We want food to be served on plates, like normal, civilized Pandas. Don’t give us grub in avocado shells, slop on bits of wood, chips stuck in rocks, or sushi served in bonsai trees. We can’t take it anymore! We deserve to be treated properly, not like Dr. Frankenfood’s guinea pigs.
Thankfully, there’s an entire online community that’s dedicated to shaming truly egregious examples of restaurants serving food on stuff that makes us go, ‘Seriously, what the heck were they thinking?’ The ‘We Want Plates’ subreddit is home to 795k folks who have declared war on plateless food and drink presentation. We’ve collected the most horrifying recent photos to show you just how bad things can get when the people running things no longer have any link to reality.
Listen beautiful relax classics on our Youtube channel.
Scroll down for the crème de la crème of ideas that shouldn’t be repeated, ever. We guarantee that you’ll start respecting places that use actual plates far more from now on. In the meantime, try not to lose your appetite. And if you’d like some more awful plateless pics, here’s dessert in the form of Bored Panda’s most recent articles about r/WeWantPlates here and here. Bon appétit!
Bored Panda reached out to pie artist and the author of ‘Pies Are Awesome,’ Jessica Leigh Clark-Bojin, to have a chat about why some restaurants go overboard with food presentation, the importance of context, and how much the visuals impact our enjoyment of the entire meal. Jessica said that the adage that “we eat first with our eyes” is very true and that artful plating doesn’t mean randomness. There’s nothing wrong with fanciness, quality, and creativity if it’s all done right. Unfortunately, not everyone’s up to par.
#1 They Gave Me A Mirror So I Can Look At My Lonely Self
Image credits: Derockk
“The presentation of a dish—both the food and the serving vessels—can have a huge impact on the impression we have of the food we are about to consume. The most delicious-looking slice of beef wellington you’ve ever seen, plated on a chipped plate with a dirty thumbprint in the corner is just not going to be the taste sensation that it ought to be because you will be preoccupied with the grody presentation,” the talented pie artist explained. “Likewise, a fairly pedestrian mini cupcake, presented on a charming little gold carousel that you must hand crank to reveal your treat, is suddenly elevated by whimsical association.”
How food is served can play into a chef’s understanding of what gastronomic narrative they want to present to their guests. It acts as an amplifier and that’s why it’s always a risk: you can either make a great meal even better or you can crash the entire experience.
“When chefs go above and beyond in the consideration of the presentation of their food, it is because they are looking to craft a little narrative and add meaning to the experience of consuming their food. When done well, this added meaning enhances the guest’s experience and leaves a lasting pleasant impression. When done poorly, it detracts from the experience of eating the food and leaves guests frustrated, grossed out, or simply bemused,” pie artist Jessica shared with Bored Panda.
#2 The Cream Sauce Is Already Running Off The Sides, Can’t Wait For The Gravy To Go Everywhere As Well!
Image credits: DPick02
#3 Glazed Donut Grilled Cheese Hanging Over Tomato Soup
Image credits: BrauMoarBier
“Artful plating is not a competition to see who can inject the most randomness and absurdity onto a table! Unless of course, the meaning you want to impart has to do with conveying a sense of absurdity as a critical commentary on societal excess… but that’s a little meta for most chefs!”
According to the food expert, some restaurants have a holistic approach to the service that they provide their clientele. “They consider the experience of sitting down for a meal at their establishment to be a form of sensory engagement designed to delight and harmonize taste, texture, fragrance, appearance (of the food, plating, and larger room ambience), sounds, and general mood.”
However, only a small handful of establishments can lay claim to this level of sophistication and thematic dedication. There are a lot of (unsuccessful) copycats who don’t fully understand the role of each element of the experience.
#4 So Close, Yet So Far
Image credits: faucherie
#5 From A Local Restauraunt. A Massive Breakfast Challenge On A Garbage Can Lid
Listen beautiful relax classics on our Youtube channel.
Image credits: Animusical
#6 Anyone Fancy Some Spaghetti In A Stein?
Image credits: WellDingDong
“In an attempt to emulate the success and sophistication of these rarified venues, on occasion newcomers to the restaurant game will copy certain aspects of what is meant to be an integrated holistic experience and in doing so, really miss the mark. This is where you’ll encounter the mediocre establishments presenting mediocre fare on objectively ridiculous serving objects, devoid of any context or meaning.”
