Everything, and I mean everything, tastes better in a pasta bowl. Pasta, of course, but also risotto! Salads! Grilled steak or seared pork chops over a bed of mashed potatoes with a shallow puddle of red wine reduction! Beef stew cooked in even more red wine! If you’ve dined out in the last five years, you may have taken note of the fact that more and more restaurants are serving some of their most attractive dishes (and even the less photogenic ones) in a low bowl—aka a blate.
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Blates are, simply put, a happy medium between a plate and a bowl.
That odd moniker doesn’t do its handsome form justice. Blates are, simply put, a happy medium between a plate and a bowl. If you’re serving something creamy, saucy, or brothy, you probably want a little bit of a lip to contain said sauces. But a more traditional deep bowl (aka a regular bowl) doesn’t always feel right outside the confines of serving soup, chili, or noodle bowls. “This style of plate really lends itself to beautiful sauces or something brothy. It’s a really nice option because you can go so many different directions with it,” says Campfire Pottery Founder Kristen Camp. “They’re also space-savers and look really great stacked up on open shelves.”
Casey Simring, a buyer for Food52, loves both blates and coupe bowls. At first glance, they look identical, but a few key technical details distinguish one from the other. Blates have a flatter bottom with high straight edges—”it’s truly a plate with walls and ideal for grain bowls or meals with multiple components because of the wider surface area,” she says. “Coupes, on the other hand, are more of a traditional bowl shape with a rounded bottom and shallow walls. These are my go-to for pasta/non-soupy noodles, risotto, and other one-pot meals, and look great both with a small portion of food or filled to the brim,” she adds.
For all intents and purposes, we’re going to call them blates.
I bought my first set of blates (it’s okay, I’m cringing as I write it, too) a few years ago for Valentine’s Day dinner. I was making bouillabaisse and wanted to serve it in something that 1) felt elevated, 2) looked attractive, and 3) was practical for serving a brothy stew packed with big chunks of lobster, cod, jumbo shrimp, mussels, and clams. I went to Crate and Barrel and bought two of their Hue White Low Bowls—it took exactly one day for me to order six more so I could have a full set. To this day, they’re still the part of my dinnerware collection that I reach for more than anything else.
Blates are your stylish best friend who you want to invite to every function as a way of saying, “Look how cool my friend is! That makes me cool too, right?”
But I’m not the only one who feels so strongly about blates. It seems that the entire Food52 community is just as wildly passionate. “I eat every single meal from a bowl-plate (blate). Mine are from Target and I adore them,” says Caroline Mullen, Food52’s associate editor. “When I moved from my apartment, and took my bowl plates with me, my roommate ordered more because she got so completely attached to them.” “Every meal is a blate meal,” agrees Food52’s Director of Content Brinda Ayer.
Blates are essentially the stylish best friend you want to invite to every party as a way of saying, “Look how cool my friend is! That makes me cool too, right?” But blates aren’t just about looks. They’re unwaveringly practical, too. “They’re fantastic for breading and frying—the breadcrumbs don’t fall over the sides and lining them with paper towels makes the perfect post-fry vessel,” adds Mullen.
I genuinely hope that you’re feeling financially flush as you read this, because we’ve rounded up the best-looking low bowls-slash-blates-slash-coupes-slash-pasta bowls and you’re going to want every single set.
These are my all-time favorite low bowls—and it doesn’t hurt that they are so inexpensive and even more durable. I’ve dropped them and dropped things on them, and there’s not a chip in sight. The glossy white finish is modern without looking like they belong in a wealthy bachelor’s pad, so I feel confident that they’ll continue to feel stylish for years.
This is everything a low bowl should be—and is handcrafted in Maine by veteran potters. “We created this catchall bowl with pasta, salads, soup, and stir-fries in mind,” says founder Kristen Camp. “It feels like a really good economic option for people who don’t want to have a full set of dinnerware. You can really use it for anything.”
“I eat every single meal out of a low bowl, except pizza! I like the size of Hawkins Organic Dinnerware. The sides make it easier to spoon or fork food, so there is less stress about spilling, and it’s a comforting shape to hold,” says Food52’s Creative Director Alexis Anthony.
“I eat everything in them that doesn’t require the free-range of motion for cutting that a plate allows. The design has since changed and I’m sad that I can’t buy more of them, but when putting my wedding registry together, the Number One thing I required in any set was a good low bowl,” says Rebekeh Daniels, an account manager for Food52.
“I am a hardcore East Fork Pottery stan. I only use their everyday bowls! They are so easy to clean and make everything you put in them so pretty,” says Dominique Evans, Food52’s social media coordinator.
The aforementioned Target bowl-plates, which inspired Caroline and her roommates. Choose from four rich finishes—bronze, brown, navy, or white (the latter of which are sadly out of stock at the moment).
We quite literally dug into Dansk’s archives to bring back this retro set of low bowls because yes, we need more blates.
“These tinted cuties are just amazing,” says Kayla Roolaart, Food52’s associate buyer, who has gotten to see dozens of blates firsthand, so you know they’re good.
“These are gorgeous but a little noisy,” says Food52’s director of content Brinda Ayer. We’ll excuse their table manners for the sake of style.
From the colorful, hand-painted splatters to the deep bowl (it measures 20cm by 6.5cm), these clay bowls are nearly perfect. The only downside of these stunning pasta bowls from Hot Pottery is that they don’t ship to the United States—and I currently only own one of them.
Even if you don’t spend your days in a field of wildflowers, or fill your home with the smell of Capri Blue, these pastel-colored plates from Anthropologie still belong on your dinner table.
This side bowl was created in Heath’s Sausalito, California studio in collaboration with Alice Waters for Chez Panisse back in 2006 (way before blates were the cool kids on the block). Though it’s called a side bowl, I think it’s safe to say that it’s just as useful as a pasta bowl or salad bowl. Food52’s Copy Director Donna Suh calls it “perfect.”
“These are what I have at home, and love ’em very much,” says Roolaart.
14. Mason Cash
“I have the Mason Cash “plowls” and love them dearly. As an Indian, I’m not used to eating out of bowls, unless they’re the little ones that accompany a plate (thali style), but I find myself reaching for these everyday! I constantly feel like I’m cheating on my numerous dinner plates…am I a monster?,” says Food52’s Senior Content Lead Arati Menon. “Oh, I should mention how reasonably priced they are!”
Food52’s Customer Care Operations Manager Erin Sanders loves these low bowls, which used to be carried in the Food52 shop. “I’m with Alexis, and eat everything except pizza out of mine!” she says.
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