Imagine you’re sitting in a popular Manhattan restaurant. The meal you’ve just finished was worth every calorie and every dollar. Now it’s time for dessert – the best part of the meal. Every wondered why restaurants rarely offer fruit plates? I think I know the answer, but more on that later.
That spectacular fruit plate pictured above passes the Kiss test with flying colors. Edible proof that compliance and correctness don’t have to always mean the Kiss of Death.
For a restaurant to be willing to make a fruit plate, two things are required. Personalized attention and a knowledgeable chef de cuisine. At this particular restaurant, we were privileged to have both in the same person. Seasonal perfectly ripened fruit is a challenge under the best of condition and most restaurants, even good restaurants, aren’t staffed to handle the challenges.
The ingredient list for the plate in descending order by weight could not be more straightforward: nectarine, peach, blackberries, raspberries. And if you check the food composition stats for fruit, most of the weight is water weight. Not just any old tap water weight but naturally rich vitamin / mineral infused water including potassium plus assorted bioactives / phytonutrients depending on the color of the fruit.
A fruit plate for me is the perfect choice after any meal, but especially after a heavy meal. My gut appreciates that refreshing wonderful slightly acidic water. Cool, wet, refreshing, and sweetened just enough with natural intrinsic sugars.
THE VIEW FROM MY KITCHEN WINDOW
So why don’t more restaurants offer fruit plates?
From the restaurant perspective, it’s actually cheaper and easier to offer a traditional dessert. Fresh fruit is perishable. Stone fruits and berries have a finite shelf life and bruise easily. Apples need to be under constant refrigeration and humidity once they are picked. Melons will keep okay for a while until you cut them open … To sum it up, most fruits are just not good keepers.
Again from the restaurant perspective, it’s easily to stay in business providing foods the customer wants to eat and for many, dessert is the “best part of the meal”. The restaurant we ate at had many options. Here’s the three I can remember:
• Homemade ice cream – a couple of scoops made with heavy cream from grass-fed cows.
• Panna cotta – an Italian creation made from cream, sugar, buttermilk and molded with gelatin for spectacular presentation.
• Valhrona chocolate cake – one of the world’s finest chocolates mixed with almond meal, wheat flour, sugars, butter, and eggs.
Calorie rich combinations of fat and sugar are significantly more popular that a simple fruit plate. Even the restaurant owner admitted he’d rather have ice cream than fruit.
So why don’t restaurant offer seasonal fruit plates? Because the numbers just don’t add up. The product is temperamental with limited shelf stability, requires staff time and expertise, and the customer has no interest.
A fresh seasonal fruit plate is my choice after a heavy meal but for most restaurant customers it’s just one more example of “healthy” as the Kiss of Death.