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What to do when dragged to a bad restaurant...

Was hoping you guys could give me some advice...

What if you know a restaurant is terrible without having ever gone ( in my case, Villa Sorria in Pasadena which has consistently gotten horrible reviews), but you are forced to go because of a birthday-party dinner that the birthday girl chose.

What troubles me is that I am broke and cannot afford to go to a fancy restaurant, especially one that is apparently terrible.

What does one do? Do I just order an appetizer or a cup of soup to save myself money but not say anything? Do I just have wine? Do I still offer to pay for some of the birthday girl's dinner?

What is the most polite thing to do in my situation? I'm almost thinking of skipping out and making a lame excuse!!

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  1. I think it's fine to politely bow out of the occasion. If you're strapped for bucks, there's no need to spend it on something you don't want. Just say you won't be able to attend, and send your good wishes. No need to chip in for the dinner. It's sort of weird to go and not eat while other people are eating, and if you try to do it on the cheap, you'll still end up chipping in for everyone else's wine and such, and then you'll be hungry and broke and resentful.

    1 Reply
    1. re: pomme de terre

      Exactly what pomme said....if you go and try to eat "light," you'll still end up chipping in for drinks, etc. that you didn't consume...

      A couple things to add, though: the deciding factor should be your true issue with cost -- ie., you simply can't afford this occasion. Nothing at all wrong with that.

      The "houndish" issue, though, is absolutely, IMO, irrelevant. In life, plenty of friends and relatives pick bad restaurants, and sometimes we just have to go along....(some people on this site disagree, but I think it's very rude to try and "convert" people, especially when they've picked a birthday restaurant).

      Why make a "lame excuse?" Why not just politely decline?

    2. If you go and just order a cup of soup, you're going to have to lie to people's faces when they ask you why you aren't ordering anything else.

      So if this place is really that hideous, either don't go or do your research and find the least hideous thing on the menu. Surely they have a salad or something similar that won't kill you.

      But if you can't afford it, you can't afford it whether it's good or bad, so maybe skipping out is the way to go.

      1. Skip it (any excuse will do) and offer to take her out for coffee and dessert another time. I think some declines are to be expected when you plan an event for an expensive restaurant.

        1. If I were that uncomfortable and/or uncertain about it, I would skip out.

          I have been in the situation of not having the money to go to a restaurant (good or bad) and was talked into it, then felt just awful all evening. The problem is, if you are just having soup or wine or something, you end up calling undue attention to yourself, and it inpsires curiosity at best, friction or even pity, at worst, among the other guests. If the meal is being evenly split many ways, you may not even get away with having your meal on the cheap, regardless of what you order. I think it's pretty much unthinkable to not offer to pay for part of the bday girl's meal....

          If I could afford it I would just go and choke down the bad food. But based on what you are saying, it does not sound like you can afford it, regardless of how good or bad the food is.

          1 Reply
          1. re: lisa13

            Don't go. Don't criticise your friend's choice, but you have every right to turn down the occasion. Buy your friend a nice small present instead.

            An uncle of mine, who is diabetic, wound up having to go to an "East Side Marios" in downtown Toronto - he was with other relatives who were with a child. In that area there are lots of Chinese and Southeast Asian restaurants that are economical, family-friendly, and have healthy food choices. He ordered chicken cacciatore and it was not the usual stew, but a mess of overcooked white pasta = glucemic index through the roof. He sent it back and got a salad with chicken or some such overpriced cafeteria food...

            I don't think people should be expected to be gourmets, but it would be nice if they at least had an inkling of what constitutes food... Unless you are specifically going out for poutine or some other junk-food feast.

          2. When faced with a similar situation, I opted out of dinner but cleared it with the birthday girl to swing by her place before she left for the restaurant. I brought a bottle of wine, we each had a pre-dinner cocktail and went our seperate ways. It worked out perfectly.