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Restaurant Trend Alert: Large Format Meals

NYC tastemakers from Momofuku to the Breslin are all about making meals an event
 Bo Ssäm at Momofuku
 
 

Let’s face it: when you hit up a restaurant with friends, who isn’t passing around loaded forks and bread plates to share across the table? Anyone who’s ever rounded up a posse for Korean BBQ or 7 món knows exactly how fun big communal meal can be. Eating as a social event is ingrained in our nature, and when you’re eating delicious food worth sharing it’s that much better. Now, some major players in the restaurant industry are picking up on that and using it to drastically reinvent the prix fixe menu. Static, delicately plated tasting menus are moving over to make room for large format dishes meant to be shared.

Grub Street New York reports that a number of high-end restaurants throughout NYC are now offering what’s being referred to as a large format meal. Momofuku Ssäm Bar has been at the forefront of the movement with its Bo Ssäm large format meal, which honors Korean communal meal traditions by serving up “a whole slow cooked pork shoulder, a dozen oysters, white rice, bibb lettuce, ssäm sauce (korean bbq sauce), kimchi and ginger scallion sauce” to tables of up to ten people. Its $200 price tag (not counting tax, tip, or drinks) is a bit much if you’re dining alone, but with a full table it’s not half bad. Momofuku also recently expanded its large format meal options with a $140 whole rotisserie duck for up to six guests.

 

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But David Chang isn’t the only one getting in on the large format meal action – restaurants like The Breslin and Daisy May’s BBQ are running with the large format meal idea with major events like a whole roasted suckling pig or lamb feast. Daisy May’s Whole “Big Pig Gig” runs $480 (plus drinks et al) for up to 12 people – that’s $40 per at max pig capacity – while the Breslin’s Chef’s Table Lamb Dinner raises the bar at $95 per person (for parties of 8 to 12).

Grub Street asked: is this a good deal? It definitely is for the restaurants. Cooking one dish for an entire party (as opposed to different dishes for each diner) means less work for chefs and all that concentration is going into one dish done well. Bonus: large groups (especially those splitting one check) are a lot more likely to drink more, which only enhances totals.

That said: it’s also good for diners as long as they go into the meal smartly. Make sure you max out your party seats for the best price point, and think of a large format meal less as “just dinner” and more like “dinner and a show.” The food is usually presented beautifully (and photo-worthy, you Yelpers and bloggers), and it’s an awful lot of fun. So restaurateurs: consider cooking up something big for your menu. And, diners: make your reservations and prepare to dig in.



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