In a world of small plates and share plates, it's typical that meals are ordered in a way that is atypical of traditional dining. I frankly can't remember the last time that I was with a group who each ordered a salad, an entree and a dessert without sharing or splitting plates. More typical these days is a meal that I had Monday night at A16: two of us shared an appetizer, a pizza, a small pasta and three sides.
"How would you like that to come out?" most servers ask me. My typical answer? "However you'd like, just not all at once." I say this last point with emphasis and look them straight in the eye. A quick way to get me in a bad mood is to deliver so many plates to my table that we are juggling plates and stressed to get plates off the table to make room.
I find that most places I go to are very good at asking the question about coursing. But whether it's followed is a gamble. The successfully coursed meal at A16 came out in three rounds -- the appetizer and a side, the pizza, and then the pasta and two sides.
One night at a Valencia street restaurant known for great cocktails and excellent food, we ordered a similarly random meal. That night, I was looking forward to a leisurely paced meal and we had some ideas of how the meal should come out due to wine pairings with different dishes. We talked to the server about it and he even went so far as to tell us when he would have the kitchen "fire" certain courses, and spent a couple of minutes confirming the order with us.