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Restaurant date dilemma

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I was asked on a dinner date by an acquaintance and we plan to go out next week. He claimed to be a foodie and said he knew a “great little place.” Because I am a chowlady, I naturally asked what the name of the restaurant was. Anyway, I’ve heard some not-good things about this restaurant, and some online research and my own chowhound intuition confirmed that it was basically a bad to mediocre joint way, way past its prime.

My dilemma: I have a really hard time eating crappy food and pretending to like it. I went on another date (with another guy) who took me to a miserable sushi hack shop. The sushi was of such low quality that I was unable to eat it (it smelled fishy and the one piece I had was gross), which he of course noticed and asked me if I liked the food. I was honest and told him that it wasn’t the greatest sushi I’d ever had and that I knew other places in the area that were significantly better. No second date (not that I cared in that instance.)

So. Should I just go and order something as basic as possible and do my best to like it (assuming the restaurant is as bad as it seems to be?) Would it be tacky to suggest a different restaurant? (Just to be clear, I would just make sure my new suggestion was around the same moderate price point. I don't want to come off as angling for an expensive meal, just a good one!) I could always feign some kind of allergy… which is 100 percent untrue, as I have no food allergies and don’t want to be trapped in some kind of food fib.

Yeah, I know I seem to be focusing on the food and not the date. I just don’t want to come off as rude if/when my food arrives and I can’t conceal my “yuck” reaction, especially since this guy seems to like the restaurant.

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  1. That sure seems to be a dilemma. I suggest you take him to one of your own fav restaurants and tell him you've been craving to go there for weeks and want to share the gourmets with HIM. Lovely partner and fab food makes the date!

    2 Replies
    1. re: jo_k

      I disagree unless the OP wants to pay for the date! It sounds like OP is expecting him to pay, and if so, I think it is not polite to ask to go somewhere other than where suggested.

      I say, if you like the guy, or think you might, go to his place.You never know, you might be pleasantly surprised. If you like the guy enough for a second date, than you can choose, (and pay) and over THAT dinner you can discuss why you like your place better (if it turns out you do).

      If you don't like the guy and don't think you will, seems like a cancellation is in order.

      1. re: susancinsf

        Depends on if the guy gave her any wiggle room. He asked her out and probably wants to show her a good time. If he assumed he knows best and that's where they're going, that's one thing. But if he said he likes that joint unless she has some suggestions/preferences of her own, that's another.

        I'm not going to touch the dynamics of the possibility of Mr. Masterful Knows Best. No, no, not me!

    2. "Should I just go and order something as basic as possible and do my best to like it (assuming the restaurant is as bad as it seems to be?)"

      Yes. It sounds like this is a first date and, IMHO, being taken to dinner is like being given a gift. A gift which must be accepted with an appropriate level of gratitude even if it is not 100% to your liking. This person apparently thinks he has come up with a great suggestion (and he may have put a lot of thought into choosing what he believes to be just the right place) and suggesting another restaurant may be slightly hurtful or come off as rude.
      I suggest the following:
      Order the simplest thing on the menu (maybe even create a post asking hounds who have been there to name the dish that was "the best of the worst").
      If it is truly bad, try to smile and cover your disappointment.
      If he notices you are not eating your food and asks about it. Simply reply "I had a big lunch". You may actually want to eat a big lunch in case dinner is bad.
      If you continue to date, you choose the place next time.
      If there are more dates and he suggests the bad restaurant again, you can reply " that place wasn't my favorite" and suggest soemthing else.

      Good luck- It is an awkward situation.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Honey Bee

        Agreed.
        Note - unless I know it will be a really great meal, I usually "pre-eat" just in case...

        1. re: Honey Bee

          Agreed. But I find mediocre food tastes better when you're really hungry! I also think that something basic like a poorly made chicken cesar (or other salad with protein) can be a lot more edible than bad sushi. If you really can't eat it, I would forgo the comment about knowing better places in the area - you could even say, "they mush be having an off night" or "I ate something for lunch which didn't agree with me" - or try to find something positive to focus on.

        2. I absolutely would not recommend another restaurant...Go to this one, and if you go out again, then you suggest the restaurant...

          1. If you like this guy, go. When you get there, ask him what dishes are his favorites (since it's 'a great place'). Select the one that sounds best to you. If you don't like it, be honest and say so as nicely as possible. Just in case this actually turns into a relationship, you don't want to start it out being dishonest.

            2 Replies
            1. re: mojoeater

              Good call - it depends on how much you like him. The sushi experience seems to have been a first date never-before-seen kind of person, but if you will be "acquainting" with this one again, best not to be dishonest.

              1. re: laurendlewis

                And hey - he might actually know the best food there and you might like it!

            2. I have a sidestepping idea- why not be a little busier and see if you could just meet for dessert and drinks- it's pretty hard to screw up dessert- you can always just get sorbet or ice cream or something like that. I almost always used to prefer my first dates to be just a little on the shorter side...you know, to leave each side wanting a little more :)