HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


Ugh, why did I order that? Do you ever know better but do it anyway?

There are a few categories of food that I seem to have a hard time avoiding. If I thought it through or asked the server, I would know I don't want it, but somehow I manage to convince myself I'll like it, order it, don't like it, and get really annoyed at myself. Am I the only one?

I like sweets and desserts, but I really DO NOT enjoy sweetness in my savory food. Last week I went out for a fancy dinner and was trying to decide between the halibut with brandade and the scallops with bacon jam. I was thinking salty bacon, not sweet jam, so I ordered the scallops. The bacon was sweet, and while the scallops were lovely, the bacon was a huge proportion of the flavor on the plate and the sweetness ruined it for me. Should have had the halibut. This morning I decided to try a new diner that's been getting a lot of hype. The poutine looked good but I didn't want to start my day with a french fry gut bomb. Shrimp and grits looked good but I didn't want to spend $17 on breakfast. So ... pancake, egg, bacon, and cheese sandwich. How did I manage to convince myself I would enjoy that? The pancakes were really sweet and impossible to separate from the other components. Yuck. I feel like I need to start asking the servers which dishes have no discernable sweetness or added sugar.

The other category for me is fried food (excluding french fries). Every now and then fish & chips sounds like a good idea, but it isn't. Same with the appetizer sampler platter type thing where everything is fried.

What do you always end up regretting ordering?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I am always sorry when I order a seafood pasta dish in any restaurant that is neither near a sea nor steeped in a culture that does pasta really well (i.e. Italy). Invariably, I wind up with little erasers instead of scallops, rubbery squid, overcooked and low quality shrimp, mussels that should have been culled from the flock, if you know what I mean, and a sauce that is either bland and non-existent or gloopy and frightening.

    Another example is when I see gumbo or bouillabaisse on a menu when, again, it probably has no business being there.

    Even though the levelheaded me is of the opinion that if it seems out of place on a menu, I should steer clear of it, somehow the blithering idiot in me falls into the trap more often than I'd like.

    3 Replies
    1. re: 1sweetpea

      I'm with you on the seafood in places where it doesn't seem to belong. Which, sadly, in my neck of the woods, is almost everywhere. I love seafood and am drawn to it like a bug to the bug zapper, but I really need to remind myself when I place my orders that this dish is something I can probably dig up a recipe for and make better at home.

      1. re: 1sweetpea

        I have learned my lesson with both mixed seafood anything (tends to be the lowest quality, pre-cooked frozen seafood blend) AND just about any pasta, unless I am at a decent Italian place.
        But I have a problem ordering at fish and chip places. I want F&C about twice a year. My husband eats it weekly and will gladly eat it more often than that on vacation, where we typically have very limited options in Ontario Cottage Country. I am continually trying to order something OTHER than F&C. It is never good and I am left staring longingly at everyone else's plates - not just my table but the whole restaurant, because everyone else is smart enough to realize that you should *only* order the Fish 'n Chips at Fish 'n Chips restaurants!

        1. re: julesrules

          I don't know where cottage country is for you, but I have to say, the fish and chips are not bad in Coe Hill, at the Hideaway Primitive Grill. The serving is enormous, so two can dine on the f & c and have room for a much healthier salad on the side.

          I know all about limited options in cottage country. Between that neck of the woods and my own residence, which is in a small city with a very narrow range of decent restaurants (and a glut of absolute crap), I am convinced it's forced me to become a very versatile and resourceful home chef. For that, I am grateful. I source ingredients from near and far and we live out our culinary desires at home, while going out for the scant few items that my "city" does well.

      2. Cheese plate. They always seem to stingy and boring for the money. I just need to be more selective.
        Gnocchi. I swear I like it, but I've never had a gnocchi dish that I've liked. But by golly I'll keep ordering it until I do.

        3 Replies
        1. re: viperlush

          I've never thought about it, but I have to agree with you on the cheese plate, viperlush! Never enough cheese, generally too many crackers or fruit or other accompaniments.

          Problem is, I love cheese. A lot. I put together fabulous cheese plates whenever I have people over, and what I get at restaurants is always such a letdown by comparison.

          Still, if I am dining with just one other person, and they indicate they'd be interested in splitting a cheese plate for dessert instead of something sweet, I always go for the cheese.

          1. re: viperlush

            Why don't you try making the gnocchi yourself, Viper?

            1. re: pdxgastro

              No interest. I don't think that I've had bad gnocchi, just haven't liked it.

          2. I often used to order salmon in restaurants, figuring it was something that I never make at home and it was different than chicken, which I eat all the time.

            And then one day, I realized that I just hate salmon and I never ordered it again. And I didn't miss it one bit. Smoked salmon is a whole different story, however...I love it.

            1. Whenever my better half and me go abroad I have what is now termed a Francesinha moment, after I ordered one in Porto.
              It usually involves an excess of meat and cheese and in Croatia recently I had to have the pork chop stuffed with cheese, bacon and mushrooms, even though I knew I'd regret it.
              I try and get this over with as early on in the holiday as possible.

