Plating up the right impression

Tip-top tableware can enhance an outlet’s offer this festive season

Christmas table
Choosing the right tableware can have a major impact on customers’ first impressions

IF the old maxim ‘the first bite is with the eye’ is true, then it’s crucial for every meal served in the on-trade to look as good as it can.

And with more people eating out in the run-up to Christmas and over the festive period, there’s never been a more important time to make the right impression.

Tableware – from crockery to glassware and cutlery – serves both an aesthetic and practical purpose – and although the food and drink will always be the top priority, a meal that’s served using damaged or outdated tableware might be losing some of its impact.

That’s the message from tableware and glassware suppliers, who told SLTN that crockery forms a crucial part of a restaurant’s image.

John Cockerell, sales director at catering equipment supplier James F Kidd & Son, said today’s consumer wants – and expects – to see a variety of presentation techniques used in various courses of any meal.

“Customers eat with their eyes and there is an expectation by the consumer that they want to see a different type of presentation for each dish,” said Cockerell.

He added that, whether it be a starter, main or dessert, the shape and colour of plate “must always complement the type of food being presented on it”.

There is an expectation by the consumer to see a different type of presentation for each dish.

With more operators introducing seasonal menus, it makes sense to consider changing tableware too, according to Cockerell.

“Quarterly menu changes are now the norm and operators [should] take the opportunity to [stock] a small number of new plates to suit certain dishes on the new menu,” he said.

Similarly, it’s important to pair drinks that are in vogue with the latest glassware to deliver an overall quality experience.

That’s the view taken by Gill Head of glassware firm Artis.

“Gin and tonic is by far the most popular mixed drink requested at most bars,” she said, adding that beyond the gin and tonic itself, the glassware it is served in is “a huge contributory factor”.

Regardless of style, however, keeping all tableware and glassware in tip-top condition is paramount.

Cockerell of James F Kidd & Son said: “The last thing a customer wants to see is a plate that has scratches or metal marking on the glaze; this gives the impression the plate is not clean.

“Obviously a chipped plate is very unsightly and more importantly can harbour bacteria.”

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Top trends


Quarterly menu changes mean seasonal tableware can prove useful.

Our sales indicate that coloured crockery is now in demand; 80% of our tableware sales are coloured crockery, where five years ago the same percentage was white crockery.

A lot of new shapes and colours are inspired by the Mediterranean, with a big influence of grazing/Meze type food meaning smaller plates are in vogue.


– James F Kidd & Son.