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What foods do restaurants most frequently mess up?

I would say fries, omelettes/eggs, and mac and cheese.

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  1. a perfectly dressed salad. They're so often either too wet or too dry

    19 Replies
    1. re: realslowfood

      I've had some HORRIBLE Ceasar salads --
      Also - surprisingly this day and age its almost impossible to get a great medium-rare burger. They are almost always over-cooked.

      1. re: Marianna215

        And the staff frequently lie and say it is a board of health requirement that they cremate it.

        1. re: feelinpeckish


          Our State Board of Health rules states an internal temp of 165 (or greater by request) for hamburger. That means the hamburger is to be free of any pink. There is no lie about that, as they will shutdown an establishment for serving undercooked hamburgers.


          1. re: RShea78

            Feel sorry for you and your tastebuds. . What state so we can avoid ordering beef there?

            1. re: Panini Guy


              Confusion, Indiana... Sorry 160 degree for HAMBURGER. Beef in on another page...


          2. re: feelinpeckish

            That's not a lie. Many Boards of Health make that requirement.

            1. re: manraysky

              It's my understanding that if the meat is plain ground beef, it has to be cooked fully, but if it is ground chuck or ground round it can be medium rare. I ask what cut it is and order accordingly.

          3. re: Marianna215

            Yes, me too. I think it was on this site that I recently mentioned a waiter who once asked me what kind of dressing I wanted on my Caesar salad. Uh... let me think for a minute...

            It isn't just that, though. I've had them arrive made with iceberg lettuce of all things, or with tomatoes in them (I love tomatoes, but they really don't belong in Caesar salad) or with dressings that taste of soybean oil and sugar. It's gotten to the point where if it's a choice betwixt Caesar salad and garden salad, I take the garden salad. I expect the ingredients in that choice to vary from restaurant to restaurant and season to season.

          4. re: realslowfood

            I was just going to say caesar salad. They add tomatoes, or they make the dressing too heavy or not garlicky enough.

            1. re: realslowfood

              That's why I always get the dressing on the side.

              1. re: piccola

                yes but the beauty of a perfect salad is that its tossed with just the right amount of dressing in a large bowl so that every leaf is slicked in dressing. Dousing it at the table results in gobs of oil in pockets and using a lot more dressing than neccessary

                1. re: realslowfood

                  So many times I've been served salads that were not tossed at all. I abhor a salad that is a bed of lettuce with everyone just glopped on top and nothing incorporated. It is impossible to get it properly tossed when it is on your plate without making a mess.
                  I was also once served a salad on a hot plate which is just wrong. The temp. made everything go limp.

                  1. re: ArikaDawn

                    ArikaDawn, I know most chain restaurants will top a certain portion of a salad. In other words, salads are to be "Presented" in a certain way, to the customer. Like shredded cheese needs placed at the 9 and 3 o'clock position on the salad.

                    I agree with the "hot plate" salad thing. I tried to explain to "the powers to be" (Franchise Authority) that salads have no business being taken back to the cooks line to add on this or that to the salad. Instead they end up at the heated window awaiting whatever the cook needs to add to the salad.

                    It is amazing the stupid things that goes on in these places...


                  2. re: realslowfood

                    Agree. Often the other half of the problem though is the dressing itself. 95% of restaurants in my country seem to think a classic vinaigrette is a ratio of half vinegar, half oil. So my lettuce leaves and tastebuds are both dissolving in acid by the time I am eating my main and I can't taste squat. Which probably is not a bad thing considering if they can't even make a decent vinaigrette, you're probably not missing much with their main anyway.

                2. re: realslowfood

                  Still to this day the best Cesar Salad I've ever eaten was in Cozemel (Mexico) of all places. Salad chef with cart at the table, each lettuce leaf chosen one by one and placed for perfect presentation on the oversized plate, egg coddled for just the right consistancy and mashed with anchovies for awesome taste (the anchovies were mashed in as the dressing was made, so even those who dislike anchovies would have loved this salad. (I know some of you purists say original Cesar Salads shouldn't have anchovies, but I think it's a little flat without them). He then added just the right amount of garlic, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, olive oil, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, croutons, course sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Dijon mustard, wine red vinegar and a dash of fresh lemon juice completed the dressing. Man... my mouth is watering just thinking about it! I gotta go order my airline tickets :)


                  1. re: RasBardhylis

                    That's actually a standard presentation at 3-star or above places in all Mexican cities. Although the coddling is a new twist. I've usually only seen raw eggs go in.

                    But yeah, nothing like that taste. Makes caesar dressing's up norte taste, well, sort of plastic.

                    1. re: RasBardhylis

                      Was this by any chance at a cute little restaurant that claims to be a pizza joint? I know in the 90s there was one place there where a guy and a girl, a couple, who were European chefs moved to Cozumel and opened a restaurant. Had some awesome fish there. It was kind of on the main drag.

                    2. re: realslowfood

                      Absolutely agree with salad, but for slightly different reasons. Way too many restaurants cheap out on "filler" vegetables like cheap lettuce and are far too sparse with the real ingredients that give flavour to and define the salad. Very irritating... I'll gladly pay double the price... just put a generous quantity of stuff on top of that lettuce, please!

                      I ordered what sounded like a delightful arugula spinach pear walnut salad with a lemon vinaigrette from a local place one day. The dressing was excellent and in the right quantity, but a huge bed of lettuce and greens dwarfed the tiny quantity of pears and walnuts completely. Disappointing, because for the few bites I was able to enjoy with the pears, it was quite tasty.

                    3. Grilled chicken and turkey breasts.

                      Seared rare ahi... It's supposed to rare!

                      1. I have to agree that eggs seem to be the hardest to get right. But, to me, pizza is the worst offender these days. It tends to be greasy, doughy and the sauces are toxic in most cases.

                        1. steak

                          maybe it's not so much that they're messing it up, but more that different people have differing opinions on what medium rare is. i used to order my steaks medium rare, expecting a deep red center, but still warm. more than half the time it would come out pink which is more medium to me. on the flip side, when waiting on people they would send back what i thought was a beautifully cooked medium-rare steak because they thought it was too rare. because i hate sending things back and i really can't enjoy an overcooked steak, i just started ordering my steaks rare because there's no gray area as to what rare should be no matter where we're eating.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: rebs

                            I think differing opinions are at the heart of a lot of these. for example the salad. To me a very lightly dressed salad is perfect, but I know others that disagree.

                            1. re: rebs

                              Here's what drives me nuts - when you go to a steakhouse that has the descriptions of the doneness labels right there on the menu, and still it doesn't come out right!

                            2. There are so many restaurants that overcook fish. If it's not a restaurant that specializes in fish, I usually don't get fish because it's so often overcooked. Oh, and shrimp and scallops too!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: puppymomma

                                good point on fish restaurants, and probably a good theme for a new thread...