              1. I don't know that it's anything specific, but,it happens all the time!
                After having a little taste of whatever it is that my dining companion has ordered - I immediately regret whatever it is that is in front of me!
                Inevitably whatever they have ordered tastes better to me, than whatever I have ordered. :(

                6 Replies
                1. re: NellyNel

                  Same here. I'm almost to the point of just copycatting whatever my wife orders like a rookie, because her taste in food apparently mops the floor with mine.

                  1. re: MrBook


                    My ex always teases me that I should just order what he is having, because i am bound to like it better!

                    I refuse to do that because I like to have a little something different to taste! (...and taste again... and again!)

                    1. re: NellyNel

                      You're overcomplicating. Just steal it!!

                      And I am with you on the sweetness, Babette. I dislike sweet sweet potatoes or squash. I always think 'yum! I love sweet potatoes!' and then really wish they were savory. I also order steak in bars or not-nice restaurants and then am sad when it's way overcooked.

                  2. re: NellyNel

                    When I was younger I trained my parents to order my second choice. That way if I wasn't thrilled with whatever dish I ordered I had backup. I'm now working on training the BF.

                      1. re: NellyNel

                        this is a riot because it is me to a "T" every time we go out to a high end restaurant for dinner... happened again this past weekend, he had hangar steak, I had "slow poached cod" the cod was delicous, but cooked sous vide and the texture was... a little odd to me.
                        His hangar steak was, well amazing!
                        he had foie gras for an appetizer, I had sweet breads...his was PERFECT, my sweetbreads stil had connective tissue on them (turn off!)
                        Dessert - he ordered a cremeaux, I had a warm chocolate cake... oh wait... I had the better dessert!

                      2. Theres a place in town that offered a vegan martini waffle... a waffle with vermouth and chopped pimento olives. thie idea seemed good at the time... not so much.

                        1. i always tend to convince myself to get the healthier dish on the menu instead of the one that really sounds the best to me, and end up being either bored or disappointed. i need to start convincing myself that its OK to treat myself some when i go out to dinner!

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: mattstolz

                            I have the opposite problem. I'm (alas) a sufferer of ulcerative colitis, and yet I continually convince myself that eaching rich, delicious (meaning unhealthy) meals is totally OK, and will not harm me physically in the very near future. I just can't seem to learn from my mistakes. I need to stop convincing myself that it's OK to treat myself when I go out to dinner!

                            1. re: albertabound

                              maybe we should combine our powers (you can keep all the UC though thanks) to make ourselves a hybrid super-diner

                              1. re: mattstolz

                                Or go to dinner together and then switch plates

                            2. re: mattstolz

                              Yep - that's me.

                              Often I order fish and the truth is I WANT to like fish but unless it's really really REALLY nicely done, I almost never do.

                            3. I do this often when I'm really in the mood for something and the restaurant I'm at just doesn't do the dish justice.

                              Once I was really in the mood for a fish taco, having had a fish taco at this particular place where it was just mediocre I thought, hmmm maybe it's better this time around. Nope!

                              I agree with seafood pasta at restaurants that are not known for seafood. For me it was once a Shrimp Pasta Special. There was a reason it was a "special".

                              Soup at chain restaurants - yuck - processed vats of sodium most certainly brought to you by a food purveyor like US Foods or Cysco.

                              A club sandwich - How the heck you mess up a club sandwich I have no idea but there is a place which I only go there for convenience close to work that constantly disappoints me and like some sort of Alzheimer patient I take the bait every time.

                              House Margaritas - Why do I do this to myself. Especially 2 for 1 house margaritas they are basically just mix that taste more like lemonade than a margarita. Get the premium margarita instead. It's better and will put you in a happy mood. - That is my note to myself.

                              1. A third martini before dinner always seems like a better decision at the moment than I know it to be.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: MGZ

                                  That's the first two martini's talking. LOL

                                2. When I see "caramelized onions" on a menu, the decision is made, even though unless it's a top-tier restaurant (and sometimes not even then), I wind up disappointed because the onions wind up pale and bland, sweated/smothered rather than browned.

                                  1. Two examples immediately come to mind.
                                    Cold cuts that have even a hint of gelatin...i try but I no likie. I always regret wasting it. While I love chicken liver spread (with lots of garlic, onions and cooked egg) I never developed a taste for liverwurst. Overall I'm super fussy about deli meats. Dh loves deli!

                                    My husband doesn't enjoy cooked fruit especially if it's served with meat, pork, etc. The only exception is apple, pear, fruit sauces. Whole cooked fruits bother him. I like fruit in every form.

                                    So it's quite common for us to order these things "let's give it another try" and then swap plates.

