Plates are passé, allegedly. Major homeware retailers report that bowls and coupes (that’s a deep plate) are now out-selling the dining table staple. Brands are increasing the numbers of bowls in their ranges – and stocking them in more shapes and sizes. The reason? We’re eating more foods that just don’t work so well on plates, in a more casual setting. We’re talking the likes of pasta, rice dishes, noodles and soups like pho and bone broth; those foods with sauces that aren’t suited to a flat surface. And given fewer people now eat at a table than ever before, bowls also help to make things that bit less spillable if you’re sitting on the sofa. That all said, bowls also look great on a dining table and the huge range out there means you can be really inventive with a table setting.
We’d say pasta bowls might be a good place to start with overhauling your crockery collection. These wide, relatively shallow bowls – none of these are more than five centimetres deep – lend themselves perfectly to the Italian staple, though obviously you can put whatever you want in them.
1. George Home Energise Pasta Bowl: £12 for 4, Asda
Asda’s home range, George, has some seriously good-value tableware. We think these 22cm porcelain bowls with a pretty mint green design are a case in point. They’re 5cm deep, so will hold a big portion, too.
2. Denby Monsoon Kyoto: £9.60, Denby
Denby’s tableware is many people’s go-to for sets, and they come in designs from traditional to super-contemporary. This one was inspired by an oriental floral pattern. In pretty, but not-too-in-your-face pink, orange, blue and green, it’s a way to do flowers without going OTT. At 24.5cm, it’s wider than some on the list.
3. Sophie Conran for Portmeirion Pasta Bowl: £13.50, John Lewis
For those who like white, Sophie Conran’s chic porcelain tableware collection is our top choice. The rippled surface and irregular shape that makes each piece unique helps the range stand out from the pack (and the grooves also stop things sliding out your hands). It includes everything from a bread bin to a toast rack, if you feel inclined to collect the lot.
4. M&S Tribeca Pasta Bowl: £5, Marks & Spencer
If you’re after an understated, solid-feeling bowl that will blend in with your existing colour-scheme, we reckon this stoneware one from Marks and Spencer is a keenly priced, quality option.
5. Da Terra Splash Pasta Bowl: £17, Unique and Unity
Da Terra’s bowls are handmade in Portugal and bright colours synonymous with the warmer climate are in evidence in its range. This stoneware bowl, hand decorated in rich blue hues and sunny orange, is actually inspired by Rio de Janeiro – we think it’s just the thing to eat out of while watching the Olympics this summer.
6. Barber & Osgerby Olio Duck Egg Pasta Bowl: £15, Royal Doulton
It’s the materials that shine through in this collaboration between Royal Doulton and London-based designers Barber and Osgerby (the duo responsible for the Olympic torch and the new Crossrail trains). Here, you get an exposed stoneware base contrasting with a pale duck egg bowl. The result is elegant but eye-catching addition to the table.
7. Habitat Sintra: £10, Habitat
We love the reactive glaze on this smart green bowl made from tough stoneware that gives a sort of graduated effect on the inside, and also makes each look a little different. This is one of the slightly smaller, shallower bowls on the list – 21cm by 3cm – so would work well if you only have a compact table.
8. 1882 LTD, Indigo Storm 25cm: £15.96, Selfridges
London-based designer Faye Toogood’s collection for 1882 Ltd’s design-led ceramic range is called Indigo Storm, and the pattern on the hand-glazed piece certainly is reminiscent of turbulent skies and seas. There are also plates, cups and a little jug in the range, all of which are on our wishlist.
9. Sainsbury’s Soft Square Pasta Bowl: £5, Sainsbury’s
Who says pasta bowls need to be round? If you fancy something different, these white square ones from Sainsbury’s reliable home range are satisfyingly simple, and a bit of a bargain.
10. Loveramics Flutter Pasta Bowl: £11, Amara
The intricate hummingbird design on this white porcelain bowl is a contemporary take on historic Chinese Hua Niao (that translates at bird-and-flower painting, FYI). The images are partly on the rim, giving the impression of a bird in flight. It’s the sort of design that will get guests giving these a second look.
11. ECP Vegetali Porcelain Tomato Bowl: £39.98 for 2, Wayfair
These porcelain bowls adorned with Ruth Jackson’s illustration of juicy Italian cherry tomatoes are an ideal match for a generous – they’re 24cm in diameter – bowl of penne all’Arrabbiata, we reckon. There are other vegetable designs in the range, if funghi is more your thing.
If you’re on a budget, Sainsbury’s, George or M&S’s bowls are all great value for the quality. For an eye-catching, British designed piece, we love Faye Toogood’s Indigo Storm collection for 1882 LTD.
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