The Dish: Buying Restaurant Dinnerware for Home
Can you buy dishes designed for restaurants and bars? Yes, you can. And you should. Imagine wowing family and friends serving your next feast on restaurant quality plates. Or elevating your humble yet famous Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Crispy Sage in a bowl built to showcase the food. You deserve to enjoy that dining out feel every day.
How you buy dishes designed for foodservice is a little different, though. We are here to help.
Like chefs and restaurant owners you should have an idea of budget, material, pieces, sizes and quantity you need - the business part. The fun part is choosing the colour, shapes, textures and patterns.
Don’t expect a bargain, but do expect quality. Seriously, if you are looking for cheap dishes, you aren’t going to find them here. No bar or restaurant owner or chef is going to purchase dishes that need to be replaced after a short period of time. Remember that a dinner plate that may get used once a day at your house might get used 10 times a day or more in a busy casual restaurant.
Cost comes down to material, features and design. Like most things, you get what you pay for. And the cost starts with the material.
A classic choice. Delicate in appearance but bone china is sturdy stuff. Bone china is a type of porcelain that is traditionally made with animal bone ash. The amount used varies between manufacturers.
China (and Fine China)
A type of porcelain, china (and fine china) is made much the same way as bone china but does not contain any bone ash. China offers excellent durability and can be molded into many different shapes and textures.
Porcelain dinnerware is fired (heated) to a different temperature than china resulting in a slightly different end product than china. It is heavier than china and is not quite as durable but is less expensive.
NOTE: China or porcelain are words that are sometimes used interchangeably. However, they are manufactured differently and therefore have different features.
Stoneware is made of an expansion of clay, stone and flint making each piece unique. These pieces are sturdy but heavier than china or porcelain. Weight is less of an issue at home when you aren’t repeatedly carrying a tray of four stoneware plates full of food to the table.
Earthenware is a rustic choice, least expensive of the ceramic materials but also the least durable. Extra care is required to look after this dinnerware material properly.
Melamine, a type of plastic, is incredibly durable, lightweight and perfect for either indoor or outdoor entertaining. The styles, shapes, colours and textures of today’s melamine selection have elevated this dinnerware material choice. Some manufacturers have produced convincing melamine replacements for wood, slate and even stoneware.
There are two types of glass used to make dinnerware – tempered and vitrified. Tempered glass is processed to make the glass stronger and resistant to chipping and cracking. Vitrified glass is extremely durable.
DINNERWARE MATERIALS COMPARISON
China (Fine China)
depends on brand
From basic to formal, how you set your table is personal. Pick and choose the dinnerware pieces that suit your style. Remember to consider every day use and entertaining.
There is a plethora of plates available - dinner, side, salad, charger, serving, dessert, platters, saucers, pizza, chop and pasta. With that kind of selection, you can put together a place setting that matches your style and the types of foods you serve family and friends.
You will be bowled over (pun intended) with the choice in this category - salad, pasta, cereal, fruit, dessert, bouillon, nappy, handled, rice, sauce and ramekin styles available.
Coffee, tea, hot chocolate and apple cider you will find exactly what you need for the perfect sip - tall, short, handle, no handle and even stacking ones.
The size of dinnerware pieces you choose will depend on your space - tables, storage and dishwasher.
Think through your table sizes. All of them. Kitchen table, dining room and patio. If you have a breakfast nook or island bar also consider those measurements. Yes, a 12” dinner plate may be dramatic but if you can only fit 3 plates on your table meant for 4 that’s not going to work.
Set your table using cut out pieces or parchment or cardboard to see who it all fits together. A slightly smaller dinner plate, even by 1” could make a big difference.
Where you store your dishes also needs to be considered. Cupboards above the counter are not overly deep and those elegant platters that would be perfect for Steak House Night at Home might not fit. If you use drawers also be cautious of weight.
Some residential dishwashers have adjustable height racks, but many don’t. Unless you want to be washing dishes by hand, include these measurements as another consideration before choosing the size of your dinnerware pieces.
Dinnerware for restaurants isn’t sold in sets or place settings. You know, where you get 4 dinner plates, 4 side plates, 4 bowls and 4 mugs or some variation. Or when you think of “good dishes” where you purchase a place setting at a time – 1 plate, 1 salad plate, 1 side plate, 1 bowl, 1 cup and 1 saucer for example.
They are sold by the piece - plates, side plates, bowls, mugs, tea cups and saucers are all separately and typically, a minimum of a dozen at a time. However, some might be sold in packs up to 3 or 4 dozen or more. ChefEquipment.com makes it easy to determine how many pieces are in a pack with the pack size right in the name of the product in brackets. Cameo | Square Rounded Coupe Plate (1 DZ)
What if you only want 1 dozen of the Cameo | Fusion 9 ¼" Oval Flare Bowl? Split a pack with friends or family or give a spectacular gift to a fellow foodie.
Another bonus is that restaurant dinnerware patterns very rarely get discontinued. So, if you want to add pieces or need to replace pieces 1, 2 or even 10 years from now, there's a good chance the pattern will still be available.
If your culinary creations are restaurant quality don’t they merit being served on dinnerware of equal caliber. Infinitely customizable. Mixing and matching colours, shapes, textures and patterns. And able to pick the exact style and size of pieces you want. Why wouldn’t you buy restaurant dinnerware and dish out something delicious.