deep South and then in the Midwest.

                                                                      Hunt

                                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                        Perhaps. I'm in New England. Crazy portions only seem to exist at chain places, which isn't really my dining genre.

                                                                        1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                          When we first started to visit America, from the early 1980s, it seemed almost impossible to avoid the mega-portion. Since the advent of the internet - with the ability to read menus, read restaurant review sites, plan likely eating venues, etc - it has rarely been an issue.

                                                                          And, of course, it's meant that we've been able to avoid the more obvious chain places, that the stranger to town is likely to come across, and find the "great little place that all the locals go to".

                                                                          1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                            My NE dining experiences have been with what I would call "adequate portions," and there were few left-overs, if any. Both the East and West Coast of the US seem to get portions pretty close to perfect, at least in my book.

                                                                            Hunt

                                                                      2. I can never go to a nice restaurant and order just one entree...only because i usually want to taste as many dishes as possible...=)

                                                                        1. May I suggest something? It is quite normal for restaurants to consider salads by themselves as entrees. Maybe you should order an entree and your husband order a salad. When they come, split them both. Generally the salad won't be as filling as a standard entree and you will both get vegetables in! =)

                                                                          I am Vietnamese and have come to terms that I have not been eating as many vegetables as I did when I was a child and mum made dinner. As Michael Pollan says, "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." Doing the above helps me get back to my Vietnamese eating style.

                                                                          Splitting a salad and entree will:
                                                                          1. Help you get your vegetables in.
                                                                          2. Avoid having to imply that you're not wasting the waitstaff's time as squatters.
                                                                          3. Let the waitstaff know that you are just like any other full-entree-eating customer and are tipping accordingly.
                                                                          3. Avoid paying a plate charge.
                                                                          4. Allow you to enjoy a variety! (I love this one!)

                                                                          Hope this helps!

                                                                          Jonathan

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: ChristDriven

                                                                            This is probably more of a lunch thing, as I don't really see many better restaurants offering entree salads at dinner. Not saying it doesn't happen, just that it doesn't really happen near me.

                                                                          2. My husband and I split plates often. He's perpetually dieting and I just don't eat as much as most (high or low end) restaurants serve. If either of us want a bit more we order a side salad. We've not had any problems nor felt uncomfortable.

                                                                            8 Replies
                                                                            1. re: odkaty

                                                                              I'll amend my above comment: If it's agreed by the restaurant when ordering, and the *reasonable* plate charge is paid (the $19 referenced above is not reasonable!), then splitting an enormous entree is okay -- coming out of the kitchen plated on two plates is okay. Splitting it at the table or two people hovering over one plate is not.

                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                My sense is that your server should get a clue. If two people order one entree, the server *ought* to bring the entree out on 2 plates. Why fault the diners for "hovering"? It just seems that you're finding fault with diners who simply don't want to eat an, as you say, enormous meal.

                                                                                1. re: monavano

                                                                                  Why? Customers are big boys and girls. If they want it split onto two plates they should say so, especially since many places charge a fee for doing so.

                                                                                  Then there's always the oddball couple who really just want to eat off the same plate. I've seen it (and weirder things, like sharing a single glass for their botttle of wine). As a waiter, assuming anything will often backfire.

                                                                                  1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                                    Again, the insults. Oddball?
                                                                                    Hey, me and my DH share apps off of one plate on occasion. So what? What's gross about sharing one plate? And OMG! sharing a glass! The horror!

                                                                                    1. re: monavano

                                                                                      You said the server should "get a clue" and "ought to bring the entree out on two plates". I'm simply saying that not everyone wants this and it shouldn't be assumed. Voila.

                                                                                      1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                                        The server should ask. It's their JOB. Viola.

                                                                                        1. re: monavano

                                                                                          When did I say the server shouldn't? You said the server should just bring it. Violin.

                                                                                  2. re: monavano

                                                                                    Ought and will are two entirely different concepts.

                                                                                    I also have seen an awful lot of people (they were in my sections back in the day)who go into a restaurant, skip the appetizer, skip dessert, drink water, make an unholy mess of the table eating the free saltines that they snagged off the salad bar on the way past, and then raise hell because I had to charge them a plate charge for the single entree they shared. And OF COURSE they stiffed me.

                                                                                    It's one thing to ask if it's possible to share a main dish *in the US* and to ask it be brought on two plates.

                                                                                    It's still really, really tacky to do it in Europe -- sharing an appetizer or a dessert is no biggie...sharing a main plate simply isn't done. The portion sizes are also so much more rational that if you split a main, you're going to go home hungry, too.

                                                                                    It's another to be a cheapass jerk who doesn't know how to behave in a restaurant.

                                                                              2. why do you feel uncomfortable? who are you afraid of looking like goofs to?

                                                                                this is the real crux of the matter,a s far as i can see.

                                                                                it is your experience, and your dime - shape and spend to your own specifications

                                                                                1. Earlier this week, hubby & I went to a "nice" Italian restaurant. Told our waiter we'd like to share a baked scallop appetizer and a beef entree (loin cutlets in tomato sauce) with spinach accompaniment so we could save room for a dessert. Told him we could split the dishes "family style" if the kitchen didn't want to mess up the presentations . . . no problem.

                                                                                  Food was nicely paced, served at the proper temperatures, presented with appropriate serving utensils for us to serve ourselves. . . and we got to split a very nice cheesecake, scented with a blood orange sauce.

