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10 Warning Signs Before You Visit... (moved from Tristate)

Originally I wanted to start a post of the “10 Worst” in Westchester. But fearing it might be removed, I decided to start a post of some of the tell tail signs of the worst. Here’s my first 10. I would love to see some additional ideas from other posters.

1. Silverware. Did they skimp here? If it’s diner quality forks and knives, you’re better off at the diner.

2. Stemware. Are they serving wine in a nice wineglass? Or is it a 6oz. “fill to the top” Libby glass. If it’s the latter of the two, expect yourself to buy wines that are worth less than $3 per bottle. Any restaurant that takes their wine serious invests in decent stemware.

3. Napkins? Open yours up and fold it into a triangle. Does it fold evenly? Again, X20 on the Hudson uses White Plains Linen. No skimping – anywhere. When a restaurant skimps on such a small detail, think they won’t do it with other things?

4. Rail Liquor. Are they serving Red Roses whiskey for their house liquor? Restaurants that seek out the absolute cheapest liquors, do the same with food. Always.

5. Bathrooms. Always check the paper tissue. Skimping here saves the restaurants a few pennies but sends out a clear message as to what the think about their patrons.

6. Hand Towels? If the bathroom has a blower that blows all the germs around while drying your hands, run.

7. May I see the kitchen? Just ask. Even if you could care less. If the response is sure, smile and say thanks. If they say Insurance doesn’t allow it, they’re lying. The health department allows patrons in the kitchen anytime if accompanied by an employee. Never trust a restaurant that won’t let you see the kitchen. P.S. If they say it’s illegal, ask them how over 50 restaurants in NYC have tasting tables in the kitchen.

8. Chef? Is there an executive chef that staffs the kitchen? If a kitchen is staffed by 5 non-english speaking guys, chances are they’re working strictly for a paycheck, not for their love of food. This translates directly to the food.

9. Bread deliveries. Does the restaurant allow delivered bread to sit by their front door until someone gets around to opening the place up? I like to know my food is safe and not tampered with.

10. Advertising? Pick up an issue of Clipper magazine. I love to read it. It let’s me see which restaurants aren’t doing well. Not true you say? Read the next paragraph. It’s really and extension of Advertising.

Discount offers. Most, if not all, of the restaurants in Clipper have discount offers. “Buy on Entrée and get another free” means the entrees are worth half of what they were charging in the first place. Could you imagine your dentist running a similar campaign? I was at a restaurant on Central Avenue in Scarsdale that was moderately full. I asked myself with this terrible food, how? Then I noticed nearly everyone there had ½ price coupons and kids (kids eat free).

Try this: http://www.restaurant.com/about_gcp.a...

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  1. Couldn’t help but add #11.

    Rated? If the Candlelight Inn Scarsdale can harbor up a Zagat rating, you’ll need to ask yourself why a restaurant that’s been in business for over 2 or 3 years cant. When you walk into a place that hasn’t gotten any reviews, there’s usually a good reason. Incidentally, the restaurant I discussed to in rule number 10 is in Zagat. Unfortunately, the review says “stop by for the margaritas, then go to dinner someplace else”. If that was my restaurant and someone said that, I’d fire everyone, starting with myself.

    1. Sorry, but it appears to me that our definitions of worst just don't jibe. Specifically:

      #1: Huh? Are your only choices 'fine dining' and the 'diner'? Quality of flatware means almost nothing in my experience. It may in fact mean that the place is more concerned with appearances than with the food.

      #3: Ditto on how they fold the napkins and type of linen used. May also vary depending upon which busperson is doing the folding. and I've eaten at some great places with paper napkins!

      #6. Again, huh? Have you seen studies that hand blowers are somehow unsanitary because they 'blow the germs around'? Can you site me something here to try and convince me? I dont know, but I've heard the opposite (ie that a paper towel dispenser is more unsanitary because you ordinarily have to touch it in order to advance the paper. Germs are spread by touching. Not to mention the unsanitary appearance of lots of waddled up pieces of paper that didn't quite make the waste basket.) Besides, the business in question may have put in the blower because someone thought it would be greener than paper. While I do expect bathrooms to be regularly cleaned, and to have a way for employees to wash their hands (ie soap, water, someway to dry), I wouldn't dream of judging a restaurant based on my own concepts of what is and isn't sanitary, at least not without more evidence...

      #7:the question of what is and isn't legal when it comes to restaurant kitchens is normally decided by a state or even a local ordinance. Therefore, the issue of tables in kitchens happening in New York is probably irrelevant outside of the boroughs.

      #8: Absolutely false, in my experience. Some of the best food I've had comes out of kitchens where English isn't spoken, and a lot of those guys (and gals) really love food. If you follow #8, you eliminate many family-owned 'ethnic' eateries. (again, would you want the only options to be 'fine dining' or 'diner'?) Besides, many executive chefs speak Spanish these days....

      #9:no, I don't want my bread to be tampered with. OTOH, at least this means they are getting a daily bread delivery, and if it is from a local bakery, it could mean the bread is fresh and good....

      #10: sure, many lousy places try and entice crowds with coupons. But that doesn't mean that the place has to be lousy because it does offer discounts. I can think of a few of my favorite but underpopulated places that I wish would use coupons to try and up their business (because I worry that they will go under!).

      I will agree with you that if the place advertises that kids can eat free, it isn't likely to be good....OTOH, if I walk in, and the owner offers me a little something extra for my young child...

      #11: No Zagat rating, I am so THERE to try it!

      2 Replies
      1. re: susancinsf

        I'm with you susancinsf. Honestly, I think this list is a bit far fetched. Do you only go out for $200 per person meals? It would be nice if I could afford to eat like that every night, but then again, I would be missing so so much chow! Some of the best food we ate in NYC this spring was from food carts - where we were lucky if we got a thin paper napkin. Completely agree with the bathroom blower too. And if I were running a busy kitchen, the last thing I would want to do is give you a tour, show you experation dates etc. - I would be concentrating, along with my non-english speaking pals, on preparing your meal.

        1. re: susancinsf

          Any IHOP is a guilty pleasure for me and I love it that kids (my kids!) eat free on Tuesdays. But obviously if Michael Mina said kids eat free on the first Thursday of everymonth, then I'd be confused....and not likely to try it out!

