We were in a restaurant in another city, far from home. No one could possibly know me.
So why not just do this? What do I care what these people think?
I turned to my husband, looked him straight in the eyes and made a daring proposal: "Let's split an entree."
It was something I had never done before because of worries about a whole litany of things that, in retrospect, sound foolish. Would the server think that I was cheap? Would we get poor service because it was assumed we would be lousy tippers? And in fairness to the business, shouldn't we order two meals because two of us were drinking water, using silverware, eating bread and occupying two chairs?
I know I'm not the only one in the world who has thought some of those things and ended up with leftovers that weren't all that great the next day, and a bill for more money than they had to spend.
Portions are becoming more reasonable at some restaurants, especially chef-driven places whose guests come primarily for the quality — not quantity — of food.
But at too many restaurants, serving sizes are still absurdly large.
Ordering a split plate can be the ideal solution, especially when you're traveling. And after working up my nerve to do it once, I know I can do it again.
I've thought about it and my table's split entree won't make or break the house that night, so I won't feel guilty about it.
If a server tries to make me feel awkward, I won't return. And if my service is poor, the server will get even less than the lower tip he assumed he'd get.
Some restaurants, especially upscale ones, may — legitimately — tack on an extra cost to split one plate into two, the justification being they end up serving bread and two salads (if they're included) and use extra garnishes and sauces when dividing the dish in the kitchen.
As for tips, I think anytime split plates are ordered and service is good, the gratuity should reflect the server's work for two people, not just one.