Good Food Blog
Size mattersPosted at 1:08PM, 16 February 2009 by Carol Wilson - Food writer
I get to eat out quite a lot, not only in the northwest of England where I live, but all over Britain. And one of the major differences I've found between restaurants in the north and south of England is the size of portions.
Recently I was invited to a delicious set lunch in a fine dining pub in Lancashire. A thick piece of toasted home made bread topped with a generous layer of melted Lancashire cheese, covered with strips of crisp bacon accompanied by a small salad was absolutely delicious. I'm not sure I can manage dessert, I commented, only to be told that that was only the first course! Sure enough, a substantial steak pudding accompanied by mashed potatoes and vegetables arrived, followed by apple pie and ice cream. I gave up a third of the way into the steak pudding! I just couldn't eat that amount of food at lunchtime - or probably at any other time.
It seems the smaller the portions, the higher the price - in smart restaurants in London, at any rate.
In stark contrast, when I eat in restaurants in the south, the meals are doll-sized. I had dinner at a top London restaurant which started with a postage stamp sized piece of rye bread, topped with a sliver of smoked salmon and a few leaves that should have come with a magnifying glass. A main course of lamb was almost as miniscule and left me still hungry, so I ordered rice pudding to finish. I imagined this would be more filling and substantial - wrong! Two tablespoonfuls of creamy rice sprinkled with a little ground cinnamon looked lost in the centre of an enormous plate dusted with icing sugar. I left starving - and it wasn't cheap! It seems the smaller the portions, the higher the price - in smart restaurants in London, at any rate.
By comparison portion sizes in northern restaurants are huge. It seems such a shame that not to have any room left for the pleasure of tasting several things from the menu, including dessert. I asked one northern restaurateur why his servings were so generous. "We like to give value for money" he replied - "we don't want our customers to go away hungry or they won't come back!"
Why is there such a difference in serving sizes at opposite ends of the country? It's not just me - I've noticed in northern restaurants that many diners struggle with large helpings and tend to leave food. Not a trend I've noticed down south! I think there needs to be a happy medium; surely how much you eat is as important as what you eat?