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Reverse Recommendation: Anyone have this friend?

I know this is a silly topic, but as CH'ers we all love to get a great recommendation from friends or from the boards, but I was wondering if anyone has this friend(s). Does anyone have that person who they wait for them to bash a place and then run out and eat there because you know it's going to be great? I have know people who if they praise a place, I steer clear and when they bash it, I go in knowing it's going to be great and it always is. ?

I just love when people tell me how good a (insert ethnic cuisine here - typically italian) restaurant is and when I ask them what they had they tell me " a house salad, fried calamari and a steak." Or they say there was nothing on the menu, then you go and the menu is five pages long. Or they say the food was perfectly seasons, which means it wasn't seasoned. Or it was overseasoned, which means it tastes the way it is supposed to, not the way they make it at home.

It used to drive me crazy, but now I use it as a guide. Anyone else? Any funny stories

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  1. If my Grandma says it's "interesting", it usually isn't.
    If my mom says it's "very ethnic", it definitely isn't.
    If my sister says, "it's good", it's probably not (good being defined as Applebee's)
    If my ex-husband says, "they have GREAT food", that means they do a lot of deep frying.
    If my brother says, "they have good seafood", watch out: Red Lobstah!!

    4 Replies
    1. re: mamachef

      I'm actually LOL'ing. Red Lobstah!!!!

      1. re: mamachef

        I have all those people too! Plus one friend who routinely bashes any recommendation I make to her. Make that one friend and one coworker. I think Eric and I have polar opposite taste, only we like the same types of food.

        1. re: mamachef

          hahah this is the best! Thanks for the laugh :)

          1. I have one that will not eat at any place "fancy." We used to think that meant she ran if there were white tablecloths, but then she balked at returning to a DINER because it was too fancy.

            Turns out, if the place has more than pizza, burgers, steak, salad and fish, it's too fancy. Or if any of those foods contain "fancy" ingredients--non-cheddar cheese on burgers, non-iceberg lettuce in salads--basically, anything she didn't grow up with in her suburban circa 1960s kitchen.

            1. my parents - if they *rave* about the food, i can guarantee it'll be so salty that my legs & feet will begin to swell before we even leave the restaurant.

              my sister - anything that's too "exotic" or "ethnic" for her is usually spot-on, and if she loves it, there's about a 95% chance it's bland, bland, bland with nary an herb or spice in sight.

              24 Replies
              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                The bland comment is funny, because I refuse to go out for Italian food, because I find it so bland. This is not to say, when done correctly, that Italian food is bland, but I feel Restaurants don't season enough.

                I also argue with these people about Mexican food. They love this place that serves a huge burrito that tastes like wallpaper paste. They love it. It's the only place I've ever sent food back.

                I think in general there are three types of palates. Those who like salt, those who like bland and those who actually know food. At least that's the three categories that the people I know fall into and I'd say it's about 20% salty, 70% bland and 10% knowing good food.

                1. re: jhopp217

                  Any crossover between the salty and good food types? I think that's where I am.

                  1. re: EWSflash

                    Of course, I was generalizing. I'm a freak. I hate salt, but love potato chips (and they stopped making those unsalted Ruffles). I hate salt, but despise steak if it's not generously salted (pre-cooking). My "salt" label is for people who add salt before tasting their food. It's my greatest pet peeve!

                    1. re: jhopp217

                      Oh my dog, those people who LOVE some place because they serve a HUGE something! My brother asked me last week if I had heard about the giant burger, it's big enough to serve seven, he was so excited, we should go, we should try it, and I'm thinking No. Fricken. Way.

                      jhopp, love this thread!


                      1. re: hillsbilly

                        Your brother sounds like my boyfriend. He hasn't ever done one and he can't eat as much as he thinks he can but anytime he hears about a challenge or a biggest something he gets all excited and talks about trying it out.

                        1. re: hillsbilly

                          Well, there are about six programs on the Food Network and the Cooking Channel (was the Fine Living Network), about portions so huge that only a circus geek could possibly eat them. Guess that the US audience just loves gigantic portions of food, and that is why every local news broadcast has some sort of featurette on eating contests.


                          1. re: hillsbilly

                            I want to eat at the place that serves the biggest pizza in the country. Take about twenty friends, though. nobody gonna eat 100 pieces by their lonesome.