                                1. Sides. Overcooked/undercooked rice. Limp steamed vegetables. Flavorless potatoes. Mystery stuff swimming in oil. Sides can be one of the most enjoyable parts of the meal - small servings of tasty treats that compliment the main dish - but too often they are treated as little more than an afterthought.

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: Bad Sneakers

                                    Yes, I agree. I hate vegetables that are overcooked or still raw but warmed.

                                    Iced tea. So simple, yet it is so hard to find a good glass.

                                    1. re: Snackish

                                      I agree, and even worse than the iced tea is the hot tea. What is so hard about making good tea? Restaurants brew coffee all day. Why are tea drinkers subjected to tepid water and a sad dangling tea bag?

                                      1. re: lucyis

                                        Most restaurants I've visited serve crappy coffee, too... it's not just the tea.

                                        1. re: abowes

                                          Where I grew up it was Cain's Hotel & Restaurant Blend. I can't believe we drank that stuff. At the cafeteria we made it in these enormous percolators, in which you would make the coffee, then pour three carafes of hot water in with it, then draw out three carafes full from the spigot and pour them back in the top of the urn. I discovered that it was much more palatable if you'd put a Pearson's peppermint pattie in the bottom of the coffee cup, pour the coffee over it and give it time to melt, then put some whipped cream on top.

                                          But if you go to Portland or Seattle, you may find a different story, at least at most places. Bad coffee is bad for business out there. I think the best coffee I ever had with a restaurant meal was at breakfast at the Edgefield in the gorge east of Portland.

                                        2. re: lucyis

                                          I totally agree. You can almost never get hot enough water.

                                      2. re: Bad Sneakers

                                        I agree. One of my pet peeves is the awful stuff served in little white paper cups that is supposed to be coleslaw, & you know it came out of a giant bucket of chemical-laden slime. Sometimes it's even limp & brown! I mean, how can you even put that on someone's plate? And how gosh darn hard is it to make decent coleslaw, not to mention CHEAP!!!

                                      3. Hamburgers & Steak - if it's not done right the first time, it's usually ruined. Overcooked or too rare.

                                        Eggs - especially at brunch. Many restaurants hate serving brunch on weekends because diners have a specific idea how a comfort dish should be served. Omelets usually coming out too hard tasting like golf balls. Pancakes are sometimes cold or too doughy.

                                        Pizza - individual sized - too thick, too thin, not enough tomato taste, etc.

                                        Grilled sandwiches - I don't know how many times I've sent back a grilled cheese or tuna melt sandwich because the cheese wasn't melted properly. The cheese just sits like glue on top of the bread.

                                        1. Breakfast potatoes. I only know of one place in SF that does them properly.

                                          1. the dreaded one and only "vegetarian option" tacked on as an afterthought to a menu, then prepared 7 presented thoughtlessly by staff has got to be the WORST-- might as well bring some dry wonderbread toast instead!

                                            sides and eggs are the usual weak points--
                                            i can count on one hand the places i will order a bowl of soup (not counting pho)
                                            i also hate ordering a salad & getting greens still smelling & tasting of pesticides or chlorine bleach-- it is usually a good indicator of courses to come!

                                            29 Replies
                                            1. re: soupkitten

                                              Yep, the vegetarian "option" and the side vegetables. I avoid "mixed vegetables" if I can help it; they're usually soggy, or mushy, or undercooked, or inedible in some way.

                                              And I will second "hot tea" from above. Restaurants do not know how to steep tea. Period.

                                              1. re: LBeff

                                                Thirding the plate of steamed veggies -- I was part of a group lunch at an otherwise lovely, upper crust restaurant over the summer with not a single veg-friendly option for a main course and asked if they could create a vegetarian entre for me. "Oh yes, sure, no problem!" I ended up with a plate of steamed broccoli, green beans, and a gi-normous pile of barely grilled onions. All I could do was stare at it, like, what am I supposed to do with this?? This place had great veg salads, appetizers and desserts. But for some reason, it seems like you say "vegetarian" to a chef and many of them choke. I know that some folks who are 'in the business' frequent these boards -- I'd love to hear an insider's view of this kind of situation. I'm not asking for half the menu, but an ounce of creativity goes a long way...

                                                1. re: spyturtle008

                                                  "But for some reason, it seems like you say "vegetarian" to a chef and many of them choke."

                                                  I know - isn't that weird? There are a bazillion dishes that are made entirely of vegetables, beans and grains, but it's too much trouble to do anything but steam or grill (and I use the term loosely) a stack of veggies and throw them haphazardly on a plate. Even (most) omnivores don't live on meat alone.

                                                  I'm always excited when I see a menu with real side dishes, like sauteed greens with garlic, or a nice polenta or potato dish, or mmmm. . . brussels sprouts with pecans, sage and brown butter (Blue Plate in SF) or roasted brussels sprouts with parm and white truffle oil (Firefly, SF). Easy to make a dinner out of stuff like that.

                                                  1. re: LBeff

                                                    you can teach a monkey to make your steak perfectly med-rare, but it takes real talent, better than average ingredients, and some genuine effort & elbow grease to do good veggie sides!

                                                    1. re: soupkitten

                                                      This reminds me of my favorite 'vegetarian plate' horror story... MIL & FIL took my partner & I out for his 30th bday to their favorite restaurant -- a steak house. (I have been vegetarian for as long as they've known me, their son had been for about 6 or 7 years at that point.) FIL called to ensure that they could indeed accommodate vegetarians. "Of course!" they said, and took his reservation. Called that day to confirm reservation and remind them about the veg guests. We get there and read the Zagat review on the wall near the hostess stand, which says (I kid you not) "Vegetarians, beware". After being seated and looking at the completely carnivorous menu choices, FIL again makes the point (I think he had a sense that this might be a bad idea) that my partner & I are vegetarian. Waiter says, "Oh, we will make something wonderful for you, whatever you would like!" We say, oh, just some pasta with vegetables would be fine. Waiter takes the rest of the order and disappears. For a long time. Comes back to the table, leans in conspiratorially, and says, "We have no vegetables in the kitchen -- we will send someone out to the grocery store to get some. What do you like?" Starting to get a wee bit incredulous -- not a single vegetable in the entire building??! So we give plenty of options, and another verrrry lengthy disappearance. An hour and a half or so later, we are presented (proudly, might I add) with two plates each with a pile of completely naked, limpid angel hair pasta, two wedges of grilled red pepper, and a shrivelled, tiny portabello mushroom cap. Yummy! All the while, MIL raves about what a wonderful restaurant this is...

                                                      Just tell me, why oh why oh why, when my FIL asked if they could accommodate vegetarians, didn't they just say 'no'????

