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Jan 29, 2011 04:20 AM

Hey, List that UNUSUAL Ingredient ON THE MENU + Other Delights of Dining (What is Assumed to be Included in a Dish)

I just had dinner at Bonefish Grill in Cape Coral, Florida http://www.bonefishgrill.com/locator/... , and they ruined a "special" wolf fish stuffed with scallops, shrimp & crab by melting GRUYERE on top. Better (Worse) yet, it wasn't mentioned on the menu description. Here is the exact copy from the website menu: "Imperial Wolf Fish
stuffed with shrimp, scallops, lump crab meat + lemon caper butter ~ a royal delicacy 19.9"

When I took a bite, and the cheese was stringing along, the failure to list the cheese (and the inclusion in the dish itself, most of all) just ruined my dinner. The waitress asked if I wanted something else, and had I not been totally annoyed, I might have had the presence of mind to ask for the dish to be properly done anew without cheese. Instead, I just passed on anything. <Sigh>

I blame myself for not asking that, but my dining companions were eating already, and were not too thrilled that I **had** to talk to the manager (They didn't want to "ruin" their "regular patron" status by having "miss picky-pants-out-of-town-thinks-she-knows-a-lot-about-food-eater" at the table telling the manager that cheese -- which the manager pronounced as "GRY-air"-- did NOT belong on fish. I was using a normal voice. It was not anywhere remotely approaching any kind of "scene" -- honestly.) My dining companions, in general, don't like "conflict" over any restaurant issues -- or at least any disagreement that isn't "dealt with" EXACTLY how they testily advised me that THEY would do it. <Another sigh. Yes, thanks for the advice!>

WHAT in the world is wrong with these people at the restaurant? First, to desecrate the fish with gruyere -- of all things -- and of all cheeses, too (Hey, no Limburger in the kitchen tonight?). THEN, and this is my big gripe: they didn't mention the cheese on the menu. (Somebody out there in the world may actually want fish with gruyere, and I wouldn't want to deprive them, surely, of such culinary heights). <"The epi-tome of excellence.">

They didn't seem to think the failure to mention the cheese was a big deal (or so it seemed to me). Had I gotten another meal, they might have comped it. But, they did comp my (doctor-ordered) ** Sapphire & Tonic (for which I'd had to ask for a wedge of lime after it was delivered as a naked drink). This is another thing: who gets a G&T without lime? Apparently, according to the waitress, many people! <Really?> But hey, waitress, if the practice is not to AUTOMATICALLY put a lime in a G&T, wouldn't you say, "do you want lime with that?"

Am I wrong to expect that the menu discloses the main ingredients of a dish -- especially if they are -- shall we say -- UNUSUAL? What about the lime-less G&T issue? Do you always need to say "WITH A LIME" nowadays?


** Yes, the G&T is doctor-ordered, too. You doubt me?! Fair enough. I needed that drink, though, after a very tedious and stressful day (among many such days) of cleaning out my mom's home of many years of memories and stuff with two sisters -- one helpful, one decidedly not at all helpful). So... I know that there is a little voice in the back of your mind saying, "Hmmmm, alka, you should have been drinking a light aperitif instead of a G&T before a fish dinner (or any meal)." Yes, you can say that, but you have to come down here and tell me to my face! You talkin' to me? ;^D. http://www.sauceforthoughts.dreamhost...

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  1. Ack. You poor thing, you. Yes, I do think that restaurants should specify when unusual or non-classic approaches are being taken with their food - especially when it comes to something as sacreligious as melting grew-air onto seafood. You're a nicer patroness than me, though; although I'd have maintained a polite standard as well - I'd have asked to have the dish replaced, especially if it repelled me to the point that I was unable to eat it. I was once served a pasta dish that included shellfish (linguine, prawns, scallops, light wine-cream reduction...mmmmmmm) but what the menu didn't say was that said pasta was also tossed with sea urchin roe, which I despise. I'm sorry, but that stuff has a very strong flavor and the menu really really should've mentioned that salient fact. Dish went back; I got steak, and all was well in my own personal food universe. (Like my husband frequently asks me, "just what color IS the sky in your little world, Marci?). Mr. would've eaten it, even with dislike, because he is just. like. your. friends. ("They're not going to be very happy to see US walk in these doors again, if we can even score a reservation, Marci.")
    Onto G&T, no lime. That's crazystyle. And what I truly think is you had a sloppy bartender that night and the waitress tried to cover for him.
    That's my .02! Oh, plus alka, I'm so glad you're home. I'll be looking forward to chatting with you elsewhere. You know how we do it.

