I love dishes and I really like to set a pretty table, but I get a little frustrated because I would like to set the table with layers of dishes like you see in tablescapes. Of course, I know that would be completely impractical, but I'm looking for ideas.
Generally, I plate food in the kitchen and bring the plates to the table or serve buffet-style. In both cases, the dinner plates aren't on the table when guests arrive so I use a charger of some sort. I know the charger should be removed before the dinner plate is served, but I like the layered look so I usually leave the charger and put the dinner plate on top of it.
Is there any way to show nice combinations of dishes so, for instance, you could see the salad plate with the dinner plate? I don't care if I use exactly correct place setting etiquette so feel free to get creative with your suggestions.
Gracie -- I love dishes too but when we have company I put the dinner plate on the table (with charger if I'm not using a tablecloth -- without if I am) and then if I do soup or salad, it is in place on top of the dinner plate when the company comes to the table. I love summer because the soup can be cold! And you don't have to worry about guests not getting to the table in time to enjoy hot soup.
When we pick up salad or soup we pick up the dinner plate as well -- two by two so we know who belongs to who, plate the food in the kitchen and carry that plate back to our guests.
DH does the clearing and I do the plating and he brings the plate to the table. Ours are last, of course.
I've done 9 course dinners and when I do that I use the dinner plate as a "place holder" to put the other dishes on (they're all smaller than dinner plate size) and when we're ready for the entree, DH brings everything in and I do use a fresh plate at those times for the dinner entree.
I also only put cutlery we're going to use -- i.e. if we're not having soup I don't use a spoon -- just a knife and fork and sometimes I place a dessert fork and spoon above the plate European style. If we're doing salads, there will be two forks -- a smaller salad one and a larger main course one. If I'm serving an intermezzo, that comes in with it's own spoon, it's not part of the place setting.
But you didn't ask about cutlery, did you? Just dishes.
Sometimes for dinner I will do both a soup and salad or a salad and a first course such as mussels or a savory tart.
In that case, I put the dinner plate on, the soup is in place when the guests sit down and then we bring in the salad after removing the soup bowl OR we remove the salad plate and bring in a smaller plate with the tart on it. The dinner plate being the "under plate" at that time.
I think those stacks of dishes started as a way to sell dishes in magazines and morphed into blogland where often bloggers set tables with all sorts of pretty dishes. They would be impractical to eat off of IMO -- working your way down from top to bottom -- and so I think they are for show!
I do like the dinner plate peeking out from the salad, soup or appetizer plate and don't necessarily use the same dishes for all the courses but rather coordinating ones.
But that's me and I'm sure others may have some better suggestions. It's just how we do it at Linderhof.
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Thank you, Martha, for your detailed reply. I think having the salad plate or soup bowl on the table on top of the dinner plate could help give me the look I want or I could serve a small appetizer using the same philosophy.
I also like to use coordinating pieces rather than all of the pieces from one pattern. That's part of the reason that I wanted to use multiple plates at one time, to sort of excite the diner with an interesting collection of dinnerware.
Also, maybe I'll change my practice of having the dinner plates in the kitchen when I serve buffet-style and instead, let people pick up a plate from the set table so that the table looks pretty before service begins.
Gracie -- I always do that -- set the table with the dinner plate so they can find their place, pick up their plate and go get their food.
The only time I don't is if there is no "assigned seating"
But I think that if the table is set with plates when diners sit down, it looks better even if they have to get their plate and go fetch their food!
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I think you are right. I don't know why I never thought to do it that way. I guess it seemed more efficient to have the plates by the food from the beginning, but the other way is prettier. Perhaps that's a good example of choosing form over function...LOL!
Also do buffet on occasion and set the dinner plates on the table. Everyone comes to the table, chooses a place, we stand for grace and then in a more orderly fashion head to the buffet. This way guests have chosen where they'd like to sit and those who may be in tight spots are allowed to be first back to the table, etc. Otherwise sometimes guests can't make it to the last open chair without everyone getting up to let them pass.
