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Entree sharing etiquette

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I have to be quick and make dinner reservations in the near future and wanted some input to help guide my decision.

One of my options is a semi-nice restaurant that I have often frequented that is well known for its dining room ambiance. I have never been too impressed by the entrees there but the oysters and appetizers are great, as is the wine list. If we decide to dine there, we would probably end up getting two bottles of wine or one bottle + 3 glasses for pairing, oysters, a few appetizers and maybe one entree to split among three small girls.

My question is, would this be frowned upon since dining at the bar would be more "appropriate"? It seems like a lot of people look down on the act of sharing of entrees. FYI, I would be spending a lot more than if we were to each order an entree and leave it at that. Input would be appreciated!

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  1. i think you're totally fine. i often do this at nice restaurants (not super-high end) and have never felt bad-vibed. i like the variety ordering this way offers.

    1. It's fine. No one will care.

      1. I don't think it would be a problem, just don't be surprised if there is an upcharge for sharing an entree. Have fun!!!

        1. It will depend on the cultural norms wherever you are in the world (although, I guess that's the point of your question).

          Where I am, plate sharing is not the norm - although, very occasionally, you might see a dessert or cheese course being shared. From time to time, we've shared a cheese course before ordering desserts each. I can't recall ever seeing other courses shared, except in tapas/mezze/etc environments.

          1. My teenage daughter is a light eater, so she often orders a second appetizer and asks to have it as her entree. (Plus she's veggie and veggie appetizers are much more common than veggie entrees) That's never been a problem. The idea of putting one entree in the middle of the table and "picking" at it seems a bit less proper though, and splitting an entree on three plates might look ugly depending on what it is. Might it make more sense for two of you to order an appetizer as an entree (in addition to other starters) and then quietly "share tastes" instead?

            3 Replies
            1. re: DGresh

              my friends and i usually split up the entree and put our portions in our own plates, rather than sharing off the plate in the middle, and it's never looked particularly ugly - not much different than splitting up an appetizer amongst 3. that's if the restaurant hasn't split the entree for us 3-wise already, which they often do.

              1. re: mariacarmen

                I agree.

                When ordering in this manner I always let them know the entree will be shared and ask for an extra plate. Most of the time (even in casual places) the entree arrives already split and plated.

                Worse case we plate it ourselves at the table, neatly removing portions and placing them on our individual plates. Not a big production, no one pays it any mind. Granted we aren't dining at the highest of ends!

                1. re: meatn3

                  yeah, the highest "level" i've dined at may be Gary Danko in San Francisco - maybe that's not the highest of high ends either, and while we were doing 2 separate tasting menus and didn't have overlapping items, we absolutely shared bites, handing over a forkful of this onto a late, reaching over to cut a piece of that, etc. certainly no one appeared to mind at all. Same thing at Coi. Food is for sharing! It's not like you'll be grabbing a chicken leg with your hand off your date's plate and taking a big old bite.

            2. What you are planning sounds perfectly fine. I think restaurants are more concerned with how much money you plan on spending. For example, I can see them being peeved if a party of two shares one entree and drinks tap water and orders no appetizers and dessert. I would say bar dining would probably be better in that type of scenario.

              1. When my fiance and I go out we usually wind up ordering 2/3 apps and then share a main course, never had a problem.

                1. I'll be the dissenting voice and say you'd be more suited for the bar. You're more drinking than eating, based upon your description.

                  I also find sharing entrees gauche, but YMMV.

                  52 Replies
                  1. re: invinotheresverde

                    "gauche"? definitely mmmv! I often share entrees with my dc, as I find portions way too large for me. I've shared entrees at all price points, and have never had any issue. The more expensive restaurants will split the entree in the kitchen.

                      1. re: invinotheresverde

                        Why, precisely, do you think that sharing entrees is "gauche"?

                        1. re: lifeasbinge

                          It's hard to pinpoint, but something about it rubs me the wrong way.

                          1) Usually (notice I said usually) the people doing so are cheap.
                          2) When its a man and woman sharing, I find it emasculating. In my mind, a man eats his own meal.
                          3) What if I don't want to eat the same thing as the other person?
                          4) I don't seem to notice ginormous portions. Unless I'm at a chain, portions seem proportioned correctly. Perhaps this is regional.

