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Can you truly outgrow your favorite restaurant? [Moved from L.A. board]

Isn’t good food always just good? Or can you out grow something?

Since dining at Grace last night I’ve been rolling this around in my head. When Grace opened a few years ago I went for a Christmas party and LOVED it. Went back last night and hated it. I got beef tartar that was covered in some sort of sauce that tasted like a fancy vinegar/ketchup concoction. The pork shank was ok but the sides were horrible. I just couldn’t help but feel blahhh when I left.

Here’s the thing, I’ve been traveling a lot recently and eating at what are supposed to be some of the nicest places (from NY to San Fran) and I just can’t help feeling like if you’ve been to one then you’ve been to them all. These fancy places with celebrity chefs and the same menus over and over and over.

Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m just bored. But I think it’s more then that, I think perhaps I’ve outgrown them. But can that happen? I’ve never outgrown rice crispy treats, or the cantaloupe aqua fresca at Alegria, or dodger dogs. These things aren’t fancy or pretentious. These things aren’t made by hot chefs with farmer’s market produce. Why are these things satisfying but other things just aren’t anymore?

Does anyone else feel like this?

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  1. Funny you bring this up, because I was rolling this around in my head lately, too. I go out to eat all the time, and after hitting the French Laundry last year, I've been underwhelmed by just about every restaurant I've been to since. Now, I can calibrate my taste buds for the proper experience: if I'm going to a small mom-and-pop shop for meatloaf and mashed potatoes, I'm not comparing it to Thomas Keller.

    I go to those tasting events, and it all seems so boring, so done, so copied, so mainstream. There are places that wow me, but not the places everyone expects to wow me. I don't know if I'm answering your question, but yes, I think it is possible lose interest.

    I'm not sure it's outgrowing your favorite restaurant, I think your taste buds are just more refined, perhaps; or the chefs are trying to hard to be clever and its not working for your palate. I find the whole scene here a little stale.

    The last few times I was really wowed was at a dinner for Bon Appetit where Keller, Trotter, English, and Cat Cora all cooked one meal (for the most part, it was truly spectacular). I finally went to Mozzarella Mondays at Jar and absolutely loved it. But all in all, not one place has bowled me over, although a few dishes here and there have. There are places I still need to hit; Urasawa is at the top of that list. So hopefully I'll outgrow the funk I've grown into, too.

    1. Bob's Big Boy used to be my favorite restaurant.

      Big Boy Special, topped off with a slice of cheesecake (and that yummy red strawberry topping).

      Heaven.

      Now, not so much.

      2 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit

        lol. I know, I know. It's not so much about palate. Just sheer disinterest in everything going on. The same old blah blah blah. Bob's Big Boy. That's funny. :) I used to feel the same way about the House of Pies.

        1. re: missredbeet

          yes!! And my favorite restaurant used to be bob evans. I had a big thing for pancakes -- but I think I loved pancakes so much because it brought back warm family weekend memories....maybe now that I have a family of my own and i'm not in my 20s and wandering anymore, I don't yearn for the comfort like I did. It's goofy, but I just tied the food so much with the memories.

      2. i still love grace, for sure. the problem is that they don't change their menu enough. for me, it's not about outgrowing it but getting very bored. i only go once every couple of years, when i can introduce someone new to it who will appreciate it and see it thru their eyes.

        1. Definitely, people are fickle and we constantly crave new experiences. It's also the fault of the food "scene" --when the experience gets old, the food gets stale, no matter how delish it may actually be.

          That said, nostalgia plays a big part of holding on to the comfort foods. You'll never outgrow these preferences, no matter how questionable they are (I mean, c'mon have you REALLY tasted a Dodger Dog?).

          1 Reply
          1. re: ozzygee

            You're right. Nostalgia. Is that why i still like (and craveeee) hamburger gravy?

          2. When I lived in Durham, NC, Magnolia Grill was within walking distance. I was one of the locals who frequently arrived before opening to be seated without a res near the bar. I NEVER, in my five years there, ate a meal I didn't like. Some I loved, some were merely good, but nothing disappointed completely. MG had a weekly menu, and the choices were seasonal.