        2. Really disagree with #8 (along with susaninsf): What ever ethnic food can't be harmed by having cooks of that ethnicity. Or of some other: The cooks and chefs in Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles are famously Mexican, as one of his "No Reservations" episodes celebrated. I have no problem with sushi chefs who speak Spanish--in Mexico, in Colombia, or in the US.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

            I disagree with almost every number of the list for reasons already given. What should have been on the list instead- and there are exceptions to this- is the amount of patrons in the restaurant. Usually word of mouth is all that is needed- not even Zagats. I live in Forest Hills NY. Recently a small take-out Cuban joint opened up without much press at all but overnight it became packed...because the food is good and authentic. Sometimes though I do break my own rule- if especially it's an off hour or the menu looks really good- you never know- you might find an undiscovered gem. The rules listed at the start of this post though seem very pretentious and just goes to show how subjective a good dining experience can be. For myself, the food is of utmost importance. I've gone to "upscale" places with amazing ambiance, impeccable silverware...and lousy food. (Good example is Tavern on the Green in NY- beautiful restaurant, subpar food) Sometimes good ambiance does equal good food- but that in and of itself is never a rule from my experience.

            1. re: NicoleFriedman

              Nicole, if you were to ask the staff at Tavern "how's the food?", they would admit that they're not about the food. It's about the view. And, with that being said, they grossed 38 million dollars last year. Second in line being TAO at 27 million. TAO falls into my 10 point list perfectly.

              1. re: billyparsons

                so your list is just a system to judge whether a restaurant can gross 1/3 billion dollars in a year or not? not about the food at all? well fine, but i'm unclear on how "the list" picks out "the worst" of anything, as your title would imply.

                and as a wise farmer said: "it's not what you gross, it's what you net."

            2. re: Sam Fujisaka

              My point exactly. Anthony Bourdain runs the show. He lays out specific instructions in his kitchen and drops by frequently. I've been there, met him, and his restaurant holds true to my rules.

              1. re: billyparsons

                Actually, by Bourdain's own admission, he spends only about 2 months a year in NYC, and his title of executive chef there is largely ceremonial. The chef de cuisine is Mexican and Tony didn't train him. If you met him at Les Halles recently, you were very lucky and he wasn't really working. Here's a video clip where we get it straight from the horse's mouth. http://travel.discovery.com/video/vid...

            3. Can't really agree with much of what you have here as many of the "don'ts" are a matter of price point. Napkins, liquor, toilet paper, silverware are only relevant in relation to the cost of the meal/feel the restaurant is trying to set. I will agree that if a restaurant wants to project a passion for wine the stemware is important along with the wine list.

              I would venture that most all my best meals involved people for whom English was not a first language.

              Never heard of blow dryers as anything but environmentally friendly.

              And, advertising/discounts as a way to drive traffic or awareness - why would you fault a restaurant and not a soft drink, auto mechanic, cell phone company etc.

              I would offer: #1 Consistent bad feedback from chowhound = strong warning

              1. I've found frequently that non-English speakers in the kitchen make food just as passionately, if not more passionately than English-speakers. Not only that, but they're making Chinese, Japanese, African, Continental and many other types of foods. I think it may be tough to find a kitchen that's *not* staffed by a group of foreigners...especially here in Texas.

                Can't say I've ever worried about the TP either.

                Actually, can't say I've ever worried about much on your list. If the food sucks, you'll hear it here on Chowhound, or by word of mouth. Or you'll find out by yourself. I doubt perfectly square napkins have much reflection on the food, other than jacking the price up. ;-)

                1. I'll disagree with number 6 and 7. 6- some restaurants see this as an enviromentally friendly practice.

                  7- Le Cirque in Las Vegas wouldn't let me see their kitchen- it's still one of my favorite Vegas meals.

                  1. 1. How long has this restaurant been in business? When was the silverware chosen? even if your criterion was reasonable, what if new management and kitchen staff have come in, transformed the place into a great resto, but can't afford to buy all new flatware yet?

                    2. I often feel the same, but my response to #1 could also apply.

                    3. evenly folding napkins? seriously? i don't see the issue.

                    4. Not always. At least, not always in my experience. (which, then, means not always.)

                    5. or says something about their septic system.

                    6. blowers are more eco-friendly. some say they are more sanitary, though that may be incorrect.

                    7. I see what you say that, though I could see why some restaurants would refuse in the middle of a busy dinner service.

                    8. people who don't speak English don't care about food? Perhaps you should speak (through a translator of course) with some frenchmen, or spaniards, or mexicans, or ethiopians, or peruvians...

                    9. That makes sense. Unless, of course, the day you see this happen is the day the bakery sends a new guy who shows up an hour early.

                    10. usually. but sometimes restaurants struggle, especially new ones. sometimes they try the coupon route.

                    1. As for staff, I'd rather have 5 hard-working and intelligent non-English speakers working for a paycheque than a legion of poncey "I'm all about the food" primadonnas that sailed through the CIA and who feel that they are above lifting a mop and broom. Besides, who's to say that aren't passionate about food too?

                      29 Replies
                      1. re: Blueicus

                        There's a steak place in Yonkers called Charlie Browns (biggest chain in NJ). It's junk. Last time I was there with some buddies I asked for my steak to be prepared black & blue. It comes out burnt & well done. When I asked the waitress what happened she said "I told the guy in the kitchen but they're all Chinese and they really don't understand us". Either the kitchen speaks English or the service staff learns chinese. No excuses. The back of the house and the front need to work like a team.

                        1. re: billyparsons

                          So is your argument, then, that due to your exchange with a waitress at Charlie Brown's you can make the claim that the kitchen staff need to speak English in order to care about food? that's not particularly good evidence. If what the waitress told you was indeed true, I would say that the Charlie Brown's you visited needed better management, probably in both the front and the back of the house.

                          To take the statement of a waitress and then use that statement to claim people who do not speak English don't care about the food they put out is logically unsound and insulting to those who don't speak English.

                          1. re: nc213

                            I traveled to Spain just to eat at El Bulli. Ferran Adria doesn't speak English. Do you think I care if someone speaks English? Is everyone so shallow as to think I care about English? We have areas in New York where you can get day labor for $60 a day. I know restaurants that use them. One day they're hanging sheetrock, the next day they're in a kitchen cooking your steak. Does anyone understand my post?

                            1. re: billyparsons

                              I think your post is eminently understandable. You have a list of "tell tail" rules that have little to do with trying the actual food which you think reveal a lot about the quality of a restaurant. I think most of your basic premise is flawed, especially the notion that anyone who cheaps out on certain details automatically must be serving inferior food.