Bored Panda was curious to hear about Jessica’s own experiences with food being served in peculiar ways. She revealed to us that she is a “high tea aficionado” and that this particular experience is “very aesthetic-forward.” And this is where the importance of context really comes into play.
“I’m a “high tea” aficionado and the experience of high tea is very aesthetic-forward. I’ve seen some delightful presentations of treats like spun caramel clouds served on the branches of brass trees and little jack-in-the-box petit fours. But these types of interactive presentations are appropriate in this context because you are there to spend two hours being delighted,” the pie artist said that these are instances where serving food in innovative ways completely matches the intent of the chef and the narrative they’re trying to create.
#7 I’m A Hairstylist And By Law Cannot Use Wood Handled Brushes Because They “Can’t Be Sanitized”, But I Can Legally Be Served Food On Wood
Image credits: emilyMartian
#8 Presenting, 4 Chip On A Rock
I have decided to clarify a few things.
1. The 4 chips were free with two half liter mugs of beer (~16 dollars)
2. Yes, the rock was filthy and disgusting and I did not look into the crevices to gaze upon mold central station as there’s no possible way they were cleaning it properly
3. Yes, I did still eat the chips because I was pretty drunk and very hungry
4. The chips did not taste good and were a bit soggy
5. They did not refill the chips even though we ordered 4 more beers
6. No, I did not complain because I have immense social anxiety in restaurant situations
Image credits: peachyfr
#9 Tonight’s Special… An $8 Avocado Half With Salt Labeled As “Guacamole”
Image credits: reddit.com
“If I was to pop into a greasy spoon on my way home at 2 am and just want to stuff my face with some calories, I would be rather less delighted to find my fries individually harpooned and served on a little tree!” Jessica joked, and now we can’t stop thinking about how we’d love to see just that!
“I also have fond memories of kids’ meals served in a little cardboard boat (a ‘Pirate Pak’) when I was a child… Sadly they won’t serve me ‘Pirate Paks’ anymore (I asked!),” the pie artist suggested that growing up isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. We think that everyone deserves to have a ‘Pirate Pak’ if they want one, no questions asked.
The members of r/WeWantPlates obviously have good taste. They can recognize when fashion-forward serving ideas simply aren’t up to par. Sure, we might all mumble how everything depends on taste and how even the worst-designed thing will have a niche full of fans, but let’s get real here: there are some objectively bad decisions.
Like serving meat in a jewelry box with a mirror. Like putting food on top of a garbage can lid. Like bringing out a piece of cake on a slab of table (most likely yours). Oh, it’s definitely brave to present food in such a way. But bravery doesn’t really pay off if there’s no thought behind the process. There’s got to be at least a dollop of good taste there somewhere. Otherwise, you’ll end up with disappointed customers and an entire subreddit that pokes fun at ridiculous restaurants.
#10 Onion Ring Tower At Red Robin, Comes With Complimentary Paint Chips
Image credits: ukpittfan1
#11 I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream Because Things Are Now Starting To Melt Onto The Table
Image credits: girl_girl_girl
#12 Friend Of A Friend’s “Curry On A Tile”. My Dog Was That Sick Once
Image credits: RKips
Look, we’re not saying that the food industry shouldn’t push the boundaries and experiment with new cooking techniques and aesthetic presentations. That should definitely happen.
But restaurants should be agile enough to realize when something is just silly and pivot to avoid making fools of themselves. Does anyone truly want to be known as ‘that place that sticks bits of seafood on a tiny fence’? Or ‘those weirdos who bring out sushi on a creepy mannequin’s hand’? Experiment, for sure, but don’t stick to a horrible decision just because you don’t want to admit you were oh-so-wrong.
The ‘We Want Plates’ community has been growing strong since the midsummer of 2015 and we have no doubt that some of you Pandas will want to join the community after going through this list.
There are some rules that you need to be aware of, of course. For example, above everything else, the moderators ask you to be civil. “This means no personal insults or threatening behavior. You’ll get one warning and then it’s perma-ban time,” they write loud and clear.
Meanwhile, don’t post pics of avolattes (lattes served in avocados) or else you’ll be banned. What’s more, you should definitely not post any photos not taken in restaurants. And just because there’s a plate somewhere in the frame doesn’t take away from the fact that some meals are served on atrocious objects.
