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Are you more likely to order a smaller dessert?

Recent article in the NYT about the popularity of mini desserts: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/26/din...

If you are in a restaurant, would you be more likely to order dessert if it's only a few bites for a few dollars? Or do you want something big to thoroughly indulge in, or do you never order dessert, no matter what?

The theory is that a lot of people just want a bite or two of something sweet, and don't want to spend the calories or the cash on a regular (even if reasonable and not big-as-your-head) sized dessert. Makes sense especially in this economy, and pastry chefs who enjoy full employment would be wise to adapt. Are mini desserts as appealing in a restaurant setting as elsewhere? Does it depend on the formality of the restaurant? If presented with a menu of several small desserts, would it be fun to pick 2 or 3 or 4 to share with your dining companion, putting together your own sampler plate? If you're not a huge sweets fan, would you be more tempted by something smaller?

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  1. I would be more likely to order a dessert if it were smaller. As the article says, often I will just want a "little something sweet" as opposed to following a full meal with a BIG slab of dessert (unless I were sharing with someone, in which case, we would each be getting a little something sweet). The advantage is that if I really want to splurge and get a bigger dessert, I can order extra (and try something different, if I want to, and if I don't, then I don't end up eating a lot of superfluous calories.
    I'd also prefer to have a small-sized REALLY GOOD dessert than an enormous bowl/slice of something mediocre.
    Let me add that I am more impressed by a medium-priced, simply garnished YUMMY dessert than I am with a higher-priced dessert that is surrounded by melted sugar formed into fish and a drawing on the plate made with raspberry coulis.

    1. Absolutely. I usually only want a couple bites, so unless my husband and I agree, I often don't have any dessert.

      1. I am the opposite I think. I usually do not order dessert, but if I do, I rather have a decent size dessert. I don't need something huge, but mini dessert won't work for me.

        Kinda of like beer. I usually do not drink, but if I drink then I want a full glass, not a quarter glass full.

        Nevertheless, this mini dessert strategy can work very well for many people.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          Oh, I am with you on the beer! But I do love it when a pub offers a sampler tray of beer, which I guess is along the lines of one way to look at the OPs dessert query.

          1. re: CanadaGirl

            :) Agree. I do remember my school years when we get to sample a tray of tiny glasses of beer. I miss those days. I have also had plates of mini dessert sampler, and those were very nice.

            I think the mini dessert option is great, just like the beer sampler you mentioned. On average, though, I think I will probably still get a full glass of beer or a full plate of dessert. By the way, I usually do not get desserts. I will say less than 10% of the time I get dessert, probably less than 5%.


        2. I have appreciated smaller selections when I don't have the appetite for a full-size dessert, but would like a bite of something sweet after a restaurant meal.

          Years ago, the front room at Gramercy Tavern in NYC had an afternoon menu that included a whole selection of petite versions of the restaurant's desserts with all their trimmings, for a few dollars apiece. It was fun to go and order a selection to share, so we could taste several.

          1. I would be more likely to order something small for sure. I don't have a big sweet tooth, so paying another 10 bux (on average) for dessert is something I almost never do. The first time I discovered mini desserts was Bite of Brownie at Moxies - it's a three dollar white chocolate mini brownie served with a bit of ice cream and it's an awesome ending to a meal.

            1. Yes, I would much prefer "dessert tapas" or "dessert dim sum" than those ginormous 10-layer chocolate cake slices so often found at steakhouse or the like.

              1. It's good to have options. Start small and you can always order more. At work, we're thinking about taking a new approach to our dessert menu. The old menu was mostly $9 desserts and usually about a third of diners ordered one. After a remodel, we're thinking smaller sweets in the $3-4-5 range, mix and match. A few local places do this to some extent, I'm trying to figure out how popular it really is before we change our menu and if we can make it more profitable. Are $10 desserts a thing of the past?

                Thanks for all your input and any ideas about what people are looking for. I do think it would be fun to have more options and be able to try more things, but I also like more complexity and how different components play off each other in a full size dish. Sometimes I want more than just a taste.

                1 Reply
                1. re: babette feasts

                  I for one am definitely more likely to order a small dessert than a big one. I find most portions in the US to be too large anyway, so much of the time I don't have room for another full dish after the entree, but I do sometimes like just a little sweet bite to finish off the meal.

                  Although having said that, I should mention that our favorite local bistro, where my wife and I are regulars, offers only small $3 desserts (mini creme brulee, a single chocolate truffle, etc), but I rarely order one since it's only a block from the house and I can satisfy my post-prandial sweet tooth with a good piece of imported chocolate just moments later when I get home.

                2. I'm a slow eater, and by the time dessert is offered, I've likely had half my meal packed up to take home. Plus I've already got too many pounds on me, and I keep an eye on calories.

                  I also consider cost/value equations: is a 600-calorie slice of cake, that I'm already almost too full to eat, worth $7.95? Will I leave most on the plate -- how wasteful? Or will i just stuff myself and regret it later?

                  So, yes, I love mini-dessert offerings. It's a good way to squeeze a few more dollars out of me and also make me feel the meal ended on a high note; maybe I'll have another glass of wine or a spirit. And we're more likely to order a couple (or a few, if friends present), rather than split one large dessert.

                  (All bets are off if there's creme brulee involved.)

                  1. Sounds like a great idea to me.

                    I like something sweet after dinner, but usually I'm too full. A small, bite-sized dessert would suit me fine.

                    1. I absolutely would order a small sized dessert. I like a bit of sweet at the end of the meal in a restaurant but I usually don't order dessert unless a dining companion wants to share. The calories for a a large dessert just seem too daunting and I am also usually too full. A small thing would be just right.

                      1. It's a great marketing strategy. I was at a restaurant recently where the waitress brought out a tray w/ little desserts. You could choose one for $3, three for about $7.50. I wasn't planning on getting dessert since I was full but seeing the fresh bing cherry sauce over chocolate mousse, just a few bites? I couldn't resist.

                        1. In thinking about this some more, I think the only time when I would not want to order a "smaller" dessert is with pie and ice cream, esp. together.

                          Need a full slice (heck, I'd take a quarter of the pie tin if I could) and a could full, deep scoop (or two) of ice cream.

                          1. I would much rather order a smaller, and cheaper, dessert. I hate how so many restaurants make desserts "to share", i.e. huge. I want to decide whether I want to share my dessert. I don't want to order one that makes sharing mandatory.

                            1. We've ordered dessert at a couple of places lately just because they offered these lovely little teasers. Normally, neither hubby nor I get desserts at restaurants. They're just too big (or too rich).
                              At our favorite local Italian restaurant, the waitress brings out a wooden rack that holds five or six champagne flutes with different layered desserts in them. How can you say no when all those beautiful sweets are right in front of you? One is just the right size for me.

                              Another place serves them in slightly oversized shot glasses. It really is just enough. I never finish my meal anyway, and usually take half of it home. The little desserts just hit the spot without filling me up even more.

                              1. i love the places that serve the "shooter style" desserts. i normally don't go after sweets and would opt for an appetizer instead but a few small bites are perfect!

                                1. I don't skimp on dessert. However, if I don't like it, I will leave most of it on the plate. If it's not that good, it's just empty calories to me. Besides, I can just go home and eat my Dagoba chocolate bars or drink my Mayordomo chocolate.

                                  1. My husband and I went out a couple of weeks ago and both ordered dessert because the restaurant had a selection of small sizes that ran around $3-4 a piece.