                                                      1. re: spyturtle008

                                                        OMG LMFAO-- you should get revenge on FIL on HIS b-day, take him to your fave vegan raw place!

                                                        you poor things!
                                                        p.s. the "veggie plate horror stories" thread is something i've seen on veggie forums but not on chowhound yet!

                                                        1. re: spyturtle008

                                                          I think this story just begs the question of why on earth FIL couldn't come up with a better choice for dinner than a steak house with two vegetarians in the party.

                                                          1. re: flourgirl

                                                            MIL & FIL are quite a bit older... Honestly, I adore FIL. MIL has an extreme case of tunnel vision ("If I like it, everyone else on the planet must, of course!"), and makes all the decisions. I don't think she ever even recognized that the experience was less than ideal for us, and FIL has survived this long by going with the flow. She also has a hard time understanding the concept of vegetarianism, and often regales me with stories of how she prepared this cut of beef, that pot of meatballs, a filet of whatever... It makes me queasy and green around the gills (especially the fish talk), but I've accepted the fact that it's an old lady quirk and only occasionally start to twitch. She probably thinks that I'll 'come around' someday, at which point I'll know how to make those swedish meatballs that are her specialty...

                                                          2. re: spyturtle008

                                                            Now that's a great story! I mean, in retrospect, of course. Not fun when you're starving and everyone around you is scarfing down steak.

                                                            We gave a very high-end hotel/tearoom several chances to serve us properly. The third (and last) time we went, the person who took our reservation actually asked on the phone if we had any special dietary needs! I told him that we were vegetarians, specified no fish or meat, and he "made a note."

                                                            On the day we arrived, it didn't occur to me to tell the server, because there was a "note." My fault, I know. We ordered our tea (let's not even talk about the poor tea service and understeeped tea) and when they brought out the tray of sandwiches, there was caviar and salmon and other extravagant and non-veg things on it. At that point, I told her we were vegetarian and couldn't eat any of those sandwiches.

                                                            They came back with cucumber finger sandwiches and that was it. I've been to all variety of tearooms all over the place that can put out a pretty good mixed spread of tea-smoked egg salad, aged cheddar with chutney, roasted red peppers and cream cheese and other goodies. This overpriced and very upscale hotel gave us a plate of cucumber sandwiches - mind you, not the equivalent of caviar or salmon in the least. I don't know - that's barely even FOOD in my book.

                                                            Well, that was their last chance. I actually wrote a letter but never sent it. :-(

                                                            But there are a lot of places that have given us good veg food, which I think are the majority of our experiences.

                                                            1. re: LBeff

                                                              Caviar is certainly vegetarian. Eggs is eggs.

                                                              1. re: pikawicca

                                                                Good point, except that the chicken doesn't have to be killed for me to eat her eggs.

                                                                1. re: LBeff

                                                                  I believe that there is now a method of harvesting fish eggs that doesn't involve killing the fish.

                                                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                                                    Yeah, I'm sure the fish are loving that one.

                                                                2. re: pikawicca


                                                                  Actually lacto-ovo vegetarian accepts the meat by products or those in the meat chain (meat broths, cheeses, and eggs). Strict vegetarians will exclude those along with gelatin and cane sugars that contain bone matter.


                                                                  1. re: RShea78

                                                                    "Actually lacto-ovo vegetarian accepts the meat by products or those in the meat chain (meat broths, cheeses, and eggs)."

                                                                    I'm confused about what you're responding to. Are you saying that lacto-ovos eat meat by-products even when the death of the animal is invovled? (as in broths, and possibly caviar)

                                                                    Explain how cane sugar contains bone matter.

                                                                    1. re: RShea78

                                                                      I'm lacto-ovo veg. That means I eat eggs and dairy, and byproducts that don't involve killing animals. So no broth or gelatin, but honey's fine.

                                                                      1. re: RShea78

                                                                        RShea78 - you might want to double-check that. I'm lacto-ovo. Have been for 15+ years, as are all of my cookbooks. Can't think of a single one that promotes "meat broth" for cooking! If you served me anything of the sort you can bet I'd never eat at your house (or restaurant) again!

                                                                        1. re: RShea78

                                                                          This isn't true. Lacto-ovo simply means that I eat eggs and dairy products. Meat broths and gelatin are not lacto-ovo and involve the death of an animal.

                                                                          Cane sugar is filtered through bone char; I'm not entirely clear on the process, although I know that the sugar doesn't contain bone matter after the fact.

                                                                          1. re: LBeff

                                                                            hey--does brown (unrefined or less refined) cane sugar go thru this process w/ the bones-- anybody know?

                                                                            p.s. i am not talking about refined cane sugar that then has molasses added to it to make it "brown" here, strictly the less-refined real brown cane sugars

                                                                            1. re: soupkitten

                                                                              Other than rapadura sugar, I believe all the brown sugars (including turbinado, muscovado, sugar in the raw (very missnamed)) get processed to white sugar crystals of varying sizes before having stuff added back in.

                                                                              1. re: Karl S

                                                                                you're mostly right-- except with cane sugar-- with unrefined cane sugar the cane syrup is what makes the sugar brown. the other sugars that have "stuff added back into them (often molasses)" are in imitation of this sugar that was a common baking and culinary ingredient in colonial america & so is in a lot of traditional recipes. the cane syrup has some nutritional value apart from making the sugar moist and baker-friendly, and i do believe it is a couple of steps down on the refinement staircase. since i find myself baking for vegans a lot, i'd like to know about this bone thing, though.

                                                                                1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                  Yes, bone char is used to whiten refined cane sugar. No, no residue of the bone char ends up in the finished product. Yes, an animal product is used to make the sugar, technically. I truly don't think it is possible to avoid all animal products to this degree unless you're directly involved in growing most of your own food (a noble thing, but not practical for many).

                                                                                  1. re: Hungry Celeste

                                                                                    so the brown cane sugar (before the whitening step) would be vegan-friendly, yes?

                                                                                    1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                      I'm not sure; I had thought most brown cane sugars were whitened first then had the trace and other matter added back in. Rapadura was the one exception I was aware of.

                                                                                      1. re: Karl S

                                                                                        okay i checked with some vegans-in-the-know and apparently the bones are used just in the whitening process, so the brown, pre-whitened sugar is in every sense vegan. i for one breathed a large sigh of relief. please don't everybody chuck fois gras at my face all at once!

                                                                                      2. re: soupkitten

                                                                                        It depends. As MakingSense has aptly described here and on other threads, MOST commercially available dark & light brown sugars are white sugars colored by molasses. You can indeed buy large-grained demerara that hasn't been whitened, and I'm sure other varieties exist. Be aware, though, virtually ALL products claiming to be made with "evaporated cane juice" are talking about refined white sugar. It's just marketing-driven language, not a bona-fide alternative to refined sugar.

