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Feb 19, 2012 04:56 PM

New 'Menu Items That Need to Be Retired", 2012 edition...

I think we should start a new '2012' edition of 'Menu items that need to be retired"!

Mods? Can you lock the oldone and let us start another since the old one is sooooo long?

Well worth looking at for a hoot n a 1/2 that goes back to 2007, if you haven't read it.

It is SO entertaining - and I can hardly believe in reading through it today how long some of these awful trends have stuck around so long...

But surely, we can get on with a more current list, such as the bacon-bashing above from It's still mooing, and stuffed crust pizza by dianne0712.

Pretty much, if it is on Applebee's menu, or chili's, or Outback, it probably is not on a CH'ers radar; chicken ceasar salad, 'spring greens' commercial salad dressings, pizza with ranch and chicken on it, etc.

What IS on our 'so over it" lists these days?

I still wonder why cupcakes JUST WONT DIE?

Sliders? Really? Still?

Bad crabcakes have not left the arena either... sigh.

What items do you keep seeing on menu's that should just. stop. already?

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  1. Anything labelled as "comfort food…"

    7 Replies
      1. re: jmckee

        I think we should retire the label and not the actual foods.

      2. re: skippy66

        You mean there are menus that have the audacity of labelling stuff "comfort food"? Comfort food is personal, not a menu category. I have several things I consider comfort food - but how the <bleep> would that translate into a menu item since no two people have the same comfort food?

        1. re: cacruden

          this has become a very common marketing catchphrase in the last 5-7 years. places that serve stuff like mac and cheese and meatloaf sort of started the ball rolling, but a whole bunch more stuff gets put under that moniker now. totes not new. don't know you feel personally affronted.

          1. re: hotoynoodle

            It should be called things people used to make homemade but don't know how. I rarely see people who make these at home order them out.

            1. re: melpy

              Meatloaf and mac-n-cheese have on diner and cafe menus for eons.

              1. re: melpy

                yeah now that i think about it, i wont really order something in a restaurant that i can make well at home. thats not 100 percent, but most of the time.

        2. I'd rather have cupcakes stick around if it means we can get rid of the bastard 'cake pop' fad permanently.

          56 Replies
            1. re: jeanmarieok

              yes, death to the cake pop, and all the stupid custom pans people buy to make them. Why does any silly fad like this take a custom pan?
              Just imagine, in a few years you will walk into a thrift store and see this pan sitting there.... what on earth is THAT for?

              Stupid trend...

              1. re: gingershelley

                Cake pops are an abomination. And the worse ones are the ones that AREN'T made with a custom fan. You take cake (from a mix, natch), crumble it up, mix it with frosting (from a can, again, natch) and form it into little balls and dipping it into pseudo "chocolate" and decorating it. Food like that (or should I say "food") should not be allowed to continue.

              2. re: jeanmarieok

                I agree with cake pops. Cupcakes, on the other hand, are a legitimate cake and will always be around. :)

                1. re: ttoommyy

                  Oh count me in as a cake pop hater. At least with a cupcake there is a chance in hell of it being edible.

              3. re: beachmouse

                am i the only chow hound who never heard of these things before? not that they look all that wonderful or anything.

                1. re: KaimukiMan

                  KaimukiMan, you never heard of Cupcake shops? You must live in a lovely little town somewhere.... as for the silly cakepop, just google, and shudder:)

                  1. re: gingershelley

                    I've never seen a cupcake shop and have no idea what a cake pop is either.

                    1. re: chileheadmike

                      Starbucks has cake pops. That should tell you all you need to know. 8<D

                      1. re: Bob W

                        :) That's why I've never seen them.

                        1. re: Bob W

                          Starbucks in *Taiwan* has cakepops, and I don't think I've ever seen a regular cupcake in general circulation, specialty store or not.

                        2. re: chileheadmike

                          youve never seen a cupcake shop? do u live on a remote island somewhere? or maybe just not in the u.s.? cuz in america those suckers are everywhere....not that i object. but cake pops should die a horrible death.

                        3. re: gingershelley

                          I just got back from 7 years in Italy and had no idea what a cake pop was. When I read what they were I almost threw up.

