We asked tableware suppliers for their tips on creating the wow factor on a budget.
An appealing table top is part of the whole dining experience and will need updating from time to time, but replacing a complete tableware collection may not make commercial sense in these difficult economic times.
Perhaps with the exception of some fine-dining establishments, current trends allow for the mixing and matching of dishes from more than one collection, and adding accent pieces now and again is a cost-effective way of refreshing the look of your tables.
1. Look for accent plates that will suit a changing menu
If you're looking for a non-standard plate or bowl suitable for a particular dish, perhaps to coincide with a seasonal menu change, give some thought to other dishes it could be used for as the seasons and menus change.
For instance, the large oval plate in Steelite International‘s FreeStyle range was designed to accommodate a large portion of fish and chips but can also be used in summer for salads or, with the addition of a small bowl, for serving dips.
2. Be creative with glassware
White is the dominant tableware colour, but accent colours are useful to give your table a fresh, new appearance. Coloured glassware, for wine or water, offers a high-impact splash of colour. John Artis has eye-catching glassware in cobalt blue, ruby red, misty blue and jet black. Also, items such as shot glasses, brandy goblets and sherry schooners from the Atoll, Disco and Helsinki ranges are an attractive way to serve an amuse-bouche in addition to drinks.
3. Buy a few items manufactured from alternative materials
Serving food on materials such as wood and slate can have a big impact on the dining experience, helping to make not only a good first impression but a lasting impression also. Wooden chopping boards, such as Stephensons‘ Olive Wood range, provides a different serving option for shared dishes, bread and butter, and dishes with dips, while slates are great for starters, canapés and daintier dishes.
4. Serve some dishes in oven-to-tableware pieces
Oven-to-tableware pieces can be used to create a sense of theatre when bringing food to the table and complement the consumer trend towards a home-from-home eating experience - and sharing plates if the pieces are multi-portion. It's a very inclusive way of dining for friends and family who can serve themselves and choose their own portion sizes. There's a wide range of pieces which invite diners to share while showcasing signature dishes and house specials, so pick two or three pieces that will really enhance your dishes.
The Belle Cuisine Collection of French white porcelain oven-to-tableware by Revol, and available from Bunzl Lockhart Catering Equipment, includes oval dishes, rectangular baking/roasting dishes, rectangular terrines with lids, cocottes (with or without lids), deep round dishes and oval crème brûlée dishes and all are oven (to 300°C) microwave, dishwasher and freezer (to -20°C) safe.
5. Source items that will suit different times of the day
For instance, during breakfast do you need holders for jams, conserves and sugar and maybe a bud vase; and for dinner service, do you require a condiment holder for oils, dressings and sauces, as well as a candle holder? WMF‘s PureExclusiv and Coffee Culture ranges are designed to be compatible with each other. The bud vase could hold a standard candle so you only require one item per table for both daytime and evening service. Or you could use the tealight holder, which also holds standard-sized candles, in the evening, but it will also serve as a holder for sugar bowls and a creamer during breakfast; and the egg cup and spoon holder could be used again as a creamer during dinner service.
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Bunzl Lockhart Catering Equipment