If it is not a buffet and it's 10 or less I usually have the soup bowl on top of the salad plate. The salad plate of top of the dinner plate on top of the charger, either on placemats or tablecloths. All of my dishes are plain white porcelain and I have gold chargers. That way I can use the same set year around. DH and I ladle the soup for each and remove the bowls when done. Then the same for the salad, then remove the salad plates. We usually place the main course on the table on a nice serving platter right from the oven or stove so it's easier for us to serve each person. Then after picking up the dinner plates and chargers we pass out the dessert plates and also place the dessert on the table with coffee.
Since it's so labor intensive we only do this for 10 people or less. Usually we have 25 or more so it's a buffett most of the time.
Wanted to add...when we have soup or bisque I use these 1-1/2 cup French white ramekins for the soup course.This message has been edited. Last edited by: zone9alady,
Our lives have evolved to a place where we no longer have dinner parties for other than family. A larger gathering might include food but not for a sit down at a table dinner.
Although I dearly love china, for some reason I have never liked chargers and the only ones I had I gave away. I have noticed aboard ship on the cruises we have been on, there is a place setting at the table including a plate and flatware and then that is all removed when the order is placed.
For a meal that is special I do not plate in the kitchen but rather everyone serves themselves at the table (we pass the dishes except for the main entree which DH may serve) so I have the silver, the glasses, the dinner plate and whatever other flat plates or bowls to the left.
Although you don't ask this, Gracie, another way of achieving a layered look may be through your linens. You could have a tablecloth and then also a place cloth or several tablecloths
p.s. I would always remove a high centerpiece like this before we sit down.This message has been edited. Last edited by: lady of shallot,
Lurah, thanks for giving me another good reason to have the plates on the table when serving buffet-style.
Zone9alady, I love your idea of having all of the dishes necessary for each course already on the table at each place setting. I usually plate in the kitchen because I'm a bit uncoordinated. I am afraid I might drip soup or drop salad into someone's lap, but I might try serving that way just to see if I could manage it. I only do plated dinners for eight or less. Over eight, I immediately move to buffet service.
Lady of Shallot, your table looks so pretty in the picture. I grew up with meals being served family style, as you've described, and it makes sense for a large informal gathering. As for table linens, I have started playing around with them a little to add more pattern and texture to the table. I guess I'll be starting another collection.
Gracie, the charger can remain during the entire dinner from appetizer to desert so do keep it there when the entree is served. Think of it as a picture frame, framing your cuisine. It also serves to protect the table or table linens. If the charger looks bare and you prefer the dinner plates to be stacked at the buffet table, then artfully fold a linen napkin on top of it so that it isn't bare. Unsure or unskilled w/ napking folds? No problem. Do a google and lots of tutorial sites w/ pics will offer assistance. Have fun with the setting for a dinner party that will be memorable for a long time to come.
Contrary to my advice, I found the following, but still believe there's no reason to remove the charger when the entree is served. BTW, I was incorrect re. keeping it on through the dessert course. That is the one exception I agree with. Now...back off etiquette police!
A charger's role in the formal place setting is to dress up practical soup bowls and salad plates, according to the Emily Post Institute. The plate or bowl containing the first course is placed on the charger and remains on the table when the first-course plate is cleared. When the entree arrives, the charger plate is removed and the dinner plate takes its place, the Institute advises.
Hi: I am so glad I read the items today. Tmo is Thanksgiving in Canada and I am doing it buffet style as with food and place settings the table would be crazy. I like the idea of putting plates at places, I am using place cards. I have smaller plates for children. I am having a neice from Quebec with her son, and my grandchildren don't know him, so I want them to sit together. I will put cutlery down, plates down and they can get their own. I think I will just put salal bowls with salad, as not many children like salad. Thanks for opening my eyes. There are going to be 13 and I think of my dear mother, she would never set a table for 13, so I think I will have my little grandson sit in high chair, and that is not at table. I think that will do.
thanks and have a Happy Thanksgiving in Nov.
Hi again: I am not using talbe cloth, just place mats some suitable for children, rest for adults, and they compliment each other.
Froo Froo, I did know about removing the charger before the main course is served, but I break with etiquette there as I like the look with the charger under the dinner plate. Luckily, most of my guests are nice enough not to arrest me for etiquette violations. LOL!
Need to learn, I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow with your friends and family.
I too am a charger-holic and have several sets from formal to informal. I feel chargers enhance the setting therefore I tend to keep mine on till the dessert course. Etiquette, schmediquette!
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