Charger plates are a decorative piece of dinnerware which functions as a resting place on which food-bearing dishes are served. Commonly known as “chop plate”, “service plate” or “underplate”, the key purpose of this dinnerware piece is to bring aesthetically pleasing touch to tabletop design and translate the mood of the overall restaurant decor to the dining setup.
Charger plates have been used in tabletop design since the 19th century, but their popularity declined over years, only to come again to the attention of restaurant tabletop designers in late 1990s.
They are usually large in size and bigger than most common dinner plates. Since they do not have the function for serving food, charger plates can be found in variety of materials, from traditional china, to metal, wood, glass, and pearl.
There are several ways of setting charger plates inscribed by tabletop setup etiquette. One custom is to have charger plates placed on the tabletop before the arrival of guests and to remove them once food-bearing dishes are served. More commonly, charger plates are kept on the table during the serving of soups and first courses, and act as a base on which food-bearing bowls and dishes are placed. In other instances, when the design of charger plates compliments the design of dining plates, charger plates are left on the table throughout the course of meal. However, charger plates are always removed before serving desserts.
Charger plates are excellent way to add multidimensional feel to the tabletop setting and to bring color and pattern to tabletop design. They are often designed in colors that complement the overall restaurant decor and contain details that reflect the style of the dining atmosphere. When design of charger plates matches the style of dinner plates and other elements of dinnerware (such as dining plates, bread and butter side plates, bowls, platters and tabletop accessories), tabletop obtains harmonious and wholesome feel.
Charger plates of bright colors can really add vividness to dining presentation and help set the mood. Metallic effects and patterns in dinnerware design can add touch of elegance and exclusivity to the dining setting.
Depending on the color, texture and pattern design, charger plates are a good way to add seasonal change to the tabletop setup and communicate seasonal menu novelties. While pastel colors and deep natural hues are relevant throughout the year, edgy charger plate design in bright colors or with elaborate designs can bring up the spirits of seasonal menu.
It is important to remember that charger plates should always complement the dining plates bearing food. Although simple white porcelain dinnerware is considered to go well with almost any style of tabletop design, charger plates should live up to their decorative purpose and tastefully stand out form the rest of the dining dishes. Glass charger plates play that role very well, as their frosty smooth surface adds light and to every dining setup in any color and design.
We recommend playing with different geometric shapes of charger plates, as well as with their colors and patterns in order to add your personal signature to the tabletop setting. Be daring, original and creative, and your charger plates will tell the story to your guests of the culinary journey ahead of them!