The shareability phenomenon isn’t going anywhere, as diners continue to seek out “for the table” offerings that allow everyone to have a taste or two in amiable companionability. But the dishes offered in these formats have moved far beyond those perennials favorites of pizza or French fries and have considerably upped both their culinary game and their irresistible cachet for diners.
These days, large-format dining usually involves one or more large dishes designed specifically to be enjoyed as a group, not just doubled-up orderings of several entrees. With their one-of-a-kind distinction and celebratory feel already built in, these dishes tend to allow for stronger pricing models and more robust revenue generation.
Whole gator gone wild
Often, the format calls for an over-the-top animal protein, perhaps best exemplified by the Brooklyn-meets-Bayou venue Gumbo Bros, whose co-owner, Adam Lathan, jokingly describes himself as the premiere whole-alligator roaster in New York city (not that there’s much competition for the title). According to a recent Daily Beast story on whole-gator cooking by Pervaiz Shallwani, “The latest novelty in whole animal cooking, gator seems to be a phenomenon that has been gaining strength over the past decade.”
Pig heads or tails
If gator isn’t your thing, perhaps your next outsized special could be from a more traditional source, like pork. But hold on to your hat — the trendiest shareable part of a swine these days is – you guessed it – the head. One of the first chefs to popularize shareable pig’s head as an entree was James Beard-winning chef Jonathon Sawyer at his Cleveland gastropub The Greenhouse Tavern, where it’s on the brunch menu under the cheeky description of Face & Eggs: roasted pig’s head served with BBQ sauce, fried eggs and a brioche bun.
At Boston’s Craigie on Main, chef Tony Maw serves up a large-format meal of confit and roasted milk-fed pig’s head with sides of Bibb lettuce, spicy pumpkin sambal and boudin noir-hoisin sauce.
Please, just a steak
Big beef can also be beautiful, as exemplified by Boston-based RUKA, a Peruvian-Asian fusion concept that serves a 24-ounce prime corazon de ribeye served with miso mushrooms, curly salt-and-pepper-chips and piri amarillo sauce.
At Yvonne’s Restaurant and Supper Club, also in Boston, diners have several large-format protein options, including Hong Kong beef brisket, which spends 24 hours in a char siu marinade before being seasoned with Five-Spice Hot Pot and served with crunchy garlic, chili noodles, pea pod stems, sprouts, black mushrooms, Napa cabbage. Yvonne’s also goes big with its 32-ounce Niman Ranch long bone ribeye steak, served with steak fries, black garlic butter and marinated mushrooms.
Get inspired with Marzetti appetizer recipes to make shareable meals more accessible for your diners.