                                                                                        1. re: Hungry Celeste

                                                                                          Wow! Even the organic package of "evaporated cane juice"??? I love that stuff, and loved that it was not refined. Now I feel like I've been duped!

                                                                        2. re: LBeff

                                                                          educate me. why would you ,a vegetarian,be raving about tea smoked
                                                                          EGG SALAD,AGED CHEDDAR,and CREAM CHEESE? aren't these all animal derivatives?

                                                                          1. re: salad man

                                                                            Vegetarians generally eat eggs and dairy, but no actual animals. Vegans don't eat anything remotely connected to an animal.

                                                            2. Caesar salad and steak.

                                                              Caesar - romaine should already be cut to size. I do NOT want to cut the lettuce. Dressing, this should have a hint of garlic, a little saltiness from the anchovie, and NO I DO NOT WANT THE LITTLE GUY WHOLE ON TOP. (emphasis needed, ask me if i want but i do not want it from the can, a nice cheesiness and some grated pepper. What's so hard about this?

                                                              Steak - like others have said, when i order medium rare, agree what that means. Certain restos define MR as pink others raw and those that know what they are talking about know its a warm red center. Then DO NOT bring me rare or med-well. And if you do do not act like a deer in the headlights and say, "Sir would you like me to fix that?" We danced around upon ordering about how it should look, with a $35-45 piece of meat on the table it should be perfect, not oops, we tried.

                                                              I apologize for the CAPS, but neither of these dishes is rocket science and the standards for these basic dishes should be an 8 on a scale of 1-10 as a minimum.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: jfood

                                                                "Caesar - romaine should already be cut to size. I do NOT want to cut the lettuce. Dressing, this should have a hint of garlic, a little saltiness from the anchovie, and NO I DO NOT WANT THE LITTLE GUY WHOLE ON TOP. (emphasis needed, ask me if i want but i do not want it from the can, a nice cheesiness and some grated pepper. What's so hard about this?"

                                                                this is more about personal taste than a restaurant ruining a basic recipe. i like whole leaf caesars as well as chopped ones. and a lot of people love the anchovy on top. ive worked in a lot of restaurants and every single one of them had a caesar with its own identity with its own small differences. i dont think ive ever really seena great deal of "caesar uniformity" in all my dining days.

                                                                however, i do agree about not adding tomatoes as well as about using only FRESHLY ground cheese and pepper.

                                                                1. re: viperlush

                                                                  Viper, I work in pastry and I would be very interested in hearing what constitutes a ruined Tiramusu or Creme Brulee.
                                                                  Tiramisu- too much marascapone, is the espresso is too strong, lady fingers are soggy?

                                                                  Creme brulee- the crust is not crisp, the cream is warm from the crust.

                                                                  Thanks for your input.

                                                                  1. re: Kelli2006

                                                                    I find creme brulees are frequently cooked too fast. Instead of a silky custard it's full of bubbles and coarse. Tiramisu is frequently awash in espresso

                                                                    1. re: Kelli2006

                                                                      Bad creme brulee feels and tastes too much like scrambled eggs. Thankfully, most places that bother to offer it (in my experience) usually get it right.

                                                                      1. re: abowes

                                                                        Creme brulee that has a grainy mouth feel is due to cooking it too fast, not cooking it in a water-bath, too high of a oven temp or baking it for too long of a period. Alton Brown explained the finer points of properly baking custard on his second egg show.

                                                                        I grew up eating creme brulee from my grandmothers kitchen, and I am constantly amazed how popular it is. She was the daughter of first generation Alsatian immigrants who raised chickens. Making baked custard was a efficient way of using up too many eggs, and it was a very common dessert at her house on weekends.

                                                                      2. re: Kelli2006

                                                                        I love Tiramisu; but if done wrong, it normally is too DRY. I'd rather have it too soggy than too dry. We have a great italian resto nearby, but their tiramisu is always dry.

                                                                      3. re: viperlush

                                                                        Doh! I was going to post the exact same desserts. We try them everywhere we go, and rarely are they done properly. So sad.

                                                                            1. re: flourgirl

                                                                              Even at alleged cajun restaurants!

                                                                          1. I agree with eggs.

                                                                            I am thoroughly skeeved by uncooked yolk. I order eggs "over-hard," iterating that it must be "as hard as a hockey puck" and still get runny yolks. I don't care if the chef thinks hard eggs are gross....I can't eat runny yolk! Ditto on boiled eggs. I can't order 'em.

                                                                            I also agree that fish is often overdone.

                                                                            And salad - often, the dressing will be extremely acidic, which to me at least, impedes the tasting of the rest of the meal. Yucky.

                                                                            8 Replies
                                                                              1. re: mrbunsrocks

                                                                                that's funny, because I have the opposite problem: the eggs are too cooked, without runny yolks!

                                                                                1. re: mrbunsrocks

                                                                                  Mrs Jfood and I are in one of the best hotels outside of Paris and order scrambled eggs well done (for Mrs Jfood who can not stand runny).

                                                                                  Batch number 1 arrives in typical french style, very runny. Back to the kitchen.
                                                                                  Batch number 2 (could have been 1B) arrive and they are still too runny and we explain that we want them well done, not runny. Back the server goes.

                                                                                  Ten minutes later there are three loud thuds on the door. I gingerly open the door and there is the chef with the third batch. He thrusts them at my wife and says. "These are not ruunny. Do you want them burnt?"

                                                                                  Needless to say we accepted the eggs and asked the front desk to remove the charge from the bill. USA/French diplomacy survived our breakfast.

                                                                                  1. re: jfood

                                                                                    I have a friend who likes his scrambled eggs so done they're brown. He typically orders them "burnt" and goes to great lengths to explain to the server that yes, he really wants them brown, well done, burnt, etc., and will send them back otherwise. DH and I ate breakfast with him and his wife often enough that we would all chime in and affirm that yes, he really meant it. When they brunch at our house we make anything but eggs.

                                                                                    1. re: momjamin

                                                                                      I liked my eggs cooked thoroughly. Brown is great, but I can deal with them as long as their are no wet places. I order my scrambled eggs "dry" when I'm at a restaurant.

                                                                                      1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                                        JFR, The term "dry" seems to work the best in the States. That's how we order them as well for Mrs Jfood.

                                                                                  2. re: mrbunsrocks

                                                                                    Hard yolks are what ruins the eggs.

                                                                                    1. re: mrbunsrocks

                                                                                      Ha! I'm with susancinsf... I order my eggs "over light" and often, the yolk is half cooked, which to me, is inedible. I want my yolk to be completely raw.

                                                                                    2. I definitely agree with steaks..always either under/over cooked, I usually just make them at home now, cheaper and way better.