                          2. re: jhopp217

                            my husband always tastes my food. and always adds salt, even when i think it's perfect.

                            1. re: Chowrin

                              Hm-m, if I did that, my wife would slap my hand! [I'd deserve it too.]

                              Now, if I am doing the stew (or similar), and add a bit of this, or that, there is no quarrel.


                          3. re: goodhealthgourmet

                            My brother in law thinks that garlic is "weird" spice. I on the other hand have been known to put it on my toast in the morning. My mother in law also thinks that any restaurant that has nachos or chips and salsa on the appetizer menu is a Mexican restaurant no matter the rest of the menu.

                            1. re: baseballfan

                              I am with you on garlic. We have it in so many forms, and use it so very often.

                              Got an offhand compliment from a well-known chef, who dined with us many years ago. [Hate cooking for a well-known chef... ] His comment was, "ah garlic - the ketchup of the intelligencia." So be it, but I love the "stinky rose," and I am everything BUT Italian.


                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                Don't you love the backhanded compliment? Garlic is one of my favorites as matter of fact I've got a batch roasting in the oven. Smells like heaven to me!

                                1. re: baseballfan

                                  garlic, olive oil and green cruciferous vegetables are the few thin threads that keep me alive.

                                  1. re: hill food

                                    Garlic infused olive oil is the best of both worlds.

                                  2. re: baseballfan

                                    Yes, I have come to love them. When that one was offered, I started to speak, but then saw the look in my wife's eyes, which translated to "keep that thought to yourself... "

                                    I did.


                                2. re: baseballfan

                                  She'd be pretty confused at the place near me. Irish pub where everyone has a brogue, but they have some of the best chips and salsa, nachos (both with beef and corned beef) and delicious tacos!

                                  1. re: jhopp217

                                    Where do you live? It would be worth the field trip just to hear the commentary! :)

                                    1. re: baseballfan

                                      The Place is called Stephen's Green and is in Crestwood (actually Tuckahoe/Eastchester border) NY. It's so funny, I love a local Mexican place, but this place has better tacos!

                                      1. re: jhopp217

                                        Sounds like a great place! Not such a far trek from DC where said relatives reside. The Irish/Mexican combo would blow her away. Imagine nachos and chips and salsa in an Irish pub.....the horror!

                                        1. re: baseballfan

                                          There is a place in NJ that has taken this idea to the extreme. It's called Jose O'Reilly's. Never been, but heard it's a fun place.

                                          1. re: baseballfan

                                            I think I have been living in the land of culinary assimilation too long because I no longer find it too weird when one of the most Irish pubs in the state of Florida (they sponsor their own pipe band) not only has nachos but also po' boys on the menu.

                                3. If my mother says a restaurant is good, it means the view is fantastic, the entrees are $50, and the food is average. If she says a restaurant is expensive, it means it doesn't have view and the food is so good you end up ordering dessert even if you are stuffed.

                                  If my middle brother says it's good, it is, and I'm expected to pay.

                                  If anyone I know complains that the portions are too small at a restaurant they otherwise love, then I will adore the place.

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: Isolda

                                    Free food always seems to be seasoned perfectly, haha!

                                    1. re: jhopp217

                                      Not to my mother. The freer it was the worse she hated it. Not that she ever took anybody out to dinner and paid. She would call the restaurant the next day and complain that she couldn't eat the food and wangle a freebie out of them. Fine, as long as my name isn't associated with her little racket, but she would tell me (the payer) that the food was inedible and THEN post the gift certificate on the refrigerator where I'd be sure to see it.

                                      1. re: EWSflash

                                        tell your mom that people in the restaurant biz remember faces......complainers, especially those who we KNOW are complaing just to get a free meal, should beware. Shes also a prime example of why all the rest of us end up paying more for our dinners - those "free" gift certificates are paid for one way or another!

                                        1. re: joe777cool

                                          I know all of that to such an embarrassing degree- but she's dead. You know how people say they miss their mom? I feel horrible that I can't say that without lying, but it's a fact.

