A Spoon-Full of Dinner

Maybe I’m old school or maybe it’s because I just about remember the insurgence & demise of Cordon Bleu cookery, then a decade later the Modern British minimalist style arising in London, now we have the tweezer generation.

  I love food – – I’m not a greedy pig (ish!), I’m not into eating until I can’t move consuming buffets full of nonsense, I’m not into eating competitions or gorging myself immobile. Plus, half the week I fast on my 3:4, so I’m not used to eating bucket loads.

But I love food – – I simply want to go out to a restaurant and walk away not wanting to grab a bag of chips on the way home.

Nowadays in some establishments when you’re served your main course, you look at it thinking ‘is that it’, then you reach for your glasses or a magnifying glass and assess a way to enjoy it slowly.

Because when you only get a dollop of this, a smudge of that and an exceedingly small piece of fish or meat you need to make it last more than one swallow.

Your mind buzzes – – for example if I only have 2 slithers of carrot I need to stretch them out, I’ll cut them in half and eat them in every other go. Then you think, hang on a minute there is just one single slim quenelle of puree – I’ll have to eat half a teaspoon with every quarter of lamb chunk. And what about the smear of squash puree – I’ll be lucky if I can stretch that to two tastes. So, begins the thoughtful well planned ‘Eat-ful-ness’ with a plate that’s 75% clean.

You can’t just tuck in – – – oh, no, if you did that it would be ready steady gone and at £15 – 25 a main course you need to stretch it out to at least ten minutes.

I mean it will look amazing, I’ll even take a picture and revel in the flavours of every mini mouthful – – – But I yearn for more and am sad when my 5thminiscule fork full has cleared the plate, even the micro pea shoots and wisps of nothingness have vanished. And I’m left with the feeling of remorse – – oh well I think, at least there’s dessert.


BUT then it happens all over again.


And before I get Instagram or twitter rants from chefs (like last time when I moaned about certain cafes charging a premium for afternoon tea, SOME not the 85% that don’t!!!!!)

– – – – –  I’m probably not talking about you, not all restaurants serve up farts of food.

Only yesterday I was lavishing in the Assembly rooms on a generous, satisfying and perfectly portioned dish of pork, with a generous dollop of mustard mash and tender greens. You see if this was in a tweezer restaurant it would be a one inch chunk of pork fillet with a dessert spooned quenelle of mash and a few micro herbs placed on for good measure with a knat’s swirl of jus and if lucky a smudged tea spoon splodge of some puree or another.


Don’t get me wrong – I love food, the flavours, the presentation, the smells, the gorgeousness of it all – I just want more if it. I’m even happy to pay lovely amounts of money for it – – but I want to feel that I’ve eaten and not lived through the blitz.


Its ok when you get a taster menu – – you want small and delicately arranged food. Benedict’s thrilled me with seven courses of gorgeousness – all perfectly balanced with just enough to allow you to enjoy the next course, and the next, and the next.

Roger Hickman delighted me with home-made breads and three courses of well portioned scrumptiousness, delighting diners with additional delights.

Haggle filled me with tender chicken ‘mangled’ to smokey yumminess with fluffy rice and fragrant Arabic salad.

And so on and so on – to all the amazing restaurants who get their portions just right for mummy bear.


You see the thing is recently I’ve been to two restaurants with mean portions – – YES MEAN. That’s what’s brought all this on. I’m not naming names, I’m here to promote, that’s why I secretly rant!!! (hopefully no one’s reading this).


The first was a gorgeous Sunday Roast, way out in the country in deepest Norfolk. I wrongly decided not to go for a starter, thinking an English main and a pudding would be more than enough with Sunday portions.

Oh, how I was wrong. The Roast came as it so often does these days, pilled in the middle of the plate and topped with a scrumptious Yorkshire – but of course to eat it you have to pile it back down again, set the yorkie on the edge and ask for more gravy – – because of course yorkies need splitting open and soaking in jus. SO, when the roast was rearranged – it consisted of 2 thin slices of beef, one mini floret of cauli cheese, 2 strands of cabbage and a ¼ of a carrot, along with 3 roasties.

Three roasted potatoes would have been fine, but they were quite hard and dry, everything else was perfect.

Not really a lavishly indulgent vegetable laden plate of Sunday yumminess.

Again, I found myself rationing fork full’s & rota-ing vegetable matter to make it last – – –  it was bloody Sunday, nobody should fast on a Sunday!


Then we went to what I would call a posh restaurant, you know, one for couples, perfect for indulgent evenings, good traditional classic modern refined food and wine, white table cloths and good service.

I again decided to miss the starter – – my husband’s came as an inch circle in the middle of an enormously large plate (it could have comfortably sat on an espresso saucer) –  filled with a mini circle off not a lot. We looked at each other – – and after he tried each element with a toothpick, he spooned it down in one – just because he could!!!

Oh, well I thought the main will be generous.

Nooooooooo, (I’m guessing here but) I think I got 50g of meat, 20-30g of vegetable and a dessert spoon of sauce.

Of course, it looked nice and tasted great – – but there wasn’t a bloody-nuff.

Oh, how I regretted not ordering a starter. But then would a dessert spoon of starter make much difference?


Yes, I know – – I will next time. Next time I will sneakily peer on to people’s tables and gaup at their plates so I can pre-asses if it’s a ‘tweezer-joint’ and if it is I will most definitely order 3 courses and a side or two of vegetables.

Of, course it will cost as much as Benedict’s tasting menu (true perfection) when I’ve finished the add on’s & supplement’s, which I will resent enormously but at least I’ll walk away full.


And that’s obviously what it’s all about these days – the need to have 3 small balanced dishes, so you’re not too full and there’s plenty of room for a case of wine – unfortunately I don’t drink!


I’m in it for the food !


Is it just me ?


Anyway, it’s just the fashion it will all be over within a few years when something else takes over. I’ve seen the minimalist look come and go.

And let’s face it some portions can’t get much smaller or they’d disappear.

10 – 20% that’s all I’m asking for – – –


Not Daddy Bears porridge, that’s too big – – that’s a buffet of beige fried pre-frozen, nastiness topped off with soggy noodles.

Not Baby Bears porridge – – we know how that ended BUT

Mummy Bears porridge – medium, not too sweet, not too large, well balanced and just enough for a medium adult bear.


Happy eating – – don’t stop for chips on the way home!

By Zena Leech-Calton ©