With the excellent exception of Chinese food, family-style meals traditionally get a bad rap, thanks to those cheesy chain restaurants that dish out enormous platters of subpar pasta. But over the past two years, a host of Seattle restaurants, including some of our most acclaimed spots, have adopted this collegial, collective approach to dinner.
Unlike a prix fixe meal, where everyone at the table receives the same courses on individual plates, family-style meals mean helping yourself from large serving platters of main dishes and sides. ¶ Dining family style is an unfussy concept that works well in unfussy Seattle: Passing around a platter of fried chicken among family or friends is a less awkward version of the communal table—shared with strangers—that remains trendy in restaurants; something that many keep-to-ourselves Seattleites can’t quite embrace.
And while it’s fun to trade bites of various entrées, a meal is truly a communal experience when everyone has the same thing on the plate. Since chefs in our city tend to get giddy about sourcing good, seasonal produce, this format often lets those vegetable dishes shine rather than being relegated to a tiny portion alongside a meat or seafood main event. Put simply, family-style meals showcase some of the best elements of Seattle’s food scene. And quite often, the food is spectacular.
For restaurants, this format means easier service. For diners, the set menu is almost always a better value—and a great way to gather over the holidays.
The one irony of dining family style: Not every menu is designed with younger family members in mind; the food can be somewhat challenging to young palates. But thanks to the proliferation of family and off-menu meals, you can indulge every day of the week without keeping a single dish to yourself.
Behold, our recommended family-style weekly meal plan:
Fried chicken dinner at Brave Horse Tavern
South Lake Union, 310 Terry Ave. N; 206.971.0717; bravehorsetavern.com
>> At Tom Douglas’ casual, Western/industrial bar and restaurant (for ages 21 and older), comforting side dishes revolve around plates of chef Brian Walczyk’s chicken, with its crunchy crust, brined in juice from house-made pickles. Helpings get dished up in the kitchen (so, a variation on “family style”); each person’s plate costs $14 and comes heaped with chicken and seasonal sides, such as mashed potatoes or macaroni salad, and perhaps some braised greens and dinner rolls. This isn’t a fancy affair; games are usually playing on the large screens. Downstairs, sibling restaurant Cuoco creates family-style meals, slightly more upscale (think tagliatelle with seasonal vegetables, smoked pork shoulder and chocolate budino, aka pudding), on Sundays for $25 per person.
To find out what our friends at Seattle Magazine have recommended for family-style dining for the remainder of the week check out the full article by clicking here.
This is our weekly guest post from our friends at Seattle Magazine, which keeps readers on the pulse of restaurants, personalities, arts, entertainment and culture that reflect the tapestry of our dynamic landscape. We’ve teamed up for an exciting partnership to bring you a weekly dose of fantastic Date Night ideas throughout greater Seattle.