                                          1. re: EWSflash

                                            Very sorry to hear, that - no disrespect was intended. Mine died 4 years ago this month and I miss her everyday =(

                                    2. re: Isolda

                                      I agree, if someone says the portions are small, I generally like it. There was an Italian restaurant that we used to frequent but they started using inferior ingredients and raised the prices and the portions to the point where I can barely eat half of my meal. I wish I could give them some feedback: bring back the old ingredients and make your portions smaller and maybe drop the price a smidge and I'll be there every week :(

                                    3. Jhopp-- your friend is a restaurant critic in the msp area, isn't she? ;-P

                                        1. Have a co-worker who only eats yogurt and apple (won’t deviate when offered another fruit, just apple) for lunch and if there is group lunch, will only eat salads and tells me PF Chang’s makes the best Chinese food, so when she tell me she went to a wonderful Chinese restaurant and wants me to try it – I stay clear of it.
                                          When recommends by dad – it is the cheapest restaurant he can find. Doesn’t matter if the food is good as long as he get the most for his money and he gets seated right away – no waiting for him – if he has to wait more than 2 minutes (seriously), he’ll get up and walk.
                                          My sister doe doesn’t like garlic, salt, butter, any type of seafood or fish and she think a well-done (burnt) steak is the best with plenty of catsup. One of her favorite dishes is pouring catsup on pasta……. So when she says she doesn’t like a certain type of restaurant, it means I most likely will like it.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: rinkatink888

                                            Whenever I see anyone put ketchup, A-1 or any other odd condiment on their steak, I cringe. I always laugh that Peter Luger, arguably the greatest steakhouse in the world, has their signature steak sauce on the table, but even the waiters cringe when they see you put it on your steak. as anyone who knows will tell you, it's for the tomato and onion!

                                            1. re: rinkatink888

                                              rink, your dad sounds like my dad. Good means cheap and lots of food. Which sometimes tastes good and sometimes doesn't.

                                            2. The socialite lady who judges places primarily on appearance. Walking into a dive would be like walking into a third world prison for her.
                                              The same lady who probably thinks spending a minimum of $40 for a meal is a requirement to get good food.

                                              In the other direction, the cheap guy whose primary criteria is the price... so he'll walk into a place known for X and refuse to try it because the lunch special is cheaper. I often hear something like, "... and you know what was the best thing about that place? The price!"

                                              Several (usually younger) friends who have never eaten at anything better than a sit-down chain and just don't know better and haven't been willing to broaden beyond Americanized ethnic chains. I took one to a Vietnamese place and he was incredibly nervous about getting food poisoning or throwing up because he expected the food to be horrible (he loves the cuisine now).

                                              The two guys that think anything remotely above average is 'AMAZING' every single time. Can't trust a single thing they recommend food-wise (or movies).

                                              The guy who correlates how *much* food is on the plate to how good the food is. Oddly he's not hugely overweight but apparently calories matter far more than flavor or nutrition.

                                              The person who is always talking about how healthy a meal was which usually means they overpaid for something very bland. She also doesn't really understand nutrition or healthy living.

                                              Every co-worker I know that says they like sushi only eat california rolls and teriyaki/tempura.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: amokscience

                                                Ha ha - went to lunch with a co-worker today who says she loves sushi, so I asked her if you like the "sashima" type sushi and the look of horror on her face - absolutely not, she says - only the California roll - okay..... let''s move on to the next subject.

                                                1. re: rinkatink888

                                                  There are too many of those people. It's almost the norm when it comes to "sushi" lovers.

                                                  1. re: jhopp217

                                                    When I'm in North America I often go for American style sushi - California Rolls, Rainbow Rolls, Dynamite rolls. I thoroughly enjoy them, but they're definitely not Japanese.

                                                    When I go for Japanese style sushi I avoid the rolls because the fish to rice ratio is too low and leap straight for the sashimi.

                                              2. My daughter is a fairly reliable inverse barometer for restaurants -- if she says it's great, it's usually bad.

                                                1. if my boyfriend says the food is "spicy", its napalm hot
                                                  if my coworker says the food is "great", it could mean its terrible but kosher! (he considers anything kosher to be GREAT)
                                                  if my friend "loves the curry", there is no curry in it. She hates the flavor of curry but doesn't realize it and "loves curry" at restaurants where its SUPER mild and bland (and usually covered in red or yellow food coloring.)