                          I'm sure I could come up with a few more things, but these seem to be the major few.

                          1. re: invinotheresverde

                            Not regional in my estimation. I live in two different parts of the country, and it's the same in both. I guess it depends on how much you eat at a sitting, my appetite is small, I am also small. I see too many overweight people eating like it was their last meal. I also see many people taking box's home...mine would sit in the refrigerator until it turns green and then I would end up throwing it out. Trust me,I am far from cheap,just don't believe in wasting food and money.

                            1. re: Mother of four

                              I think it also depends upon the type of restaurants we're talking about. Fine dining portions are rarely out of balance for the "average" diner in my experience.

                              1. re: invinotheresverde

                                What exactly is your definition of Fine Dining? Fine Dining means a lot of different things to different people.

                                1. re: Mother of four

                                  There's no hard and fast definition, but I'd say entrees over $30 is a ballpark.

                                  1. re: invinotheresverde

                                    That's an interesting benchmark, $30. Dh and I have a semi-regular haunt, where shorts and a T-shirt are acceptable. They have outdoor seating, even. Their entrees are $30 and above, some as much as $60 (market price for crab legs as of last night when we were there). They also offer sandwiches, and are really a casual restaurant with good food. I think that atmosphere plays a big role in what is considered fine dining and that includes what is the expected dining etiquette. Fine dining has a set of rules that's just not necessary when eating in places where people wear flip-flops and there is a jazz band entertaining.

                                      1. re: invinotheresverde

                                        velochic said the entrees at this restaurant are $30 and above. All she said about sandwiches was that they are also served there, in the context of the place seeming like a casual place.

                                        1. re: huiray

                                          Oh, I'm fully aware. I was implying the places I was speaking of don't serve sandwiches and that the meals are all $30+.

                                          Also, as I mentioned, the $30 figure was a ballpark. There's not one hard and fast definition of fine dining. Of course king crab legs cost a lot- they're an expensive ingredient pretty much wherever you purchase them.

                                          An exception to almost any rule can be made. Didn't think I'd really have to spell that out.

                            2. re: invinotheresverde

                              A man feels emasculated because he has to share a meal...LOL, glad he's not my hubby!
                              Well, if you don't want to eat what the other person wants then you don't share with that person.
                              You certainly are entitled to your opinion, as well as the rest of the posters.

                              1. re: Mother of four

                                I never said a man feels emasculated, I said I see it as emasculating.

                                1. re: invinotheresverde

                                  <Checks gonads> *Phew* still there.

                                  Seriously, fretting that much about one's masculinity is emasculating.

                                    1. re: invinotheresverde

                                      Just disagreeing with you.

                                      But I feel a little bad about the ganging up type thing, so with this post I will bow out. I will file your opinion away academically - before this thread, it had never even occurred to me that someone might find me less manly for sharing a plate. Learn something new everyday.

                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                        You can share with me anyway, and I promise not to find you less manly,as long as you don't feel emasculated!!! LOL!!!!

                                      2. re: invinotheresverde

                                        Well, do you allow your menfolk to take part in Chinese-style meals where various "entrees"/main dishes are placed on the table and shared by all? Or do you expect them to corner platters of food and snarl at others who try to get portions of the food off that plate?

                                        1. re: huiray

                                          Dining styles where things are intended to be shared aren't really what we're talking about here.

                            3. re: invinotheresverde

                              Gauche??? No..
                              Someone once told me that taking home the leftovers was gauche too.
                              Well, you're BOTH wrong.
                              Nothing at all wrong with either practice.

                              Actually, I think that calling it "gauche" is kind of gauche.

                              But then I guess I'm being gauche for calling it out....
                              ...good lord, I''m confused... LOL :-)

                                1. re: lifeasbinge

                                  You're welcome...I'm glad someone "got" the joke.

                                  I was just pointing out the humor and futility of making judgements about things such as the topic in this thread. I wasn't criticizing anyone or their oinion. People generally don't care what I think, and I am happy to return that courtesy. LOL
                                  Life is too short to take _anything_ too seriously.