                          1. re: serafinadellarosa

                            Cake pops are like a food parody or a bad joke or something. They certainly aren't food.

                        4. re: KaimukiMan

                          I too wondered about these cake pops, but then I remembered that my neighbor gave us a couple takoyai size cakes at Christmas, ones that she'd made with her 6yr old son. Are these a fad? Not just something kids make with sold-on-tv molds? Given that kind of association, cake pop haters sound more like grinches than cutting edge food faddists. :)

                          1. re: paulj

                            And then there are these cake pops :-D

                            1. re: DiningDiva

                              Love the post DD!

                              I am not sure that some of those are 'allready retired'! They look like I would want to laugh at them, but not eat.... as most cake pops make me feel. At least these are a hoot!

                              1. re: gingershelley

                                Was at the local mall recently, and I noticed that the cupcake/cake pop booth has closed. Maybe we're at the end of this trend?

                                1. re: pine time

                                  Last year, I spotted a cupcakery in Philadelphia that had gone cash-only. Usually a good sign a business is on the ropes. In DC, I only know of one cupcakery that's folded in the past year, while three more have opened. They're like the hydra; cut off one head and more sprout up from the wound.

                                  1. re: monkeyrotica

                                    Cake pops should go away now. Cupcakes, when well-made from good ingredients, are just fine when in included in a selection of goods at a bakery. They are not enough to base an entire business upon. Anyone remember the scotch tape store on SNL?

                                    1. re: sandylc

                                      Well where I live there are a couple of cupcake bakeries that are quite fine businesses. What do you base your "not enough to base an entire business upon" statement? Sugar Cupcakery, down the hill from where I live, is in particular a very nice place with outstanding pastries.

                                      1. re: jmckee

                                        That's great! I really do hope they can sustain it long-term.

                              2. re: DiningDiva

                                Are those DOWNTON ABBEY CAKE POPS?!?!?!? lmao

                          2. re: beachmouse

                            Oh damn right about the farking cake pops. How stupid.

                            1. re: beachmouse

                              i just met someone yesterday that owns a bakery that does a lot of cake pops... i smiled, nodded, and did everything in my power from rolling my eyes and bluntly saying, "why..."

                              1. re: Emme

                                because he makes money on them???

                                1. re: paulj

                                  i hope SHE does. otherwise the sacrifice of dignity would be totally wasted. :)

                              2. re: beachmouse

                                I'll take one for the cake pop team and say that I actually like cake pops. They're just discrete bites of cake. I've never seen them priced reasonably in a bakery, but I make them myself so I don't think that' a valid point of objection.

                                1. re: zooxanthellae

                                  They had no appeal for me and I was pleasantly surprised when I sampled one a co-worker had made. Moist cake with a dark chocolate coating - she said she had deviated from the called for milk chocolate, which I think was key - what's not to like? I won't be buying nor likely making them (my kids are young and we're still stuck on cupcakes for bake sale / birthday party treats), but I'm not as offended as I expected to be :)

                                  1. re: zooxanthellae

                                    I'll defend cake pops as actually useful in cocktail-party settings. Anything you can eat neatly while holding a drink in one hand is welcome. In that context, cupcakes are comparatively messy things.

                                    Probably doesn't hurt that the only ones I've ever seen (or frankly even heard of) are homemade by Mrs. MC, and she's a gifted amateur pastry chef. If they're a done-to-death thing in the Boston area, I missed it.


                                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                                      I just can't wrap my head around any cocktail that I would like to drink with a cake pop accompaniment.

                                      1. re: sandylc

                                        I assumed MC Slim meant when it came time for coffee and dessert.

                                        1. re: ttoommyy

                                          A cocktail party that ends with adults drinking coffee and eating a piece of cake off a lollipop stick?

                                          If I owned a bakery/pastry shop where I can overcharge ppl into buying a mouthful of cake covered in chocolate, I'll serve them until the end of the millennium.

                                          As a semi-normal adult, no way! I've seen these at starbucks and wonder what kind of person buys them. These should only be consumed by adults at an overpriced kid's party or picnic with kids.