                                                  15 Replies
                                                  1. re: CarmenR

                                                    "if my boyfriend says the food is "spicy", its napalm hot"
                                                    yeah, i'm like your boyfriend. if i think the food is actually spicy, it's a safe bet that my dining companion - and by this i mean pretty much anyone in my life - would be in agony if we were sharing.

                                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                      I guess this turns me into the opposite of the OP's subject, I usually will recommend a place and then tell the person (based on their known likes) why they might hate it.

                                                      1. re: hill food

                                                        I do this too ... kinda bad, don't you think? I just hate seeing friends order Thai curries when their spice level is somewhere around a green pepper, perhaps with a touch of jalapeno.

                                                        Then there's my husband who took another friend at her word (she kept going on about liking "hot" food) and directed her towards an Indian dish that's hot for his above normal heat tolerance. It's several years later and she still won't give Indian food another chance :(

                                                        1. re: odkaty

                                                          exactly. but when I get them to try something, I always say "go ahead and spit it out but at least you tried" and steer them to something less spicy.

                                                          1. re: hill food

                                                            dont get me wrong, I am a HUGE fan of spicy food- but not so spicy that I cannot taste anything else for hours. He's one that will eat whole raw jalapenos with dinner instead of a dinner roll. Thats a bit much for most people, I think.

                                                            1. re: CarmenR

                                                              sorry I used the word spicy, these are people that can't stand just bold flavors, not hot at all.

                                                              1. re: hill food

                                                                You just named most of my boyfriend's family. If there is any type of seasoning other than salt and a little black pepper the item is too spicy (not hot, I can't imagine what the would think of something with a little heat behind it). I know better than to even talk about any ethnic foods in front of them. Italian is as interesting as they will go (not even Mexican) and if there's garlic in something FORGET IT!

                                                                1. re: melpy

                                                                  A lot of people think they don't like garlic. I think its usually that they don't like garlic powder/salt. I converted my mom when I made her roasted garlic mashed potatoes with like 20 cloves of garlic and she loved them.

                                                                  1. re: Fromageball

                                                                    I *love* (real) garlic...but not roasted.

                                                                    1. re: observor

                                                                      really? I look at it as something different, but still good, and it is a way to ease the fearful into enjoying it, sort of a "gateway" prep if you will.

                                                                      1. re: hill food

                                                                        I disagree because I find the flavor difference between the two to be completely different, almost totally different seasonings. I almost swoon at the smell of garlic being sauteed, but the caramelization of roasted garlic turns me completely off.

                                                                        1. re: observor

                                                                          well yeah I agree, but if you're trying to coax someone off the freeze dried junk and into the fresh it can make it an easy step. they are different and used (by me) quite differently.

                                                                          hell I used to eat the stuff raw, can't anymore, but for a while it was once my favorite vegetable.

                                                                          1. re: hill food

                                                                            Wouldn't mind visiting the Gilroy Garlic Festival some time...they have garlic ice cream (!) I absolutely love garlic, but one does have to be very careful because too much and it starts bothering you.

                                                      2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                        I've got a friend who apparently had his throat lined with asbestos at some point. He doesn't call it spicy until it makes him break out in a sweat.

                                                        1. re: Terrieltr

                                                          Tell him to find an Indian place that will serve real Lamb Phall.....then ask him if he feels the same way. I finished mine, it was delicious, but I was feeling it for about six hours after. I was also told I was the only non-Indian person to come in and finish it. No tee-shirt : (

                                                    2. Interesting post.

                                                      I do not have such, regarding restaurants, but have one friend, who is always ahead of the curve on wines. If he recommends one, when offered such, the response is always, "Well, the winemaker changed __ years ago, and it's gone horribly downhill since. This is dreck." If one brings a Robert Parker 100 pt. wine, this friend comments that he hates any sort of rating, but when he brings a wine, the first thing mentioned will be the Robert Parker ratings, and those from Wine Spectator, to validate his wines. No matter what one has, his are always better, and even if it's the same wine, and the same vintage, then there is secret article on how half of that vintage was ruined by ____, and obviously everyone else got the bad ones, and he the good one.

                                                      When it comes to pure food, I do not have such a friend, as the wine one does not eat out, because he can always do better than any chef, who has ever lived.


