All photos and GIFs by Liz Barclay (@liz_barclay)
Ordering a towering, three-tiered plateau loaded with seafood to your table is the ultimate way to assert your presence in a dining room. Plateau de fruits de mer, seafood towers, shellfish platters, or whatever you choose to call them are the ultimate “look at me” dish—when there’s one in front of you, covered in bivalves and crustaceans, everyone in the restaurant sees that you’re shining. If we had our way, “I Am a God” would automatically take over the speakers whenever ours hit the table.
As the name suggests, plateau des fruits de mer got its start in France. While the tradition of ornate arrangements of food dates back to the bored aristocrats of the 17th century, les plateaus truly took hold in the bustling brasseries of 1920’s Paris. La Coupole on Boulevard Montparnasse had a version of the regal menu item, as did neighboring seafood-centric restaurants Le Dôme and Le Sélect.
To this day, seafood towers mark the tables of great restaurants not just in Paris, but all over the globe. Needless to say, they’re not cheap, so you want to make sure you get the real deal when you decide to blow a cool stack on a raw-bar glory. We tracked down NYC’s five most stunning seafood towers, and to show you exactly the type of pomp you can expect for your money, we made some animated GIFs of the construction process. Click through the slide show to see chefs and their staffs build the most awe-inspiring towers this city has to offer.