The Dollar-Wise Gourmet: Size Matters: Plates Big Enough To Share


The small-plates craze has distracted us, I think, from another money-saving concept: Share a large plate. I tested the concept recently at a few local restaurants and got my comeuppance on my very first outing, at an Italian eatery I’d heard great things about. After being seated, my buddy and I opened our menus and were stunned by the following wordage at the bottom of the page: “Split-plate charge: $8.†Say what? A $2 or $3 split-plate fee is common these days and wouldn’t have thrown us. But $8? Here are the results of my little experiment—each of them great plates for sharing and a good value for the $$.

Place: Thai Hut 5800 Madison Ave., Sacramento
Dish: Thai chow mein $8.95
Size: A plentiful platter of noodles, meat and vegetables—the perfect portion for two hungry women craving comfort food on a chilly night
Split Charge: $0
Scenario: No ’tude from the waiter, who gave us two plates, put the platter of noodles on the table and let us serve ourselves, family style 

Place: Tres Hermanas 2416 K St., Sacramento
Dish: Plato Mexicano $13.95
Size: This combo plate provided lots of food: chile relleno and carnitas, soup or salad, rice, beans, guacamole,
tortillas, plus free chips and salsa
Split Charge: $2
Scenario: The tiny dinner salad came with two forks but no extra plate for sharing. But the kitchen divvied up dinner for us: One got the chile relleno, the other the carnitas

Place: Johnny Garlic’s 10505 Fairway Drive, Roseville
Dish: Cherry barbecue baby back ribs $25.95
Size: A massive platter that included a full rack of ribs, fries and skinny onion rings, plus free focaccia to start
Split Charge: $0
Scenario: We each received a gorgeous plate with all items divided evenly, plus our own personal ramekin of barbecue sauce for dipping