                              I wonder for instance, how a visit to the kitchen will tell you whether people are just working for a paycheck, or doing it for the sheer love of food. I suspect many people are in it for a bit of both, and few would do it if it paid nothing at all, since most folks in the industry don't have the benefit of a trust fund.

                              I imagine you may have a valid point about promos and advertising; I admit that is something I have never paid attention to.

                              But the rest of your points? Aside from your rather hectoring, argumentative tone in trying to narrowly defend your ideas, I see completely backward reasoning, a grade-school logician's error. Some bad restaurants may indeed commit some of the sins you cite, like cheaping out on furnishings; it does not follow that every restaurant that does so is bad. Following your list of telltales would steer the average curious Chowhound away from some very worthy places.

                              1. re: billyparsons


                                the responders can only read what you write. You started your post with "...telltale signs of the worst" and then list as your #8 the line about english speaking staff. you also characterize day laborers as hanging sheetrock one day and cooking the next. jfood thinks we understand your post all too well. the question is why did you include english speaking cooks as the only ones that can cook. read your own words and you'd come up with the word many of the readers are coming up with. And just because you travel to spain to eat does not exactly change the conclusion of your words.

                                1. re: jfood

                                  If you read all the posts, you'll realize I could care less what they speak. As long as they comunicate well with the rest of the staff.

                                  1. re: billyparsons

                                    OK jfood re-read all the posts. and it's pretty convincing that the overwhelming majority (nixon over mcgovern numbers) disagree with the list as posted. some of your "retractions" seem sincere and others still strike the chord as one poster phrased it "elitist." As a new poster to CH you'll find that posts that draw lines in the sand will draw, as the first rule of physics...each action will cause an equal and opposite reaction.

                                    If this is your criteria for eating in a resto, that's great, but most, if not all of these barely move the jfood meter on quality restos or where he'll eat. Jfood would much rather have a great meal with bad utensils, plastic cups, paper napkins, doesn;t care about liquor cause he does not drink, cheap TP in a bathroom with a hand blower, from a secret kitchen with any language spoken and if there a coupon in his pocket that's great as well, than manage the meal with the list provided.

                                    Before castigating posters for not offering up suggestions to this list you may want to do a search. The pluses and minues of restos have been discussed ad infinitum over the years, and quite in depth, so a little research on your side would bring you up the learning curve.

                                    Welcome to CH and it's unfortunate its been a bit of admission by fire, but you will find very opinionated posts when this type of thread begins.

                                    1. re: jfood

                                      Well said. Although we disagree, I respect your opinion(s). It's just a representation on many many experiences in the field.

                                      1. re: billyparsons

                                        Just keep this in mind Billy. If you snub your nose at a place with plastic cutlery, paper cups, etc. you will have missed some of the greatest bbq you will ever have. It's basically a sign of good food in bbq land.
                                        When jfood started listing those things I thought he was talking about the Rendezvous in Memphis. A favourite of Mrs. Sippi and mine.


                                        1. re: Davwud


                                          I agree. I've been around the world, eating, chef training & vacationing. When I authored my post, I did so in the NY Tri-state region. It was subsequently moved and opened for criticism from the national chowhound community. When I go to Florida, I can't find an Italian restaurant that serves fresh garlic in a dish. In New York, they’d go nuts! So I guess it's all subjective no? I've been to Texas and had barbeque meals that were completely out of control delicious were; yet, I had to beg for napkins. But remember (look at the heading) my post was moved from NY to "not about food". At this point, I regret even posting. I thought Chow would be more about exchanging ideas and not bashing posters that simply didn't fit the Chowhound "mold".

                                          1. re: billyparsons

                                            I knew that when I posted it. Just thought I'd throw it in there.

                                            Not trying to bash, just firmly disagree with a lot of your post is all.


                                            1. re: billyparsons

                                              ...and international chowhound community...!

                              2. re: billyparsons

                                I speak English and wouldn't know what to do if you ordered a black & blue steak.

                                1. re: revsharkie

                                  That's cool. But if you were a cook at Peter Luger Steak House, I guess we'd have a problem.

                                  1. re: billyparsons

                                    Hopefully, you didn't expect Peter Luger-style quality at a moderately-priced chain.

                                    1. re: shellyesq

                                      You're right. But the point was, the cook should have known no? Imagine going to a diner and asking for a soft boiled egg and you got eggs "sunny side up loose" instead? For heaven's sake, it was a steak house... I have to stay stern with this one. Sorry.

                                      1. re: billyparsons

                                        I agree that ANY cook in a steakhouse should know what black & blue means.

                                        1. re: billyparsons

                                          Stay as stern as you like. I was in the restaurant business for years and never head the term.
                                          I don't know -- maybe it's a regional variation. I grew up in Boston - if you ask for a "regular" coffee it will have cream and sugar.
                                          Just a thought.

                                          1. re: Richard 16

                                            If you ever decided to open your own steak house, I'd hope you'd brush up on cooking variations and cuts of meat. You don't have to know.

                                    2. re: revsharkie

                                      English is my third language, but I do know what "black & blue" means.

                                      But, except for one point, I do not agree with "billyparsons" list.

                                      The points seem quite superficial and have nothing to do with the quality of the food. The restaurant business is a very tough business and I would prefer that the restaurant I dine in, focuses on spending on quality ingredients & the food -AND the cleanliness of the kitchen. I really could not care less whether my napkin is square or not. As long as it is clean.

                                      But I would not dream of DEMANDING that I get to see the kitchen... what if every patron, every evening, would like to see the kitchen? Really! How about some boundaries and respect (what a novelty) - and less of the "I am entitled"-nonsense, eh? (Too many people nowadays seem to feel that they are entitled to just about everything.)

                                      And while I personally hate bathrooms that do not offer paper towels (preferably from automatic dispensers), towels that you can also use when you to open the bathroom door when exiting, this detail would not keep me from trying the restaurant.

                                      The only detail that might prevent me from coming back to a restaurant, even if I liked the food, are small wine glasses. I know from personal experience that you CAN get excellent, large wine glasses for dirt cheap, if you go trough the trouble of really shopping around.
                                      My husband and I happen to have a set of very fine Burgundy glasses, but the ones we almost always use, including when we serve guests, are a set of Burgundy glasses a friend gave us. They were stunningly cheap and our guests are always as amazed when we reveal their "origin".

