White dishes are blank canvases at restaurants. At restaurants, menu items stand out like an artistic composition on each white plate.
Salads look so green, carrots so orange, cranberries so red and … well, you get the picture.
“You notice the food, not the plate,” says chef Renee Kelly of Renee Kelly’s Harvest in Shawnee, Kan. “That’s why white dishes are synonymous with restaurants. They just work.”
For similar reasons and beyond, white dishware is a practical choice at home, especially for entertaining.
It’s easy to find and often affordable. Every store that carries housewares carries an array of basic white dishware. Some have an entire aisle or section dedicated to white.
Unusual pieces save the table from being dull. Swooping oval serving bowls reminiscent of midcentury modern tableware are available at Bed, Bath & Beyond; Crate & Barrel and Stein Mart. Pier 1 and Crate & Barrel sell white small plates for hors d’oeuvres and tapas.
White dishes successfully mix and match. If you’re low on plates or serving pieces, guests can bring their white pieces for holiday gatherings, so the meal presentation doesn’t look like a mishmash. Just be sure guests’ names are taped to the bottom of the dishes.
How to warm up white
Choose linens in a different color. White dishes with white napkins and a white tablecloth can come off as intimidating when spiced cider, gravy and fruit pies are making the rounds.
Renee Kelly often uses tea towels as napkins with white dishes when she entertains at home.
“It makes white more approachable,” she said.
Add chargers or placemats. Their texture and patina can elevate white. Gold, out of fashion for years, is making a comeback and gives white a glow.
Mix in vintage. Kelly will use heirloom glassware in different colors with white. “It looks beautiful, and there’s a family connection,” she said.