                                2. re: The Professor

                                  First, you can't tell someone his/her opinion is wrong, only that you disagree with it. Also, I simply answered the OP's question. You can call doing so whatever you'd like.

                                  You have your opinion that splitting entrees is fine; I think it's tacky. Ergo, I won't do it. You, of course, can do whatever you wish.

                                  1. re: invinotheresverde

                                    AND it depends on where you are -- In the US, the portion sizes are frequently so completely out of whack that they are bringing enough food to the table for 2-3 people. (Like my beef ragu pasta that I had at an Italian place in Florida a few years ago -- I ate my fill, they brought me the leftovers in a go-box, and THREE of us split it for lunch the next day...that's FOUR portions on one plate.) So there's not much guilt in sharing or leftovers...and it's not uncommon to see it.

                                    In Europe, however, the portions are generally sized for one normal adult with a normal appetite -- so generally too small to share. Sharing a main dish is also strongly frowned upon. We've split appetizers and deserts without so much as a raised eyebrow (the waiter frequently brings two spoons for dessert even without being asked), and I've had an appetizer, then another appetizer (or a salad) as my main meal, but adults just don't share main dishes in Europe.

                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                      That is interesting. I've shared entrees in Europe with my husband and have seen many people do so. We spend a lot of time there and have asked servers whether this is a common practice out of curiosity and have been told that it is (examples where I have seen/done this include Scotland, England, Wales, Germany, Italy, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Switzerland, France...). We have never been made to feel guilty except a few times in Italy when we had not ordered wine. We have gone out with locals to finer restaurants and have been told the same thing - not always, but it is certainly not uncommon. They do so themselves!

                                      As far as serving size goes I have seen gigantic portions in many restaurants in many countries - especially the further east you go. They are known for large portions. Just my observations!

                                      1. re: chefathome

                                        Now I do recall this being rude in Rome and Florence but far less so (or non-existent) in Central and Eastern Europe where we travel to most often.

                                        1. re: chefathome

                                          Interesting. I'm a 61 old Briton and have lived in England all my life and regularly eat in restaurants from back street cafes to Michelin starred places.

                                          Except at the most casual of places (such as a pizza or mezze place), I'm sure I've never seen anyone share a main course here. Similarly, never seen it in any of the European countries I visit. Of course, there must be some Britons who do it, otherwise chefathome couldnt have seen it, but it would have been thought very weird by the restaurant staff and other diners. It's just "not done". We have a couple of friends who always order different mains and swap halfway through eating - would this count

                                          1. re: Harters

                                            I don't know if this is the case in the UK anymore but in the mid 80's, I was there and said I was going to order an entree but didn't want the side that came with it and was going to ask for a different one. My friends were appalled and said I couldn't do it. They also looked aghast when I said I wanted to take part of my dinner to go (doggie bag which they hadn't heard of). Americans are much more demanding, at the time, at least, in expecting to get what they want.

                                            1. re: chowser

                                              Doggy bags are still very uncommon. You'll see it happen from time to time at pizza places and I know a couple of Sichuan restaurants where the portions are so large that the doggy bag is common (not so large that I have needed one). Of course, nowhere is going to refuse to let you - but, in most places, you'd get some strange looks and they probably havnt got "proper" stuff to wrap it up in.

                                              The swap of sides wouldnt really be an issue, although you rarely see it. Occasionally, a dish has a side or something that one of us doesnt like. For example, my partner cannot stand eggs, yet it is a common "sauce" for smoked haddock. It's never been a problem to get them to leave it off.

                                              1. re: Harters

                                                Thanks--I was wondering if things had changed over time. On our recent visit, I stayed with what I had been told years ago, not wanting to be the ugly American who had to have it her way. I was surprised because I wouldn't have hesitated doing either here.

                                            2. re: Harters

                                              That's interesting. How do food critics assess the many dishes on the menu at a nice restaurant there, then, even over several visits? I can't imagine they would go 6, 7, 8 times to any one place in general - one might imagine their frequently going with a dining companion or two for at least one visit or so - and sampling from each person's plate?