                                      So, even if I do come back to a restaurant that only has small glasses, I will not spend my money on an expensive wine. Want me to splurge on the wine? Then give me glasses that allow me to use all my senses to enjoy the nectar!

                                      1. re: revsharkie

                                        Revsharkie, I don't know what black and blue steak is either...and I've been to quite a few steakhouses. Just never heard the term before..

                                        1. re: itstangy

                                          ...glad to know it's not just me...

                                          Would someone care to enlighten me?

                                          1. re: revsharkie

                                            Basically, you lay the steak on very high heat for just about 30 seconds to a minute each side.

                                            It chars the outside (the blackened), while the inside is still raw (the blue...because raw meat is sometimes so dark red it's almost blue)

                                            1. re: QueenB

                                              just to add to that...

                                              they put a scoop of butter on top of the steak, the butter melts down into the grill which sends flames shooting up- basically setting the steak on fire so it chars the outside.

                                              1. re: QueenB

                                                I'll add even more...if they want it just Blue, the chef just takes his cigarette and waves it over each side of steak for a few seconds.

                                        2. re: billyparsons

                                          If they're Chinese then clearly they were just appalled that you would want a steak anywhere on the side below well done and therefore showed you the proper way to eat steak safely. Also it was likely that the product was no good anyways and they were cooking it a little further to look out for your health. A very conscientious people.

                                          1. re: billyparsons

                                            Ouch. you go to a chain resto and order a steak and yes CB is not great (grew up near one in NJ). Comes badly and the reason you hang your hat on is the passport origin of the chef? OMG

                                            1. re: jfood

                                              Passport origin has nothing to do with it. It's the language "barrier" between the kitchen and staff. Think you're missing the point of the post.

                                              1. re: billyparsons

                                                "If a kitchen is staffed by 5 non-english speaking guys, chances are they’re working strictly for a paycheck, not for their love of food. This translates directly to the food."

                                                I think we got your point billy. and its an offensive one.

                                        3. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but the original post smacks me as elitist and prejudicial. If you strictly follow those standards you are missing out on a lot of great food experiences.

                                          10 Replies
                                          1. re: Grubbjunkie

                                            Pardon me but I agree with Grubbjunkie. The list also seems pretty arrogant to me.. Also, I personally don't have a problem drinking a good wine out of a Libby glass. I'm just not that fussy.

                                            1. re: AnneM

                                              I'd rather drink a good wine out of a Libby glass than a bad wine out of a nice piece of stemware.

                                              1. re: AnneM

                                                You don't have to be fussy, your the customer. Lack of "fussiness" on the part of the restaurant owner/manager extends past glasses. Should we serve that chicken that's a little past it's day? Ah, what the heck, why be fussy? Should we throw the cheese away with signs of mold? Nah, why be fussy...

                                                1. re: billyparsons

                                                  But isn't it possible that an owner/manager is intelligent enough to think through these things and understand that there are things, like food about to go bad, that they need to be fussy about, and other things, such as whether the napkins fold perfectly, that might be less important?

                                                2. re: AnneM

                                                  Fussy is not the point. You will miss out on a big part of the wine, mostly the nose. You just cannot get it in all of it from a small glass. We have tried. (But if you think wanting to enjoy the nose is being fussy, well, to that I have no comment).

                                                3. re: Grubbjunkie

                                                  My thoughts exactly as I read through this original post. I have been to and worked at several establishments. These points are just across the board nonsense.

                                                  1. re: momof3

                                                    You're position is why 2/3 of all restaurants that open, close within 2 years. Try getting a job at the Grammercy Tavern in NYC with that thinking.

                                                    1. re: billyparsons

                                                      I have worked for Mr. Meyer, don't think he'd hire someone with such attitudes as yours. Read his book, Setting the Table.

                                                      1. re: momof3

                                                        Read it. He's all about the customer, not cutting corners. And walk into Union Square Cafe. You'll find Michael Romano with a bunch of apprentice FCI & CIA graduates who work for the love of food (for pennies).

                                                        1. re: billyparsons

                                                          You are now suddenly talking only about expensive restaurants. Your original post was talking about restaurants in general and mentioned nothing about Gramercy Tavern or Union Square Cafe or the likes.

                                                4. Honestly, I cannot see myself going to a restaurant to check out their napkins, stemware and silverware before I make a reservation. I rely either on Chowhound, friends or repeated fantastic reviews in local papers. My only requisite is that it is wheelchair accessible.....and - many wonderful restaurants regrettably are not. : (

                                                  1. Me thinks tounge planted firmly in cheek. Geeeze, some people take things so seriously.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                      1. re: billyparsons

                                                        Funny--not quite extreme enough that it was that obvious but definitely a good foodie list. I'd add on:
                                                        #11) The patrons must recognize the occasion and dress the part, down to the rolex and manolo blahniks. Plastic surgery preferred but optional.

                                                    1. As for the linens...would an average diner care about the difference between egyptian linens, cotton linens, satin-trimmed linens, high-thread-count linens or know the difference between the quality of a 42 and 43? BIG price difference between them, and they all serve the same purpose.

                                                      Hate Zagat. Loathe Zagat. Trust the consensus of your peers above a food writer.

                                                      And I thought I was anal about stuff...

                                                      5 Replies
                                                      1. re: kimberlya

                                                        I will say, though - about linens..... at a NYC restaurant a few years ago, Italian, I can't remember where now, I, wearing a black dress with a very large white napkin plunked in my lap, get up to leave, look down to see the front of my dress completely covered in white lint. The dang floor never did open to swallow me up. Worse luck!

                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                          I HATE that!! And it happens so often. It's because of those regular cotton linens. I guess it wouldn't happen if the restaurants used egyptian cotton, but I don't know if I could afford to eat at most places anymore if that cost was figured in!!

                                                          Linen costs are rediculous....so now I carry a small lint-roller!

                                                          1. re: kimberlya

                                                            We always ask now for a black napkin when wearing black. Most of the medium to high end places with good attention to detail know this issue and are prepared for it. The really good restos offer you a black napkin when you sit down if they notice you are wearing black pants of a skirt. The other option I've been offered is a colored polyesther napkin instead of cotton - no lint from poly.

                                                            1. re: HungryLetsEat

                                                              never thought of this. good idea. but what if the resto doesn't have black napkins? a supply of lint rollers maybe?

                                                        2. re: billyparsons

                                                          but unfortunately, you get the good and none of the bad. instead of getting a clear view of what the complete consensus is from those surveyed, you get these verbose quotes saying why such and such a restaurant is great. and if they gave information that i actually need, i might excuse them for trying to be Dickens.