                                                      7 Replies
                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                        I brought a few bottles of wine that was the biggest seller at a local wine store to a party. I think I brought four, but not sure. Everyone was telling me how good the wine was and the host pulled me aside and told me I shouldn't have done that. I told him 'The wine is $6 a bottle." By the end of the night the word had gotten out and the great wine everyone had been drinking was being referred to as supermarket wine.

                                                        As for those ratings. I can't remember what they were, but had a 94 rated wine that was about $50 a bottle and an 87 rated wine that was about $22 and the 87 blew the other away. Ratings take into account more than just taste I find and are pretty much hit or miss.

                                                        1. re: jhopp217

                                                          I had a friend to whom I learned never to divulge the price of the wine I brought to her house. We were grad students - I always brought cheap stuff. But if I told her it was cheap, the review was always, "meh." If I said nothing, I got raves. Especially if I only shared the ratings.

                                                            1. re: hill food

                                                              Ah, perception is the key. I always found wine to similar to speakers...Lotsa folks can be bullied into a purchase by price and perceived quality, by someone they perceive to be an expert. I hustled high end audio gear for a few years, and it's amazing what you can talk a rube into buying. So my philosophy has since been, drink what tastes good to you, and listen to what sounds good to you. Damn the salesman and the overstock he gets a bonus to get rid of.

                                                              1. re: hill food

                                                                It certainly can, at least in some circles and on some subjects.


                                                            2. re: jhopp217

                                                              Ben Canaider, the Australian wine journalist said in one of his articles that he generally enjoyed bronze medalled wines over gold medal wines. He felt that while the gold medal wines met the 'technical' requirements, the bronze medalled wines had more soul and character.

                                                            3. re: Bill Hunt

                                                              lol- I know these people too (not yours).

                                                            4. If my BIL recommends a place, it's pricey, trendy and overrated.
                                                              If my mom recommends a place, it's good, reasonably priced or cheap, Chinese; if not Chinese, then plain food made to look fancy.
                                                              If some of my friends recommend Chinese, I avoid (Mr. Hunan Wok--maybe not).

                                                              At the same time, I know if I recommend a place, my friends would either think it's a hole in the wall dive that they would never try, or pretty pricey, high end that they wouldn't appreciate.

                                                              1. There's a certain type of diner, usually a thrifty older person, who tends to say a restaurant is great when they mean it serves dirt-cheap, feedbag-sized portions of bland slop straight out of a Sysco can. Bonus points for cutesy Victorian decor. Old Country Buffet is this type of person's favorite restaurant, or a low-end sandwich place.

                                                                4 Replies
                                                                1. re: csdiego

                                                                  extra bonus points if there are coupons available or an early-bird special

                                                                  1. re: csdiego

                                                                    How do you know these places serve slop straight out of a Sysco can if you don't eat (or work) there yourself? I don't know that, because I have never been to a cutesy Victorian Old Country Buffet that serves low-end sandwiches. I'm an older, thrifty person, but enjoy good food, cheap or expensive. Believe me, you can get good food at either end of the dollar(s).

                                                                    1. re: basketwoman

                                                                      I've made the mistake of trusting these recommendations before, only to find nothing I could stand to eat. Especially inconvenient when you're on a trip out in the country and you've planned your itinerary around a stop at this place. A thirtysomething person recommended this particular place too, which only goes to show that bad taste doesn't discriminate by age. I only said "older" because older diners tend to remember an era when food was much more expensive than it is now, so they're more likely get excited about big cheap portions.

                                                                      Don't get me wrong, I like cheap-dirty-and-delicious food as much as the next person. But if you expect gargantuan portions for next to nothing, you'll end up staring at the bottom of the Sysco can. Which is great if you have a cast-iron palate, but not my idea of great food. Nasty food is never a bargain.

                                                                      1. re: basketwoman

                                                                        hanover's got a soup line. same as "canned" restaurant. pretty decent, actually.

                                                                        many places just get the same stuff as costco sells. I'll cook it myself, except if it needs a deepfryer.

                                                                    2. I had a friend once who commented while eating a sandwich, "Now that's what I call great Bar-B-Q"...

                                                                      He was actually eating an Arby-Q....

