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Portion size and restaurant's expectations

Gatineau, Canada
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Portion size and restaurant's expectations

Hello,

Las time we were in the US, we'd buy one or two meals to share for me and my daughters to share and we'd always have left overs.

So, I'm wondering about portion size in CA and if sit down restaurants look at you bad if you only buy appetizers and drinks, or a meal to share for a few people?

In Italy, we always needed to get the 3 course meals... Even if we only had a few bites of each course.

What do you think we should do? Or maybe CA has smaller food portions than on the east coast?

Thanks!

San Diego
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1. Re: Portion size and restaurant's expectations

You can order what you like and no one will care. My husband and I often order appetizers and salad for a meal. You can also share. There are some restaurants who will add a "plate charge" to folks who share but the charge will be listed on the menu and there are not so many of them. The portion sizes out here are just as large as on the east coast!! We often make a practice of ordering a main dish and cutting it in half before we even start eating.

I should add that there are some high end(expensive) restaurants where portion size is small.

We take the left over half home to have for lunch the next day.

Edited: 01 February 2014, 13:45
Santa Monica...
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2. Re: Portion size and restaurant's expectations

Order whatever you want.

San Jose, California
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3. Re: Portion size and restaurant's expectations

I agree - order what you want, no one will bat an eye. We share in restaurants all the time, order a appetizer as a main course, etc. We sometimes order appetizers for the table, some wine, and then dessert. Off the top of my head, I can only think of one restaurant in my area (traditional German) where they have a fixed, multi-course menu and a split-plate charge. I am sure there are a few more in our area, but they are the exception. One thing to note is that higher end restaurant usually have more reasonable portion sizes - same with boutique-y independent type restaurants, whether they are pricey or not, casual or fancy. You will find the largest portion sizes at chain restaurants, usually. A popular chain is a place called The Cheesecake Factory - they have lunch portion pastas ("lunch portion" usually means smaller than the standard portion) and even that will feed me for 3 meals.

Edmonton, Canada
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4. Re: Portion size and restaurant's expectations

portion sizes are often very large in north america (except in high end restaurants). a good restaurant that cares about customer service will split a meal in the kitchen and put it on two plates before serving, if they know you are sharing. better presentation and i always appreciate it. if i'm at a restaurant and notice they charge a "plate fee" if you want to share...pisses me right off. i think it's very insulting to the customer. so in those cases, usually one of us will order an appetizer, the other, the main dish and we will divide the meal on our own at the table. many more places, recently, are offering 1/2 size serving but as mentioned, they usually don't cut the cost right in half...it's usually about 2/3 the price but i still like this option so i'm not wasting food or eating more then i need to be.

Santa Cruz...
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5. Re: Portion size and restaurant's expectations

What everybody says above. DH and I almost always eat from the appetizer menu, sometimes ordering two and sharing. Sometimes ordering one and a salad. I admit we have light appetites, but the humongous portion sizes restaurants have been serving totally turn me off.

San Jose, California
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6. Re: Portion size and restaurant's expectations

It always kills me when people recommend a restaurant, and when you ask what it is like, their response is that the portions are huge. I know I am in trouble then - LOL.

LA
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7. Re: Portion size and restaurant's expectations

We often only buy appetizers and drinks. I find appetizers are often more interesting than entrees, and without the filler. I can also leave something I don't care for without regret.

You might look for Chinese restaurants that specialize in dim sum. That's the definition of a meal of appetizers. One of my very favorite types of cuisine.

Edited: 01 February 2014, 19:40
Fortaleza, CE
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8. Re: Portion size and restaurant's expectations

Portion sizes vary widely by restaurant. Many people do find portions in U.S. restaurants larger than in some other places, but I don't see a point in anticipating in advance what you'll need to order. Some restaurants, such as the Cheesecake Factory chain, are known for really big portions (I find it a prime example of quantity over quality, but others disagree). In some upscale restaurants you pay extra for side dishes such as potatoes, vegetables, etc.

You're really worried about restaurants (meaning the servers, right?) looking at you in a certain way if you only order appetizers? I seldom order just appetizers, but if I know in advance I'll do that, I might just go to the bar. If you want a full but not overwhelming meal, ask the server about the portion sizes. Again, this will vary widely by restaurant. It is NOT the same for all sit-down restaurants in the state, which range from chains such as Applebee's to really upscale restaurants. If you read reviews (e.g., TA), you can see if anyone comments on serving sizes. Many people are weight-conscious (not enough, but many), so if you ask about portion sizes, you won't be the first. If the server mentions being able to take food home afterwards, just say you're in a hotel without a refrigerator.

Edited: 01 February 2014, 20:42
San Jose, California
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9. Re: Portion size and restaurant's expectations

Sutter - I think they are just trying to understand what the done thing is here.

San Francisco, Ca
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10. Re: Portion size and restaurant's expectations

My husband and I frequently split 2-4 appetizers and 1 dessert for dinner and have never had anyone look askance. In San Francisco, particularly, non-chain moderate and nicer restaurants will generally have reasonably-sized portions, but we still share so we can have more "tastes". And I'm another one who finds Cheesecake Factory portions to be ridiculous... lunch size will also feed me for 2 additional meals.

But there's no down side to sharing... if you need more food, just order it!