In most parts of the world, meals revolve around a shared single protein with an assortment of sides and that’s the way most people eat at home. Sharing large plates like a pizza at an Italian restaurant or a Peking duck at a Chinese restaurant has been a common restaurant dining experience but the appetizer-entree format has always been the traditional way of serving at most restaurants in the U.S.
Whether you call it large plates, feasts, or family-style, large-format plates meant for sharing between more than two people are showing up on more and more menus. Roast chicken for two is a restaurant staple as is an element of some family-style dining found in a few dishes and ethnic cuisines. This trend is growing as more restaurants are serving weekly feasts or devoting entire sections of their menus to platters designed for sharing between 4-6 people.
Small plates have recently been a huge trend in restaurants across the country, tapas bars and tasting-menu-only events have dominated the past decade. Th is trend has even been embraced by a few restaurant chains. Adventurous diners, eager to taste as much of the menu as possible, love it. But some eaters find tasting menus and small plates a bit unsatisfying. Large plates, though, can work in tandem with small plates. Items on a small plate menu can enhance family-style dishes served with a large centerpiece protein and a few sides.
Large plates also complement the trend of some restaurants butchering of the whole animal themselves. When you have an entire pig to butcher, it is more cost effective and efficient to showcase large cuts of meat like the whole head or leg.