                                                          at least the gault millau, while long-winded, gives worthwhile information

                                                          with a site like this, you get the great, the good, the bad, and the ugly. and with a site like yelp, you can see if there's a pattern to when a restaurant is good or bad (since there are dates for each review). you can look up a reviewer to see what else they write...are they usually unreasonable or are they reliable??

                                                        3. While your list has some basic merit to it, I wouldn't condemn any restaurant for any of those things without knowing more. As the owner of a small business in a related field, I can tell you that it is very difficult to get a small food-oriented business going toward profitability, especially at the beginning. While I WOULD agree that some of the 'skimping' on decor and generic basics is a sign that the place may be under-funded, that should not automatically be correlated to it's overall quality. Give it a chance!!! If the service and food are not up to par, that's one thing, but don't pre-judge it based on relatively minor things.

                                                          1. Dunno that I agree with the list, but my #1 criteria is service. If staff are rude, inattentive, lazy or apathetic, then the resto has serious management problems which IMO will show up in lesser food quality and prep. Mangement which cares enough to hire quality staff or at least train newbs appropriately will usually care enough about the food they serve to ensure its quality. If the place is small enough the owner *is* the staff, same applies.

                                                            I can be served a dynamite meal, but if the waiter treats me rudely, to hell with him, the food and the resto. Great service doesn't cover up bad food, but an excellent waitress IME will gladly work with me to resolve any problems.

                                                            1. My main criterion is that the food is good and the service is friendly and attentive--and that's regardless of whether we're talking about a diner or a fancy place or anything in between. And I don't want to be getting any attitude from anyone. I've been to places where it's been clear that the host/hostess and waiter consider me unworthy to be in their establishment. That really, really irritates me.

                                                              But there is one thing that I look for at a moderately- or higher-priced place: Don't, but don't, put Bacos on your salad.

                                                              1. The assumption that a restaurant with inexpensive napkins or glasses will skimp on other things is unfair. Traveling around France for 5 weeks we almost always were served wine in tumblers. These restaurants weren't fancy, but they were mostly very, very good. They owners were frugal, maybe, but they still cared about the food they served. They didn't skimp on the quality of the produce, meat, etc., and they cooked with love. That's what really counts.

                                                                That said, I do like good, heavy cutlery and generously sized napkins.

                                                                1. It looks like a lot of the posters don't really like this list, but I see few suggestions. How about these

                                                                  1) Is the place clean? generally if they can't even manage to keep the place clean then its gonna be downhill from there.

                                                                  2) Are there people in there eating? (an empty restaurant at lunch or dinner time is a pretty good warning sign)

                                                                  3) Trust your nose. If you walk in and it just doesn't smell right, leave. Either they aren't cooking food you like, or something is spoiling somewhere in the back.

                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                    I agree with those 3 points. We should try to make a new, more reasonable post, perhaps with new bullet points.

                                                                    1. re: momof3

                                                                      The reason for the post was not to get hate mail, but to exchange ideas. I really have not seen anyone offer any "real" substitutes.

                                                                      1. re: billyparsons

                                                                        I haven't noticed any hate mail, but maybe the CWGods deleted those. Your comments on my start of the list would be welcome. It does seem obvious that the vast majority of comments take serious exception to your list. Perhaps it is an appropriate list for high end restaurants (say $50 or more per meal), but not for "everyday" places (in the $20 range).

                                                                    2. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                      I'm with you, KaimukiMan. I have walked out from restaurants that do not smell right, in general. I have left a restaurant when a fish, served to a table close by (or not so close) sends out smell signals, saying: "I have been dead for a long, looooong, time." Yuk!

                                                                    3. I think this list might more properly be titled, "10 Things That Are Important to This Particular Poster". It strikes me as a bunch of overly-broad generalizations. For instance, spend some time traveling in rural Spain or Tuscany if you think amazing food and good wine are somehow invalidated by cheap wineglasses.

                                                                      It also seems pretty ignorant of the realities of the restaurant industry, like the number of gifted cooks for whom English is a second language, or the trade-offs that some owners decide to make between furnishings (tableware, napkins, bathroom hand towels, etc.) and food quality. Cheap linen doesn't automatically indicate that the owner is a swindler or is cutting corners on food. Penny-pinching is fundamental to the business, but not every worthy restaurant is making the same choices on where to manage costs. Have you ever wondered why certain Chinese restaurants are kind of dumpy but have great food? It might just be a reflection of a fairly common attitude in that culture: that the money should properly be spent on the back-of-house talent and ingredients, not on slick atmosphere up front.

                                                                      To me, this list reflects some very un-Chowish attitudes, an overemphasis on trappings, a tendency to overlook substance in favor of style. If I abided by many of these rules, I would have rejected out hand many of my current favorites in Greater Boston, hidden gem types of places, and that would indeed be a shame: for a Chowhound, ridiculous, even.

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                        I traveled to Spain just to eat at El Bulli. Ferran Adria doesn't speak English. Do you think I care if someone speaks English? Is everyone so shallow as to think I care about English? We have areas in New York where you can get day labor for $60 a day. I know restaurants that use them. One day they're hanging sheetrock, the next day they're in a kitchen cooking your steak. Does anyone understand my post?

                                                                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                          Just for the record. My napkin comment came about after eating a new Italian place that opened up by me in Yonkers. I was with a friend trying to shortcuts the owner took (the place was bad). I said I'll bet you $5 that if take the napkin and fold from tip-to-tip, they won't line up. The really cheap linen companies buy the imperfect runs of napkins. What's weird is that really don't save all that much. But it show the "cutting corners" concept I so much despise. Give me a really nice paper towel. I'm fine. Don't try and be something you're not.

                                                                          1. re: billyparsons

                                                                            actually, billy, most linen companies just take their own linens and have them trimmed and hemmed if there's a tear along the side, etc....

                                                                        2. The only one I'd agree with is the last one. There is never an occasion where a diner going to a restaurant offering a 2fer or 15% off discount in Clipper is going because of the overall quality of the food. They're going because of the discount. It may be there's one dish or one appetizer that place does well - it happens. But there is a rule in marketing that proves true 100% of the time - once you start selling on price, you'll always be selling on price. Not quality.

                                                                          Even then, all discount ads are not equal. Offering a discount in the local Entertainment Book is slightly different. If a new restaurant wants to get people to try them - that's the avenue to go. Different demographic - Entertainment Book purchasers usually buy those specifically to eat out often.

