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Splitting an entrée: Frugal or cheap?

Actually, many readers said, it's not about the money. Restaurant portions are way too large.

By Karen Datko Mar 31, 2010 6:44PM

What’s one of the easiest ways to make dining out more affordable? Share an entrée, of course. It’s a big cost savings even if the restaurant charges a plate fee.


But after reading a Slashfood post, we suspect that your server may strongly object to this practice and view you as cheap.


“Servers generally hate sharing,” Hanna Raskin wrote. “… The decision to order one plate instead of two costs me about $5, a pretty significant sum that could have been used to buy my lunch the next day.”


Not only that, but the carefully crafted entrée is the “core element of the restaurant experience,” she said. Just as you wouldn’t pay to see only one act of a play, you also should expect to be served a full entrée.


By the way, if you insist on going the cheap route, make sure you expect to do the splitting yourself, and that the two of you tip as if you’d ordered two meals, she said.

Not amazingly, some of the readers of her post (and a hat tip to Kris at Cheap Healthy Good for the link) found her arguments lacking.


Among the objections:

  • Diners aren’t splitting entrées because of cost. It’s because the entrées are huge -- enough food for two or more. Not everyone wants to carry a doggy bag around all night, or revisit dinner as leftovers the next day -- and food should not be wasted. “I know as a server this is out of your control, but when portion sizes and prices return to something resembling a reasonable meal for a human (not an average size U.S. adult), we'll gladly order one entrée per person,” a reader named David Milam wrote.
  • Some people are trying to lose weight, like Karen in Denver and her husband. “My servers have even brought an extra plate and I make sure to tip extra for the consideration,” Karen wrote.
  • Should couples who can’t afford two entrées not be permitted to dine out?
  • Re her tipping suggestion, Alex’s comment sums up other readers' remarks: “The notion of tipping on what you could have ordered is absurd.”
  • The writer has the wrong attitude. “There are tons of crap customers who undertip, but if you think you're making less money on a significant scale because of shared plates, then I think you need to seriously rethink your concept of service,” “reallyct” wrote.

Another server named Hannah commented that splitting an entrée between two diners doesn’t bother her: “Saying that people can't share because of some imaginary ratio is just silly. That's like saying that people shouldn't go to a restaurant by themselves because then it's only one plate and that's a waste of a table.”


Have you ever split an entrée? Why or why not? If you do, how do you handle the tip?


Related reading:

Jul 14, 2011 8:18AM

I have spent a significant time of my career serving food -- often as a second job. I also have a high level of education and have held my fair share of office jobs. Believe it or not, I like serving. The money is great. It doesn't matter if a customer orders 1 entree or 2. Serving is about hospitality. Newsflash! When I am seated, I am thinking about my guests. That is it. What am I thinking about them? How to make them happy and comfortable. period. We have walked across the street to buy special ingredients for guests. I worked early in my career at Marriott Hotels. Accommodate, care and never be completely focused on the tip or the money -- guests see right through that. Bill Marriott provided great advice to all of us in the hospitality industry: treat a guest as you would if they were in your own house.


When you provide hospitality, caring and accommodation...the money follows.


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