                                                                                  Best of all, although the menu stated a $5 charge to split entrees, no split charge was on the bill!

                                                                                  Also earlier this week, we went to a very casual Japanese eatery better known for take-out (only 4 4-tops, 2 2-tops, & counter for 6 max). Ordered 3 dishes and just ate off of each other's plates.

                                                                                  1. I think it's a great solution, especially if sharing everything allows you to order more dishes. I've gotten so fed up with the gigantic portions at restaurants that I hardly eat out any more. I go out to have a nice meal of several small courses, not to feed my face on one gigantic side of beef/bucket of pasta/bushel of lettuce.

                                                                                    1. I have been told, and scolded, that one should never share the dish/plate, but that sharing tastings are fine. However, my wife and I often will only have one soup, but most waitstaff will bring two spoons. Obviously, the bowl MUST be passed.

                                                                                      When it comes to "splitting," and not just passing tastes, we do this very often, and talk over portion sizes with the waitstaff. Good servers will level with you, and help you choose. I do not mind paying any additional plating charges for such, as there is more work involved.

                                                                                      We also hate gigantic portions (too common in the US, IMHO). Matter of fact, I have definitely commented unfavorably on very large portions, than on too small a portion. [Cannot recall the last time that a portion was too small.]

                                                                                      We both share our dishes, and will write different reviews of the meal. We are very discrete, but I am sure that others could well notice, if they are paying more attention to our table, than to their's.

                                                                                      Is it OK? Not really sure. We do not do it at state dinners, or when hosted by royalty, but otherwise, have not compunction and will often request extra smaller plates for the purpose.

                                                                                      With the gaining popularity in "small plates," I would "guess" that more restaurants would expect a bit of "sharing." I cannot recall any restaurant refusing to "split."

                                                                                      Hunt

                                                                                      11 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                        Speaking with the server is the thing. Just the other day, I split 2 starters and 3 mains with 3 of my friends because we were warned about the large portions by the server who recommended this distribution (and even then we could not complete the meal).
                                                                                        Also, this happened in the UK.

                                                                                        1. re: Lizard

                                                                                          I have had good servers, who have helped me with the distribution of portions, and I greatly appreciate that. Unless one has dined at a particular restaurant, it can be tough to tell. I have had first courses, that were far too small to share, and others that would feed everyone at the table. The server should have a good idea.

                                                                                          In some cases, I've been directed to get two of a particular dish, when we wish to share, and other times, where the server will tell us that THIS dish will feed the entire table. That is what I want to know.

                                                                                          Hunt

                                                                                        2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                          I hate food waste and have specially asked for them to give me less. I don't want a discount, I just don't want to leave food to waste. Sometimes I get funny looks and it might be a pain for the food staff but it feels better for me, in those times where I can't ask for a doggie bag (which I have no problems with). There was an article awhile back about food portions and the DC area apparently has the largest, even in chains that are supposed to be more uniform.

                                                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                                                            "the DC area apparently has the largest"

                                                                                            That would explain a lot. I don't recall the portions being so horrendously large when I lived in other cities. DC's restaurant culture is so uniquely messed up, what with the workaholics who don't have the time to cook or appreciate good food, the expense-account factor, and the, um, bounteous native food traditions. It should probably have its own thread if it doesn't already.

                                                                                            1. re: csdiego

                                                                                              "DC's restaurant culture is so uniquely messed up,"

                                                                                              Not just the restaurant culture.;-) It would be interesting to have CH weigh take home meals from various chains and compare the weights across the board.

                                                                                            2. re: chowser

                                                                                              I have a friend that's the same. She doesn't mind paying the full price but would rather have 1/2-2/3 of the regular portion of most things, especially pasta. She's always tempted to ask but hasn't yet; have you been easily accommodated?

                                                                                              1. re: Jasz

                                                                                                For the most part, though I'm guessing sometimes they don't understand why I don't just leave the extra. If it comes with sides I know I will not eat, I'll tell them to leave it off. I'm often asked if I want a substitution but don't usually take them. I should clarify, I only ask for a smaller entree, not all the sides because that would be getting nitpicky (I'll take a smaller amount of mashed potatoes, three asparagus spears but the regular size salad, etc.). I started doing it when the entree salad came with two chicken breasts. Really, two? It was so easy that I started doing it if I know portions were large.

                                                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                                                  I let her know, thanks.

                                                                                                  I had a weird experience once when asking for a certain side, refried beans, to be left off. They would let me! They insisted it be part of the dish even though I assured them it wouldn't be eaten—it arrived, sat untouched and got thrown out. What a waste.

                                                                                              2. re: chowser

                                                                                                I don't know if the chains are accomodating, but I often ask if 1/2 servings are available--and almost always the response is yes.

                                                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                                                  I have done the same, and requested a smaller portion of certain dishes. OK, the kitchen may have to dispose of some of the food, but then I am resolved of the guilt, at least in MY mind.

                                                                                                  This is one of the things that I love about adequately sized chef's tasting menus, or small plates. I never hesitate to ask the staff, and define what I am looking for. Few have ever steered me wrong, and I appreciate their candor. They know, and I do not, until they share with me.

                                                                                                  Hunt

                                                                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                    I think tasting menus are ideal. A large serving gets old after a while. I don't know the truth to this but I've read that 90% of the pleasure of eating something comes in the first few bites. It's true for me--that first bite can be amazing enough to stop me. But, subsequent ones are less and after a while, it's just eating.