    13 Replies
    1. re: mamachef

      An abomination. And potentially dangerous, what about serving it to people with a sensitivity unannounced?
      G&T in England is often with lemon - but never bare naked. I prefer lime. And G&Ts are high on my doctor's prescription list, too! Good for what ails ya, especially soothing in trying times. My first one after being sick went down a treat. As have its fellows since.

      1. re: buttertart

        Yes, I'd like a bareass naked gin and tonic, please. and leave out the tonic.
        There's a great paragraph in the book, "Alice's Restaurant", about that: the bartender describes the patron who orders a veryveryvery dry Martini, so she pours it minus the vermouth, and he flags her down: "Oh, Miss? This Martini isn't dry enough."
        And she gently tells him, "There's nothing but gin in that glass" and shuts him up forever.

        1. re: mamachef

          Sounds a bit like an old recipie I heard of for a very dry martini; "Pour gin into glass of ice. Add olive. Drink while LOOKING at bottle of vermouth.

          1. re: jumpingmonk

            The version I'd heard said to pass the closed bottle of Vermouth over the glass.

      2. re: mamachef

        <Like my husband frequently asks me, "just what color IS the sky in your little world, Marci?)>

        I say the same thing to my bf (insert his name) all the time!

        I don't expect a restaurant to list every ingredient in the dish on the menu, but I hope that they would at least list those that greatly impact the dish and/or is a common allergen.

        1. re: viperlush

          Or, those with a distinct "uck" factor..

                  1. re: buttertart

                    Given the gray skies and snows here, this sounds like a wonderful little world.

                    1. re: gaffk

                      This is getting soppy. I'm going to man-up and fix my tuna melt for lunch.

                      1. re: Veggo

                        hey veg...mamachef said "hell yeah." isn't that good enough?

      3. alkapal, meet NicoleFriedman. The thread she started on a very similar topic got locked, so I guess it's time for a new one.


        12 Replies
          1. re: alkapal

            Of course! I wouldn't never accuse you of not liking cheese. But neither one of you likes being surprised by an ingredient you either hate or disapprove of in certain situations.

            1. re: small h

              Much less, an ingredient that would be totally unexpected with the other ingredients.

              Emperor Wolf Fish, indeed. This would be the Emperor with new clothes, no doubt.

              1. re: Tripeler

                Just imagine the role of ephemeral seamstress
                to fit the Seen emperor in his gossamer garb.

                But I cannot imagine a good chunk of halibut
                top broiled with a rubbery chunk of yuki-jirushi.

                World's finest fish,
                World's worst cheese.

                1. re: FoodFuser

                  yuki-jirushi ain't really cheese, is it?

                  1. re: Tripeler

                    Somewhere deep in ingredients there is listing of dairy.

                    Are there now good examples of Japanese cheese?

                    1. re: FoodFuser

                      There are a few examples, but not enough to make a statistical impression.
                      A cheese-loving owner of a Belgian beer bar once pointed out to me that very few cows in Japan are raised on grass pastures, so the milk is not really good enough to make good cheese with.

            2. re: alkapal

              Alka, this cracked me up. For some reason, yours was the only answer that came up when I checked this post again. "I like cheese." I just started laughing, because taken out of context, it just sounded like the biggest non sequiter ever.
              Alka: "I like cheese."
              Me: "I had an aunt who lived in Peoria."

              1. re: mamachef

                ...especially done for your dining pleasure....

            3. re: small h

              Lol! Yes, I would have sent it back. It's a cheese world isn't it? Although in this case I probably would have inquired prior to ordering. I've found stuffed fish often includes cheese.

