As such, it's important to identify the specific purposes which your plate needs to fulfil and then consider the best size to meet those needs. As a general rule, sizes follow the pattern set out by our plate size guide below, there are a number of other concerns which you need to take into account when choosing different types of plate.
Most saucers are between 140-165mm in diameter (5½-6½ inches), although this size is generally dictated by your choice of cup or mug.
Often a specific saucer is manufactured to suit a specific cup; the well size will be set to snugly fit the foot of the cup so that the cup doesn't slide around when carried.
It's important to check which saucers are suitable for your cups/mugs. Will you be placing biscuits, teaspoons and sugars on your saucer? Try to pick a cup and saucer that will suit your requirements, but also make sure that your saucers suit the size of your other plates.
An appetiser plate is usually the smallest plate on the dining table and is used to serve appetisers and amuse-bouches. These plates are typically four to five inches in diameter and used to display a single, ornate and petite item.
Appetiser plates can also be used as auxiliary plates for disposing of fish bones or teabags due to their small and discreet size. Many restaurants simply use starter plates for either of these purposes.
Side plates are generally 140-175mm (6-7 inches in size) and can be used for everything from serving bread before the meal to placing napkins hygienically above the table surface.
Although many restaurants do not use side plates frequently, some diners prefer to use one and many commonly ask for a side plate in order to share food or serve small amounts to children.
If your back of house space is limited and you do not use side plates as part of your table setting, starter plates can be used for this purpose. Although typically slightly larger, a seven inch starter plate will make an excellent compromise between a side and starter plate.
Starters are generally served on 175-200mm (7-8 inch) plates and the size helps build height into the presentation of relatively small quantities of food. Starters often feature a central meat or fish item, along with a garnish or accompaniment which should provide contrasting colour and texture, as well as improving the overall presentation. Use your plate size as a guide for the best way to plate your starter.
Starter plates may also be used as salad plates, although designated crescent salad plates are designed to fit snugly close to the dinner plate. Increasing numbers of modern restaurants are also choosing to serve side salads in coupes or bowls.
Dessert plates are typically between 200-250mm (8-10 inches) in size although sometimes certain desserts suit other sizes. Given that most crème brulée is prepared in a 75mm (3 inch) ramekin, it can be challenging to fill or decorate the rest of an 200mm (8 inch) plate. Some restaurants therefore choose to utilise smaller plates, such as their starter plates, when serving rich, pre-bowled desserts such as crème brulée or panna cotta.
Traditionally, a standard dinner plate has always had a diameter of 250mm (10 inches). In recent years, however, increasing numbers of restaurants have chosen to use larger 280mm or 300mm (11 or 12 inch) plates.
These frequently have wider lips in order to give the same well size as standard plates, but give a wider and more decorative frame. This not only better frames the food, but also creates the illusion of a bigger serving, useful when looking at ingredient costs and managing 'cost per cover'.
Larger dinner plates are also available for use in carveries, or for the most generous portion sizes.
Charger plates are typically up to 350mm (14 inches) in diameter and are designed to sit beneath the plate on which food is served. Most chargers are mainly decorative and are not designed to come into contact with food.
Whilst large dinner plates can double as chargers, it is important to ensure a suitable difference in size between your dinner plate and charger, along with the ability to lift and remove dinner plates easily during service.
Platters are typically the largest crockery items in many restaurants' tableware collections and are used for everything from central service to sharing platters and eating challenges.
Serving platters can be anything from 400 to 500mm in diameter, although storing such large items can be extremely challenging in commercial kitchens, meaning many serving platters are rectangular or oval in order to be easily stored.
The lip is the extended raised outer edge of a plate and can be decorated or patterned in order to make a plate more visually attractive.
Some plates may also have wider rims in order to frame smaller portions of food. This means that when considering the total diameter of your plate, you also need to consider the size of the lip and whether this will affect your food's presentation.
You can also have a very small lip (typically called a 'narrow rim') or no lip at all (typically called a 'coupe' plate), creating a smaller sized plate that retains a good sized serving area. This is useful in compact dining spaces where table space is at a premium.
The well of a plate or bowl is the central flat surface on which food is served. Plates with a wider lip will therefore have a narrower well, so it's important to get the right balance between well and lip size.
If you want a larger lip size on a main dinner plate, this could mean that the total diameter may need to be bigger than on a standard plate.