                                    1. I almost always regret ordering a burger, especially one of those cheddar cheese-grilled onion-mushroom-bacon-pickle-lettuce-tomato-coleslaw concoctions. If the meat is good, all the other stuff disguises the fact. If the meat is mediocre, then why bother in the first place. And about half way through I remember that the typical restaurant hamburger bun has all the substance and flavor of wet tissue paper.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: mandycat

                                        the one time i will order a burger at a restaurant is when it comes on a fresh pretzel bun.

                                        actually i will order just about anything that comes on a fresh pretzel bun.

                                        but, unlike the rest of this thread, i never end up regretting this decision

                                        1. re: mandycat

                                          Mandycat, I had never actually thought it through, but you're SO right about that.

                                        2. In my family, there is one member always regrets what he ordered with "I should have ordered..." Now we (jokingly) tell him when we are ordering, "why don't you order what you should have ordered?"

                                          1. Fried shrimp! Had it one place (never remember where) that I really loved it but..... not since then - DH finally stopped me as I was ordering it yet again and said "why do you order that, you're always disappointed".

                                            1. I'm always going to order the weird game dish. Just can't help myself.

                                              10 Replies
                                              1. re: Harters

                                                Yes! I had venison liver at the weekend which was so rare that the bed of mashed potato looked like a surgical swab.

                                                Next time I'll just have the chicken.

                                                1. re: gembellina

                                                  There used to be a butcher near me who sold a lot of venison. If you bought any, he'd always give you some liver for free.

                                                  1. re: Harters

                                                    I was pretty surprised by how cheap the dish was, given that it was a special and it was in Fulham!

                                                    It was good, but I know that especially in French restaurants, these things are often more rare than I would choose to cook at home and the portion sizes are often somewhat overwhelming for something so strong-tasting.

                                                    1. re: gembellina

                                                      Venetian style liver is usually done with calves liver, but if ever you see it with Bambi liver, get it ordered. Really is fab.

                                                      1. re: Harters

                                                        And this is why I'll never learn!

                                                2. re: Harters

                                                  That sounds like me.

                                                  I always regret chicken, so I don't order it any more.

                                                  1. re: beccydinosaur

                                                    I always regret chicken, too, at least in a nice restaurant. Maybe not at Chipotle.

                                                    1. re: jvanderh

                                                      I also regret ordering chicken. I will order it in a fit of thinking that I should eat better and I really don't need the pork-and-fattening-side-dish, but then I end up with a boring meal.
                                                      Except one place, where they have chickens running around in the restaurant's garden. I don't think those are the chickens they actually serve, but they do serve tasty chicken there. Maybe it's a purely psychological effect.

                                                      1. re: rusty_s

                                                        so glad im not the only one with this problem

                                                  2. re: Harters

                                                    i will do this a lot of the time too. but mostly because i have a hard time getting my hands on it for myself. so it is a special treat

                                                  3. For me, it's french fries. I recently declared to my husband that unless fries come recommended by a trusted source, or if I have had a good experience with them myself, I will no longer order fries. In addition to tasting bad, they are also usually overpriced. I find that they can be too hard, too cold, too greasy, flavorless...ugh, the list goes on. I love fries, but they have been ruining the burger/sandwich experience, so I will skip them from now on.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Gingerleen

                                                      Ditto on onion rings, which are even more difficult to make well than fries. Those previously frozen batter jackets with an onion worm inside are really depressing, especially for those of us who love good rings.

                                                    2. Steak from a non steak restaurant. I always get caught up in the menu description (or everything else looks boring) and when I receive the dish, it is nowhere near as good as what I get at a steak restaurant either in quality or preparation.

                                                      1. I am always hopeful that I'm going to be OK with the flavor of molasses, but I often regret anything 'molasses glazed'. It is simply something that I can only handle is small quantities.

                                                        I adore spicy foods, but have a high sensitivity to 'ma la'.....the numbing sensation from Szechuan peppercorns. I get excited when I see spicy Szechuan dishes on Chinese menus....and often end up paying for it with a buzzing, furry-feeling mouth.

                                                        If I order desserts from places that do not have a dedicated pastry chef, I am usually disappointed. I don't particularly care for sweets and have a sensitive sweet tooth- so all too often, desserts (especially those from food distribution companies, etc.) taste too sugary for me to truly enjoy.

                                                        Seafood can often be a disappointment. I grew up near the Chesapeake Bay and adore good fresh seafood. Being in upstate NY now, I often regret ordering seafood dishes,and am now a little more proactive about learning how the seafood is supplied to the restaurant.

                                                        Finally, I'm getting better with ordering meals out that aren't total gut bombs. My body can't handle heavy meals the way it used to in my 20's. (For example, fried chicken PLUS macaroni and cheese PLUS mashed potatoes and gravy is a recipe for serious food coma.) It's pretty tempting, because I try to order dishes when eating out that I don't make often for myself at home. So I have to commit to either taking home leftovers and eating very limited quantities at the same meal....or simply selecting a dish (or dishes) that look more balanced. I guess I don't flat out regret ordering gut bombs....but the potential for regret is so much higher. :)