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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! '-)

                            3. There are plenty of traditional recipes that combine seafood and cheese: think gruyere and scallops, or shrimp and feta. It's very strange, though, that cheese wasn't included in the menu description of the dish.

                              1. service bartenders don't generally garnish drinks for the waitstaff, unless the place is *tiny.* they just pour and present the drinks with ticket, and the server is responsible for inserting straws, stix, & garnishes at the service station before bringing the drinks to the tables. your waitress omitted the bone-basic garnish for a g&t, and when you asked for the citrus, instead of rushing to get it immediately, it sounds like she tried to make excuses for herself? pure cluelessness. i'm a good tipper, but i'd have been peeved and possibly docked her.

                                the fish sounds great up to the gruyere-- after that, i agree that it sounds horrible & a waste of the good ingredients described :(

                                poor Alkapal, you should bring your own tonic&gin, with plenty of fresh lime, to mom's house tomorrow, and share with the sisters, and you 3 can just order a pizza or something that's hard to screw up, and fill trash bags and memory boxes together. maybe G&Ts, administered orally, early on during this ordeal, will serve as "preventative medicine" and smooth things out. or maybe it's not that kind of party. what do i know? hang in there, this too shall pass.

                                1. My thoughts:

                                  - I would have asked the server to replace the dish. I do not expect all the ingredients on the menu, but this one is over the line, She did her job correctly and asked if you wished a replacement. What more could she do? Kudos to her.
                                  - I place the missing lime in the category of forgetting ketchup for my burger and fries. I would just ask for the server to bring it. Happened today when the O&V arrived with Mrs j's salad. Server recommended the balsamic vinaigrette and it was a delicious swap
                                  - I would have apologized to the table mates and tell them that the cheese was really not what you wanted.

                                  1. I happen to like mornay sauce on shellfish so I don't think I would have found the melted gruyere offensive, however I agree that cheese is a major ingredient that should be listed.

                                    1. We must always be wary of grouper gone glopper
                                      with heavy hand glumps of gruyere.

                                      No matter if monkfish is listed on menu
                                      you've got to take care
                                      and talk to the kitchen about how it's prepared.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: FoodFuser

                                        i think it *is* a lesson here: to ask if there are any unusual ingredients in a particular dish that are not listed on the menu. then you get to the issue of "unusual." as one knows, definitions are so very important.

                                      2. What irks me is when raw onions is not mentioned in a dish. If the restaurant lists a salad and names every ingredients known to man as part of the salad, why not the onions??!! Husband has gotten so irritated from me sending back salads, so now I just specificy NO ONIONS, even if there's no mention in the description.

                                        10 Replies
                                        1. re: cheesecake17

                                          Are you channeling your inner Scott Conant?

                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                            haha might be. I just HATE raw onions and I always get a stomachache. Lately, when we go out for dinner, husband doesn't even argue. He just shakes his head and tells the waiter 'she's pregnant and it bothers her.'

                                            I'll eat all the (well) cooked onions in the world though!

                                            1. re: cheesecake17

                                              Lately, when we go out for dinner, husband doesn't even argue. He just shakes his head and tells the waiter 'she's pregnant and it bothers her.'
                                              i'd LOVE to see the look on your server's face if you then proceeded to order wine or a cocktail and raw fish after that explanation ;)

                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                  honestly, I think my husband would order me a glass of wine just for kicks then drink it himself!

                                                  Last time we went out for sushi, he was soooo clear with the waiter that the fish sushi and vegetable sushi had to be on different plates and why. The waiter brought all on one platter. Husband sent it back. I would have just picked out the avocado rolls!

                                              1. re: cheesecake17

                                                This is what I do with everything I dislike, especially when eating at a chain or other mediocre place. No raw onions, salad dressing on the side, no white chocolate and no processed cheese. I'm sure someone has found a way to combine these things in a single dish, but I want to guarantee that I never accidentally order it.

                                                1. re: Isolda

                                                  The biggest problem with chains, even seafood chains, is that the bulk of their menu items are cooked somewhere else, then sous vide or nuked on the premises, plated and served. For example, try ordering Olive Garden's steamed mussels appetizer without all of the damned red pepper flakes that overwhelm the mussels, and they can't hold them for you because they don't prepare the dish, they just warm it up and plate it. And that was at least a decade ago. So good luck with having any one ingredient withheld in a dish at a chain restaurant! Especially large chains. They can hold the onions in your salad, but they cannot hold the pepper flakes in your mussels!