                                          Ehem, for the people who say cake pops are good for portion control... buy a cupcake and toss half.

                                          1. re: nikkib99

                                            "A cocktail party that ends with adults drinking coffee and eating a piece of cake off a lollipop stick?"

                                            Yes. What's your point? You've never had coffee after a cocktail party? Its OK to eat a shrimp off of a toothpick though?

                                            1. re: ttoommyy

                                              I've had coffee at a cocktail party, but I think the idea of of eating a cake pop at a cocktail party is just so wrong.

                                              What's next... wearing fried calamari like rings and eating them like kids eat corn chips off their fingers? I know, I know, it's a stretch. :)

                                      2. re: MC Slim JB

                                        i don't see them in boston either. have made them from scratch though and people love them. you'd be surprised how many internet "cake" recipes start with boxed yellow cake. blech.

                                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                                          I agree with you regarding the boxed cake ingredient. That bugs me to no end. It's crazy that someone would go through the work on baking a cake and start with a gross box mix. I used to think box mixes were the way to go but after making from scratch, I can totally taste the off taste of a box mix.

                                          Call me a snob, but when a recipe calls for a box mix, out the door it goes.

                                          I think the only tough part about making a cake pop is find a round form to bake the batter. Once it's baked, let cool, prepare chocolate coating, stick a lollipop stick in cake ball, dip in coating, and sprinkle as desired.

                                          1. re: nikkib99

                                            You are a snob! :) As has been discussed in other threads, there are valid reasons for using cake mixes. But using mixes is hardly a recent trend. Whether it restaurants or bakeries do that is their business, and one that they don't have to publicize. Same goes for your neighbor and bake sale.

                                            1. re: paulj

                                              Paulj, I don't think this makes nikkib99 a snob, but a purist; she/he doesn't want to use cake mixes, ok.

                                              I don't think N99 was railing against others doing it, just saying it is not their way; no need to call names here, really. I think the term 'gross' is a bit excessive on NK99' part, but your's is surely more so in calling her a name.

                                              Let's all be reasonable here, and allow for discourse, and different opinions, ok? I think that is the point of such threads. :)

                                              1. re: gingershelley

                                                So what needs to be retired? Cake pops in general, or just cake pops made from a mix? Or all cake mixes?

                                                Wouldn't this Han in Carbonite mold work great with cake and ganache?

                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                    I don't know, but I would have soooo purchased those Bantha slippers...

                                                  2. re: gingershelley

                                                    I don't know about Nikki, but I admit to being both a snob AND a purist. 8-P

                                                    There have been a few threads here about cake mixes. Here's one that explains my position on chemical cakes.

                                                1. re: nikkib99

                                                  You dont need a mold to make a cake pop. Cake balls have been around for ages. Just crumble cake, mix with a little rum, powdered sugar and roll in you hands. Let sit for an hour or so then proceed with the process.

                                                  1. re: ttoommyy

                                                    LOL - ttoommyy, you must have missed my post about adulterated bread/cakey products. I was going to write a way to make cake pop just bake a dense cake, let it sit for a day, crumble and form into balls then dip in chocolate. Then I realized it could be dry and need a little moisture - a la rum or milk.

                                                    That's when my stomach started turning. Soggy cake....blech!

                                                    A quick search and I found the round cake forms that can be baked. I guess you can use an ebelskiver and make a cake-donut.

                                                    Yup, I'm weird about soggy cakes and bread. Many have had a good laugh, but nothing I can do.

                                                    I can't even eat gazpacho even though I know the bread is finely crumbled and you'll never encounter chunks of bread. Oh God, I'm grossing myself out and it's not even 10am.

                                                    1. re: nikkib99

                                                      My balls are not soggy! They are moist, but not at all soggy! lol

                                                      1. re: ttoommyy

                                                        LOL - nothing ruins a girl's night like soggy balls.

                                                        Firm balls are...I digress.

                                                        1. re: ttoommyy

                                                          :O zomg, i first read this as "saggy". woops!

                                                        2. re: nikkib99

                                                          I thought cake pops were made of old cake crumbs and frosting. Still yucky and not intended to take anything about from the soggy balls sub-thread.

