THE entree, long the undisputed centerpiece of an American restaurant meal, is dead.
O.K., so maybe it’s not quite time to write the entree’s obituary. But in many major dining cities like New York, San Francisco and Chicago, the main course is under attack.
Although the entree’s ills were first diagnosed in the late 1990s, when the rise of small plates kicked off the tapafication of American menus, the attacks have become more serious lately.
Upstarts like the snack menu, with its little offerings of polpettine and deviled eggs, are encroaching from the flank. Crudi, salumi plates and cheese boards have piled on. The appetizer, once a loyal lieutenant, is demanding more attention on menus. Side dishes and salads, fortified by seasonal ingredients and innovative preparations, are announcing their presence with new authority.
But the gravest threat may be the dining public, which seems to have lost interest in big, protein-laden main dishes.
Most restaurants still offer gut-busting large portions, but a small ripple can become a tsunami.
Next time you are dining out, order an appetizer and a side dish or salad. Even go hog-wild and split a dessert. I willing to bet your hunger will be satisfied, you'll feel better and even your wallet will appreciate it.