                                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                                    I forget which chain steakhouse it was, but I recall hearing a (possibly apocryphal) story of someone being told that they were out of medium rare steaks that night.

                                                    1. re: jgg13

                                                      Oy veh. Uff Da. Apocryphal is right. Or not. I need steak. Real steak.

                                              2. My dear artist, the best thing that ever came out of Cape Coral are the burrowing owls.. :)

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: Veggo

                                                  veg- my mom had newspaper photos of the burrowing owls. the owls are very sweet, and we'd seen them together, live and in person, too -- out by the lowe's on pine island road.

                                                  1. re: alkapal

                                                    That reminds me of a Dead Milkmen song called "stuart" that mentioned burrow owls. And to keep it about food, I would never eat cheese on fish either. It's a waste of good cheese.

                                                    1. re: Firegoat

                                                      i love cheese, too -- one of my favorite food groups.

                                                      1. re: alkapal

                                                        Not to mention a waste of good fish, too.
                                                        I wasn't really with the OP on the G&T complaint, but feel I support the OP all the way with the food complaint. It is obviously a waste of great fish and great cheese. Gruyere is one of my favorites, but I just can't imagine anyone calling themself a chef then pairing Gruyere with fish. What utter blasphemy.

                                                2. OP here, with a couple of responses to points made upthread.

                                                  my beef is with fish -- fish with cheese, not "seafood" with cheese. the cheese simply overwhelms the fish. my objection is not one of "tradition," but of flavor.

                                                  that being said, the *expectation* of a fish dish does not include the concept of cheese, which makes listing that ingredient on the menu all the more important. i wouldn't be taken by surprise, for example, if capers were not mentioned on the menu for a fish dish; but, of course, one can simply push aside some capers -- they don't fundamentally cover and transform the flavor of the fish.

                                                  is *lemon* on fish more like *cheese* or more like *capers* in this analysis? i'd say it is more like the capers in this analogy, even though the lemon flavor does permeate the fish (like the cheese fundamentally flavors the fish). lemon, unlike the cheese, again is *typical* in (so many) fish dishes.

                                                  one of the big issues here in my situation is the restaurant's and waitress' failure to mention a major and highly unusual ingredient in a dish. i'm not asking them to list on the menu if they used 1/2 tsp of dill vs. some thyme.
                                                  i did ask for a lime for the naked G&T, and got it. i am not sure that the waitress at this restaurant is tasked with garnishing the drink. i thought that the bartender had those items at the bar.
                                                  i acknowledge in OP that the waitress offered a replacement for the unsatisfactory meal. i expected no more or no less. i still gave her a nice tip (including for the removed entree). i give her somewhat of a pass in not mentioning the cheese, because she is not a culinarian, now is she? she didn't design the menu, and obviously doesn't share my concept about fish vis-à-vis cheese -- nor does management (so they didn't instruct her to warn or inform customers about the unusual combination of ingredients).

                                                  management is the problem. they should know better! was this cheesy addition to cover old fish at this particular restaurant? i find it really odd that the menu doesn't mention cheese. doesn't the executive chef know what is listed on the menu? i ASSUME that those things are coordinated. <maybe that's making an ass out of u and me.>
                                                  maybe i *should* apologize to my dining companions for making them hear me tell the manager that the menu should have mentioned the cheese, and that cheese should not be on the fish. maybe they should apologize to me for "instructing" me about the way to do it. i call it a wash, especially since we are family. ;-).

                                                  finally, thanks for the well wishes and encouragement. this too shall pass. and now...from my (always) favorite beatle: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4p5yzd...

                                                  7 Replies
                                                  1. re: alkapal

                                                    I agree that resto owners should recognize that a cheese-fish combo is enough of a third rail that the cheese should be called out on the menu to allow a diner to opt it out.
                                                    On the flip side, I was fishing in Belize with two dive buddies and we caught a nice grouper, and asked the chef at a nice restaurant to prepare it for us, with no particular instructions. He stuffed pockets in the fillets with a mild cheese, and cooked them in a batter as light as tempura, and it was one of the best fish meals I have ever eaten.

                                                    1. re: alkapal

                                                      >>"my beef is with fish -- fish with cheese, not "seafood" with cheese. the cheese simply overwhelms the fish"<<

                                                      Okay, just to play devil's advocate ... ;-)

                                                      What about sole Mornay, or flounder Thermidor? Should the diner be expected to know that those sauces traditionally contain cheese, or does the restaurant have an obligation to identify its presence in the dish?

