Quick Update for a Beautiful Table Setting

Photo: sophiecarnay

Now that North Americans are finally starting to drop the quick grub-grabbing in front of the TV, in favour of sit-down meal-times as a well-deserved break in the hectic day, and now that we’re entertaining more and cooking more at home, suddenly we’re looking at the table settings again!

It’s fair to say that tabletops are seen as a more important aspect of home decor than at any other time in the last ten years. So, why not change them up to suit the season or the occasion?

A TV host said recently that your table linen is the “fashion” part of the dining room, and I do know what she was getting at — next to flowers and/or your centrepiece, changing the fabric elements — tablecloth, runner, placemats, napkins — is just about the easiest and least expensive way to update your dining room style.

But I’m going to add another thought to that — with the reminder of that tragically under-used piece of tableware, the decorative charger or “service plate” as it may sometimes be called.


Tracy Porter floral charger Imagine a table dressed in creamy linen and candlelight, with Tracy Porter’s richly patterned floral charger plate (at PitneyManor.com) waiting for a wonderful meal to be served up on that classic, my favourite, pure white china

Chargers are those large plates that are already set in place when you arrive at the table, and receive the plates of food as each course is served. Some American restaurants will leave the charger on the table throughout the meal, but traditionally you’d remove the charger from the table before presenting the dessert course.

Actually, I had dinner with a chef just last night, and we got talking about this. Armel did a bit of a rant on the subject — he and I agree that the charger should be removed when the serious business of dining is done, so the replete diners may linger over coffee and cognac and conversation, with elbows on the table, in the old world way.

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