                                              1. re: Harters

                                                I have seen it in the UK - even eating with friends who live there! Not regularly, of course, but I did not find it uncommon. But I definitely have seen it far more regularly in Central and Eastern Europe. We do not do it often (the odd time) but do make a point of sort of watching others (as we of course are interested in food culture) and saw it on our most recent trip at least five times in Croatia and Slovenia. When we travel we certainly do not wish to offend so always ask/research the etiquette for that particular region/village and follow what others do (generally speaking).

                                                1. re: Harters

                                                  Here in U.S., East Coast - CT Yankee - American-Italian relatives - maybe 10 years ago was the first time I ever saw anyone share an entree - a middle of the road restaurant, big tables, long waiting lines maybe 1-1/2 hrs. +/- - not a chain - wine served - a couple of relatives ordered an entree, paid extra for it to be served on separate plates. I was in awe; my first thought was "boy are they cheap."

                                                  The restaurant did serve a lot of food on the plate, but later I did notice that people were 'doggie baggie-ing" it.

                                                  It 'never' occurs to me to 'share an entre' because of too much food being served. I still have reservations about doing this but probably for the main reason that I'm not that interested in beef or pork as DH is.

                                        2. re: invinotheresverde

                                          I wouldn't do it but reading this I'm wondering why restaurants don't have this option, for a surcharge. Split an entree, double the sides, pay less than you would for two but more than for one. So, a $20 entree might cost you $15-17 per person. With two people sharing one meal, the restaurant is having to pay for another setting, bread, water, space, etc (not in the OP case where the total is more). If a restaurant has large portions, and we're not headed home, I hate seeing all that food wasted. I love the petite entree option, too, but rarely see that either. I find restaurant portions too big, if you add an appetizer, entree and dessert and so much food gets wasted for us.

                                          1. re: chowser

                                            some places do -- or charge a $3-5 plate fee...which is totally fair.

                                            1. re: chowser

                                              Many times when our food is presented, I take stock of how much I can eat from my plate, what food on his plate that I would like to taste and perhaps take a few tablespoons of. There is no reason that he cannot put anything on the bread/butter plate which I never use.

                                              If I wish to get rid of excess on my plate, there is no reason that I cannot put it on his bread/butter plate, or pass a few fries over.

                                              All of this when we order one entree each which is always. But why couldn't something like this be done if a couple orders appetizer(s), sides, and one entre.

                                              1. re: Rella

                                                It would be much smoother if the kitchen did it and gave us twice the vegetables. Yes, you could serve your dinner at a restaurant like a family style and put food on bread plates but it's ungainly sometimes when you don't have the right utensils or don't want to be reserving your plate. Yes, it can be done but I'd pay for it to be done behind the scenes.

                                                1. re: chowser

                                                  Funny, I really prefer that the kitchen NOT split an entree onto two plates. It's nice of them to offer, but I'd rather see the normal presentation, and then share w/ my husband.

                                                  We try to make sure there are always matching courses. For instance we might order a salad, 2 apps, and 1 entree. That's 4 things, so the waiter can bring it 2 and then 2. And when we're ready to "switch", we just trade plates. Never had anyone look at us askance.

                                                  Dessert and stuff like cheese plates, I'm perfectly willing to set mid-table and share at once.

                                                  1. re: danna

                                                    Switching plates isn't an issue, but it's having to re-portion food onto bread plates, etc without serving utensils. For me, the main protein is usually too large and I'd like to have more of the vegetables so if the kitchen just cut the protein in half and then gave us each a full serving of vegetables, I'd be happy. Vegetables are usually in far smaller servings on an entree as it is, I don't want to share that part. At home, my vegetables usually take up over half the plate. At many restaurants, they're almost like an afterthought and not enough for one serving, let alone sharing.

                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                      I'm guess I'm prissier than I thought, but I don't like the idea of making sloppy bread plates AND I don't like the idea of asking the kitchen to start re-working my entree.