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: Clarkafella

                                                                        Ha! I love Arby's roast beef sams with a little horsey sauce and a little Arby's sauce, but I know damn well it isn't bbq!

                                                                      2. I used to go to magic the gathering tournaments in the Philadelphia Convention Center once in awhile on saturdays. The Reading Terminal Market is right across the street. Yet I used to see plenty of McDonald's bags being carried back to the tournament site. At first I figured it was just kids until I asked some of the middle aged players what they liked best from RTM. Some of them would tell me about the great chinese place they loved there, etc. but I got a lot of I just go to Micky Dick's, I can never find anything I like at the market.
                                                                        They do have a dazzling amount of choices at the market. My friend loved the crepes with fruit and I was drawn to falafel, but on days we couldn't decide right away we took to whining loudly at each other as we strolled the Market: "I can't find anything good. Where's the McDonald's???", and then laughing our fool heads off. We got some strange looks.

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: givemecarbs

                                                                          heh, yeah maybe too much choice is a bad thing.

                                                                          The RTM is an amazing place. Balto has a coupla close seconds, STL and DC both have a somewhat cool (but much smaller) equivalent.

                                                                          1. re: givemecarbs

                                                                            The roast pork sandwich I got there was one of the best things I ate all year so far.

                                                                          2. I steer clear of recommendations from people who judge restaurants purely on the ratio of price to portion size. Also, from certain family members who I love dearly but who only think restaurants are "good" if everything on the menu is something they've eaten a million times before, and who view "exotic" restaurants (that serve anything Grandma didn't have on the menu) with suspicion.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: Pia

                                                                              my dad only goes to places he knows - there is no point trying a new restaurant - he won't like it.

                                                                            2. If you don't trust a person's judgment, how can they really be a "friend".

                                                                              13 Replies
                                                                              1. re: observor

                                                                                There is a HUGE difference between personal taste and a persons judgement, dont you think? Do all of your friends make the right food "judgements?"

                                                                                1. re: joe777cool

                                                                                  well I think that's sort of OP's point, learning how to "read between the lines" when offered advice. I guess I've never quantified who gives what kind of advice, but in hindsight, I suppose I do more less know what to expect depending on the source. (I definitely know when certain people say it's "good" they really mean safe, bland, large portioned and probably fried, God love 'em.)

                                                                                  1. re: hill food

                                                                                    Conversely when more 'interesting' friends offer thoughts and suggestions.....

                                                                                  2. re: joe777cool

                                                                                    Usually, I would be friends with someone whose opinion I believed in. If everything they said wasn't in accordance with what I thought, then chances are we don't have other things in common.

                                                                                    1. re: observor

                                                                                      but conversely I hear/learn of things I might have never otherwise considered from friends with whom I share a certain spirit if not many explicit interests.

                                                                                      1. re: observor

                                                                                        I hate cilantro. Turns out a study shows 50% of the people think cilantro is too bitter to process; 50% think cilantro is a flavor enhancer. If you are of the 50% who thinks it enhances flavor, you could not be friends with the 50% who find it too bitter.

                                                                                        Otherwise, we are from the same demographic, share a love of art & literature, like to travel, enjoy fine dining, revel in history, etc. We raise our children to be respectful, studious, try new things (not all of which we will like).

                                                                                        My hatred of cilantro would preclude you from my friendship?

                                                                                        1. re: gaffk

                                                                                          that's genetic. tastebud issue, not a "personal preference" ;-)

                                                                                          1. re: gaffk

                                                                                            gaffk: you monster. yer worse than the boogeyman.

                                                                                            well it can usually be served off to the side I s'pose. but ...

                                                                                          2. re: observor

                                                                                            Not to pile on, but really? I don't like Mexican food. And i really don't like seafood. So you're never going to find me recommending a restaurant that specializes in either of those things, even though there are many excellent ones in both categories where I live (Los Angeles). Fortunately people don't judge me on that basis, or I would probably be friendless. Instead my friends are aware of my preferences and try to be accomodating in their restaurants choices. And sometimes I go with the majority's wishes and eat salad for dinner because the company matters more to me than the food.

                                                                                        2. re: observor

                                                                                          Really? Because a person does not share your food tastes, you could not be their friend? I am a friend (and relative) of many people who do not share my palate.