              1. re: NicoleFriedman

                <I've found stuffed fish often includes cheese.>

                It's certainly not unheard of, especially in a chain restaurant.

                I was at a wedding yesterday and was reminded of this thread. My sea bass entree came with a mysterious, very smooth sauce that definitely contained fruit. My sister and I disagreed on what kind of fruit - mango? raspberry? It did not improve the fish, that's for sure. So now I'd like to be informed as to whether my fish has been fruited.

                ETA: Ok, I looked up the menu choices on the event venue's website. I received "Pistachio Crusted Sea Bass, Saffron Rice, French Green Beans & Citrus Burre (sic) Blanc." There were absolutely no pistachios involved, unless there's a kind of crushed pistachio that is indistinguishable from bread crumbs. And the Burre (sic) Blanc may have contained citrus, but there was a lot more to the story than that. Passion fruit? This is going to drive me crazy.

                1. re: small h

                  A sub-quest in life is for certain to find
                  if, indeed , one's fish has been fruited.

            4. Alka I've read and enjoyed a lot of your posts on Chowhound and you've always seemed more than reasonable. Even if I wouldn't have handled it quite your way, given all the extenuating circumstances, I give you all the benefit of the doubt on this one. I'm a pretty picky eater so I do rely on the menu quite a bit to protect me getting a plate with something I really don't like on it .. but in this case you had no way to know. As to the lime... well, that's not my drink, but I would find it odd if my Blue Moon came without orange.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Firegoat

                Oh dear I must disagree! Alka, whom I have no knowledge, is a trusted poster of mine, BTW as are you. Cheese on fish is DEFINITELY a must mention ( while my mind is screaming ARE you out of your mind?!?) To make it a special (as in unknown, so as a chain we charge you more) without mentioning, ESPECIALLY since they chose to explicitly denote fish species is a con, IMHO.

                I would have stuttered and spit as well; and as well as nicely.
                (Yes I have a low opinion of chain/francised operated places)

              2. I'm usually pretty good at playing trump, so I would have simply told the waitress that I'm allergic to Swiss cheese and had read the entire menu very carefully in order to avoid anything I'm allergic to, and they failed to mention it. That would have (hopefully) knocked any of your companions out of the gripe booth and shamed the restaurant. I can be such a bitch! '-)

                I agree with you about fish and cheese, but it seems to be on its way to becoming an anachronism. I blame fusion cooking. I see more and more fish and cheese mixes, and I'm not just talking about linguini with clam sauce and a grating of Parmesano regiano. I'm talking big cheeses on little fishes! Give it another thirty years and all of the food in the world is going to taste like it's being served from the same pot of Fusion Stew. We are all damned!

                8 Replies
                1. re: Caroline1

                  I'm not sure I blame fusion cooking. I think the blame should more properly be attributed to attempts to make fish more palatable to the masses. Some people don't like it, but think they have to eat it to be healthy. Solution? Bury it under cheese to hide the flavor. Helps sell old fish, too. Either way, it's not a positive development.

                  Oh, and no lime is just wrong.

                  1. re: Caroline1

                    C1, I can hear the thundering hooves of the fourth horseman as we speak.....

                    1. re: mamachef

                      Yeah, and they're all wearing toques blanche!

                      1. re: Caroline1

                        "Tonight, our special is Southern-fried Mongolian Hotpot with quail eggs, sided by egg noodles with sour cream-yuzu sauce and sauteed broccoli with an aleppo-hollandaise reduction."
                        I can hardly stand to think about it.

                        1. re: mamachef

                          I see you've won your Fusion Battle Ribbon with clusters! You might want to add an essence of Sichuan pepper and pomegranite infused creme brulee with bocolli tuille for dessert. '-)

                          1. re: mamachef

                            Don't laugh, but I was once served a skewer of meat with a cheese sauce at a Japanese grill. I have to say, it was quite delicious, but not at all what you'd expect.

                            1. re: mamachef

                              come on, you know if you saw that posted on WFD you'd ask for the recipe! hahahaha!

