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How do you service dining room from kitchen?

12 years ago

The question about oil and vinegar brings me to contemplation of larger question of how people integrate dining room eating with kitchen food prep and cleanup.

We use dining room for most meals when we are not dining singly, and often even then. Our kitchen launch area is 8-15 feet from the doorway and another 8 feet from doorway to table. We made a resolve that we would continue to use the dining room and after 9 months we don't foresee changing this pattern. There is a nook area in kitchen but it's proved to be a holding place moreso than an eating space--currently it holds basket described below, flower arrangement, two in-use cookbooks, and a pile of newspapers. I often sit at it for cookbook browsing. We have a peninsula with stools for sitting in kitchen also.

We've begun using a hoop-handled wicker basket as a hauler and holder for half-used cloth napkins and a few paper napkins, oil and vinegar, salt and pepper, matches. Should have done this years ago when the kitchen was even closer to dining room! It's working well and the basket is attractive enough to leave in plain sight during the day, in either room. (There are also salt & pepper & oils & soy containers at the stove--redundancy is becoming an important thing in our expanded house.) Tablesetter can run an arm through the hoop and carry the basket while also carrying plates or glasses or salad or such.

I wish I had a "plunk space" next to the dining table--I lost mine in the re-do. Meanwhile, we sometimes put the basket and the empty serving pieces and the gallon of milk right onto the rug next to the dining table. We're adults here--no little ones any more, which allows us to do this. I hope to work up a small table next to dining table but I might have to get rid of a grandfather clock.

Now that the china and fancy pieces and candles and such have moved from dining room to kitchen storage drawers, we have a different work pattern for party settings--more lugging at the beginning but less at the end of the party cleanup because we can move clean pieces quickly into storage. It requires a little different usage of my time as tablesetter because I have to plan ahead and someone has to lug piles of plates, etc. from kitchen to table after the tablecloth is ironed (instead of setting table more cavalierly from china cab). It probably adds 3-10 min to the party prep time, but naturally it's a tough time to add minutes--much easier at end of party. I'm finally getting used to this and am allocating more time for dining room tablesetting for guests. I really like having the table set before guests arrive.

How about you? Do you use your dining room daily and if so, any procedures or accommodations to share?

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