The pros and cons of sharing plates, tapas, buffets and banquets

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When dining out it can be much more rewarding to try a larger range of taste experiences in smaller amounts than to be just limited to one or two dishes, that may or may not be so good.

Restaurants offer a number of options that can be useful, but some are more useful than others.

Sharing plates and platters

……can really be your friend.

These are often full of interesting and beautifully presented foods. A treat for all the senses. These can be ordered per person/two people and extra breads or crackers are available if you need them.

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Santa Lucia Antipasti Plate $24

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Pistachio’s Torrens Dessert tasting plate $20

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Pistachios Torrens, trio of entrees $19

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Punjabi Hut Manuka, Shared entree plate $19

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Tilba Valley Wines Ploughman’s lunch

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Jamie’s Italian Meat Platter

The Green Herring Special (menu says it Serves 2 but really it could serve 4) $32 Includes morsels of the maple and banana pudding, spring rolls, brulee and apple pie

The Green Herring Special (menu says it Serves 2 but really it could serve 4) $32
Includes morsels of the maple and banana pudding, spring rolls, brulee and apple pie

Tapas

Tapas have lots in common with sharing plates and platters, but like entrees, tend to be an expensive way to order as each piece in the tapas dish, is small, but often costs $4-8 per item.

It can also be easy to order too much food, so think about how many serves would be a comfortable and enjoyable amount. This might be 1 1/2 to 2 tapas dishes per person. It is usually easy to order more if you need to.

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Buffets

Buffets can also offer a wide range of foods and dishes to try. In theory they also allow you to take just the right amount you will enjoy.

However, the range of foods on offer may include plenty of less exciting choices to fill diners up, and because it is ‘all you can eat’, it’s a real challenge not to get overfull.

Because they are priced for larger eaters, you can feel like you are paying for what you won’t really enjoy.

You can’t take any with you, so that tends to make you eat more of your favourites than you would, if you could take some home to enjoy again later.

The key to getting the best out of buffets, is being prepared to leave anything that’s not ‘calorie worthy’ and move on to something else. This is made easier by only seeing yourself a small amount in the first place and going back for more if you will really enjoy more (which is actually rarely the case as…the first mouthful is always the best).

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The ‘banquet’ or ‘degustation’ option

It might seem to make sense then, to get the ‘banquet’ option, to make ordering and sharing easy. But it’s usually not the best choice.

For a start, you don’t have control over the dishes you get and they can often be fairly routine foods that everyone knows well.

But perhaps more importantly, like banquets, it’s always way too much food and you end up eating more than you really enjoy, and paying for more than you otherwise would need to.

Also like buffets, often you can’t take any with you.

Whichever way you choose to go, eat mindfully, savour each mouthful to gain maximum pleasure, and stay aware to keep comfortable without getting overfull.

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