                                                      Sounds to me as though the problem wasn't the mere presence of cheese so much as its inappropriate use. The cheese may have been what made the dish unpalatable, but the root cause was cluelessness in the kitchen (or, as somebody noted above, maybe a desire to disguise fish that was past its prime) rather than a violation of some culinary rule.

                                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                                        If the menu lists something (Mornay sauce) and you can't be bothered to ask what it is before ordering, too bad for you.

                                                        But like you said, if it's something you wouldn't ordinarily expect to be there and it's a prominent part of the dish that can't be easily removed or eaten around, the restaurant should identify it. If you order something described as "baked flounder" and get flounder Thermidor, I think it's reasonable to send it back if you object. You can't ask every time you order something, "Is there anything in here I wouldn't expect? Does it contain cheese, tomatoes, mayonnaise, raw onions?"

                                                      2. re: alkapal

                                                        In my experience Bonefish and the other OSI restaurants actually do want to hear patron feedback when there is an issue with someone's dining experience. It's one of the ways they can claim they are a significant improvement over Red Lobster. There shouldn't be a need to apoligize if you are unsatisfied with a dish there.

                                                        And we're also talking a Florida-based chain, which is a state where cheese on fish or seafood isn't seen as wrong in most circles. If they are pushing patrons away by not properly lettign them know about that combo, they want to know about it.

                                                        1. re: beachmouse

                                                          i grew up in florida, and cheese on fish was not the norm -- and i don't think i've really seen it. it certainly isn't old school!

                                                          i have contacted bonefish and showed them this chowhound link. i haven't heard back from them yet.

                                                          1. re: alkapal

                                                            Maybe it's just the panhandle the seems like it's going through a 'broil it with parmesan' phase with seafood.

                                                            1. re: beachmouse

                                                              hmmm.... that's a tough one to explain. i can't imagine the old-timers putting up with that stuff! fine cornmeal meal plus a light dusting of flour and a good dredge... fry that up, and eat. i'm a sucker for that fish right there! of course, i do love more refined fish dishes, but if i had my druthers of day in day out fish, it'd be fried grouper, red snapper or properly-done smoked mullet or cobia. <smoked wild scottish salmon is another matter entirely. that's world class eating, and very rich. lovely>.

                                                      3. I hate when restaurants do this! I avoid tomatoes in my food -- I'll eat a pasta dish with tomato sauce, but I'll pick out the pieces of tomato. Sandwiches and salads are always ordered with no tomato.

                                                        We went to an upscale restaurant once and they had "crab cakes" on the menu. Since I love shellfish, I decided to order them. I expected typical crabcakes -- flat patties, browned out the side, probably served with a wedge of lemon and some tartar sauce or aioli. Nope. I got a big ball of a crabcake, sitting on a bed of diced fresh tomato, and smothered in a dark red tomato paste like sauce. When the server brought it, I thought they brought me someone else's dish and when I flagged down our server, and pointed out that the menu said nothing about it having all this tomato, she had the nerve to say "well, we can't list every ingedient on the menu."! Um, if there is more tomato than crab on my plate, you darn well better list it.

                                                        We never went back to this place.

                                                        1. Just about anytime we order up "Thermidor"
                                                          we join ranks with fish-cheesers, known as pesca-frommagivores.

                                                          7 Replies
                                                          1. re: FoodFuser

                                                            Which is why I NEVER order thermidor anything in a restaurant. True, classic thermidor has no cheese. Just lots of cream and butter, but no cheese! I think it was James Beard who started the cheese travesty, and too many have followed.

                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                              Well, you can blame Julia Child, too. She was calling for cheese half a century ago. (See MTAOFC volume 1.) Of course that doesn't mean that her Thermidor recipe is "classic."

                                                              Seriously, she trained at an upstart culinary school. Le Cordon Bleu has dedicated itself to perpetuating "travesties" like fish with cheese. It's the epitome of ugly "fusion" cooking.

                                                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                Well, bless Julia's heart, she was on the right track
                                                                with her stance toward the pesca
                                                                and also frommagio.

                                                                And also ensconced in culinary history
                                                                for her laughter in her treatment of eggs.

