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Wine Glasses, a Teeny Whisk, and More Things to Buy This Week

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A wine glass, a vase and two little whisks

This post originally appeared on February 26, 2019, in “Add to Cart” — the weekly newsletter for people who love shopping (almost) as much as they love eating. Subscribe now.

Online retailers have made a big deal about re-inventing “try before you buy,” one-upping traditional stores (remember those?) where you could lie on the mattress or try on the glasses but not actually use them in your own home for an extended period of time. But really, the best example of try before you buy — when it comes to dining stuff, at least — is at a restaurant.

On Saturday night, I went out to dinner with a group of friends, and we ordered a round of cocktails and appetizers. Each drink arrived in a different fancy glass; as we lifted them to make a toast, my friend’s slipped from his hand, crashing on the table and flooding our cheddar cheese naan. The problem was the glass shape — like a stemless wine glass, but so bulbous and oversized that my friend could barely wrap his hand around its base. Combined with a bit of condensation, the glass was impossible to grip. I made a mental note to never buy anything like it.

If only I’d had that IRL experience with my plates. The night before, I hosted dinner for eight — a perfect number, if only because it allowed my fiance and me to use all eight dinner plates and eight salad plates we just got from our wedding registry. We set the table, giddily informed our guests that the Crate and Barrel dishes at their seats were on their maiden voyage, and sat down for our salad course.

We could hear the problem immediately: The dishes wobbled. They clattered. They clanged. For some reason, the bases of the salad plates didn’t sit flat against the dinner plates, causing them to rattle every time they were touched. With eight salads being eaten simultaneously, it was like bulls having a rave in a china shop.

Ultimately, we’ll make do, but it reminded me to keep my eyes (and ears) wide open every time I dine out — when it comes to what you eat on, there’s no better try-before-you-buy experience than a restaurant. Just be sure to ask the waiter where the restaurant gets its glasses.

Things to buy

  • Schott Zwiesel wine glasses, on the other hand, are a worthwhile glass purchase. This week’s Buy This Thing column is devoted to the brand’s Forte wine glasses, while I personally love the more angular Pure collection. Both are made with Tritan crystal glass, which is so durable that I thought maybe they were actually just plastic.
  • The mini whisk is an extremely underrated kitchen tool, especially for those of us with tiny hands. I swear by it to whip up small batches of sauce or dressing, especially if I want to mix directly in a mason jar.
Standard Ware vase and cup by Fort Standard
  • These faceted cups and bowls by Fort Standard, a design studio based in Brooklyn, are sturdy but delicate, and subtle but not at all boring — perfect for someone (like yours truly) who will only ever buy neutral-colored things.
  • This wire chair by Bend is popping up in more and more restaurants, in cities from Austin to Los Angeles to Australia, meaning it’s that piece that will automatically make your dining room feel a little trendier. At least, until it makes it feel totally dated.

Things to know

  • If you’re really committed to achieving restaurant-level design in your own home, consider your table. Eater reports that restaurants are going out of their way to get tables with distinctive designs that double as branding in all those overhead Instagram shots. Which, sigh. But also: so smart.
Walmart’s MoDRN Scandinavian Minimal Tabletop Collection
  • Earlier this month, Walmart launched MoDRN, a “new premium brand for the modern home” that is trying very, very hard. The collection is a paint-by-numbers run-through of Pinterest trends (the words “Scandinavian” and “industrial” show up in at least half the product descriptions, and you’ll spy a ripoff Bend wire chair in there), but some of the dinnerware doesn’t look half bad. At the very least, it could be a nice alternative to inexpensive Ikea dishes.
  • Through the power of the internet (really, through to the power of retweets to revive years-old articles), this week I learned about the Victor mug, which you’ve probably seen dozens of times without realizing you were seeing it at all. The white, subtly concave, bottom-heavy coffee cup is a longtime diner staple with a charming backstory.
  • “You know I made it when they send me a motherfuckin’ bedazzled bowl of cereal.”

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