                                                                                      I've never had a problem with salad, but it's very easy to get them w/ dressing on the side to controll the portion. Although I have had some nasty tasting "house" made bleu cheese dressings before.

                                                                                      hashbrowns have been messed up for me quite a few times.

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: amopdx

                                                                                        I agree about the hashbrowns. Almost impossible to find them made from scratch, or, if they are, not too greasy.

                                                                                      2. I agree with the other posters regarding Caesar salad...I have found several places that served it with too much lemon, lettuce pieces that are too big, and with tomatoes. Ick!

                                                                                        1. Green beans. Either they are nearly raw and too hard or too soft. Very rarely I get perfect green beans in restaurants.

                                                                                          1. I have still not found a restaurant in my area that can properly poach an egg. 9 times out of 10 it resembles a hard boiled egg.

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: kloomis

                                                                                                I frequently have issues with poached eggs being over done, even when I explicitly state that I'd like them soft.

                                                                                            1. Liver and onions - Liver isn't supposed to be leathery. And why so skimpy with the grilled onions. They're relatively inexpensive.

                                                                                              Ruebens - Can't you slice the meat on the proper diagonal so it isn't so nasty tough? How about draining the sauerkraut well so the whole thing isn't just a soggy mess?

                                                                                              Mashed potatoes - If I wanted instant mashed potatoes, I would have ordered instant mashed potatoes. Don't try to pawn them off on me as freshly made mashed potatoes even when I inquire before ordering.


                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: KCJ

                                                                                                I totally agree on the Reuben thing. Very few places slice the pastrami thin enough or properly.

                                                                                              2. Salad! It's a healthy dish and I order it wanting something light. But most restaurants have quadrupled the size, topped it with fatty stuff, drown it with gooey dressing, and have done everything short of deep frying the lettuce. Ugh.

                                                                                                1. Eggs Benedict. Nine times out of ten I can make better at home. Uber high end places usually do this well but spin it with Brioche, prosciutto or sauce Maltaise replacing the usual suspects to make it "their own".

                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: CDouglas

                                                                                                    I just had 4 days in a row of the nicest eggs benedict ever...on the breakfast buffet at Eric Ripert's restaurants at the Ritz Grand Cayman, so we won't be doing it again soon... We had it every day to make sure we weren't just comparing it to bad eggs benedict -- to make sure it was "good" not "good by comparison" ;-)

                                                                                                    1. re: momjamin

                                                                                                      I have been looking for an excuse to head down to GC again. Ritz, Ripert's eggs benny and Seven Mile Beach ought to do the trick. The cold wave running through MD can only help tip the bid in my favor. Thanks for the rec.

                                                                                                      1. re: CDouglas

                                                                                                        No complaints about our dinner at Blue, either, but definitely OT, since nothing was messed up!

                                                                                                    2. re: CDouglas

                                                                                                      I agree with Eggs Benedict. I've had heaven or hell on a plate.

                                                                                                    3. Any sort of pork...





                                                                                                      ...it's always overcooked and under-seasoned.

                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: brattenheimer

                                                                                                        Totally. I find it very difficult to order pork (especially chops) at restaurants even if the menu description sounds appealing because I just have this feeling it will arrive dry and flavorless.

                                                                                                        1. re: brattenheimer

                                                                                                          I had the BEST pork tenderloin the other night for dinner when my parents took me out for my birthday dinner. It was unbelievably good. My grandmother nearly had a heart attack when I told her it was still slightly pink, and that's what made it fantastic (along with the right amounts of salt, pepper, balsamic, and caramelized onions.

                                                                                                        2. 1. Omelettes. Omelettes are supposed to be fluffy, not dense slabs of egg wrapped around some massive gooey filling.

                                                                                                          2. Prime Rib. Prime Rib should be cut from a roast, not reheated and cooked to order.


                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: Ed Dibble

                                                                                                            I think we've reached a cross-roads for omelettes. There's the traditional (as you mention) then the greasy spoon version, which are two different foods to me, each with their own appeal.

                                                                                                            I once had prime rib from ikea. for six bucks, or whatever it was, it was good... that's all I can say.

                                                                                                            1. re: Ed Dibble

                                                                                                              Most of the omelettes I've had in restaurants lately have cooked the "filling" in the pan before they pour in the eggs resulting in more of an unscrabled egg with stuff in it than anything resembling an omelette. And why do they cook the darn thing until it's brown, crispy and dead?

                                                                                                            2. Pet peeve - Salads swimming in water. I appreciate that you've washed the greens. Now could you please dry them before serving? I've actually turned bowls of salad upside-down to drain off largish puddles of water in the bowl before adding the dressing. This seems to happen in restaurants of many different price points. Oddly enough, though, I've never had this happen with a fast food salad.

                                                                                                              1. French toast, which I love, is often served as nearly-dry bread w/syrup on top. Yuck. Flat/heavy omelettes and poorly cooked fries are other frequent offenders.

                                                                                                                1. "French" onion soup made with beef broth. Totally ruins it.

                                                                                                                  Undercooked breakfast. I have to order waffles medium well to get them fully cooked in the middle and lightly browned on the top, and eggs over medium to get them over easy.

                                                                                                                  1. Unless you are at a remarkable restaurant these are highly likely to disappoint:
                                                                                                                    1) Gelati/Ice Cream - Ice flakes, ice flakes I HATE ICE FLAKES IN MY ICE CREAM!
                                                                                                                    2) Pasta - It is NEVER al dente.
                                                                                                                    3) Espresso - Often not even espresso just a simple "cup o' joe" served in an attractive espresso cup. And you charge me 5 bucks on top of it?!

                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                      1a - the only "gelati" I have ever enjoyed at restaurants was usually not at all gelati but more like a frozen custard.

                                                                                                                      2a - how on earth does denny's get the noodles to swell to such a size?

                                                                                                                      3a - amen, and let me add capuccinos.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                        I hear you on number 1. The gelati I recently ordered tasted like scrapings from a freezer in need of a thaw, it was awful. I'm not a big ice cream fan anyway, but the pear gelato on the menu sounded so good...alas.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Olivia

                                                                                                                          Hoowee, I second risotto. Either you have nasty little half-cooked grains swimming in a glutinous sauce or worse, it was premade and had been sitting around for hours. Narsty stuff.

                                                                                                                        2. Salad...the "green salad" or "garden salad" at a lot of places (places that should know better!) is often past its prime (I HATE H-A-T-E that....slimy brown grossness!) or downright anemic. Is there anything more underwhelming than a "salad" that is a couple of tasteless cherry tomatoes, a sliver of a cucumber slice, some grated "cheese" product, and a mountain of blah greens. BAH!