                                                      BUT...I'm totally with you about the lack of veggetables in restaurants. It's nuts! the higher up the scale you go in restaurants, the more they want to give you a protein GARNISHED w/ veggies rather than a reasonable serving of veggies. I swear, i had a plate come out once with a brussel sprout leaf on it. ONE leaf of a brussel sprout (placed w/ a tweezer, i'm sure). I couldn't beleive it. Otherwise just meat and sauce.

                                                      Something we did recently that I will try to remember more often is for one of us to order an entree we both agree on, and the other to order the vegetarian plate.

                                                      1. re: danna

                                                        I was just thinking this last night watching Hell's Kitchen. They actually call "putting starch and veggies on the plate" *GARNISHING*! It's as if it doesn't even really matter what the side is. I appreciate restaurants that put as much thought into the side as into the protein. I hate restaurants that just give you the vegetable du jour, as if we only eat our veggies 'cause we are supposed to, not because we really like them.

                                                        1. re: danna

                                                          Yeah, I just threw out the idea w/out thinking about it in depth (which is funny because I'm an analyst and tend to overhink things) and it does depend on the entree. Sometimes it's easy to divide in half (split half the scallops, no brainer) but it can get messy with others. I would love to be able to rework a plate and ask for less protein, more vegetables. It would cost the restaurant less, too, for the most part.

                                                          It's a nonissue with me since my husband and I would probably never be able to agree on a main course anyway.

                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                            My husband would agree on a delicious entree, he just doesn't want to eat the same thing I do because, well, I don't know. It's a thing with him. He wants to know that there's a possibility he could try mine ;-)
                                                            I let him most of the time...

                                                            1. re: monavano

                                                              There's that, too. I do like to try different foods and even if we don't share, we do try a bite of each others, usually. What drives me crazy is if I order a dessert and he declines one and says he'll just share mine. I don't necessarily want to share!

                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                ha! I get that way too (only have one sibling so not used to sharing...that's my theory anyway). Now, DH waits politely for me to offer my food instead of staring at it like my drooling dog!

                                                    2. re: chowser

                                                      We always order two entrees - one each. I see no reason why a kitchen should do get involved with our two entrees, or for us to "pay for it anything to be done behind the scenes."

                                                      I don't think anyone should even care what we are doing at our table. Usually we are eating, enjoying ourselves and hoping that everyone else is doing the same.

                                                      1. re: Rella

                                                        That's a different scenario altogether then. This is about sharing one entree and wanting more sides and a plate for food.

                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                          Yes, my previous response was to that scenario; sharing one entre, wherein I said regarding an entree:

                                                          "But why couldn't something like this be done if a couple orders appetizer(s), sides, and one entre." (Emphasizing 'one entree.'

                                                          And then I was responding to "but it's ungainly sometimes when you don't have the right utensils or don't want to be reserving your plate."

                                                          Just wanting to clarify that I'm tuned in to the subject of this topic.

                                                          1. re: Rella

                                                            Thanks for clarifying--sorry if my response sounded snarky. I didn't meant it to be just reread it and it could have come off as that way when I didn't intend it to. I could see switching plates, or sometimes I'll use my husband's fork to give him a bite. If there's only one entree, there's the problem of one person being short a plate (I would find using the little bread plate messy in sharing a big plate of food) which is why I said I'd probably be willing to pay for the back room to fix a plate. I like danna's solution of ordering a vegetable entree and a protein one to get a more balanced meal.

                                                  2. re: chowser

                                                    I'm with you all the way. I would be more then willing to pay an extra charge to share a meal. I have been to many restaurants were there was a charge for sharing, so I guess there are enough of us out there. I would love to be able to eat an appetizer,entree and dessert....no way.

                                                2. Frowned upon? No one will care. This is a semi-nice restaurant, not a coat mandatory place. The restaurant may have an extra plate charge.

                                                  The only people that really care are snobs and old people who didn't share plate when they were growing up.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: dave_c

                                                    We're old people - we didn't share while we were growing up - why?
                                                    Because there was never enough food to share.

                                                    But we (us two oldsters) don't care who shares a plate anywhere, bar, table, etc.
                                                    Just setting the table straight here at this setting. :-))

                                                  2. If the restaurants wouldn't serve such huge portions of food we wouldn't have to share entree's. I can't possibly eat all the food they serve on the plate, plus just looking at all that food makes me loose my appetite. I have gotten to the point that sharing a entree is the only way to dine out. Some restaurants put on a extra charge for sharing a plate which is just fine with me.