                                                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                  I have NEVER mentioned it on these boards before (and will likely be lynched by sundown), but back when her shows were first run, she did a LOT of things that my classical training curdled over. Was she a "great chef?" I don't think so, but she was EXTREMELY infectious, and what she did to popularize French cooking in America is what the world and I appreciate most about her. But I think her omelettes are ugly and wimpy and I don't like her Bourguignon, so her thermidor transgression does not stand alone. But as you say, when she went to Le Cordon Bleu, in Paris, it WAS a new, upstart school. Hey, they've both done well! Who am I to argue? But DO NOT put cheese in MY lobster thermidor...!!!!! '-)

                                                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                                                    Right. Le Cordon Bleu was only a little over fifty years old when Julia went there in the late '40s. Practically in its infancy. It was founded in 1895 - which, coincidentally, was about the time Tony Girod, the chef at Cafe de Paris, created Lobster Thermidor.

                                                                    We're lucky enough to have M. Girod's original recipe, which he gave to Prosper Montagne for inclusion in Larousse Gastronomique. If you happen to have the 1961 English-language edition, it starts on page 596. And in a shocking departure from the "classic" dish you imagine, it calls for cheese.

                                                                    So you can blame James Beard or Julia Child or any of the other whippersnappers who cause your "classical training" to "curdle over." But the fact of the matter is that lobster Thermidor had cheese the first time it was served, and has had cheese ever since.

                                                                    1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                      Lay thousands of crustaceans
                                                                      upon the foundations
                                                                      and allow them to storm the Bastille.

                                                                      Grate a gutload of cheese as they climb up the walls
                                                                      and greet them up top as condoned by Cordon
                                                                      with steampot for serving Thermidor a la Bleu.

                                                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                        I stand corrected. Or sit corrected in this case. I have been assuming all of these years that there is no thermidor recipe in Larousse Gastronomique. It's not listed under "homard" in the index. I gues i didn't want to find it hard enough to just look under "lobster" in the body of the book. Yay for French index and English text. I've never used parmesan to promote the gratine finish on my thermidor, always toasted buttered bread crumbs with a hint of finely minced parsley. Try it. You'll like it....! '-)

                                                                        And just to split hairs, there's a difference between "in" and "on." The parmesan is used "on" the finished thermidor just before going in the oven, not "in" the sauce. Makes a difference in the flavor.

                                                              2. I'd have peeled the cheese off the top and eaten it as an extra *free!* appetiser - then I'd have eaten the seafood.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: Peg

                                                                  gee, why didn't *i* think of that? i guess that involves using fingers too -- to pry the cheese away?

                                                                2. Any ingredient that has a major bearing on the flavor of a dish should be noted in the description. Signature twists on an established norm should be noted. (Polenta instead of an English muffin for Eggs Benedict for example.) It would be wise for a restaurant to note the more common allergens in the description too.

                                                                  I say speak up, explain why the dish is not what you expected. If enough people have issue with the dish as described then perhaps the corporate office will make the description more accurate.

                                                                  On the subject of family - so many buttons, so little time!

                                                                  1. I have no problem sending my dish back if it's not what I wanted/ordered.

                                                                    A couple of years ago I would go to an Italian Chain Restaurant with two friends every Friday night after work (rhymes with Shackeroni Mill). I was vegetarian and the options were limited (but the wine wasn't! Servers would charge us for one glass each as we murdered a gallon bottle of their house red).

                                                                    Wine win aside, they would sometimes cook my pasta Pomodoro in old pasta water. Dudes, you need to empty the pot so often and put in fresh water! As the daughter of an Eyetalian I could tell the difference and my other vegetarian friend would shut up and eat her pasta Pomodoro, while I would send mine back. One time they offered me gnocchi instead and I asked for extra garlic and for spite, I'm sure, they LOADED the plate with it. Luckily for me, I loooove the stuff. Any normal person would have found it inedible, lol.

                                                                    1. AP - glad to hear from you after oh so long. very sorry about your stressful family issues. That G&T was absolutely medically necessary, and well-deserved. as for me, my G&Ts are always ordered with EXTRA limes, i can't fathom someone giving me one with nary a slice.

                                                                      on the fish/cheese issue - i personally would have been pleasantly surprised at the cheese - i know, i know, i'm not supposed to like cheese and fish, but i do. But that's not the point - it SHOULD SAY IT ON THE MENU. they should have comped your entree.