                                                                                          Just as I know which movie reviewer(s) I agree with and which I don't, I know which restaurant critics I agree with and which I don't. They are neither inferior\superior; more compatible\less compatible--just different in their tastes.

                                                                                          And yet, we all manage to be friends.

                                                                                          1. re: observor

                                                                                            Wow, I've been happily married for 18 years and I wouldn't trust my husband's judgment on my outifts to save my life. And, I even consider him my "friend."

                                                                                            My friends and I are not stepford wives. We have differing opinions. Gasp, we even voted for different people in the last election. But, we're still friends.

                                                                                            1. re: observor

                                                                                              wow that's judgemental! I don't agree with my father's taste in restaurants (which tends to chains that serve a filling meal for under $15) but that doesn't mean I don't trust his judgement in most other things in life.

                                                                                              1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                The other question is who would want to hang out only with people who have all the same opinions? My husband and I are pretty close, food-wise, but even we don't agree on every restaurant.

                                                                                            2. I married into such a family - other than my wife, they're all different sorts of anti-chowhounds. FIL is a meat-and-potatoes guy who refuses to eat anything he doesn't recognize, and some of what he does recognize. MIL likes bland, bland, bland (plus some salt), and BIL thinks that if it's expensive, it must be good.

                                                                                              Then again, I don't consider them my friends (once again other than my wife).

                                                                                              1. If my MIL recommends a restaurant, that means they have an Early Bird special.
                                                                                                If my BIL recommends, that means that either he knows the owner socially or that "everyone" in his upscale area eats there, regardless of actual quality.
                                                                                                If one neighbor recommends a country cooking restaurant, run there immediately - it's the real deal and a hidden gem.
                                                                                                If another neighbor recommends any restaurant, put it on your "must miss" list. We love these people as friends but try never to eat a meal with them. Everyone ends up unhappy.
                                                                                                One cousin, before a shopping trip, asked what kind of bagels we wanted. "Oh, you know,anything's okay. Onion, garlic, everything. The usual ones." Her straight-faced reply? "Oh, you like the exotic ones."
                                                                                                We joke that one uncle, a former Army Air Corps navigator, had his taste buds shot off in the war. Price is by far the only criteria that matters to him.

                                                                                                We treasure our foodie friends. They are too few and far between.

                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: rockycat

                                                                                                  What are the non-exotic bagels?
                                                                                                  As a child growing up near Lenders in Ct, my favorites were Egg, Blueberry, and Onion. I would eat Plain if it was all we had.

                                                                                                  When we moved to MD at age 7 I started eating Poppy, Whole Wheat, Sundried Tomato and Sunflower Seed.

                                                                                                  I personally don't like cinnamon raisin, garlic or everything but I consider all except perhaps the tomato and sunflower to be normal...

                                                                                                  Just curious :)

                                                                                                  1. re: melpy

                                                                                                    It seems that garlic, onion, and everything have FLAVOR. That would make them "exotic." And considering that the cousin in question grew up in Brooklyn I find her statement all the more surprising. She seemed to think we would request plain, blueberry, cinnamon-raisin, etc, the ones I consider "muffin bagels."

                                                                                                    If you can't put some kind of smoked fish on it, it ain't really a bagel. IMHO.

                                                                                                2. I have one friend whose recommendation of the food at a restaurant invariably means that the waitstaff is attractive. The more he liked the food = the more attractive he found his server.

                                                                                                  I don't even think he's aware of it-- I figured this out after following his recommendations a few times, and didn't have the heart to tell him.

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: Manybears

                                                                                                    No doubt this is why bars usually hire good looking people...and sometimes dress them scantily.

                                                                                                  2. I think I definately look at my audience when I take recs. If I know the person's taste in food and they give me an opinion I can usually gauge it for myself. Some people I know if they say it's good I do stir clear.

                                                                                                    1. I steer clear when the first thing said about a particular restaurant is: "They give you a lot"

                                                                                                      1. While not exactly a reverse recommendation we have a friend who if she thinks a place is great what she really means is, it has a liquor license.

                                                                                                        1. I have one friend for whom "the food was disappointing" means "I didn't like the salmon", since salmon is the only thing she orders anywhere.