                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Panini Guy

                                                                            The other problem is that if you follow an industry standard food cost model, of let's say 30%, what happens when everyone comes in with two for ones? Your food cost jump to 60%? After you add in your labor costs, your prime cost jumps to almost 90%. What happens then? Where can the owner cut the corners? Buy cheaper cuts, use monk fish in the lobster chowder? Restaurants that need to entice business after being around for more than a year with "kids eat free" and "buy one soda and get a free dinner" suck. I'll argue this point with anyone. This excludes applebees, McDonalds, etc. They serve a different purpose. And if anyone says they have a favorite place that is big on coupons, it's subjective. I ruined myself eating at better places.

                                                                            1. re: Panini Guy

                                                                              One last point. Do a google search on "Corner Bistro" in Manhattan. It's one of the best burgers you'll ever taste served on a thin paper plate. You'll never find a coupon for a free order of fries with every burger. But ther'e so much press on the place because it's great. The food is the advertisement. I was in Times Square and was given a coupon for $5 off any size check at an Irish Burger place right around the corner. I had a burger. It was great if you like eating cardboard. I could not fathom how the place stayed in business. Then it struck me. Sucker that I am. Coupons baby. It's all about coupons.

                                                                              1. re: Panini Guy

                                                                                My previous comment here was rejected by the moderator so I'll restate. I eagerly look through Clipper and similar type mags. Also I check out newspaper and radio ads. It's how I learn what's newly opened. Various menus, prices, pics, hours of operation are all available. Restaurants change so frequently I cant keep up. I use the media anyway I can and if that includes a discount I'll take the advantage. I may hate my entree at $30 but will enjoy it at $15.

                                                                              2. Ten indicators of a good place in parts of Asia:

                                                                                1. The frogs and eels in the wide plastic basins on the floor look happy.
                                                                                2. The greens are varied and fresh
                                                                                3. Women cooking and prepping are chatting in a language I may or may not understand
                                                                                4. The basket on the table is replete with hot sauces, spices, utensils, cheap napkins
                                                                                5. Rice is in the big cooker (or sticky rice is in the insulated tub)
                                                                                6. The owner’s kids running around are happy and clean
                                                                                7. There is running water and possibly even a toilet somewhere
                                                                                8. The sights, sounds, smells, and chatter match the quality of the food
                                                                                9. There is enough ice to put chunks into the mugs to cool down the beer
                                                                                10. The food!

                                                                                10 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                  The only thing I would change is to modify #8 to include flying chopsticks/spoons and little or no "during dinner" conversation because the diners are too busy eating to talk.

                                                                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                    That's so bloody perfect Sam. Would that your list could be applied to restaurants here in the U.S. Both high end and below.
                                                                                    #10 is really the bottom line, isn't it?

                                                                                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                      Clean is such a relative thing!

                                                                                      The food in so many cases is the more important thing...

                                                                                      1. re: kimberlya

                                                                                        Saying that the money is not an issue is ridiculous. Imagine you're a small 30 seat restaurant owner just starting out and using your life savings and maybe some loans to finance the deal. You can use your money to invest it good cookware, great ingredients, a good staff, etc. You might like to use the expensive silverware and the expensive napkins, but it's just not in your budget to do so. To say that this will negatively effect the quality of your meal just doesn't make sense to me. Not everyone opens a business with unlimited funds, and even if they did they're still in it to make a profit. According to you every restaurant owner should stick with hot dog carts if they can't afford the best of the best. It all really comes down to money, if you want most of the things on your list, be prepared to pay for them when the bill comes. I personally don't want $100+ meals on a weekly basis.

                                                                                        1. re: Rick

                                                                                          are you referring to me? i'm saying it doesn't affect the meal! and that they don't have unlimited profits!

                                                                                      2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                        I've been to China. I agree. I also love that they have no health inspections in the rural areas. I also love that the smaller places don't speak English.

                                                                                        1. re: billyparsons

                                                                                          Ha! I thought we might agree with a bit of further discussion. Do you want to modify your original list?

                                                                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                            Read my post with regard to day labor. I don't care if they speak in sign language. As long as the kitchen can comunicate with the wait staff.

                                                                                            1. re: billyparsons

                                                                                              Relax, I'm with you. I've really enjoyed this thread. Your OP was thought provoking; and the responses are fun.

                                                                                      3. I'm afraid I've got to pile on here not liking this list much.

                                                                                        However, I have yet to have a good food experience at a place where someone is standing outside the restaurant trying to wave people in. Maybe it's just me, but...

                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: bachslunch

                                                                                          I have.At Kan's in San Francisco, in Chinatown,for dim sum. To be honest, the barker might have kept me from trying the place had I been on my own, but I was there for a Chowdown and meeting folks, so I had to go in....and it was very good! I've been back several times on my own and have been very happy with food and service there...(only tried it for dim sum though, so can't speak to dinner).

                                                                                          Indeed, I wonder if the barker is a marketing mistake. As I was leaving that first time, some tourists were debating whether to go in, saw the barker,and started walking away, and I heard one say to the other, 'well, it can't be any good if they have to have someone outside to try and get us in'...I ran after them to encourage them to try it anyway!

                                                                                          OTOH, the places with barkers in San Diego's Gaslight, are all uniformly bad, in my experience....and I suspect your experience is more the norm than not...

                                                                                          1. re: bachslunch

                                                                                            In NY I would definitely agree with you (exception being Little Italy)- but not in Europe! In Portugal, Spain and France. Some of my best dining experiences in those countries were in restaurants where there were waiters almost forcing hapless tourists at gunpoint inside!:} Yes, they can be annoying as all **** but at least in Europe, it is not at all a sign of a bad meal.

                                                                                            1. re: NicoleFriedman

                                                                                              That might be true in other parts of France for all I know, but it wasn't true in Paris, at least in my experience. The one really bad meal Mrs. B and I had when we went there not all that long ago was at such a place, between the Louvre and Place Vendome; I knew it was a tourist trap the minute we sat down, but Mrs. B was too tired to move on. And when I grabbed a quick falafel at L'As de Falafel a few days later, there was a sidewalk waver-in person trying to get some of the folks standing in line to go into his place -- and no one budged; I found out later from a friend that it's not in the same league as L'AdF. The places we liked didn't have someone on the sidewalk trying to push folks in.