#13 I Have A Sinking Feeling About This Quesadilla
Image credits: exponentia
#14 Can We Please Just Use A Normal Glass?
Image credits: AarupA
#15 $15 Fried Cheese Served On A Fake Crusty Pillow
Image credits: Rescue_9
Previously, Bored Panda had a chat with Ross McGinnes, the founder of ‘We Want Plates,’ about the roots of the project. He told us that he started the campaign way back in 2015 when a friend of his shared a picture on Facebook of a steak served on a chopping board.
#16 Have Some Cake On A Peice Of Our Busted Table
Image credits: Karride
#17 Soup In A Test Tube In A Block Of Wood
Image credits: TrueBirch
#18 Raw King Crab On A Fence
Image credits: fleamarketart
“It was captioned, unironically, ‘That is a big meal!’ It wasn’t a big meal—he’d fallen for all this style-over-content hipster gastropub nonsense. I searched Twitter for an account which would allow me to vent my spleen with like-minded people, but found nothing. We Want Plates was born,” he told us.
#19 Guys… Sushi On A Tree
Image credits: DesoleBitches
#20 Restaurant Really Hit Me With The Hand Sushi
Image credits: rhidayop
Image credits: annie_martin1
According to the founder, some restaurants avoid using plates because they want to stand out. “My local pub used to do a great Sunday roast: twelve quid, piled high, tasted great and yes, it came on a plate. One weekend they added a quirky offering to the menu: little sandwiches, pies, dainty cakes, and mini milkshakes served on a miniature picnic bench. The benches, painted bright pink and yellow, sat on top of tables seating actual grown adults. And what was the first thing these infantilized diners did? It wasn’t try the food—it was whip out their phones and take a picture,” Ross shared with Bored Panda.
#22 I Love It When You Call Me Señormeata
Image credits: Weird-Road-2126
#23 A Cocktail In A Shell
Image credits: blutackey
#24 The Chopping Board Isn’t Even Big Enough To Stop The Food From Touching The Table!
Image credits: AngieNovella
“Over the following months the picnic benches became increasingly popular, coinciding with the specials board becoming progressively smaller, before it eventually disappeared altogether. I sat there one Sunday, watching bench after garish bench emerge from the kitchen like a technicolor carnival of idiocy, before my usual roast arrived,” he shared the gastronomically nightmarish experience with us.
#25 Whipped Cream In A Strainer
Image credits: EwelSheia
#26 Does This Count?
Image credits: justgregb
#27 Best Poutine But In A Dog Bowl
Image credits: chelzz003
“The meat was cold and the potatoes were burnt. It was once their main Sunday trade, but the traditional roast had died an unpalatable death. But that’s OK because they were doing a roaring trade with the benches, right? Sure, until the pub down the road started doing them too. Then the one around the corner. Before you know it, everyone’s doing the same ‘quirky’ thing, except it’s not ‘quirky’ anymore because you can’t move for mini picnic benches and now all their roast dinners are rubbish to boot,” Ross said that restaurants tend to copy each other and passing fads spread like wildfire.
#28 Nachos Are Messy Enough On A Real Plate. This Atrocity Was At Topgolf
Image credits: they-call-me-milf
#29 Hot Chocolate In A Mini Wheelie Bin
Image credits: WiganLad82
#30 Tapas On Jack Nicholson’s Head
Image credits: pericoXVI
“The worst I’ve encountered personally was when I was served a piece of cake on a table tennis bat in Barcelona around 2008. It still gives me sleepless nights,” he quipped. Hopefully, none of us will ever have to experience anything even in the same ballpark.
#31 First I Thought These Were Cigarette Butts In A Beaker
Image credits: BliccOfTheManyBeers
Image credits: XxRadioRadarxX
#33 Upscale Restaurant – Serves Cocktail In An Old Soup Can. Why?
Image credits: Simonsaid2
#34 Papads Grow On Trees, Right? Right?