                                                                                                          For my MIL, "We will never go back" means that there was no live music, or no hamburgers on the menu.

                                                                                                          When my SIL raves about a place, I know that one of her friends told her that it was hip.

                                                                                                          When my husband's lawyer friend tells us that he had "the best" whatever, I know he's about to drop the exact figure he spent on dinner.

                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: LaPomme

                                                                                                            I think your husband and mine share the same lawyer friend in common.

                                                                                                            1. re: LaPomme

                                                                                                              LaPomme, your comments gave me a good giggle. The salmon thing is precious!

                                                                                                            2. Fun topic.
                                                                                                              When my coworkers tell me a place is great, it means the service was great, there was hip young crowd and probably a few good looking guys.
                                                                                                              When my father recommends a place, it means the have MEAT. Quite possibly that's All they have, in fact.
                                                                                                              If my mother says a place is great, she thought the environment was fun, upbeat and they probably have a very very sweet chocolate dessert (with no fruit on or in it, since fruit is only for when you're healthy and chocolate is only for when you're not)

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                                                                                Too funny, I know so many people who only order steaks, no matter what type of restaurant and no matter how it is cooked, they love it. And I know tons of women, generally older (I'm 40) that will rave about the place if the apps, entrees and sides stink, but the dessert is good

                                                                                                              2. Fun and entertaining topic! I've never given it much thought until now, but I have these "people" in my life, too (bless them all).

                                                                                                                I have the same FIL as a few other CH's in this thread... he likes Denny's, Coco's and the like. At any restaurant, he'll steer clear of any item on the menu that has sauces or soups/stews where "questionable" ingredients can be "hidden." Everything gets a snowy coating of salt. So if he says a restaurant is "good," I know it's a meat-and-potatoes place that has salt and pepper shakers at close reach.

                                                                                                                My sister says a restaurant is "really good" if A) it serves sushi... (the real kind, not just CA rolls) or B) it contains nothing fried, nothing breaded, nothing with butter sauce. She leads a very healthy lifestyle (is a choreographer, conditioning coach, personal trainer), so if a restaurant serves "any heart-attack" food, it will never garner her recommendation, whereas any restaurant that is obviously mindful of nutrition/healthy eating will get her thumbs-up even if the food is otherwise unimpressive.

                                                                                                                Like many others, I have several friends who are in the "big food" camp. There is a restaurant chain here in CA (maybe elsewhere, too) with a "mining" theme that serves ginormous portions, and this is their idea of "good." While it's not at the top of my list (nowhere near, in fact,) I'll go along for the ride because as one CH said here, it's more about the company. Plus, I can pay for one meal and get two more out of my take-home leftovers.

                                                                                                                And I have an uncle whose wine is always better than yours. You could even buy the one he brought to the last gathering, and he'd tell you why it's fallen out favor, in lieu of whatever he brought that night.

                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                1. re: CapreseStacy

                                                                                                                  Love the uncle/wine thing. What gets into people?

                                                                                                                2. If my FIL likes a restaurant it is guaranteed to be completely devoid of flavor (he once complained about hospital food being "too spicy").
                                                                                                                  If my sister likes a restaurant it has a good wine list and live music.
                                                                                                                  My mom judges restaurants solely by their bathrooms. If you ask her how a restaurant is, you will get a detailed description of the bathroom, and maybe an offhand comment about the food. This is especially bizarre because she is an amazing cook and where I got my CH tendencies from. But a restaurant is only good if there are little hand towels and basket of lotion by the sink.

                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: iambecky

                                                                                                                    There is something to be said for a clean bathroom. If the bathroom is clean, so is the kitchen. Is the converse also true?

                                                                                                                    1. re: iambecky

                                                                                                                      Hospital food = too spicy. I am still giggling. Yeah, that meatloaf, peas and jello really sneaks up on you with the afterburn.

                                                                                                                    2. If your Doctor asks, "How's your Appetite been lately?" , and then recommends a restaurant he or she may have an interest in the financial health of that establishment.

                                                                                                                      Regardless of whether you're too thin or too fat.

                                                                                                                      This hasn't happened to me but I thought of it when I noticed Subway sandwiches is owned and operated by Doctor's Associates, Inc.