Do you ever CHOOSE to go where the food is iffy?
Almost always the food is the primary reason I choose a place to dine. Once in a while we all end up at places where we just have to make the best of it due to work, family obligations, etc.
I just realized there is one type of restaurant in my life where food is not really part of the equation when I go to one. Rooftop Revolving Restaurants! Most mid to large cities have one. There is something so retro and kitsch about them that they just become amusingly delightful. I find them to be somewhat of a time-warp sort of way of viewing a new (to me) cities skyline. They always feel a bit surreal. I try to get there just a bit before sunset. Ideally I time it so there is one rotation of pre-sunset and one rotation of post sunset. If I can get away with just drinks -great. But it frequently is not possible to not have dinner...somehow in this instance I don't really mind!
Looking forward to reading of your dining dichotomy...
Edit: In case you now have an urge to visit one, here is a link with a little history and a number of locations:
I agree, sometimes it takes more than great food to make an exceptional meal. There are few places that I enjoy going to in my neighborhood where the service and the deals are wonderful, yet the food is mediocre or just ok. We have one place we frequent in the summer where every Tuesday they offer all you can eat mussels for $10. Everytime my husband and I go there, it reminds me of when we didn't have much money, but we still made time for "date night" and splurged.
Of course. It is rare that I go to a place with really good food. I have a spouse who loves to eat in less than ideal places. I end up eating at Wendy's and the like about two times a week, at least. I can't tell you how I survive that. I have no idea myself, and please don't inspect my waistline. Aside from that, say I really crave gyros. There is only one semi-decent place for that nearby. So either I never have gyros, or I go there. Our budget consensus means we don't go anywhere with the total bill for dinner for two being over $30 except on a rare occasion, and mostly it must be under $20, given how often he likes to eat out, nor can I typically drive into the nearest large city. Thus my choices for excellent food are limited. My best bet by far is to make it myself.
It would be easier if my husband and I liked similar foods, but the real limitation is that no matter how much I make, I am unwilling to spend a whole lot of money on a dining budget. I'd rather set the money to other purposes. Maybe I'd change my mind if I got rich all of a sudden, but I hope that I wouldn't.
There's a little "faux-Mexican" place in my area - it closes in one location and you suddenly find it thirty miles away. The food is awful - probably legally actionable. But now and then ... that particular menu is what I really want.
Can't explain it.
Only when (a) I'm thoroughly exhausted/rushed and have few other dinner options, (b) I have to go be/c of social obligations (in which case I'm not really choosing) or (c) I'm in a new city and don't much know any better. I've learned that the last case is easily solved by the google maps function and a little (Chowhound!) research beforehand.
My dining out budget isn't huge, and I enjoy cooking, so eating out is something I put some thought/effort into. I do, however, understand your thing for revolving restos. I guess a drink would be ideal in such a situation.
I think I would have to agree with your assessment. There have been times (rare, and DH thinks it's gross) where I've gone to the corner deli and got stuff from the salad bar because it's right near home and my work and I don't have to wait for an order because I can grab whatever I want. Not all salad bars are disgusting, but this one is pretty sad.
yes, when I am with my son. He is autistic and cannot sit down calmly for long periods of time waiting for food, he begins to get very bored and agitated often trying to slip under the table and crawl into my lap. We go to buffets style places and he loves it. NO wasting food he won't like, and when he is finished we can leave. In and out in less than an hour it is great. Some buffets are very very iffy and we don't do those, but the ones I choose are usually very clean and we go right as they open. I mean like waiting at the door early. It is usually deserted and my son can dine in utter peace and quiet which is optimal.