                                                    1. You know what's gauche? This:
                                                      A split entrée will require an additional $19.00 plate charge and will include bread and butter and the appropriate starch and vegetable.

                                                      This is from Elizabeth's Cafe in Duck, NC. This and other douchey crap on their website turned me off so badly that I simple refuse to spend my money there.
                                                      Now, I get a sharing/extra plate charge, but frick me, $19? You can keep your bread, "appropriate" starch (who are they kidding?) and vegetable.

                                                      23 Replies
                                                      1. re: monavano

                                                        That's pretty silly. I'd have more respect for them if they just came right out and demanded a minimum order per person. And then I still wouldn't eat there.

                                                        1. re: monavano

                                                          I just checked out their site--$19 upcharge for ordering an app as an entree? That doesn't even need bread, starch or extra plating effort.

                                                          1. re: gaffk

                                                            I didn't read it that way. I sure as hell would hope that there is no charge for sharing an app. That's looney, but the way their website reads, I woulldn't put it past them.

                                                            1. re: monavano

                                                              No, not a charge for sharing the app. The way I read it, it's a charge for ordering your app as your entree.

                                                              "An appetizer served as an entrée or a split entrée will require a $19.00 plate charge and will include bread and butter and an appropriate starch and vegetable."

                                                              1. re: gaffk

                                                                Wow, it's worse than I thought. That takes a lot of nerve. Hopefully everyone that dines there has a big appetite.
                                                                I wonder if you're allowed to share dessert!!

                                                                1. re: gaffk

                                                                  That's ridiculous. As I mentioned up-thread, my teenage daughter frequently orders an app as an entree (in addition to an app) because a) she's veggie and there often are more (or any) choices in the appetizer than in the entree and b) she's a light eater.

                                                                  1. re: DGresh

                                                                    Many people are light eaters or are watching calories. Why penalize them with such an excessive penalty fee?
                                                                    This place was recommended to us by a chef actually, fortunately I looked them up online and found their website. Between seeing that ridiculous sharing fee, to how holier than thou water purification to being told that your 2 hour dining experience is actually not, as they tell you to leave your table 15 minutes prior.

                                                                    1. re: monavano

                                                                      I wonder if they also charge you for not ordering app+entree+dessert also! we usually skip dessert, and will skip appetizers or split one, if we had a late lunch.

                                                              2. re: gaffk

                                                                Agreed. Isn't the whole point of ordering an appetizer-as-an-entree usually to consume less, not more food?

                                                                If they want a minimum per person, they should just state that.

                                                              3. re: monavano

                                                                Also found on their website :

                                                                "(Please, no salad dressing on the side. We use a very small amount of dressing) "
                                                                "A 20 % gratuity will be added plus tax for all wine dinners "

                                                                I hope they have enough customers, because they won't be setting a two-top for my wife and I.

                                                                1. re: PotatoHouse

                                                                  Reasons to avoid this place are found all over their pretentious site. Is it THAT hard to put my dressing in a little cup? I swear, I get more hospitable treatment at my local greasy spoon.

                                                                2. re: monavano

                                                                  mona, WHERE. do you find this stuff?!?!

                                                                  "All guests at Elizabeth's are Leonard's friends but his certified friends are on Facebook or MySpace."

                                                                  Delete *certified*, insert *certifiable*.

                                                                  1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                    I think I wrote above that this restaurant was recommended by a chef in the Outer Banks and I looked up their website, very excited, in anticipation of eating there. I was so turned off!
                                                                    DH and I ate at a local Mexican place last week. My goodness, our server couldn't refill our soft drinks fast enough and got me some sour cream on the side. No problem!! The cost? probably 1/4 of what we'd spend at Elizabeth's.

                                                                    1. re: monavano

                                                                      Sorry. I didn't read your original post thoroughly. I just think this website is a goldmine for incredulous cocktail party conversation fodder. Thank you for sharing. It is a hoot. Truly. :)

                                                                  2. re: monavano

                                                                    I bet your post has generated a lot of activity at their web site...they should only know why!!! Yes, I went there!

