Why Are Fine Dining Dishes So Small: 8 Mind-Blowing Reasons

Everybody is probably familiar with the small portion sizes that are served in fine dining restaurants. Whether you have seen Master Chef on tv or been inside one personally you know it’s true. With the expensive prices that the fine dining restaurants charge you might begin to wonder why on earth are the dishes so tiny? Well, there is a great answer to that.

This article will teach you everything there is to know about why fine dining restaurants have so small dishes, why they are usually so expensive, and some additional aspects about these types of restaurants that everyone that is interested in the subject should know. But first, why are fine dining dishes so small?

Fine dining restaurants aren’t only about eating. Smaller dishes are elegant which the chefs can make more attractive and they can play with the colors, smells, and tastes more easily. Also, the ingredients cost more, it feels more high-class, and there are multiple courses in the dining experience.

These reasons are more than enough to determine the small dish size of fine dining restaurants but there are still more to it so let’s take a closer look at every factor that plays a part in the size of the meals.

1. Small looks better

As you probably know, fine dining restaurants aren’t the everyday fast grab & grub establishment solely for the purpose to fill you up. In fine dining restaurants, people go in mostly because they want to try, taste, smell, and see new things out of the ordinary.

When the dish is small, the chefs have much more time to focus on the looks and little details they implement into the dish so that’s why these types of restaurants are the go-to places for dates and bigger events.

2. Ingredients cost more

Fine dining restaurants aren’t familiar with low-quality meats and carrots. They use high-quality ingredients from remote places and also some ingredients that are just expensive due to many reasons. Whether fine dining restaurants use some really expensive ingredients, the dishes aren’t finned with them so it really isn’t THAT much more expensive.

I have listed some popular ingredients that fine dining restaurant use which aren’t’ from the cheap end, take a look!

  • Lobster
  • Caviar
  • Oysters
  • Vanilla
  • Saffron
  • Duck
  • Wagyu Beef
  • Truffles
  • Frost salt
  • Certain vegetables & fruits
  • Certain cheeses

3. Easier to play with the food

The fact that you have a small plate to prepare it opens so many doors to focus on other things than the size. When you have many cool ingredients in your disposal and a small masterpiece to do it will be of much higher quality!

If you have ever seen when a chef crafts a fine dining dish live or from tv, you know how precise it is and how many details it may contain. This is one of the reasons why the dishes are smaller.

4. Several food courses

Most fine dining restaurants have not one, not two, but many more courses that they offer to the customer, therefore they need to be small in order that the customer can even finish the foods.

Most fine dining restaurants have at least 3 courses but they can go as high as 15 or more! Think about eating 15 dishes of burger and fries, good luck with that! Many high-end restaurants fall somewhere near the 7-course meals and you can see from below how it plays out!

  1. Hors d’oeuvre
  2. Soup
  3. Appetizer
  4. Salad
  5. Main course
  6. Dessert
  7. Mignardise

Pretty cool right? Well, let’s see what do you think about the 12-course meal!

  1. Hors d’oeuvre
  2. Amuse-bouche
  3. Soup
  4. Appetizer
  5. Salad
  6. Fish
  7. First main-course
  8. Palate cleanser
  9. Second main-course
  10. Cheese course
  11. Dessert
  12. Mignardise

By now you should get the idea of why the dishes need to be small if the customer is ever going to finish them.

5. Psychology of small portions

It’s funny how the human mind forks. When a restaurant charges many times to usual amount from a smaller amount of food, suddenly everyone needs to get a taste because the mind classifies it as a luxury because it is expensive and small.

It is an effective marketing technique as well when a great restaurant has really expensive prices and small dishes. Humans have the need to spend money sometimes and get something more beautiful, therefore fine dining restaurants are the restaurant type to ask someone to marry them or some other important life milestone.

6. Humans taste buds get bored

According to many studies, the human taste buds get used to the food’s taste after 4-5 bites, therefore the dishes need to be kept small and courses need to be increased because the customers will get more out of the experience with different tasting, smelling, and looking foods.

This is why many restaurants offer palate cleansers as one dish in the course to clean the tastebuds so they can proceed to taste with better senses.

If you are going into a fine dining restaurant you probably want food matching your money invested so the more amazing flavors you get, the better.

7. Foods design

When the chefs are crafting their art which it really is, it is easier to do so in a smaller area, that’s why there are always big plates with a small dish in the middle. It’s easier to craft and it looks way better as well.

Most fine dining restaurants are preparing the ingredients days before the actual dish and when it is time to craft it, they measure everything to the dot, place just the right amount of sauce to the right place, and decorate the dish with edible flowers, gold, or whatever so it will be visually as pleasing as possible.

8. The high-class experience

Finally, the fine dining experience is nothing less than high-class, and all the reasons above combined, the small dishes are just what the experience requires. When customers are coming in to dine, they expect small dishes that are full in terms of flavor, smell, looks and they want many of them.

What is the point of fine dining

The point of fine dining isn’t to go stuff yourself with the food you can find from the supermarket and be done with it but it has a deeper meaning. Fine dining restaurants are a place where you can try new flavors, smells, and visual presentations that aren’t usually found anywhere else.

Also, you can enjoy their exceptional customer service while dining in a beautiful and elegant restaurant with luxurious furniture and atmosphere. The price is according to these specs and mostly the dining experience takes hours in a fine dining restaurant.

Ultimately in most cases, it comes down to a special occasion that people want to celebrate in more unusual and nicer circumstances, like in a fine dining restaurant.

Why is fine dining so expensive

Fine dining restaurants are so expensive because they use only high-quality ingredients that most are rare or just really expensive. Also, the chefs take crazy amounts of time and effort preparing the dishes, the service quality is beyond exquisite, and everything else simply costs more for the restaurant.

And by everything I mean everything. Every piece of item and equipment is high quality from the food processors to the menu boards. Furniture is top-quality as well and so are the lights and tableware.

The chefs and waiters also get paid more in fine dining restaurants, therefore the meals and wine need to be more expensive as well. In a fine dining restaurant, you are paying for service, interior, preparation time, and the ingredients.

Read also: Why Is Seafood So Expensive?


Fine dining restaurants usually aren’t the most common place where you might dine and naturally you have a lot of questions about something that isn’t the everyday task. There are many valid reasons why fine dining restaurant dishes are so small and it is a good thing that they are so they can serve their true purpose which isn’t getting so stuffed that you can hardly move (Why Don’t Restaurants Use Metal Straws?) (Why Don’t Restaurants Use Metal Straws?).

I hope that this article gave you everything you need if you visit a fine dining restaurant, be sure to take it all in because it truly is an experience for the books!

Omar Abdalla

I’m the owner of JRS. While I love writing about food, I also enjoy peaceful and relaxed cookouts at home.

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