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Throwing Down the Gauntlet (rant)

lotsapasta Apr 24, 2005 06:58 PM

I'm mostly a quiet and reserved person. But my hackles are up after reading post after post from people spending exorbitant amounts of money on mediocre food, and being happy with this. Maybe it's because I'm a former restaurant employee, working both in kitchens and the floor. But, if I'm going to pay over $100 for two (without drinks)it better be a damn good meal; something I would rave about, and something I couldn't do with a little time in the kitchen trolling through my fridge. And very often it's not the case. Maybe it's generational (never thought I'd ever say that!) or my inflated food ego or money just not being worth what it used to, but almost every time I go to a recommended restaurant I walk away disappointed. I admit I'm not a fan of french cuisine (I lived there and it's more verbiage than substance, good bread though. Take away the butter and wine and they are in big trouble). I'm usually happier with simple places, ethnic places that do their best with limited resourses.
Anyway, sorry for the long rant, it's probably indigestion, but I just think we should all have higher standards and demand more (and pay less) from these mediocre establishments. Peace - Out

  1. m
    mw Apr 25, 2005 04:16 AM

    Maybe I'm not reading enough threads, but I rarely, if ever, see a post where someone is happy after spending a boatload of cash for mediocre food.

    1. k
      kristen Apr 25, 2005 07:54 AM

      i appreciate what you're saying. while i would note that tastes are different--what you find mediocre might be amazing to others, i have been disappointed to find that much of the discussion here focuses on the most high-end places, rather than the (often) cheap and interesting gems that this site was originally created to celebrate.

      2 Replies
      1. re: kristen
        neighbor Apr 25, 2005 10:39 AM

        Me too.

        1. re: kristen
          Gary Soup Apr 25, 2005 11:51 AM

          Amen to that. There also seems to be an operative rule that the more expensive a place is, the longer the post will be, and the less likely will the review involve the use of one's critical faculties. Everyone who goes to The French Laundry seems to be under the impression that no one else has ever been there, and serves up a long, adoring paean to the same dishes that have been described a hundred times already.

          Link: http://www.eatingchinese.org/phpbb/

        2. m
          muD Apr 25, 2005 01:58 PM

          Have to agree with the French thing, good bread. There was an article in either the nytimes or latimes a little while back about how similar the menus are at all the high-end places and why they all taste alike. Part of it is that they all use the same suppliers. They may use a higher grade of supplier, but they're the same suppliers. Another is that customers demand the same food through their ordering patterns. If tuna tartar is hot, then fighting it just loses you revenue. And of course, most of the chefs have all been trained in the same techniques.

          My personal experience bears this out. And it seems the more expensive the food, the more likely it is to hold true. Besides small ethnic places (and that includes a greasy spoon or a que shack, American is ethnic) I have found mid-range fancy to sometimes have a hidden gem or two. While most of their menu will hold true to the above, they may have one dish, technique, sauce, etc... that is performed to perfection. That is what I mainly scan the nice restaurant review posts for. Though I'm not sure I've ever found one here, it is usually dumb luck or a local with knowledge that leads me their.

          1. b
            Becky Apr 25, 2005 05:41 PM

            I read a post not too long ago where someone complained that another poster had used the term "yummy" in describing a restaurant's food. I can't imagine why this is offensive because sometimes food is just plain YUMMY with no need for fancy adjectives!

            6 Replies
            1. re: Becky
              PolarBear Apr 25, 2005 08:35 PM

              I think the point was that if it is the only descriptor used continously for each restaurant that one posts about without some indication of why is was "yummy", it is meaningless unless you are privy to that person's likes and dislikes.

              1. re: PolarBear
                Bob Martinez Apr 26, 2005 09:57 AM

                Exactly right. I was going to post on this myself but you've summed it up much more succinctly.

                "Amazing" is thrown around in the same way. If a poster tells us *why* it's good we can then decide if a dish appeals to us. Tell us more about the food.

                1. re: Bob Martinez
                  Karl Apr 26, 2005 03:09 PM

                  "Yummy" is annoying and not informative but it is better than "yum," the noun; as in " full of yum " or "lots of yum."

                  1. re: Karl
                    krissywats Apr 26, 2005 10:08 PM

                    A suggestion? Give an example. It might be more helpful to explain exactly what you find to be more informative rather than calling a person's word choice 'annoying'. That would lead many to immediately be defensive and perhaps disregard what you are saying - even if it has merit. Perhaps some of us don't have the extensive vocabulary or experience with posting details like you do: so show us what you mean, please (without the judgement)?

                2. re: PolarBear
                  jbw Apr 27, 2005 11:36 AM

                  While we're at it, can we put a moratorium (appropriate word) on the expression "to-die-for." Along with being a cliche and fairly meaningless, I also find it to be a somewhat offensive hyperbole. Whenever I hear it, I envision a huge mouse trap with a "to-die-for" chocolate eclair sitting on the spring, awaiting . . .

                3. re: Becky
                  Bob Brooks May 3, 2005 03:43 PM

                  Not the first time this has been discussed. See the link below

                  Mea Culpa.

                  Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                4. m
                  mrbarolo Apr 27, 2005 01:08 PM

                  "Take away the butter and wine and they [the French] are in big trouble."

                  Take away butter and wine and we're all in big trouble, as far as I'm concerned.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: mrbarolo
                    King B Apr 28, 2005 02:00 AM


                  2. l
                    Lt from LF May 1, 2005 01:05 AM

                    I agree. If I'm going to spend a substantial amount of money on a meal, I want something that's either better than I can make, or that at least is so labor intensive that I'd be unlikely to make it at home. This limits the number of restaurants I will go to. It's really disappointing to go out to eat and end up with food that's been ineptly prepared, made from inferior ingredients, or is completely unimaginative. If I go to a restaurant, I want to be entertained and inspired, not just have my stomach filled.

                    On the flip side, it's always a pleasure to have no/low expectations of a place and then take that first bite and realize that someone in the kitchen really knows what he/she is doing....

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