                                                                                                                          1. Any sort of modification or special order. I'm allergic to dairy so I always ask for no cheese on my burger, sandwich, garnish on pasta or beans. Yet somehow it always sneaks it's way on there and I have to send the food back.

                                                                                                                              1. 1. Ceasar salad - without raw egg or anchovies, it's not a Ceasar salad. Period. I guess they have to take care of the lawyers first.

                                                                                                                                2, Seared tuna - It's often raw or overcooked. It's just easier to do it myself.

                                                                                                                                3. Omlettes - Usually way, way, way overdone. Beaten egg poured on a grill,cooked to death, and then folded into a square isn't much of an omlette.

                                                                                                                                4. Hamburgers - I've almost given up eating hamburgers anywhere but home. Fear of illness has killed the decent burger.

                                                                                                                                5. Sushi - I can't even find the words Cream Cheese in a Japanese culinary dictionary. When the heck did it appear in my tekkamaki?

                                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: bkhuna

                                                                                                                                  Why do you order maki with cream cheese in it? Sushi is a cuisine- you order what you like and not what repulses. Hamburgers and omelettes arent cuisines. See the difference?

                                                                                                                                    1. re: John Manzo

                                                                                                                                      You missed the rhetorical meaning of my comment on sushi so I'll make it simple:
                                                                                                                                      I lived in Japan for eleven years. Never saw cream cheese, or avacado, or anything similar.

                                                                                                                                      Maybe I'm just a hopeless purist. So instead of dumping on it, I'll just say that I find it difficult to find AUTHENTIC Japanese food in my neck of the woods.

                                                                                                                                  1. Gotta be spaghetti carbonara! Most places ruin it by adding cream and peas to the carbonara sauce. (I don't know where those ingredients came in, but they ruin an awesome dish!) The old Roman way is simple and delicious (and heart-clogging, but it's soo good once in a blue moon!): eggs, bacon or pancetta, parmesan cheese, and plenty of pepper!

                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: Sra. Swanky

                                                                                                                                      When I was a kid, my parents took me to Italy and carbonara was my favorite dish. I've ordered it in many places and I never could recapture that taste. Like you, I avoided any place that used cream. A few years ago I got a recipe and ignored it because it used cream. But a few days ago someone made it, and voila... the taste of my youth. I posted the recipe here, together with a long description of my childhood love for it.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Brian S

                                                                                                                                        Thanks for the recipe! Looks great! I'm been looking for a good carbonara to make at home!

                                                                                                                                      2. re: Sra. Swanky

                                                                                                                                        My dad makes carbonara the traditional way, with a little parsley thrown in. I never knew about the cream/peas thing until much later, when I saw it on the menu at some fast-casual chain...

                                                                                                                                      3. Salmon- most places overcook this fish.
                                                                                                                                        Steaks- I've converted to ordering rare since most places overcook this as well. I dont mind having more blood than gristle.
                                                                                                                                        Chicken-dry dry dry
                                                                                                                                        Spaghett in red sauce- because it tastes like ragu over pasta.
                                                                                                                                        Coffee- like cardboard steeped in water.

                                                                                                                                        1. Definitely calamari fritti. It's usually tough as rubber, not crispy enough and the peices are too big. We are always in a search for excellent calamari . . . . .

                                                                                                                                          1. The breadbasket. Have been to some wonderful restaurants....and they bring out the same institutional loaf / slices of bread...usually hard and room temperature w/ a few foil wrapped pats of butter.....

                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                            1. re: ciaogal

                                                                                                                                              Rock hard, ice-cold butter pats!

                                                                                                                                            2. Pasta . . . it's usually overcooked, and eggs . . . scrambled eggs are all over the place no matter what you ask for, and over medium is usually too runny.

                                                                                                                                              1. guacamole, most of the time I get it, it it is unedible due to the fact that they dont remove the bruised or overripe spots, giving it an almost medicinal taste.

                                                                                                                                                1. 3 hardest things to cook in a restaurant.. Steak, hamburgers, and a chicken breast... one persons Med rare is anothers rare, one person well done is medium well, and grilled chicken breast is a crap shoot.. either too dry, or too rare..

                                                                                                                                                  1. -----

                                                                                                                                                    Cole Slaw! I ask what type of slaw they have expecting clear or creamy. NO- what they have is just ground up cabbage with some cracked pepper.

                                                                                                                                                    BTW- PorkerQue. Steak I have to agree on, as most people has their own ideas what is what.

                                                                                                                                                    However, hamburgers and chicken breast is made to a "just done" (pink free) preference unless the customer asks for well done (dry) or burnt beyond recognition. The latter preference, burnt beyond recognition, is a request that this one huge local family orders their meat absolutely ruined, and loves it. (So don't ask).


                                                                                                                                                    1. definetely omelets and fries, but also bacon. i always order crispy bacon, but have had it come way too limp or way past crispy.....on its way to petrification. i realize that the chances of getting freshly cooked bacon decrease the later in the day i order it. it seems like some places cook it all in the morning and then do some manner of reheat on it later in the day. bleh.

                                                                                                                                                      1. Foie Gras. I want to cry to cry when I see it littered up with some whatever-infused-fusion-malarkey. All you need is a glass of Sauterne.

                                                                                                                                                        1. rice-too sticky, too dry or just to darn much of it. recently ordered a dish that was 70% rice and 20% vegetables and 10% chicken-awful!

                                                                                                                                                          couldn't agree more on pork-we stopped ordering it out, why pay for cardboard!

                                                                                                                                                          couldn't agree more on what unfortunately "passes" for Caesar salad these days

                                                                                                                                                          desserts-unless the restaurant has a remarkable pastry chef, desserts are just overpriced defrosted "pretty on a place" items. we'd rather skip those.

                                                                                                                                                          1. And then taking it a step further - - I can't stand it when the server, no matter how well or how poorly the food is prepared, has to ask who gets what. Especially when there are only two customers.

                                                                                                                                                            1. 1. Pasta. Unless you go to a place that takes pride in proper individual preparation of pasta (which rarely the case), it's a guarantee of mediocrity.

                                                                                                                                                              2. Eggs. Ditto.

                                                                                                                                                              3. Chowder and milk-based soups: in order to hold them over heat without curdling, restaurants have to compromise and use thickeners that obscure the ingredients.

                                                                                                                                                              4. Chicken breasts: need I say more?

                                                                                                                                                              5. Oh, and definitely what passes for Caesar salad these days. Horrible.

                                                                                                                                                              6. Balsamic vinaigrettes: often vile.

                                                                                                                                                              Finally....drum roll please:

                                                                                                                                                              7. Baked potatoes. Who in their wrong mind orders one at a restaurant? They are incapable of being made well unless a restaurant is willing to automatically put a few in every 5-10 minutes and toss the unordered ones.

