With more small plates and shared meals showing up in restaurants across the city, the concept of family-style dining looks like one of the burgeoning food trends for 2010.
Julian in Brookside opened with a Sunday-night family meal, while the Westside Local, Extra Virgin, JP Wine Bar, Bluestem, Brio Tuscan Grille, The Drop, Garozzo's, and One80 all have small plates on their menu. Bo-Lings has Dim Sum on Sundays, which is not only kid friendly, but almost requires a large group in order for you to taste everything.
And dinner parties are back in style thanks to food-preparation television programs and the desire for more economical nights out. That cultural trend will migrate to restaurants in 2010, as restaurateurs entice people to dine out again.
Family-style meals are accessible and have the appearance of -- or actual -- value. There's something satisfying in portioning out an oversize dish as if you'd made it for your family and friends. It's also a move towards less formal eating, because diners want to feel warm and comfortable when they sit down for a meal. The passing of wine and food is the foundation for conversation and engaging with your fellow guests.
For restaurants, family-style dining is a way to simplify menus and is a nice compliment to the use of seasonal ingredients. Service is more straightforward and you don't have to worry about substitutions or the challenges of splitting a check.
In a culture of individuals, we're all still looking for someone to break bread with and family-style meals are one answer.
[Image via Flickr: basykes]