                                                                      1. re: monavano

                                                                        Interesting. I guess that I have never been to a website that said so much, in a way it's not bad as you know were you stand with them. If you want to put your own dressing on your salad, stay more then one hour and forty five minutes,bring children that are not particularly well behaved,don't want to share a plate, not happy with tap water, well it's better that you know ahead instead of spoiling an evening out by being unhappy that you ever came. They do give you the option of being seated else wear if you want to stay longer, which is good. They do explain that they want to seat people at the time their reservations are for, which in my opinion is a good thing. So, all in all I respect them for making everything clear from the onset. The restaurant might not appeal to everyone, but if the food is wonderful I would give it a try.

                                                                    1. re: monavano

                                                                      It really sounds persnickety and I'd probably avoid a place that had all those specifications on their menu. OTOH, I wonder what has transpired in the past that made them do that. Maybe they had a number of people who'd go in an only order one entree between them and nothing else but spend a long time? Or maybe they had people who asked for extras, plate and bread? When we take my in-laws out, my MIL and FIL share an entree, no matter how much we urge them to get more (when we're treating). That's what they always do. If a restaurant is busy and quite a few people are doing that, it could affect business. I don't know what the case is at this restaurant but there could be reasons they have their rules. Funny because this is somewhat like the solution I proposed above, with charging extra to plate a shared entree.

                                                                      1. re: monavano

                                                                        I've never been to Elizabeth's. I agree that the website's tone is not the best.

                                                                        I would like to point out some things which folks who have not vacationed in the OBX in recent years may not know.

                                                                        *Water - its an island, fresh water gets processed and piped in, tastes nasty. The filtration system is a big plus!

                                                                        *OBX strives to attract very large family groups. The vast majority of accommodations are huge vacation rental homes with kitchens, very few hotel/motels. Not at all unusual to have a long wait for seating at an restaurant (even with reservations) and see several parties of 15 - 20 seated ahead of you. With lots of kids included. Did I say lots of kids? A 20 top with 7 highchairs is not unusual.

                                                                        I think the vacationer demographics have a lot to do with the shared fee, automatic tip and no dressing on the side. I've waited a lot of tables and would not want to provide service at an OBX establishment in the summer! Life is short and my gray hairs are coming fast enough on their own!

                                                                        The 15 min. thing really needs to be seen in context. There are specific seating times, no waiting. If you dine at the earlier time then you need to be aware that in 2 hours there is another seating scheduled. They do note that you can be seated in the "gallery" if you need longer or that you can move to the garden to linger.

                                                                        With the entire restaurant being sat at once the salad dressing thing makes more sense. It's predressed - more like a catered situation really.

                                                                        I have seen many large family groups on an OBX holiday be terrors as diners. The adults just want to talk without the chore of cooking/cleaning/parenting. The kids are often at one end of the table being wild - no one cares because they don't have to clean it up! Lots of drinks, often not so much food. These are often groups of friends or family who live far apart and have a lot to catch up on. Drinks turns to drama, drama creates lots of lingering. Lots of drinks often results in loss of math ability when determining tips in my experience.

                                                                        I don't have a horse in the race - just think that the unusual OBX restaurant situation needed a little explanation.

                                                                        1. re: meatn3

                                                                          You're explanation has merit, yet this is definitely an exception to the restaurants in the area. No other has been so pretentious.
                                                                          There are too many other options that people can choose. I guess they have a strong return clientele.
                                                                          Just probably will never be me ;) If only for the excessive sharing/app for entree upcharge alone.

                                                                          1. re: monavano

                                                                            I doubt I'd go there - the $19 seems a bit overpriced. I think you are correct about the strong return clientele. Problem for Elizabeth's is that after a number of years your clientele decreases due to death, familys grown, etc. If you don't keep adding new customers you can be dying and not even know it.

                                                                            They have been in biz for 20 years. There's a pretty good turnover in restaurants on the OBX, so 20 years is significant. I suspect they have figured out what works for them and made the decision that they aren't going to worry about the folks who don't like it.