                                                          1. re: chicgail

                                                            chicgail, the one I had at a potluck last year were exactly that. Much as I love cake and much as I love frosting, having them all mushed up into a ball was just icky.

                                                      2. re: nikkib99

                                                        "I think the only tough part about making a cake pop is find a round form to bake the batter. Once it's baked, let cool, prepare chocolate coating, stick a lollipop stick in cake ball, dip in coating, and sprinkle as desired."

                                                        Actually, you don't need a mold in which to bake them. I have an employee who makes cake pops for her kids (very young). She simply bakes off a regular cake, crumbles it, then kind of welds the pieces together with frosting, shapes them into a ball, inserts the stick and dips them in ganache. Works pretty well.

                                                    2. re: MC Slim JB

                                                      Incidentally, Mrs. MC makes her cake pops from scratch. I wasn't aware there was such a thing as a mold for them. And yes, we serve something dessert-like at all our parties, even at our cocktail shindigs. Our guests seem to appreciate it, but as I said, she's a pretty gifted pastry chef for an amateur.


                                                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                        there's a mold for everything, i am quite sure, but i don't have one either. and yes, i also always have sweets out at the end of any party, even if i never eat them. (i am a "finish with cheese" kinda gal.)

                                                  2. re: beachmouse

                                                    Honestly, "Cupcake Wars" killed the cup cake for me. Too overdone. It became a trend that has so over saturated the market and I'm over it. Don't get me wrong, they're pretty tasty, but it's been ran into the ground.

                                                  3. Jazzed up french fries. Unless they are delicious thick wedge fries, don't start pouring cheese, bacon and chili on them. They just become a mushy disaster.

                                                    I was recently at a place where I had heard the fries were amazing. Fresh cut fries, red onion, bacon, cheddar and ranch dressing. I ordered them...frozen mushy fries, a tiny slice of red onion had been minced, possibly one strip of bacon chopped, cheese melted in the center only and no ranch. It was pure mush. Apparently this is to rave about for most.

                                                    11 Replies
                                                    1. re: jhopp217

                                                      Once in Maui we went to a restaurant that was nearly empty (scare) and got mahi mahi with garlic fries- OMFG they were so good- it was probably a fluke, but one of the best things I ate there, and one of the most affordable. I could eat mahi mahi at least twice a day for weeks if it's as fresh as it always was in Maui.

                                                      1. re: jhopp217

                                                        this is my gripe with designer poutine popping up all over. never mind that most do not even use cheese curds. the actual thing is greasy food for late night drunks. period, lol.

                                                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                          I can't tell you how many times I've yelled, in my head "That's not poutine!!!". :)

                                                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                            yes! cheese fries (or poutine, or disco fries, or whatever you call them depending on your region) are late-night diner food, period. they should only appear on menus at diners/greasy spoons, and should only be consumed between the hours of midnight and 5 am after you've imbibed or inhaled more than your share of your preferred recreational substance.

                                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                              Amen to that! They are on the aptz. menu at an upscale new hip resto here, and I just cringe every time I think of it, or read about it in a review. pppplease....

                                                            2. re: hotoynoodle

                                                              Yes! Poutine should only be served at restaurants with at least one Canadian person (preferably one actually from Montreal) in the kitchen or in management. One restaurant in my hood put it on its menu, "We took a trip to Montreal and loved this, so...." and only 1 of the six types of poutine had cheese curds. Shame.

                                                            3. re: jhopp217

                                                              Fries for a cheese fry item should have some crispness. Or not be soggy. Hard to describe buy by no means need thick wedges.

                                                              1. re: melpy

                                                                Poutine fries need to be freshly and properly deep fried, at a minimum, and not from a bag of frozen McCains crispy fries. It should be cheese curds, not grated cheddar, and the gravy must be hot through, not congealing at the edges.

                                                                  1. re: melpy

                                                                    Melpy, you have it down on the fry base for poutine; crispy, proper and fresh, or there is no reason to ladle on good curds and gravy.

