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Turning the Tables

For hip hosts, Main Dish serves up inventive and stylish table settings.

Entertaining experts Matthew Boland and Jennifer Davis break with tradition, including serving colorful crudités in a martini glass.

By Teresa K. Traverse | Photography by David B. Moore

Designer and tabletop retailer Matthew Boland understands the importance of creating lasting impressions. “Our lives are all about making memories,” he says. “What we want to do is create these moments.”

Step inside Main Dish, the Scottsdale shop that he and store manager Jennifer Davis imbue with sparking elegance and understated edge, and it’s easy to see exactly what Boland means.

“You can make any gathering look beautiful,” he explains while guiding you from a round, fabric-draped table dressed with plates, stemware and flatware in sophisticated neutrals and silvers, to serving pieces and accessories in golds, woods and crystal artfully displayed atop two glass plinths, to a “dish room” that is heaven on earth if you’re into tabletop fashion.

But it isn’t 1990, and this isn’t your mother’s idea of entertaining at home.

Boland and Davis want to free you from any barriers to sending out invitations. According to this passionate, playful and completely confident work couple, it only takes one special idea—and not a cupboard filled with perfect china—to be ready to throw a great party.


“A fun trend is using a charger for a dinner plate,” says Boland. One with an interesting border is the perfect frame for a large, deconstructed salad. Color is also on the upswing in tabletop. Layer multi-hued placemats beneath stark white plates, then pluck various tones from it for each napkin.


Got a collection of mugs? Then you’re ready to invite pals over for morning joe and doughnuts. (Boland created this combo just for us, and we love it.) Davis found the purple-glazed, sprinkled pastry for this hand-painted porcelain example, but your favorite dunking duos will be equally fun and tasty. For a bit of panache, add a rocking napkin ring.


Kick everyday foods up a notch with an unexpected presentation. Boland mixes ballpark franks with fine china for a meal that appeals to the kids in us—as well as to our own children. Standard fixings, such as ketchup, relish and mustard, become eye-catching accoutrements when served alongside in their own special vessel.


Why wait for annual celebrations to bring out the good stuff? Boland and Davis choose exquisite Christian Lacroix plates on which to serve tacos from Scottsdale favorite Frank and Lupe’s—which is across the street from their store. “Break the rules. Break the set,” says Boland. “You don’t have to have a complete set of anything.” Four plates, perhaps found or inherited, are all it takes.


“Don’t be pigeonholed by the name of a plate or glass,” says Davis. “Multipurpose use is what we love to get people excited about.” Serve dessert in a champagne glass and champagne in a cup. Surprise your guests, and they’ll enjoy the gathering all the more.

(Want to learn about the history of the champagne coupe? Check out Matthew and Jennifer in an exclusive online video!)


Instead of having multiple types of glasses for each guest at a dinner party, use a single style for the entire event. Choose a glass that works for a multitude of beverages and is comfortable for both men and women to hold. Boland and Davis recommend their favorite stemless, which is affordable and dishwasher safe.


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