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Have you ever gone back to a restaurant that you thought was so great when you were "younger" and realize now that your more "wiser" its not all that?

last night a group of 11 of us went to holiday dinner at one of the more upscale restaurants in our area.

now, before i moved away when i was 22 i had been to this restaurant numerous times for special occasions. 10 years later, and some kick-ass restaurants in fla and ca, perhaps my taste buds have matured :)

i was really excited to go last night, and we had a GREAT time being all together, and the food was good, but nothing like i remembered and was anticipating, do you know what i mean?

the bar area was still very nice & cozy, but the dining room reminded me of a 80s banquet hall with no atmosphere at all, the waitressing were very nice, but almost intimidated by our table size, the salad- ah this salad i was craving all day for- wasnt quite the salad i "remembered" and the veal dish i have had many time, the same thing.

i wonder if the restaurant maybe went downhill, or if i have been spoiled by such better food?

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  1. Definitely. Ex-boyfriends/girlfriends fall in the same vain.

    2 Replies
      1. re: applehome

        Yep, vein, my fingers getting faster than my brain. But, maybe it was a Freudian slip...

    1. After many similar experiences of going back after several decades to hometowns, memorable hotels, bars, beaches, etc.--
      I am here to tell you that odds are it will not match up to your memories and will leave you disappointed. What changed?--the place, the people or me or my ability to remember or perceive? Who knows? Don't do it. Move forward to new places. As Wolfe said, "You Can't Go Home Again."

      1 Reply
      1. well I know 20 years ago I liked places that had food that tasted good after getting baked. So I was not that picky.

        1. I'm getting on in years and reaching back to a lot of things I remember fondly: TV, movies ("that was so awesome, that midnight horrorama with a bucket-of-blood triple feature"), food (said I'd hate it but once I tried it I ate nothing else for a week), etc. Some people go back and search out old friends, or even less advisable memories.

          Sadly, in my experience, most of these things just don't match the memories. The few that do ... I don't dare tell anyone about (the "ate nothing else for a week" was Franco-American canned spaghetti).

          Of course, it's a little harder to do with restaurants - most of my remembered ones are gone (your memories go back 10 years, mine are more like 30 years old). Still, every now and then there's a pleasant surprise.

          1 Reply
          1. re: wayne keyser

            omg thats scary..i've never tried canned sgaghetti because i'm sure i'll hate it... but, WHAT IF I LOVE IT!?!?!?! then all my carefully constructed ideas about food will collapse... i shudder to think. Maybe i will stay on the safe side and not try it...ever.

          2. I recently went to a restaurant I visited as a 12 year old and remembered it as a white table cloth steak house. Turns out the decor is actually half-way towards rec-room. We mature as we age. Thankfully, it works in the other direction too. I've enjoyed books that made no sense to me at all when I was assigned to read them in school.

            1. Of course, some people never stop (no hiatus between youth and adulthood despite every reason to abandon the place)...

              I visited the wife's hometown, and we simply MUST go for a special treat to her favorite (their 'traditional') special restaurant as a special honor.

              "Where?"

              "Eaton Park."

              (I'm thinking 'Oh, lovely ... Eaton Park ... picture it, white tablecloths, decent cooking, a special time.')

              We get there. The 'special' place to go is "Eat 'n Park." We ate. We parked. (Not in that order). The booth was just lovely, and the canned vegetables on the all-you-can-jam-down-your-gullet buffet were perfectly cooked. I'm gonna hustle right back there real soon.

              1. Chi Chi's was my favorite restaurant as a kid. I wouldn't step foot in there now!

                1. Anywhere on Bleeker Street.

                  1. Perhaps some of you may be familiar with The Hilltop Steak House in Saugus Massachusetts. Loved it way back when....hate it now. Some of my friends have never moved on.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: AnneM

                      It wasn't just your memory - in this case, there really was a precipitous drop in quality from their heydey when the Giufriddas originally owned and ran the place, to when they sold out to a corporate entity. The family eventually bought it back, but it was too late - they never recovered the price/product/service point they had been famous for. At this point, nobody seems to care about any quality at all, and it survives on those, like your friends, who think that it is still what it was. Restaurant purgatory...

                    2. I still go back to Ponderosa every couple years trying to recapture the memories. The taco beef and macaroni&cheese haven't changed in 20odd years

                      1. One of the saddest moments in my life was going back to LUNDY'S where I had spent many a wonderful Sunday afternoons at dinner with my family. They had the best seafood, the best biscuits, and the best hash browns ever.

                        I took my DH there, and cried when we left. The food was really mediocre, the decor was gone, the whole spirit of the place. Now when we go out to Sheepshead Bay we walk right past the decaying LUNDY'S and go to RANDAZZO'S.

                        1. In Los Angeles, most of the places that are STILL THERE are still serving the same food. I've never eaten at any of their other branches, in Vegas, etc., but the original Lawry's on La Cienega still serves rockin' prime rim, creamed spinach, yorkshire pudding, and the "spinning salad" tastes exactly the same as it did when I was 5. I'd probably not like that weird orange "french" dressing anywhere else, but I still like it when I eat at the restaurant.

                          The memorable meals I had as a kid in Los Angeles, many of the places are still there, and really are still the same (in addition to Lawry's, other things that come to mind are the Galley in S.M., La Talpa for Mexican, the Apple Pan, Jacopos, etc.) While some of the places are not the finest of their form, and while I might prefer the more authentic options (i.e. for Mexican) that are now available, I still like the old places, and some really do stay the same. I think the test for me would be to go back and eat at places I ate at in the 80's in NYC. Felafels or pizza, anyone?