Author Ross McGinnes highlighted the five worst ways pubs can serve food. He said:
- “On wooden boards. The We Want Plates nemesis. Our account is inundated with pictures every day. Manky old chopping boards with knife marks aplenty, gravy dripping off the side. ‘It’s OK if you wash them properly!’ I hear you cry. How many establishments do that? Certainly not the Birmingham restaurant, which was recently fined £50,000 for serving food on ‘unhygienic’ wooden boards.
- “On slates. Have you ever chased blueberries around a slate covered with the obligatory icing sugar? The scraping of cutlery is worse than nails down a blackboard.
- “In pint glasses. We have seen pints of sausage rolls, pints of bacon, trifle, haggis. Pints of prawns are fine, but as for the rest, pint glasses are for pints of beer. End of discussion.
- “In a pan. Usually done to give the impression the dish was oven-cooked in the serving vessel. All nice and homely, right? Look, we are paying £3.99 for a lasagne. We even heard the microwave go ‘ding’. Stop the pretence!
- “Name-led gimmicks. Just because your pub is called the Jolly Farmer, it doesn’t mean you have to serve your beef roast on a board in the shape of a cow, poached eggs in a mini hen house, or the cured meats draped over a scale model of a combine harvester.”
McGinnes’ advice is in stark contrast to a YouGov study last year (August), which found that 69% of Brits believe it is acceptable for pubs, restaurants and cafés to serve meals on slates.
A further 64% of customers also found it acceptable to serve food on wooden boards. The survey, which was conducted by showing 2,030 Brits a series of increasingly unconventional eating vessels (drawn from the We Want Plates archive) and asking them whether they thought it was acceptable to serve food on them.
The standard circular plate had support in the survey with almost everyone (99%) believing it to be an acceptable way to serve food.
Meanwhile, McGinnes also outlined an excerpt from the book, We Want Plates: The Crusade Against food on slates, chips in mugs, and drinks in jam jars:
“My local pub used to do a great Sunday roast: 12 quid, piled high, tasted great and yes, it came on a plate.
“One weekend, they added a quirky offering to the menu: little sandwiches, pies, dainty cakes and mini milkshakes served on a miniature picnic bench.
“The benches, painted bright pink and yellow, sat on top of tables, seating actual grown adults. And what was the first thing these infantilized diners did? It wasn’t try the food – it was whip out their phones and take a picture."
Technicolour carnival of idiocy
He added: “Over the following months, the picnic benches became increasingly popular, coinciding with the specials board becoming progressively smaller, before it eventually disappeared altogether.
“I sat there one Sunday, watching bench after garish bench emerge from the kitchen like a technicolour carnival of idiocy, before my usual roast arrived.
“The meat was cold, the spuds were burnt and you could have skimmed the Yorkshire pudding across a pond. It was once their main Sunday trade, but the traditional roast had died an unpalatable death.
“But that’s OK because they were doing a roaring trade with the benches, right? Sure, until the pub down the road started doing them too. Then the one around the corner.
“Before you know it, everyone’s doing the same ‘quirky’ thing, except it’s not ‘quirky’ any more because you can’t move for mini picnic benches and now all their roast dinners are crap to boot.”