Opinion: Family-Style Dining is Terrible

“Family-style” ordering for a group at a nice restaurant is pretentious, dumb, and the worst. It is always wrong, no matter what any of you say. It is a foolish, foul practice of gluttons who have been over-fed to the point at which they find the taste of any one particular food unbearably monotonous.

My grievances:

  • Nobody gets to eat more than a portion of the type of food they actually would have ordered. Sure, I will probably be given the opportunity to have a slice of it, if I’m lucky. Truth is, there’s a real good chance I’ll only get a bite or a nibble of it. Invariably, the thing that I would have ordered is the same thing that everyone else would have ordered, so there’s the least of that left when the plate gets passed to me. But don’t worry, plenty on the share-plate of weird-novelty-thing-we-ordered-to-be-adventurous left over, and this restaurant actually did manage to make the steamed veggie platter taste better than normal steamed veggies (though of course, it does not taste nearly as good as what I would have ordered).
  • It takes up a ridiculous amount of space on the table. “Family-style” poses a logistical problem that is simply never addressed. Every single entree and appetizer dish has to be on the table IN ADDITION to the serving plates and silverware of each party member. The math just doesn’t add up. There’s nowhere to put anything. Everybody has to eat with little t-rex arms, trying to not knock over drinks or put elbows into plates of whatever. This is plain stupid.
  • You have to constantly be passing things around. The interruptions are infuriating. Forget trying to just enjoy your food, much less have a conversation with somebody at the table. Most of your focus goes into using your aforementioned t-rex arms to move big, hot, sauce-dripping share-plates, dexterously above and around various glasses, bottles, candles, other people’s t-rex arms, etc, to land on some precise little patch of table. Seriously, what are people thinking, when they suggest family -style?
  • It’s a cheapskate’s fantasy. All these dishes get ordered, and nobody takes ownership of any of them. There’s no accountability. They are all “share-plates”. There is no private property, and friends, that is socialism. We’re all on an honor-system, trusted to take the appropriate fraction of each dish, and I do not trust my friends or even my family to act justly within such a system. In fact, most people I know probably can’t do that kind of math. You certainly should not be relying on my strength of character in a family-style dining scenario. Appetite shall reign. It’s a game of who can eat the most. There’s no referee. And we all pay the same portion of the bill.

In conclusion, I don’t like family-style dining very much. Having said all of this, some of you may still disagree with me, and that is ok. We don’t have to be friends or respect one another. God is just and merciful, and by the great mystery of salvation, you may yet be saved from the fires of Hell, even if my limited human mind can’t find a rational explanation for how that might come to be.

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