Kony 2012 isn't so last year, neither is swine flu or Kim Kardashians last husband, I'll tell you what's so last year- plates. Plates are so 2012 and it's annoying the hell out of me.
I am not the type of person who wets themselves over a £12 cocktail that's made with basil and cardamom bitters and a single-barrel whiskey I've never heard of. Neither am I one of those people for whom Portlandia is a documentary, so when last week I went to a pub in Primrose Hill (yar yar, prams and doggies, woof woof, snort) and got served a burger without a plate I was left a little more than pissed-off.
The burger in question might have been one of the goddamn greatest burgers I have ever eaten but it was served to me in one of the goddamn most pretentious faux-plates ever- a miniature wicker basket. This was a (dare I use the word) 'posh' establishment which can boast one of the most supreme meat-treats this side of the Atlantic, but they had decided to wrap the burger in what was essentially tracing paper and throw it in something that would be more at home accommodating Moses and floating down the Nile.
A few weeks later (because I am a fatty) I had another burger and it was served to me on a slab of tree. Picture the scene. I'm on a date with a bloke, in a lovely new restaurant in Soho. I'm trying to be low maintenance by ordering a burger rather than a salad because I know that when I end up with ketchup on my face he will see my sensitive side and understand my deep insecurities towards my father. ANYWAY, we're chatting away and the waiter lands half a tree in front of me, introducing the miniature burger planted nonchalantly on top as a 'Slider'.
Not being funny but what's wrong with calling a small burger, 'small-burger'? 'Slider' sounds like the newest pandemic of stoned spiders to hit the UK. ANYWAY. So, I have a slab of wood in front of me and my date now thinks I need an adult high-chair as he can no longer see me for way of this tree. I try to resume service but when I call the waiter over and ask if he can bring me a plate instead, the laissez faire façade I had built up is now shattered. My date starts talking about last weeks hurricane that knocked over a few pieces of his garden furniture and although I'm clearly riveted, all I can think about is what made this restaurant choose to serve a 'mini' burger on a squirrels playground.
I mean, what goes through a Chefs head before choosing a slab of wood for a plate? Does he turn to his kitchen and scream (in a French accent, obviously) "We don't want to be the white-reeboks of the restaurant world- I know what's going to be da shiznit. Let's get rid of plates. Let's get hold of some drift wood, fabreeze them a bit and then put some food on it. What about a burger? But not the whoooole burger- that would be too mainstream! We'll make burgers for fairies. That'll bring the punters in. They'll think were the Steve Jobs of the food world. Heston's soooooooo Kodak to us right now."
Plate-gate is an on-going nightmare for me. About a month ago, I was served a salad on a piece of slate. Slate. I can just see how the chef came up with that one. 'Good enough for my roof, good enough for a £11 piece of lettuce'. Then about a week after, I was served some lasagne on a giant leaf. Again, totally logical. The kitchen staff must have been kicking themselves when the chef proposed that one, 'I know what will keep out food warm for our customers- a leaf. Very good thermal insulation tool a leaf is. It's a wonder we're the pioneers of the leaf plate'. You might think I must not have better things to do than be wound up by the lack of plates to eat off but this is becoming commonplace in London and I think it's ridiculous. The food doesn't taste better- it actually makes it worse.
When did civilisation come to believe that plates were just so passé? How have restaurateurs not realised that despite great 'props' to make their meals more hipster and instagramable, they don't actually make the food better, just more high maintenance. My dining experience is not made better by a restaurant's ability to think outside of the circular porcelain thing. I want warm food. I want food that I don't need binoculars to see or a ladder to reach. I want to enjoy my food for it's taste, not its staging. There's a reason the Dans Le Noir restaurant is so popular- BECAUSE IT'S ALL ABOUT THE FOOD.
Food is not entertainment; I do not require my meal to emulate Liza Minnelli. I need food to taste like Zeus himself has crafted it to within an inch of its life and like I am purchasing and swallowing a moment of heaven; I don't need my food to do the hockey-cokey- that's no't what it's all about. Let's make 'taste' part of our culture and not the accessories, the fluff and the excess that in fact, outshines the food.
I may not call myself a foodie, an epicure, or a culinarian but I am a food-lover/overly enthusiastic omnivore and all I care about is the food and goddamn it I want the food on the plate.