                                                                      i like this little blurb at the bottom of that menu: "Born-in-Florida chain gave seafood new vibe and spice, from Bang Bang shrimp and chimichurri fish to a sexy bar scene with chef-worthy cocktails." - "chef-worthy cocktails" - hah!

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                        There's one in Secaucus, NJ. Nuff said about "sexy bar scene".

                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                            um. well, this one in cape coral did NOT have any sexy bar scene, i can assure you!

                                                                        1. Cheese is an allergen, one of the top ten most common. What if you'd been allergic and bit into it? It's not like, say, pizza or french onion soup, not an extremely common dish everyone would know has cheese.

                                                                          Some rather foolish restaurants around where I live still fail to disclose the presence of pork products on their menus. When I catch it (usually bacon sprinkled on top like some weird garnish, on things like clam chowder where it does NOT belong), I always call the waiter over, complain, and insist they get me a new dish that does not contain it. Small local restaurants, I complain to the manager about the menus; big chains, I go online and write a complaint there (staff in a chain can't do anything). I would also do this in your situation; there is no excuse for not listing a major ingredient at all,much less one that is such a potent food allergen.

                                                                          1. This reminds me of the caiparinha I was served that contained Sprite. Ugh. The drink menu listed the proper ingredients (cachaca, lime, sugar) but not Sprite. SErved in a tall glass. I returned it and asked waitress what was in it- she asked the bartender. I told him to make it without the sprite. Ugh -almost as bad as gruyere on wolffish!

                                                                            11 Replies
                                                                            1. re: emilief

                                                                              It's okay to dance spiteful
                                                                              about having a Spritefull
                                                                              in our quest of the season of our long dining life,

                                                                              It pales in comparison to that caveat emptor
                                                                              of a hunk of good fish and a hunk of Gruyere.

                                                                              1. re: FoodFuser

                                                                                Your non-rhyming rhyme of "emptor" with "Gruyere" just made me laugh.

                                                                                When did you start posting in poetry ? (I notice you haven't always.) What motivated it ?

                                                                                1. re: dump123456789

                                                                                  Both as a buyer of cheese, as in emptor
                                                                                  and also a bit of a sniffer of them things like Gruyere...
                                                                                  It must the winter that led me to poetry
                                                                                  with all of its rime and its Frost.

                                                                                  It is tough to find rhymes with the names of each cheese
                                                                                  and even more so with the monikers of fish.

                                                                                  1. re: FoodFuser

                                                                                    I can think of a lot of "rhymes" for various cheese and fish, none of which would be appropriate in here.

                                                                                      1. re: dump123456789

                                                                                        If you can't think of at least fifteen "appropriate" words that that rhyme with brie or cod, you aren't trying very hard.

                                                                                        1. re: small h

                                                                                          True, but I think FoodFuser is aiming a little higher than brie and cod.

                                                                                          1. re: dump123456789

                                                                                            flea and scrod.
                                                                                            (great pub name. hahahahahaha).

                                                                                            "hey, let's pop in for a pint at the 'flea and scrod.'"

                                                                                            1. re: alkapal

                                                                                              Sounds like a venereal disease. Again, not what I think FoodFuser is aiming for.

                                                                                              1. re: dump123456789

                                                                                                oh gosh. "scrod" always does sound the teensiest bit raunchy, now doesn't it? add the pesky flea, and you've got the makings for a real tall tale. LOL!

                                                                                2. there are things in your post i agree with, and things i strongly disagree with.

                                                                                  i agree the cheese should have been mentioned in the description. i do not agree that cheese on fish is desecration, or even so unusual that someone feels it needs to be pointed out due to the earthshaking inappropriateness of it. did they ruin the dish? for you yes - but maybe the chef, and many many other customers like it that way. this idea that cheese should never appear on fish is pretty ridiculous to my mind. I'm not crazy about the combo, but i don't like cheese on too many dishes in general. but i would never denigrate someone, or imply they have no culinary sense, for not sharing my tastes. a quick google search will show that outside of italy there are many dishes combining the two ingredients - enough that it would be hard for me to consider unusual.

                                                                                  you say you HAD to talk to the manager, but of course that also seems not to be true, as the waitress offered to make things right by you. an offer you declined. and what did you have to tell the manager? not that the menu was inadequately describing the dish but that "that cheese -- which the manager pronounced as "GRY-air"-- did NOT belong on fish." I'm pretty sure whoever designed the dish does not agree. i'm pretty sure the people who like ti that way do not agree. i'm sure cultures around the world that do combine the two, do not agree. in short as neither of us are absolute monarchs, we do not get to make blanket statements that make our tastes the rule for others. And to further lift yourself above him, and imply that he knew nothing of food because of a pronunciation issue is snobbery of the worst sort.

