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Serving size portions in restaurants in France

I will be traveling to Alsace & Provence this month. Many times when eating out in US restaurants my husband & I share a meal as the portions are so generous. My question is whether French restaurants generally have large portions & would it acceptable to get a "split plate" in restaurants in cities & smaller towns in Provence and Alsace?

Posted by
479 posts

From my experience, portions in Alsace can be large enough to split or just the right size for one person. I have experienced both. It all depends on the places you go.

Turn it into an opportunity. Tell a waiter about how disgustingly large many portions are at restaurants in America. You can use that to start up a conversation. Then the waiter may be willing to tell you.

However, remember that you're in France, and all stereotypes have at least some grain of truth in them. I know RS is a big French apologist, but my experience is that the French are easily offended and have a large encyclopedia of faux pas. Even if the portions are large, there is a good chance that they would expect you to buy 2 plates anyway.

Posted by
3551 posts

It can be difficult and apparently insulting to split a plate at a restaurant. My friend an I asked to split a price fixed 3 course meal. She ate the salad , I ate the entree and both to split dessert. They charged us xtra 3 euros which we agreed to but they were very snotty and mean from then on.
however we found in a casual or self serve type cafe it is no big deal.

Posted by
683 posts

The prior pooster has apparently never been to an American diner or cafe where they explicitly state on the menu that "plate sharing" is either not allowed or will be assessed an extra $2 to $4. I see that all the time. So, it isnt just France.

Posted by
138 posts

Paul and Sara - we don't have diners in Walnut Creek, we only have fancy restaurants where the waiters are used to cater to every whim of very spoiled customers;) and no, they don't charge for plate splitting.
In Strasbourg, in the old-fashioned, traditional restaurants the portions are huge, plenty to share, but it is not culturally acceptable to do so. And I never would have the nerve to ask to take my leftovers with me, but two weeks ago oh how I wished I could, not being able to finish that gorgeous saddle of rabbit with that divine spaetzle!!! What a wonderful breakfast that would make the next day! Oh well, I have my memories:)

Posted by
3580 posts

Would it be too tacky to order one dish for each diner then simply trade plates midway through the meal? I would do this and expect no complaints from the "local customs" police. After all, if the restaurants are used to serving tourists, they must be aware that various customs exist in the world, including shifting the fork from left to right hand as we do, and drinking cappuccino in the afternoon.

Posted by
138 posts

Swan, I think having two plates on the table,one for each person, and then trading them is perfectly fine. My mother and I did it many times. In this case, we usually ordered a large green or/and vegetable salad and a meat/fish course. If we had only one plate to eat from, that would be uncouth.

Posted by
11466 posts

I thk that plate sharing really depends on the type of place one is at,, for instance, my friend and I would often stop at little cafes for a snack when we were in Paris this past August. I might order a salad and she often would just have a drink. No one seemed to care at lunch time or in the afternoon, we did not try that at dinner time though, although we did do small orders, like I might have just a salad and she might just have soup. In casual cafes this raised no ire.
We did go to a restaurant one night that had marked on the top of the menu "no salad as dinner" . This was at Brasserie Lipp, a tacky little restaurant that trys to rest on its laurels as a former hangout for VIP's etc , but actual food was pedestrian at very best.

PS I almost forgot about " fork " passing,, LOL, I do think you must work much harder for you food that way,, LOL .

Posted by
2 posts

What!? You can't ask for your leftovers to go? Really? I love leftovers for breakfast. Will the waitstaff just not do it or is it rude? Or will the have no idea what I'm asking? Just curious (and disappointed!).

Posted by
935 posts

Yeah, I want to know why you can't bring leftovers with you, too. When we were in Prague, we got an AWESOME meal meant for two people, and we couldn't finish it, and we were able to get it wrapped to go. It made a GREAT breakfast two mornings later! (We had a micro and fridge in our apartment...)

Posted by
27 posts

I think you'll be hard pressed to get away with plate sharing, in general (cafes and small eateries less so). And FYI: Doggy bagging (anywhere) in France is a definite no-no (live there for 7 months like I have, and I think you'll agree). Same thing with wine: you "don't" take a partially finished bottle home with you - you drink it up at the restaurant! :) And in all seriousness, yes, that is the unspoken rule.