                                                                                              And while I'm not so familiar with NYC, I've read (in several guidebooks) and heard (from more than a few friends) that except for Lombardi's, Little Italy's restaurants are mediocre, price gouging, and overpriced tourist traps -- that if one wants to experience what Little Italy used to be food-wise, one should head to the Arthur Avenue area of the Bronx. Maybe I'm getting bad info here, but...

                                                                                              1. re: bachslunch

                                                                                                I don't know about Arthur Ave. having the same density of sit down restaurants as Little Italy had 20-30 years ago, but it's as good a place as any to just walk around and eat a boatload of good Italian, from pastries to salumeria and cheeses to pastas and dinners. There are enclaves on Westchester Ave. in The Bronx as well, and there is great Italian chow in the Brooklyn expanse from Williamsburg to the East River - most recently were in Red Hook and environs for rice balls, vastedda, sfogliatelle and other goodies. There are other neighborhoods of course, but I've found the most variety and consistency of quality in those three (not talking Michelin stars here, just tasty food).

                                                                                          2. When you started talking about a kitchen with 5 or more non english speaking guys, I thought you were gonna say it was a good sign.

                                                                                            I think you're totally wrong there. I would say a lot of the time they're in the kitchen it's because it's what they love and what they do best. Not because it's the easiest way to earn a paycheque. Which I'm sure anyone who's been in the biz would attest to.


                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: Davwud

                                                                                              Working in a restaurant is definitely not an easy way to earn a paycheck...

                                                                                            2. #12. No sommelier or crumb scrapers!

                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: Pablo

                                                                                                #13, you're required to park your own car.


                                                                                                1. re: Davwud

                                                                                                  Or lift a finger in any capacity. You know, it's tres chic to have people feeding you in the most hedonistic way possible.

                                                                                                  And it doesn't stop at the bathroom door.


                                                                                              2. Atta boy!!! Jfood, I agree with you 120%.

                                                                                                If I used some of these (or any of these) criteria for choosing a restaurant I may have lost out on some truly wonderful dining experiences.

                                                                                                Dookie's Chase...New Orleans

                                                                                                Abe Herman's...a tiny dive bar in Baltimore with the world's best (IMHO) Md crab soup. It's too bad the old man passed away or I'd still be going.

                                                                                                A tiny, nameless Thai place in San Francisco.

                                                                                                The falafel cart in Alphabet City, New York

                                                                                                Too many more too list.

                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: kimmer1850

                                                                                                  Just for the record. I'm in Baltimore once a month. Never heard of Abe's. Can you share some info? Do you think my post had any reference to NYC carts? That's my favorite food kimmer. As far as NYC goes, I live on that stuff. Great response though.

                                                                                                  1. re: billyparsons

                                                                                                    Abe's was a bar in Curtis Bay (blue collar neighborhood in South Baltimore)that my dad discovered when he worked in that area. It was on Pennington Ave. not far from Church Street. It was in an old row home that looked like thay knocked down all the other row homes around it. They made one batch of crab soup every day (for the next day's service) and when it was gone then you were out of luck.

                                                                                                    When my dad first took me there I was maybe fourteen or fifteen. My first impression was "God, What a dump!!!" All that changed when I was served a tiny plastic bowl full of blue crab heaven. Spicy, full of crab bodies and veggies and lots of meat. I continued going there until I was in my early 20's when it closed up.

                                                                                                    Aside from that crab soup the thing that I remember most was the owner's chihauhau (sp?) absolutely hated my dad!! We couldn't go in there without that little dog wrapping itself around my dad's ankles and holding on for dear life.

                                                                                                2. Sorry - don't agree with practically anything on this list. Unless you restrict all your dining to "Fine Dining", these are just not reasonable guide posts.

                                                                                                  1. the only one i can get behind at all is #5, and then only in the extreme. as long as tp is present, i'm ok with it. if they ask me to take my napkin to the restroom with me, i'd probably stay away. even then, it would depend upon how good the food is.

                                                                                                    1. Last night in Ibague, Colombia, I had a great meal. "Restaruant" has been there for 25 years--in the corner doorway entrance to a closed shop (ergo therestaurant "opens" at 800 pm. Plastic plate, and utensiles, pape napkins. I had a large, rich tomato sauce stewed chicken breast with rice, cassava, potatoes. Excellent. Sat on a plastic stool on the sidewalk. Cost: two dollars. Cook/server/manager/owner spoke no English.

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                        Sam... why would the "Cook/server/manager" speak English? And, I go to little cuban places in Yonkers, NY that serve the same plates and paper napkins. What's your point? You know what you're getting into the second you walk in the door. Point is, they're not trying to be something they're not. It's a great thing. As long as the place like that is clean, I could care less if they serve the food by taking a spoon and dumping it into your hand.

                                                                                                      2. Agreed that the list is bordering on asinine, but my issue comes with the title: "10 Warning Signs Before you Visit..." Does the OP suggest that we go to a restaurant and fold a napkin, speak with the kitchen staff, weigh the silverware and "roadtest" the TP before we decide to eat at a restaurant?

                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: smarsh

                                                                                                          NO. The OP suggests that you simply look for shortcuts. I've seen roadside fish and chip places re-use plastic forks. I've seen small Burrito places re-serve the chips after they were on someone's table. It's up to you smarsh. Where do you draw the line?

                                                                                                          1. re: billyparsons

                                                                                                            Some roadside places have served us food that was amazingly fresh, delicious and satisfying.

                                                                                                            I hope I have not used those forks, though. Unless they are properly washed between uses, just like any fancy silverware.

                                                                                                            Re-serving chips is illegal, which is where you definitely would draw the line.

                                                                                                            1. re: billyparsons

                                                                                                              my issue comes with the use of the word *before* If these criteria must be met in order for a restaurant to be worthy, how do you propose that we evaluate them with out actually eating there? The title suggest that it is important to know these things "before you visit"

                                                                                                          2. re: discounts
                                                                                                            there is a resto that my husband and i frequent that gets many [deserving] shouts out on this board. this place, which offers coupons via the back of a receipt from a local supermarket, serves incredible artisinal pastas, many seasonal specials and sandwiches and is always packed. you do not have to present the coupon before ordering so they don't know beforehand that you will use one.

                                                                                                            10 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: ericalloyd

                                                                                                              In many supermarkets, having the coupon printed on the receipt is often fairly highly targeted marketing - if you buy X, you get one offer. Buy Y and get a different one. Kind of like buying keywords on Google. So if that's the case, that's a vastly different animal than Clipper magazine.

