These are a few of my most hated things.

It's bread. In a flat cap. Kill me now.

It’s bread. In a flat cap. Kill me now.

Being a restaurant critic teaches you to hate. Right now it’s teaching me to hate whacky serving plates. On February 23 I bring my show about appalling restaurant experiences to the Kingston Rose. Ahead of that performance of My Dining Hell, part of my night of Food and Agony, I thought I’d share with you my top five most hated ‘inventive’ serving items. These are generally pressed into service by chefs and restaurateurs who think that using one of them will distract from the fact that the food isn’t actually very good.
And so, in reverse order:

  • No 5. Cocktails served in old jam jars. Apart from the fact that it’s unpleasant to have your lip locked around something with a lid groove it’s an absurd pose. When the drink inside costs anywhere from £7 to £14, posing as some poverty stricken joint that can’t afford proper glasses is just plain annoying.
  • No 4. Chips served in mini-chip pan fryers, both round and square. Stop it. JUST STOP IT. I am not four years old. Dolls-house sized versions of big things do not improve the quality of the chips. It certainly doesn’t fill me with glee.
  • No 3. Bread served in flat caps or slippers. Yes, really. I’ve experienced both of these. The flat cap thing was at a restaurant in Yorkshire, ‘cos of course all people in Yorkshire wear flat caps. All I could think was ‘who’s head has been in my bread basket?’
  • No 2. Buckets for anything. I’ve had chips served in teensy weensy buckets. I’ve also had spare ribs served in small versions of a household galvanised dustbin. Because, you know, it’s dirty food. Food isn’t dirty. It’s just food.
  • No 1. Anything at all served on slates. Roof slates are brilliant on roofs. They keep out the rain. They are nasty to eat off. Sauce dribbles off the edges. Your cutlery makes a hard scratchy sound against them. They are terrible at retaining heat. And they make life hell for poor waiters. Oh, and they look absurd. Please just serve food on nice round plates, with rims. They function brilliantly.

Blimey, but I feel better for that. If you want to join the campaign for normal serving items you could follow @WeWantPlates on Twitter. Meanwhile I’ll be talking about all of this and more in My Dining Hell. In the second half I’ll be joined by my jazz quartet for songs of food and agony and telling a few filthy stories of life growing up with a mother who was a sex advice columnist. We’ll sing the blues. Given the things that sometimes happen in restaurants, there’s lots to sing the blues about.

In the meantime, am I wrong? Are these serving items just a bit of fun or the devil’s work?

Add again, if you want tickets click on the link below:

11 comments on “These are a few of my most hated things.

  1. Richard fenton on

    I bloody agree mate. Although a nice staub iron pot is nice vehicle for mash or Mac and cheese.
    Plates are great..
    Also slates require us to help the waiter pick it back up up again. Don’t give me work to do..
    Another thing is restaurants where you have to order at the bar then they bring your food. Then
    You fancy another drink and you have to get up again and go to the counter, it’s half service
    In the persute of lower wage bills. Be in the restaurant business or the take away business .

  2. John Prior on

    Here’s a daft serving idea……Porro in Llandaff serve up brown and white sugar lumps in mini narrow-necked preserving jars. You either have to poke about with your fingers, contaminating whatever you touch, or shake out the lot. It’s like that Aesop’s Fable where the Stork invites the Fox for lunch and serves it in a long-necked urn!

  3. Jeremy Price on

    Hurrah! This kind of of pretension gets my bile rising in apoplectic rage. Awaiting the next instalment and hoping it will ridicule pathetic menu-speak, like describing a pie “with pastry atop” or “a river of jus running ‘twixt the mash hillocks”. Just so many examples …

  4. Catherine on

    Although I myself am quite relaxed about how what I am about to eat is presented, my boyfriend is the opposite and finds slates extremely stressful. The presentation choice that caused him the most upset was when the salt and pepper were presented on astro turf. There was alot of huffing and puffing and he eventually removed the offending object. I was amused to the same level he was irritated!

  5. Raynah on

    I don’t mind the mini chip baskets thing because I’m on of those weirdos who quite likes food items to be kept separate, but unless they’re piping hot at the start, no, they go cold more quickly. Flat caps? Yuck! Back in the 1990s a pub in the Black Country served pork chop, steak, sausage etc on a shovel – Mick’s Grill. Now THAT was genius, and original.

    • Neil Wellman on

      “Back in the 1990s a pub in the Black Country served pork chop, steak, sausage etc on a shovel “…. why?
      It may have been original in the 1990s but then or now it isn’t “genius”.


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