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Why the Heck Are Tree Trunk Plates Showing Up All Over D.C.?

From fried chicken buns to fondue, everything’s landing on a rustic-looking platter

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The plating situation at the upcoming Momo Yakitori, currently projected to open on February 23 in Woodridge.
Tierney Plumb/Eater DC
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

Lots of D.C. restaurants appear to be taking a break from using porcelain plates to frame their food, opting instead to parade around featured items atop circular wooden boards that resemble the cross section of a tree trunk.

Woodridge’s forthcoming Momo Yakitori is planning on sending out its Japanese-style skewered offerings, which include everything from mushrooms to duck hearts to waygu beef, on the rustic-looking platters. Eat off them on opening night, which is currently projected for Friday, February 23 (reservations are expected to go live on Wednesday, February 21).

Wholesaler Lipper International is selling the food-safe plates routinely now, only showing two left on Amazon. And Sur La Table’s 13-inch version ($34.95) is cut from a single Acacia tree and features unique whorls and rings.

PRG Hospitality, a local catering company that also runs D.C. restaurants Declaration, Teddy & the Bully Bar, and Lincoln, styles hors d’oeuvres like deviled eggs and croquettes on Lipper’s boards.

“We use them for private events or at off-site events since they’re very decorative,” says PRG marketing coordinator Emma Anzelone. Teddy’s substantial “campfire steaks” star on the boards as well. And Declaration uses smaller ones to deliver the bill at the end of the meal.

Tabs get an old school twist at Declaration.
Dixie D. Vereen/The Washington Post

Over at Bloomingdale’s newly reimagined Spark at Engine Co. 12, chef Peter Prime is piling Caribbean-style snacks and whimsical desserts — including jerk chicken wings, smoked bone marrow, and the Urban Legend (banana beignets, rum and Coke syrup, and Pop Rocks) — on the stylish serving trays.

Jerk wings arrive on a circular wooden platter at Spark at Engine 12.
Tierney Plumb/Eater DC

Owner Jenna Mack, who took the reins at Spark earlier this year, says her wood-carving husband is responsible for a homemade hybrid: a push pop-friendly log.

Push pops have prime placement at Spark.
Tierney Plumb/Eater DC

Other eateries in on the circular plating action include the new Isabella Eatery food hall in Tysons Corner.

Fainting Goat in D.C. was also spotted sporting the plates for goat cheese fondue.

Not everyone’s sold on look, however. Cork Wine Bar co-owner Diane Gross says the trendy plates conjure up cheesy images as a kid growing up near California’s Redwoods, where laminated wood souvenirs of tree stumps and clocks were everywhere.

“It stems from that,” she says. “It’s touristy.”

She also thinks the “live edge” look in general could have an expiration date. She turned down her architect’s idea to install a nature-inspired bar with a jagged edge at ten-year-old Cork’s freshly renovated restaurant/retail shop (1805 14th Street NW).

“People are doing them now. But in five years they won’t and I’ll be stuck with a bar with a live edge,” she says.

Teddy & The Bully Bar

1200 19th Street Northwest, , DC 20036 (202) 872-8700 Visit Website


1110 Vermont Avenue Northwest, , DC 20005 (202) 386-9200 Visit Website

Momo Yakitori

2214 Rhode Island Avenue Northeast, , DC 20018 Visit Website

Spark at Engine 12

1626 N Capitol St NW, , Washington DC 20002

The Fainting Goat

1330 U Street Northwest, , DC 20009 (202) 735-0344 Visit Website


807 V St NW, Washington, D.C. 20001 (202) 386-9200 Visit Website

Isabella Eatery

2001 International Drive, McLean, VA 22102 (571) 489-8505 Visit Website