With an alfresco dinner party in the works, I needed to track down the perfect set of unbreakable—but cute—dishes. At Restoration Hardware, I noticed a tin box that held a set of four circus-themed plates, each with a different animal on a red background. The borders looked like old Barnum & Bailey posters. And though the plates were festive, I didn’t want to have flashbacks of leering clowns while eating. 935 Broadway, nr. 22nd St.; 212-260-9479.
I walked south a few blocks to return an ill-fitting dress at Urban and spotted a display of plates in bright colored floral patterns. The set of four “Love Sick” dishes showed vintage “romantic” scenes on floral plates: a giant pierced anatomically correct heart, a tacky engagement ring, a girl thinking of Cupid, and a hot tattooed lady. Though kitschy, my girlfriends would get a kick out of these—especially after gorging on tons of food. 526 Sixth Ave., nr. 14th St.; 646-638-1646.
After browsing through some colorful plastic cutlery at Mxyplyzyk, I found this melamine dishware with a bird print. Each bird came in a different color—bright yellow, pea green, orange red, and a pale blue. The base was a dull stone color that looked dirty. Plus, the clunky pattern resembled a woodcut style and was too drab—not at all cheerful. 125 Greenwich Ave., nr. 13th St.; 212-989-4300.
Crate & Barrel
After strolling around the Village, I headed downtown to Crate and Barrel, where I was disappointed to discover that the only melamine was plain white. Though I liked the square inner edge on the circular plates, which created a nice contrast of geometric shapes, they were just too boring for a summer dinner party. I left in search of a more exciting dish. Crate and Barrel, 611 Broadway, nr. Houston St.; 212-308-0011.
At Pearl River, I threw some sesame candies in my cart and went downstairs to examine all the dishes. The first plates I saw just happened to be adorable melamine ones in a huge range of sizes—six to sixteen inches in diameter—with alternating red and black panels around the edge. A colorful scene of birds and flowers filled the white center. They were just a dollar a piece, so I put a stack of eight in my cart, excited that I had leftover money to spend on dinner. 477 Broadway, nr. Broome St.; 212-431-4770.
After a late lunch on the Upper East Side, I popped into Gracious Home to buy a new fan, then checked out the plastics. Not only was there a wide variety of melamine sets, but there was also a huge range of colors and patterns. I gravitated toward the mosaic set because the bright mismatched prints caught my eye. However, the more I studied and debated the sixties-inspired pattern, the more I realized that I didn’t want my dinner plates to look like a Missoni dress. 1220 Third Ave., nr. 70th St.; 212-517-6300.
Last year, I bought my mother a fabulous set of dishes that had a French country pattern in muted pastels. I’d heard that A&G had some similar ones in stock. I found an ornate set with baroque designs that looked like something Marie Antoinette would have eaten pastries off of. They would be just right for a dinner outside, if only they weren’t too small. Just right for salad or appetizers, but not large enough for my appetite. 111 N. 6th St., nr. Berry St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-388-1779.
Over the weekend I borrowed a car and drove out to the Brooklyn Target to pick up some lightweight beach chairs. The outdoor dining section still had some fun little white plates from Isaac Mizrahi’s line. The dishes were decorated with lemons, limes, oranges, and cherries, and each had a matching colored edge. The plates were fun, but I wanted something a little more sophisticated. 519 Gateway Dr., nr. Belt Pkwy., Brooklyn; 718-235-6032