                                                                    Baseline handled, good toppings handled; NOT a fad, but a classic:)

                                                                1. Braised short ribs
                                                                  Grilled salmon
                                                                  Truffle fries
                                                                  And yet another burger joint

                                                                  21 Replies
                                                                  1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                    +4 on the truffle fries (for me and my whole family). But grilled salmon? That's kind of basic, like a family dinner.

                                                                    1. re: Isolda

                                                                      Exactly, you can make it for your family. Why, then, does it needed to be on almost every restaurant menu. Grilled salmon + sauce du jour? Can't a restaurant think of sometime more interesting than that? Aren't there other fish instead of salmon? I just think it's kind of boring on a restaurant menu, especially, as you so aptly point out, a lot of people can do a pretty good job of making it for themselves at home :-)

                                                                        1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                          Agreed -- two things we never order out are grilled salmon and roast chicken. Perfectly fine dishes, but SO BORING.

                                                                          1. re: Bob W

                                                                            This is just for me, but I often order the grilled salmon when I'm on a business trip and eating at a restaurant. Why? Because my daughter is allergic to it, so we don't have it at home. Please don't outlaw it!

                                                                            1. re: 512window

                                                                              I often order lamb or veal because Mrs. W won't make either at home, so I totally get that.

                                                                            2. re: Bob W

                                                                              I actually feel like restaurants are taking chicken more seriously. I've had a couple spectacular takes in the past year.

                                                                              1. re: kevin47

                                                                                We went to our favorite upscale restaurant and there was a fried chicken special that basically everyone in the place had ordered. I took a gamble an decided once and for all I must nit like fried chicken because my SO said it was the eat he had ever eaten. No mote chicken at restaurants for me!

                                                                            3. re: DiningDiva

                                                                              farmed salmon is super cheap for restaurants to buy and handles being frozen quite well, so very little potential for waste with big profit margin.

                                                                              agree: it's terrible fish.

                                                                              1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                But that doesn't make it good.... +1.

                                                                                Tho, where I live, in Seattle, we get wonderful salmon for much of the year, albiet VERY expensive. I don't think great salmon ever goes out of fashion. More of a 'classic' than a fad.

                                                                                1. re: gingershelley

                                                                                  Will second that salmon is a classic. I can't get enough of it - grilled, sashimi, tartare, carpaccio'ed, gravlax - yummy stuff. What I can't stand are restaurants that serve it all dried up and overcooked with a sauce slathered on to hide how terribly they've cooked it.

                                                                                  1. re: Halcyonwing

                                                                                    or, Halcywg; it's just BAD SALMON! Classic; great ocean going fatty king; trend, bad, and should leave the scene; farm raised anemic 'salmon' served to you as a great piece of salmon...

                                                                            4. re: DiningDiva

                                                                              I would agree on the burger joint, except I went to one last week that served ... burgers. No "Kobe" beef, no truffle aioli, no portobello mushrooms, no onion "jam." Just burgers. With cheese if you want. And they were awesome.

                                                                              1. re: Savour

                                                                                This may or may not be repulsive to some CHers, but that's why I like Five Guys. For a chain restaurant, they do burgers pretty well, even if they are expensive. It's just a hamburger, for crying out loud.

                                                                                Fries are some of my faves too. Om nom...

                                                                                1. re: speakhandsforme

                                                                                  Check the Chains thread. The biggest criticism of 5G is consistency.

                                                                                  1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                    I think they are very consistent....consistently awful. It's my humble opinion that most people haven't had a truly good burger if they think 5G is even remotely good. I am truly baffled by this chins popularity. And their fries? Awful

                                                                                    1. re: jhopp217

                                                                                      Agree. I went to 5G and was horribly disappointed. But Edzo's in Evanston Il, now that's a burger.

                                                                              2. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                Braised short ribs are kind of a KC staple.. Not a trend for me.

                                                                                1. re: LN2008

                                                                                  Braised short ribs are a delight. I could never get tired of them.

                                                                              3. I am a little ambivalent about this one, because I actually like some wedge salads, but I am so tired of seeing wedge salads on every freaking menu from Outback to the country club.