                      2. Well, you **were** at Bonefish Grill. Sure it was in Florida, but the menu's the same in Tulsa and Cincinnati. Keep that fact in mind and adjust your expectations accordingly.

                        As to other comments here, there's nothing remotely fusion-y about what you were served, any more than the Olive Garden serves "Italian fusion." Fusion food draws from multiple culinary traditions, and at its best is better than the sum of its parts. At worst, it's an experiment gone wrong. But there's no tradition of melting a big slab of cheese onto a fish filet, unless you want to count the McDonald's Filet'O'Fish sandwich as part of the culinary canon, and there's nothing experimental about adding glop to every dish on the menu.

                        Meanwhile, continue following the doctor's orders...

                        11 Replies
                        1. re: alanbarnes

                          I am sorry. it is a chain. S*it flows down: OMG we have too much of "this" and "that" make a special that uses it up! profit margin.

                          So they threw something they had to get rid of on top of something they had too much of and called it a "special" And citrus is expensive! If I serve a G&T with no lime, if they don't notice, we win. " Hey i am a a server not a bartender, so what do I know?" You don't care...chain wins. I claim no knowledge (and I bet most don''t. They got the Gin part) who in that chain lost? Yeah it ain't a law /rule unless you get caught. And chains do teach acceptance of the rule of the imaginary "them".
                          Glad you are home.

                          1. re: Quine

                            #1 good god, this is a chain? so there is more than one of these places?!?

                            #2 if the "special" is permanently on the website menu for the op to cut and paste the description. . . it isn't something slap-dashed together out of bits and bobs in the fish chiller. this is obviously a regular menu item, and the "special" part of it is presumably it's a higher priced item (than the chain restaurant steaks and burgers, i'd presume).

                            #3 florida has lots of limes

                            1. re: soupkitten

                              1. There are more than a hundred locations all over the country. http://www.bonefishgrill.com/locator/

                              2. Presumably the specials are store-specific, but the rest of the menu isn't. Sounds like what alkapal got was wolf fish prepared in the manner used for "Imperial Longfin" (isn't that a nice name for tilapia?) http://www.bonefishgrill.com/our-menu... Which would mean that **both** sauteed / baked fish dishes on the regular menu are made with cheese.

                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                that wolf fish "special" was on my closest local bonefish menu in springfield, virginia as well as in sw florida. i'm going to venture a guess that it is nationwide?

                                1. re: alkapal

                                  Oh, my. I was trying to give them the benefit of the doubt. Just a little teensy benefit of the doubt. But noooooooo ... there's gry-air everywhere.

                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                    "hey zeke, there's gry-air in them there hills!"

                          2. re: alanbarnes

                            The OP makes no mention, Alan, of "a slab of cheese." It might have been a lighter touch than that. The OP seems to think that seafood and cheese should never meet, and that's plain wrong, IMNSHO (as Cath would say).

                            1. re: pikawicca

                              Per the OP, there was enough cheese to "string along." That speaks more of a slab than of a "lighter touch" to me. OTOH, I also disagree that the OP's statement that cheese "did NOT belong on fish" [emphasis sic]. In some culinary traditions, it's certainly true that never the twain shall meet. But in others (Thermidor, anyone?) cheese and seafood play nicely together.

                              My main point was that people are using this example to unfairly disparage fusioin food. That's just BS.

                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                I think this is another example of how restaurants get whip-sawed. If the menu lawyers us to death with fine print descriptions of every item, we yawn and bitch. If an abbreviated description fails to mention a certain ingredient that is meant to please, one we don't like, we bitch.

                                1. re: Veggo

                                  Lawyer 1: "Did we say enough"

                                  Lawyer 2: "Did we say too much?"

                                  This is why all good diners should speak with the primaries
                                  who have pulse over fix of their food.

                            2. re: alanbarnes

                              "Fusion" is the melting or forcing together of unlike elements, Alan. While "Fusion" is the cooking world is usually applied to combining the foods of different cultures, it can also mean the combining of classic trechniques with modern. Lighten up, Big Guy! '-)