I am confused over the small dish concept that has become popular over the past few years. My impression is that it started with the tapas success of a few years ago, then Venetian cicchetti, and now a variety of other restaurants featuring small offerings of various cuisines is common. My question is how other Chowhounds have experienced this trend.
This weekend my wife and I celebrated an anniversary at a well-regarded local restaurant that says it features small plates to share. The first dishes we ordered were ceviche-style raw fish plates which were large for apps and plenty enough to share and we were given plates on which to share them. Then these plates were removed and our salad orders arrived which were quite large for regular salad service and with no means to share them. Then the mains arrived which were small for full orders but with sharing of each could have been satisfying. Only, again, no means of sharing was provided. We could have asked for share plates, as our first server had called them, but that seemed as if it should be unnecessary in a "small plates to share" place.
My previous (limited) experience with small plate service had been with truly small plates, enabling each diner to order several dishes and enjoy a variety of flavors at one meal. (Which became a fairly expensive meal, I might add, but represented a labor intensive kind of restaurant service.) At this recent experience, we had dishes that were too big to be small plates or too small to be full orders. Only the ceviche apps worked as small dishes to share.
I wonder what other 'hounds have experienced with so-called small plates. Is this still a growing trend? Where small plates are served, are they starting to grow into larger than small but smaller than full plates? And how is sharing handled in places where it seems to be part of the dining plan, as opposed to the usual Chowhound "try some of this" dining?