Image credits: kmerw
#35 I Nominate This One From Disneyland Paris For The “Served In A Pan It Didn’t Even Was Cooked In”
Image credits: Abrical
#36 I Don’t Even Know What To Call This
Image credits: Killingstar
#37 Sandwich Served…. On The Rocks
Image credits: ultimatebackmassage
#38 My Salad Came In A Watering Can
Image credits: Vampedface
#39 My Pasta Came In A Metal Box
Image credits: sexybeluga
#40 Chicken And Waffles… On An Airplane
Image credits: PrismaticAsthmatic
#41 Why Did My Mom Get A Plate While I Got A Tiny Wobbly Cutting Board
Image credits: SecWoe
#42 They Say It’s Lemonade
Image credits: mehmetemreak
#43 This Bloody Marry At My Work Place With A Burger On Top
Image credits: cowstickwick
#44 The Theme Is “Regrowth.” Mushrooms Are Involved
Image credits: WorldsMostDad
#45 I Thought The Shell Was Cute But It Was Annoying Af To Eat Out Of
Image credits: Jman1139reddit
#46 Tiramisu In A Pot For Plants. And Some Mint Leaves. Stop It
Image credits: wizardangst777
#47 A Good Old British Fry Up, On A Shovel
Image credits: northcoastcornwall
#48 Clean Eating
Image credits: OutsidePut4
#49 I Can’t Even
Image credits: Total-Ad6514
#50 Assorted Pastries On A Wooden Tray With A Side Of Paint Chips
Image credits: indigobirdie
#51 Pasta Served In A Bottle That Is Levitating On A Chain
Image credits: _TadStrange
#52 Can’t Believe This Restaurant Did This To Me. I Love Mango Pudding, But They Made It Into The Shape Of Corn. I Hate Corn
Image credits: Foreign-Partisan
#53 They Literally Put Plates Underneath
Image credits: Cezkarma
#54 Sausages Served In A House Plant
Image credits: fruitynoodles
#55 Caesar Salad In A Jar?
Image credits: SatanicPanda3074
#56 The Ultimate Rectangle Discomfort
Image credits: emineeroglu
#57 Choo Choo Here Come The Donuts!
Image credits: BlackWhiteRedYellow
#58 Patatas Bravas In A Ceramic Boot
Image credits: Giglomische
#59 Guess I’ll Eat My Appetizer Off Of A Birds Nest
Image credits: mrfishycrackers
#60 This Sushi Came On A Slate And Included Salad In A Seashell And Sushi Rolls On A Tilted Ramp
Image credits: Mimitori
#61 Immediately No
Image credits: Slow-Farmer-7617
#62 My Food Was Served On Top Of A Mini Picnic Table, Placed On A Table That Was Actually A TV
Image credits: mynickname86
#63 Come Onnnnn… I Thought We Were Over This Charade Guys
Image credits: snddncr
#64 Dropped Both Sides. They Were Served In Metal Bowls On Planks, Poor Waitress Drop His Onion Rings (Pictured) And My Fries
Image credits: lover_of_blue_roses
#65 French Toast On A Flat Slab. The Server Was Dripping Syrup All The Way To The Table. Then It Kept Leaking On The Table
Image credits: ssgtsnake
#66 Everything Else Came On Normal Plates, Then Out Of Nowhere
Image credits: Troven-Smalvard
#67 Caesar Salad In A Jar, Asinine
Image credits: uwfan893
#68 Fries In A Can Of Crab Meat
Image credits: Hundcrundle
#69 Croquette In A Box Among Rocks
Image credits: romaineroyalty
#70 Paper Is Fine
Image credits: drunken3agle
#71 As Far As I Could Tell, All Butter In Iceland Comes On A Rock
Image credits: LowAltitudeBrake
#72 Cold Cuts On A Clothes Line? No Thank You
Image credits: NotGonna_Lie2U
#73 Release The Kraken!
Image credits: devonface
#74 Salad In A Mason Jar. The Dressing Was At The Bottom
Image credits: dangle321
#75 The Virus Has Reached Pakistan As Well. Garlic Bread In A Ship
Image credits: Mamoonazam
#76 I’ve Had My Food Served On Everything But Th…. Nevermind
Image credits: dudemanlikedude
#77 Bacon Wrapped Blackened Scallop Smoked Old Fashioned
Image credits: Playstyle
#78 Do You Want A Claw With That Beer?
Image credits: ghersf91
#79 It Was Good Though
Image credits: LeftCoastLefty82
#80 Tacos In Cups. My 8yo Daughter Insisted I Share This With You
Image credits: AGuyInTheOZone
#81 Caprese Salad, Me, Oil On Newspaper, 2022
Image credits: mighty-queen
#82 When You Gotta Throw A Frat Party At 7 But Attend A Michelin Star Dinner At 8
Image credits: FloggingDog