                                                                                Also, really fancy burgers. The beauty of a burger is that it isn't fancy. If I am going to pay 20+ dollars for beef, it will not be on a bun, it will be seared and served with a fork and knife.

                                                                                The "-tini" drink craze. I am really liking that most places are going a little retro with the cocktails again. Some the the frazzletini's, sparkletini's, and flirtini's just got out of hand.

                                                                                I'm sure I will think of a few more..

                                                                                19 Replies
                                                                                1. re: bamagirl30

                                                                                  "The "-tini" drink craze."

                                                                                  Oh please let this die a quick and harsh death. To even breath the suffix "tini" with any other word than "mar" should be a crime.

                                                                                  1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                    I hope you mean that a martini is confined to gin (or vodka) and dry vermouth in some combination. If you want a chocolate-raspberry cocktail, please don't call it a martini.

                                                                                    1. re: sr44

                                                                                      "I hope you mean that a martini is confined to gin (or vodka) and dry vermouth in some combination."

                                                                                      That is EXACTLY what i mean sr44. Anything else is NOT a martini.

                                                                                      1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                        the shape of the glass does not make it so.

                                                                                        1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                          A subject discussed on the booze board, I would submit that the use of vodka also makes it something other than a martini.

                                                                                            1. re: HDinCentralME

                                                                                              I am with you, HD, about martinis. They are made with gin. Period. If you substitute an onion for the olive, it becomes a Gibson. So why do people think they can substitute vodka for the gin, and still have it be a martini? And then these things that have absolutely none of the original ingredients of a martini... who decided these can be called martinis? Every time I see a "martini menu" I want to scream. They just need to go away.

                                                                                              1. re: HDinCentralME

                                                                                                Ever Since James Bond came along, this has been acceptable. Most people when they order a martini are specific and those who aren't usually are old crotchety people or underage kids. Almost everyone I know orders the booze they want and then then how they want it. Martini has become universal. As for the others things we end with a tini....does it really bother anyone that much?

                                                                                                  1. re: sr44

                                                                                                    They do the same thing with Margaritas. LISTEN TO ME PEOPLE!!! A Strawberry Margarita is a DAIQUIRI !!! Or as my wife says, "Just because your cat has her kittens in the oven don't make them biscuits!"

                                                                                                    1. re: PotatoHouse

                                                                                                      ????A margarita is lime, triple sec, tequila, a daiquiri is rum and lime.....????

                                                                                                  2. re: jhopp217

                                                                                                    My annoyance is when I order a Gibson and they have no idea what I want... When I explain, they say "Ohhhh a martini but with onions instead?" followed by "Vodka or gin?" But yes, it does bother me when there is a page long "martini" list. Just because it is in a martini glass DOES NOT make it a martini! Ugh, get those gross frou-frou-tinis away from me... If I put soup in a coffee cup, does that make it coffee??

                                                                                                  3. re: HDinCentralME

                                                                                                    I looked up martini in my 60s Mr. Boston drinks book. If memory serves, they allowed gin, vodka, and rum martinis. But, gee, no mention of "appletinis" !

                                                                                                1. re: sr44

                                                                                                  Yes! And if you're drinking straight gin out of a martini glass, it's gin, not a martini.

                                                                                                  1. re: sr44

                                                                                                    I so agree. I hate seeing some stupid fou fou drink passed off as a martini!!!!

                                                                                                    1. re: sr44

                                                                                                      EXACTLY. Let me state for the record that I love sweet froufy cocktails and don't drink real martinis, but even I can't stand the misuse of the world martini. A friend once said to me, "Anything in a martini glass is a martini, right?" Her husband moonlights as a bartender!!!! No, the name comes from the ingredient (Martini & Rosse vermouth) and not the glass it comes in. ARRGGGHH!

                                                                                                    2. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                      +1 there, buddy- even if I have one of thoe things at home I won't tell anybody about it . ;-)

                                                                                                    3. re: bamagirl30

                                                                                                      I kinda like the ol' wedge. It takes me back, way back, to the days when it was served with thousand island or blue cheese dressing in a gravy boat.

                                                                                                      What I don't like is what some places charge for $0.25 worth of iceberg lettuce. 8<D