Goodbye, multi-course menus, hello communal eating

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Read my blog and join the conversation: www.HOTELSMag.com, 8/19/13, by Yvette Jong, Craft House Consulting

"I always think food on someone else's plate tastes better than mine. If we're eating at a restaurant, I'll undoubtedly be disappointed if I don't get to taste what you've ordered. Communal eating is something I grew up with — from Chinese banquets to potlucks, Thanksgiving Day feasts to barbecues. Eat a bit of this and a tad of that, share stories, laugh out loud, take your time, take a break and go back for more. Succumb to a food coma.
But it isn't just me. The onslaught of restaurants geared towards communal eating can't be ignored. Why? People are looking for social and casual dining experiences without sacrificing food quality. In a recent conversation with Nyesha Arrington, former executive chef at the Wilshire in Santa Monica and “Top Chef” alum, she noted, "The number of special occasions that call for formal multi-course dining experiences are few and far between. People want simple, unpretentious food, small plates and social environments." They're even opting to choose tapas and hot pot for celebratory occasions. So will we see hotel restaurants develop communal eating concepts?

Yes.

I recently returned from Palm Beach where my team ate at HMF, the new dining concept at the historic Breakers.

Gorgeously designed by Adam Tihany, perfectly tailored uniforms on picture-perfect employees (they actually look like they do in the photos), awesome music and seamless service make you feel like you're on the set of “Mad Men.” The service gave me goosebumps, but I'll save that for another blog. What I want to talk about is HMF’s menu and tagline — "Social Drinking and Eating." Fun and diverse sharing plates and great menu titles were so quirky I had to steal a menu. And how does HMF do? Each time we went the restaurant was packed and the bar had no standing room even though the menu had no main courses.

It's an idea — and a good one. Explore."

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