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NYC’s small-plate restaurant trend is simply the worst

By Alexander Kacala

When I was told I would get the chance to contribute this week’s rant, I had trouble picking from so many gripes I have acquired since moving to New York City. But one thing stood out more than the others: the city’s ubiquitous small-plate trend.

No matter how many plates you order at this type of restaurant, it’s hard to leave satisfied. Now I’m not talking about legit Spanish tapas or Middle Eastern mezes. Those were built for sharing. (Also, if you book a table at one of these restaurants, you know what you’re in for.) I’m taking about small plates allegedly designed to be shared at formica-loving concept restaurants with distressed wood and Edison bulbs that have sprung up since the 2000s—places like Blue Ribbon Downing Street Bar, Cask Bar & Kitchen and Union Fare. These restaurants are not up-front about their stingy offerings.

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The menus always looks cheap at first glance. Oh! $6 for shishito peppers? I’m in! Maybe I’ll have enough money to treat myself to an Uber tonight instead of an Uber Pool, you think to yourself. Then, when the puny plate arrives at your table, you’re forced to fight with your dining partner over two peppers, a few grains of sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Same goes for that $28 plate of beef tartare your coworker Denise scarfed down while you were in the bathroom. 

Can we please go back to a time when each person orders an appetizer and an entrée and goes home feeling stuffed? When you order bucatini, for example, it should come dangerously close to flowing off of the plate—and it all belongs to you. If someone wants a bite, of course you share. Yes, Denise. You can have a bite of my bucatini. As long as there’s enough to go around.

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