                                                                                                              1. re: Panini Guy

                                                                                                                So are you saying that when a customer buys Ronzoni tomato sauce, they should get a coupon for Primavera Italian Restaurant because they're targeting customers that eat tomato sauce?

                                                                                                                1. re: Panini Guy

                                                                                                                  that's not the case. there are many different coupons on the back of each receipt, with each coupon being about 3"x3". the longer your receipt, the more coupons you get.

                                                                                                                  1. re: ericalloyd

                                                                                                                    Boy oh boy. Imagine being the restaurant whose coupon comes up on the back of a receipt for Pepto Bismol?

                                                                                                                    If I ever caught wind that one of the places I had were “showcased” on the back of a Pathmark or Stop & Shop receipt, the next receipt you’d see is that for my lawyers fees to serve them with a “cease & desist” order.

                                                                                                                    How things could go so wrong that one would have to resort to advertising on the back of a supermarket receipt is beyond me. What’s next? A White Castle Burger advertisement on the back of toilet paper in a truck stop off of i95?

                                                                                                                    I will say one thing though. I would love to get my ad on the back of a sales invoice at the local Ferrari dealership!

                                                                                                                    1. re: billyparsons

                                                                                                                      >> How things could go so wrong that one would have to resort to advertising on the back of a supermarket receipt is beyond me. <<

                                                                                                                      Good thing you're not responsible for making a restaurant's payroll, supplies cost and overhead, then.

                                                                                                                        1. re: KenWritez

                                                                                                                          I know. If I worked in a place that relied on coupons on the back of supermarket receipts, there'd be hell to pay in the kitchen and front end management. And one thing’s for sure, there'd be a lot of people going home checking out the employment ads.

                                                                                                                          Making payroll, supply costs and overhead is easy. The magic is in finding the right staff to form a killer team. If you don't pay and treat staff with respect, you're destined to be on the flip side of a receipt for >insert random food item here<.

                                                                                                                          Ken, pick up a copy of Danny Meyer's new book. You need to understand what the real meaning of "hospitality" is. You'll never find it written on the back of 5x7" piece of plastic tacked on the back of a shopping cart. That space is reserved for real estate agents, mortgage brokers and McDonalds (advertising kid's happy meals).

                                                                                                                          And remember, hospitality take many forms. It could be the bell boy at the Four Seasons or, for that matter, the husband and wife team that get excited when you try their pulled pork sandwich in their food truck in Hunts Point (the Bronx).

                                                                                                                          1. re: billyparsons

                                                                                                                            >> If I worked in a place that relied on coupons on the back of supermarket receipts, there'd be hell to pay in the kitchen and front end management. And one thing’s for sure, there'd be a lot of people going home checking out the employment ads. <<


                                                                                                                            >> I would love to get my ad on the back of a sales invoice at the local Ferrari dealership! <<

                                                                                                                            ISTM you're advocating a double standard here. Your resto's ad on the back of anything "less" than a Ferrari dealership flyer is cause for you to fire your staff and crash many people's lives, is what you've said.

                                                                                                                            Coupons on the backs of grocery store receipts, two-fers, entertainment coupon books, flyers shoved under windshield wipers or stuffed in with utility bills are a God-send for people who would love to eat at your resto but can't afford to as often as they'd like--or at all.

                                                                                                                            When I began one of my first businesses, I didn't care where my customers came from or how they heard about me. If they were willing to hire me, I was willing to work for them because they trusted me enough to ask me to perform my services for them,

                                                                                                                            There's a resto in my town that my wife and I love to eat at. The food, ambiance and service are so good we'd go every night if we could. We can't afford to do so. Once or twice a month is the max, and even then we're moving money around to fund these evenings. This resto has printed "$ off" coupons, and we use them every chance we can, because these coupons allow us to eat there an extra time per month. This is a white linen tablecloth place with an outstanding wine cellar, a true sommelier, and a chef who regularly turns out the best food I've ever eaten. It's *not* some orange Formica table in a fast food establishment where you give your orders to a clown face.

                                                                                                                            I'll be glad to check out Danny Meyer's book, but after reading the amazon blurbs about it, I think he'd agree more with me on this issue than not.

                                                                                                                            If you're convinced printing discount coupons or using flyers or whatnot is a slap in the face to your resto, then that's your opinion. I disagree, and I have experience to back me up.

                                                                                                                            1. re: KenWritez

                                                                                                                              I went to Stop and Shop yesteday. I got a coupon for A'Mangiare which is arguably the best red sauce Italian in Westchester. YOu can bet I kept that coupon for the next time I order take out!

                                                                                                                        2. re: billyparsons

                                                                                                                          as it is a small place that is always crowded, it's a comfort to know that i won't have to wait for you to finish your meal so i can sit down and enjoy ...

                                                                                                                  2. IMO, there's only one thing that counts - do the customers leaving look happy and satisfied. It means they had a good experience and felt that the food was worth what they paid for it, possibly more. Anything else, really, is meaningless.

                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                    1. re: GVDub

                                                                                                                      As I've posted previously in this thread, I think the OP is way off base.

                                                                                                                      But I have to disagree with you too, GVDub. Lots of people stream out of The Cheesecake Factory with smiles on their faces. You have to consider the source of the review. What makes some stranger happy is not necessarily going to make me happy.

                                                                                                                      To me, the more trenchant question is, "Do people like it whose opinion I trust, who have similar priorities about restaurants to mine, or who have special culinary expertise I admire?" Without knowing something about their tastes, the endorsement of a random crowd is meaningless to me.

                                                                                                                    2. Great post - I also look at the coffee at the end of the meal as part of attention to detail. Most likely, it is the last thing you may have/experience at a rest. before walking out the door - how is it? Good coffee, or an afterthought? My DH always uses the restrooms as his yardstick in a restaurant as well, as in, this is the space they "let" you see, if it isn't in great shape, can you imagine the spaces you don't see.

                                                                                                                      1. Billy, I'm 100% behind you regarding the crappy stemware. Ugh.

                                                                                                                        1. Am sitting here laughing. Some of the best food I have ever eaten was at a diner in Massachusetts. Scallops two hours out of the ocean, lightly breaded and lovingly fried by a burly ex-Navy cook. Perfect coleslaw. Fresh green beans. Buttery butternut squash. Homemade raspberry pie. They broke every one of your rules. I wish I were there now.....