                                                                                  SO yes - you had a right to be unhappy and upset with the dish - because the cheese was not mentioned, and it was an essential taste component and it's unforeseen presence ruined your dish.

                                                                                  as to the G&T - it seems you were so pissed at the fish "debacle" you were spoiling for a fight at that point <really?> speaking only for myself - i generally will ask for the lime in my order, even if i expect it to be there 99% of the time. And if the waitress says that many do not want the lime in theirs - who am i to argue? easier to not be pissed and ask for a piece of lime.

                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: thew

                                                                                    if you read my post carefully (footnote), you would understand that my g&t was brought BEFORE the fish was even ordered.
                                                                                    i needed to speak to the manager because i wanted to communicate the problem with the menu not mentioning the cheese to.....MANAGEMENT. i hoped that MANAGEMENT might be able to explain and that i could understand why the business establishment chose to omit crucial information on the menu. you never want to "talk with a manager"?
                                                                                    you go ahead and enjoy your fish with cheese. which dishes do you particularly like, since you mentioned that so many are on the internet? you must have missed this in my original post as well: "" (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)."""" see, thew, you can eat your cake <er, cheese with fish> and have it, too! http://www.blogcdn.com/www.comicsalli...

                                                                                    do you think cheese and fish go together so that the cheese does not overwhelm the fish? well, your taster is definitely different than mine. you order what you like, but let any menu tell me when a major component of the dish is (QUITE!) unusual.

                                                                                    you wrote:
                                                                                    """" i'm sure cultures around the world that do combine the two[***], do not agree. in short as neither of us are absolute monarchs, we do not get to make blanket statements that make our tastes the rule for others. And to further lift yourself above him, and imply that he knew nothing of food because of a pronunciation issue is snobbery of the worst sort.""""

                                                                                    now, i write:


                                                                                    let me take a breath!

                                                                                    ok.... your "absolute monarch" straw man is silly.

                                                                                    you make me laugh with your characteristically intrepid iconoclasm. you actually go so far as to suggest that a manager of a food establishment does not have any responsibility to know how to pronounce the food the establishment is selling, and that i'm the baddie for mentioning it. that's remarkable.
                                                                                    ***query: which "cultures" are these that you write about so assuredly, and what are their dishes that i so summarily and monarchially dismissed with my sceptre? <and how can you be "sure" that they do not agree with me? are you speaking for all of "those people"?> ;^D. http://images.wikia.com/micronations/...


                                                                                    1. re: alkapal

                                                                                      in greece. in india. in france. in germany. in america. i've seen cheese with fish in every one of those countries.

                                                                                      and i agree - the cheese should have been listed. i also believe you that the cheese overwhelmed the dish, and you found it unpleasant.

                                                                                      1. re: thew

                                                                                        I think the best thing I've tried at Bonefish was their shrimp with olive and feta starter course. The rest, I feel like I can do better elsewhere around here.

                                                                                        1. re: beachmouse

                                                                                          i love a shrimp dish with feta, tomatoes and ouzo done by the greeks.

                                                                                        2. re: thew

                                                                                          i'm especially curious about the indian dishes. are you talking about paneer with fish? would you be able to provide any more info? thanks.

                                                                                          1. re: alkapal

                                                                                            yes fish with paneer. no, i have no more details, just know i ate it along the indian coasts

                                                                                    2. update:
                                                                                      the restaurant manager called my home to apologize for the incident, and offered a complimentary meal. i thanked him and declined, saying that it was not necessary. he said that he agreed with me about the menu not listing the cheese, and that he had sent the issue up the food chain, so to speak. i apologized to him if i sounded snarky to him that evening.

                                                                                      so... that was nice of him to call, huh?

                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: alkapal

                                                                                          It's refreshing to hear of his follow-up interest
                                                                                          That's the way that good folks simply transact their business.

                                                                                          1. re: FoodFuser

                                                                                            yep. good stuff! thanks bonefish grill!

                                                                                          2. re: alkapal

                                                                                            Excellent. Good to know that there are still entities out there (or at least team players) who still know and value good customer service.