11 best serving dishes
From saving on the washing up to serving your most impressive recipe on something that looks as good as the meal, pick one of these platters to do the job
Some might say serving is the fun part of cooking, after all the hard work’s been done. As dishes come in all shapes and sizes, your choice will, of course, depend on what you want to serve and to whom – feeding your nearest and dearest with a hearty bowl of pasta is very different from dishing up your smartest recipe at a dinner party.
That said, there are less obvious checkpoints, too: are you looking for something that will withstand the microwave, fridge or dishwasher? Does it need to be shatterproof for al fresco dining or thermal shock resistant if it’s an oven-to-table dish? These are all things to consider, as well as how the item looks and what it costs.
“Recently we have seen a change in emphasis where people are now keen to purchase oven-to-table items and use these as their serving dishes,” says Samantha Harvey, cookery school and events manager at Divertimenti, London.
"The benefits of this include using one pot for cooking and serving, which is easy for cleaning, and, with a wider selection of premium pots and pans to suit any table setting now available, this is becoming a trend. We have particularly seen a resurgence in the use of tagines which fit the oven-to-table bill and also make for a talking point."
Harvey adds that despite this, the traditional serving plate is still here to stay. We've compiled a list of our favourite serving dishes, which include a variety of designs and styles. Whichever type you choose is sure to make a statement on your dinner table.
Paule Marrot platter: £38, Anthropologie
A Parisian textile artist who made her name in the 1920s, Paule Marrot’s art was said to have captured the emotion of happiness. Certainly it’s hard to resist this beautiful platter from Anthropologie and, to keep smiling, you could pile it with sweet treats for a spoiling afternoon tea.
At 37cm it’s a good length, with a height of 2.5cm. It’s dishwasher and microwave safe, too. Anthropologie also sells a blue-motif jug, which would make the perfect match on the tea table.
Emile Henry tajine: £88, Emile Henry
This elegant grand cru tagine by Emile Henry makes for a striking centrepiece on the table and is a stylish oven-to-table buy. Thermal shock resistant, and traditional in appearance, Emile Henry products are made in France and available in a variety of sizes and colours.
Perfect for gently cooking simmered recipes on gas, electric or halogen plates, or in the oven, the shape of the lid allows the steam to circulate for deliciously tender results. It will make a statement on the table as well as keeping your meal toasty. The larger size (32cm) comes in three colours and serves up to 10 people.
Le Creuset signature cast iron casserole in ultra violet: £225, Le Creuset
A classic piece by Le Creuset, this 24cm cast iron casserole dish is a staple on wedding lists, and rightly so. Vibrant, robust and easy to use, it’s the perfect oven-to-table dish for one-pot casseroles or stews and it can be used on all hob types, including induction, as well as in the oven. Once it’s out of the heat, the cast iron keeps the food warm for longer at the table, too.
Best known for its flaming volcanic shade, Le Creuset’s new colour for SS19 is the striking, modern ultra violet. It’s not the cheapest piece on this list, but was hand-crafted at the almost 100-year-old French foundry, and will last decades –and if it doesn’t you're covered, as it comes with a lifetime guarantee.
Wedgwood gio oval platter: £52, Wedgwood
For a sleek modern take on a classic British brand, Wedgwood’s new "gio" collection features stylish white fine bone china with a distinctive intaglio texture – the quality of which stands out up close. Safe to use in dishwashers and microwaves, this collection is designed for everyday use, though, in truth, it’s more than elegant enough for when you have company, too, and is perfect for canapés or tapas-style dishes.
The "gio" collection has been designed to work with other Wedgwood ranges, such as its "arris" collection, for a more dramatic evening look.
Burleigh blue regal peacock rectangular dish: £48, Havens
Burleigh’s Chinese-style "blue regal peacock" collection was a favourite with Queen Mary when it launched in 1913 and its popularity has endured. It’s clear why – the collection has a timeless style and you can tell this earthenware dish has been lovingly crafted and decorated – which it has at Middleport Pottery in Stoke-on-Trent, where you can tour the factory.
Not suitable for the oven or freezer, this product is safe to use in the microwave and dishwasher, though you might need to take care with the latter. It’s a delicately beautiful, versatile piece, which, at 34cm long with a shallow lip, could serve anything from roast meat on Sundays to cake at teatime.
Sophie Conran for Portmeirion shell shaped serving platter and bowl: £55, Portmeirion
Inspired by the designer’s personal collection of sea shells, this creamy white platter (35.5cm) and bowl (12cm) are new this month in the Sophie Conran for Portmeirion collection. Like the "bordallo pinheiro" range, the shell shape imitates nature with an appealingly asymmetrical design – the lip of one side of the platter is higher than the other.
Its simple elegance makes it a gorgeous addition to the table not only for seafood but also for canapés or crudités served with dips. Another piece that can transferred seamlessly from oven to table, the platter is also freezer, dishwasher and microwave safe.
Emma Bridgewater black toast serving bowl: £49.95, Emma Bridgewater
In the much-loved "toast and marmalade" collection, with its trademark dark script by modern potter Emma Bridgewater; the black toast serving bowl is a cosy classic that scrubs up well, it works equally as well in the kitchen and on the dining room table.
With a diameter of 23.3cm and height of 9.1cm, it’s a decent size and is dishwasher and microwave safe, too. It’s perfect for the veggies it advertises inside and out, but would work well for rice or fruit as well.
Eddingtons savino leaf melamine serving bowl: £20, John Lewis & Partners
If you’re looking for something to help you dream of summer picnics, this might be the thing. With a cheery tropical leaf pattern, the savino serving bowl is safe for the freezer and dishwasher – and if you haven’t discovered Eddingtons’ melamine range yet, you have a treat in store.
Melamine is super-light and tough, making it perfect for picnics, parties or even a bite by the pool. Plus, it looks as pretty as a ceramic dish and lasts a lot longer than soggy paper plates.
John Lewis & Partners wire serving bowl: £18, John Lewis & Partners
Clearly not the right choice for serving rice, this striking brass-plated bowl, with a height of 10.5cm and a diameter of 25cm, is much better suited to serving naan breads or holding fruit and will make a stylish addition to the table.
This handmade piece is, of course, not going to be used in the microwave or dishwasher, but it’ll make a bold statement with or without food in it.
Bordallo Pinheiro salad bowl 35: £47, eu.bordallopinheiro.com
The vintage appeal of Bordallo Pinheiro, which you may recognise from your parents’ or even your grandparents’ tables, is back on trend with its vibrant colours and inspired-by-nature designs. Handmade and hand-painted in Portugal, the watermelon salad bowl brings a splash of humour to the table, imitating nature with the slight irregularity of its shape and the texture of the pulp and detailing of the seeds. A good size at a diameter of 35cm, this earthenware dish is perfect for serving fresh fruit or salad in summer.
Evora terracotta salad bowl: £20, Waitrose & Partners
There’s so much to love about this Évora salad bowl, which makes its debut in the Waitrose spring collection this season: the cheery blue and white stripes, which sit so well with the natural terracotta, its wallet-friendly price and its more than ample size.
Made in Portugal, it’s dishwasher and microwave safe and is just right for piling high with salad or veg this Easter.
Available 7 March
Verdict: Serving platters
It’s tricky to compare such wide-ranging products but the Paule Marrot platter from Anthropologie is pretty and eye-catching and a really useful size, while you can’t argue with the quality of brands like Wedgwood, Burleigh or Le Creuset.
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