                                                                            1. re: meatn3

                                                                              Good points. The funny thing is, it's just the vibe that turns me off. DH and I rarely if ever split an entree and when I'm on vacation, I like to indulge so I wouldn't order an app for an entree. And, I generally don't ask for dressing on the side. So, none of that applies to me. It's the persnicketiness (word even?) that turned me off.
                                                                              I did look up reviews and there are many good ones, some that are not quite so kind.
                                                                              But, it's been interesting sharing with everyone, and I don't want to further hijack the topic, so I'll let this be the last word for me.
                                                                              Thanks all!

                                                                      2. Sharing is perfectly fine. No one should feel compelled to get an entree when sharing will fill your void just fine. Business is business and any restaurant would be foolish to treat you poorly to not meet you needs. They want you to come back and spend. And hey, you might have room for dessert!
                                                                        Now that's something that DH and I share all the time, if we have room, which is very, very rare as we are full from the main.

                                                                        1. I see no issue with splitting an entree as long as its understood that they could, and should, charge you for it. They have extra place settings as pointed out, more work. Those I've seen who don't like the extra charge are those who doing because they are being cheap.

                                                                          So share away but expect a fee for it...no problem.

                                                                          1. Late to respond to the original question, but I think you're being considerate of the fact that this is a business, and that as a business, they need to make money.

                                                                            There's no reason for you to assume they're not making a margin on every single thing you order, and even if they're not, that shouldn't be your concern. As you're planning to order enough items to generate a reasonable tab for the number of people who will be occupying a table, I see nothing wrong with what you plan to do.

                                                                            1. I think it's fine, and if you order two bottles of wine (and tip on them) then I'm sure your server will think it's fine, too.

                                                                              Not sure what your physical size has to do with anything, though.

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                Physical size has a LOT to do with it. Smaller people need fewer calories.

                                                                                1. re: danna

                                                                                  But I know a lot of smaller people who can eat more than me and I'm not small.....

                                                                              2. Overall, if you are spending as much as the average dinner, I think what ylw08 proposes is fine but I would mention your plans when making the reservations based on our recent experience:

                                                                                The Beach family visited a upper end restaurant in our area one afternoon at around 3:30. (in a college/resort town, they serve all day and well into the evening) We visit several times a year, always in the afternoon.

                                                                                The host asked us about our food desires and we stated "a couple of appetizers and a drink" We directed away from the dining room to the bar area. When I asked to be seated in the dining room, I was told that only people ordering dinner were allowed to be seated in the main dining room. I was slightly put off by this but didn't make a fuss.

                                                                                This restaurant has a great wine by the glass list and after a few rounds and three appetizers, our bill was close to $100.

                                                                                The host came back to apologize and said straight out "had we known, we would have sat you in the dining room."

                                                                                Because I had my wine drink on, my tongue was a little loose and I asked if I should have said "listen, we will be spending more than your water-drinking, entree only patron so seat me in the dining room?"

                                                                                He laughed and said yes, that would have been an interesting and effective way to frame my seating request.

                                                                                1. Because I had my wine drink on, my tongue was a little loose and I asked if I should have said "listen, we will be spending more than your water-drinking, entree only patron so seat me in the dining room?"
                                                                                  Big laugh! I love your honesty, albeit somewhat spurred on by vino-bravado. I bet some places would rather stick me at the bar when I order tap with my entree!

                                                                                  1. My sister and I live in different parts of the country, but we travel a lot together. Besides loving each other's company, we like to dine out in "fine" restaurants all over the country. We have NEVER had a problem with sharing an entree. I drink red wine; she drinks white so we order by the glass (usually 2 each). Most times we order two appetizers to share and usually order the "chef's special meal" also to share, along with one dessert ALSO to share. The last time we did this, at Stephan Pyles restaurant in Dallas, the maitre' d brought out a special gift from the chef, a lovely shot of melon-cuke sorbet, with a :thanks" for enjoying his food so much! This was a bit over the top, but just goes to show that sometimes "sharing" is appreciated for what it is....good friends enjoying good food.