                                                                                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                                                                Well, after reading many of these posts, apparently I shouldn't order any of the following in a restaurant: eggs, chicken, pork, steaks, pasta, hamburgers, ceaser salad, "cream" soup or baked potatoes.

                                                                                                                                                                Okaaay, so what's left? PB&J?

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                                                                  maybe, but the jelly is always bleeding through the bread! PB on BOTH sides. come on! JK

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                                                                    LOL, and remember, you're going to have a hard time getting water too ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                                                                      Not quite. I don't recall steak or burgers being on the bad list per se; it just depends on the place's experitse. And dark meat chicken and fatty pork cuts usually are OK; it's lean cuts that suffer. Proceed with skepticism for the rest, indeed; mediocrity is much more likely than excellence or even true goodness. Lots of people love mediocrity, though.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                                                                        Actually, quite a few people on this thread mentioned overcooked burgers.

                                                                                                                                                                        But, unfortunately, what you say is true. Mediocrity does abound.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. Bacon. I don't like bacon that isn't crispy, and unless I specially ask for it that way, it comes out all wiggly. Blech.

                                                                                                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: revsharkie

                                                                                                                                                                      Naturally you have to ask for it they way you like it.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: amkirkland

                                                                                                                                                                        Naturally. And I do, except sometimes I forget--which is when I realize I have to ask for it!

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: revsharkie


                                                                                                                                                                          It is customary for bacon to always be served crisp, unless the customer asks otherwise. What was their excuse? (You should never have to ask, IOW)


                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: RShea78

                                                                                                                                                                            uh oh... "customary." That sounds more tenuous than "authentic." : )

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: RShea78

                                                                                                                                                                              Around here it's customary for bacon to be greasy and floppy. That's why I have to ask. (Or else I eat bacon at home where I do the cooking, and have sausage or ham or something out.)

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: revsharkie

                                                                                                                                                                                oooh, sausage is just as much of a crapshoot though.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. Pasta...very few places time to make it fresh, to cook it in salted water, to incorporate some of that briny water into the actual dish...it's an art, but it's usually treated as slop.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. 1. Side dishes - I grimace when I see the customary side of "steamed" mixed vegetables!
                                                                                                                                                                            2. Garden salads - watery lettuce, a wedge of flavorless tomato and a slice of cucumber
                                                                                                                                                                            3. Chicken breasts - they're a gamble
                                                                                                                                                                            4. Desserts - creme brulee, tiramisu, key lime pie
                                                                                                                                                                            5. Bread - there are some very nice restaurants that start out with those little dry rolls..so sad

                                                                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Meesch70

                                                                                                                                                                              Elaborating on the bad bread thing, there are so many times that restaurants serve ICE COLD butter with the bread. This is my greatest met peeve because it's so easy to fix.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: hasday1

                                                                                                                                                                                You fix it by taking me! When I was a kid, I used to love when we'd get cold butter because that meant I could be "Official Butter Preparer." That is to say, I would hold a butter packet in my hands until it softened, but you know how exciting that is for a little kid. Then again, all bets are off if it's a just a useless slab of butter on a serving dish that was rescued from the freezer and been paired with knife whose only reply at your efforts to secure a shaving or two of butter is "You've got to be kidding me lady!"

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: hasday1


                                                                                                                                                                                  Geez, my butter better be ICE COLD, otherwise I am suspicious of the pat being unfit for consumption.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Other peeves is restaurant butter pats tasting like the innards of a musty refrigerator. Bringing me by butter in those thimbles (a ramekin lucky to hold 5 nickels, instead of the requested vegetable bowl) and not shaking the water off the butter disher.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Please do not get me started with the hard and dry rolls... Seriously, when I was around 5 or 6 years old, I got so upset in this brick hard roll, I managed to break a plate glass window with it. Fortunately the guy at the next table came to my rescue when he caught the waitress ignoring me. Although I did get my seat warmed at home for throwing my food the way I did, I think 40 some years later, I would do the same.


                                                                                                                                                                              2. Calimari is the most OVER COOKED food you can get-
                                                                                                                                                                                Fried Clams are usually just as over cooked
                                                                                                                                                                                Omlettes and pasta round out this list.
                                                                                                                                                                                I find that places that serve veggies- either UNDERCOOK them or they are overcooked. Never had a veggie done to perfection!

                                                                                                                                                                                1. I think salads which are typically served with way too much dressing.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Over Medium eggs. Especially in Vegas. The always come out so runny and the white is so disgustingly soft. Blech.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. This is so helpful for a chef in the business. Obviously there are some general problems with eggs, Caesar salad, salad in general, meat i.e. pork, steak, burgers, chicken and fish. I must say that it is true that due to health concerns certain meats and even eggs are supposed to be cooked to certain temperatures. Particularly ground beef, I myself am guilty of overcooking burgers, but when I know an order is for a child I just cannot consciously serve them pink meat because of the threat of e-coli. Eggs seem to be a real personal preferance, so that's tough. Some like hard omelets, some like them fluffier. I guess communication is key, between customer, server and cook. Or perhaps we need to describe how we make our food better on our menus so the customer understands exactly what it is they are getting. Nothing worse than having orders sent back and fixing them when you are really busy. I like getting it right the first time and having happy customers. Besides the problems such as under or over cooked pasta, which is clearly a mistake on the part of the kitchen, does anyone have any ideas on how we can better serve you?

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. I'll go with eggs and fish. It seems the average line cooks forgets they continue to cook when removed from the flame...

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. I avoid ordering pasta dishes at restaurants because often times the pasta is way too overcooked and under salted. The sauces may be delicious but to me the overcooked noodles kill the dish.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Ando

                                                                                                                                                                                            Agreed. I was served rigatoni the other night that was so overcooked it would not even go on a fork.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. For me I am usually disappointed in the French Dip Sandwich. I hate it when they put this thin, dry, beef like stuff on a french roll and call it a French Dip. I want tri-tip and au jus!.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: chef chicklet

                                                                                                                                                                                              You're not kidding. I was once served a French dip made with refrigerator case lunch meat. Sure they were generous, but it was almost too salty to be edible. Best ever, though, was the sandwich I had on a toasted roll and the meat was pink and still had tiny bits of fat attached here and there. It was amazing.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. omlette
                                                                                                                                                                                              onion rings
                                                                                                                                                                                              fried chicken
                                                                                                                                                                                              fish (in almost any and every which way, dang)
                                                                                                                                                                                              Korean food. Ugh, so frustrating!
                                                                                                                                                                                              almond croissant

                                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: PseudoNerd

                                                                                                                                                                                                second the onion rings. why oh why do I do it? order them, that is?

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Hamburgers. My wife likes plain hamburgers or cheeseburgers. Inevitably they will ariive with mayo, or LTM.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. In Central NJ the omlette and scrambled egg cooks have a need to serve em with a "brown" side....TURN OFF

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: gudeatz

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I actually like browned omelettes - but I realize that's not the norm.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    But while we're on breakfast foods, I find most places mess up grits and oatmeal, turning them into gluey, greyish congealed masses instead of the creamy carb goodness they should be.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Scallops .... they usu come out stringy and you have to saw them into edible bites.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Duck. Overcooked breast, or undercooked leg, one or the other.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Agree on hash browns.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Pasta. Almost always overcooked. The most frequently misinterpreted pasta dish is Carbonara. Almost always do they add cream to the sauce, which is a big NO.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Chicken!
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Salads - chiefly caesar!
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Anything with peppercorns or capers! (Icky sauces, not subtle at all.)
                                                                                                                                                                                                          The 'and beans' part of rice and beans!

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Clam chowder, even here in New England. It's almost always too thick and usually tasteless. I adore chowder but almost never order it out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Maybe not technically a food but coffee in all forms. Bad coffee in good restaurants seems to be the norm.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              I don't get how they can play such close attention to all the aspects of the meal and serve lousy coffee at the end.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Interesting thread. I agree with some, but not all of you. I know the meat temperature thing is a big deal with "regulators" but an overcooked piece of good meat is a sad, sad thing. Pork suffers the most because everyone is afraid of trichinosis (gee - where do you guys buy this meat anyway?) Cold salad on a hot plate? This is how restaurants show that they washed the dish, but didnt have time to chill it before putting your poor defenseless salad on it. I want my Caesar salad WITH anchovies please, and while we're being picky, take out that inedible middle "rib" from the romaine -- it oozes water and dilutes the dressing. Rock hard butter on nice soft bread? So easily prevented. And, I assure you all, butter can be soft AND fresh and edible.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                And for those poor vegetarians who were dragged unwillingly to the steak house -- did this restaurant not offer ANY salads? Meatless appetisers? Baked potatoes? Wasn't there anything you could munch on while the carnivores rhapsodzied over their charred animal flesh? Im reserving my feeling about vegetarians for another thread (we all choose what we eat, after all) but really, you should be able to find something to eat on any menu. If you really want to help the FIL and MIL understand your dietary habits, take them to a VEGETARIAN restaurant and show them what its all about. But be prepared to stop at McD's on the way home, as they will probably leave hungry.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Cheflambo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  As the token vegetarian in my family and almost any group of friends, I've been taken to many a steakhouse and never had any problems feeding myself. Granted, it wasn't the most exciting meal - usually a baked potato with steamed (because you don't want the meat juice from the grill) veggies or a salad - but it'll keep the hunger pangs at bay. And you can always order a huge dessert to make up for it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Cheflambo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    How hard is it to get a decent Ceasar salad WITH anchovie AND raw egg. Give me a waiver to sign if that's what it takes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Please shoot the ambulance chasers!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. *Fruit Pie. The crust is almost always mediocre (I've seen better results with Pillsbury frozen crusts) and the filling is over-thickened and overly sweet. I hate seeing good blackberries, for instance, left with no tartness at all. Fresh strawberry pie with strawberries floating in a gelatinous sea of pink.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  *I'd nth coffee. The bummer is that the restaurants with good coffee are almost never the same as the restaurants with good, filling, bad for you breakfast food. The Roadfood duo talk about diner coffee, and how it's designed for farmers who'd drink nine cups or so every morning.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. we have now had 15 years(+/-) of the food channel,huge enrollment in culinary schools,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    celebrity chefs, and yet the general quality of restaurant meals declines.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    my solution?-------learn to cook. it ain't that hard. invite one or more friends over, they bring the wine and clean up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I agree with eggs. If you order fried eggs over easy and they sit under the heat lamp too long, they arrive over hard (assuming they were OE in the first place). I've had wait staff look at me with a bewildered expression if I ask for eggs scrambled soft. It seems that they're routinely scrambled hard.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mercyteapot

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The worst are poached eggs. They're either dripping or overcooked - the yolk is supposed to be runny!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: mercyteapot

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          mercy - you have hit both my DH and my biggest problems with eggs. I like over easy and he like very soft scrambled eggs (almost runny). They can't fake making over hard eggs look like over easy, but sometimes when he asks them to re-do his scrambled eggs they just take them and mix in some kind of oil/butter junk and bring them back! They look runny but its oil. Outrageous behavior.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Something I've been noticing a lot lately is when the lovely and enticing bread and butter arrive at the table, one of my favorite indulgences, I go to spread the butter on the bread and the butter is so cold you can't do anything with it! So irritating!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I am going to vote for pasta....most place PRE COOK it for Pete's sake. The other thing that is never right is vegetables either overcooked or raw. I say send it back. That's the only way to get the message to these restaurant operators that they need to do better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sonoitaliana

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I almost always tell them not to put the veggies on my plate, because I can't even stand the look of overcooked vegetables. Plus, their odor seems to permeate the rest of the food. Of course, once in a while they don't mention that it's served with a veggie.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Sweet tea...how hard is it to make. No, syrup-based fountain teas do not count as tea! I second the eggs and salads - wet/dry issues on both.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. It is sad how few places serve good soft scrambled eggs. It is not that hard,perhaps they just don't care.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Fries and Rice.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  My wife swears by the corn-syrup infused McD's fries, but they aren't real IMHO.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  My kid loves rice - but I have to do it myself because at most places it is just awful.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Without a doubt...grits.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Greek salad!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1.) The dressing: usually too much, too little, or tastes bottled
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2.) Restaurants always seem to add lettuce! Greek Salad should just be chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, kalamatas, and onions. NO LETTUCE!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Even Greek restaurants seem to make bad Greek salads.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: burritobelle

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Lettuce is a problem in all salads - iceburg esp! I love Israeli salad for the same great reason - no lettuce!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Blackened anything- way too easy to screw up. I've been served stuff that was flat out burned to a crisp....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. about 20% of everything

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Beef stroganoff. Properly made it is a dish of very quickly seared beef, still pink in the middle. Most restaurant versions I've had, even in Russian-run places, make a cream-based beef stew and call it stroganoff.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. I'm seconding risotto. It almost always comes out in a sticky block, yet can also be undercooked and dry (how does that happen?). I've never understood how restaurants could cook this to order. Oh, that's right; never. Parboiling is disgusting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Eggs Benedict, perhaps my favorite way to eat eggs, is really hit and miss at most places. In the best case of mishap, they don't get the Hollandiase right. In the worst case, they served me a fried egg, over easy, instead of a poached egg.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Bread, cake, and bagels.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. I say Mac and Cheese. Too many places try to reinvent the wheel and ruin it.