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food you are leary of ordering

Out because you are very uuhmm..picky etc about theay it is prepared? I rarely order scrambled eggs because i like them " my way" and rather than look like a jwrk for sending back eggs..i just avoid ordering unless i know how they do it
Ribs..same way
Fess up choosy hounders...

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  1. Bacon. I like crispy bacon, with just a teensy bit of chew to it. Most places serve it way too underdone for my tastes, especially on sandwiches. If I'm ordering it as a breakfast side and I say "crispy bacon, please" then it ends up being cooked to the point that it's totally burnt. I know I'm extremely picky about it, so rather than frustrate the staff or myself, I just skip it. Which means I don't ever get to enjoy bacon burgers, unless I make them at home.

    20 Replies
      1. re: mizzdee

        Speaking of breakfast items, home fries. They are always underdone these days, forget about actually squishing them, and I am always disappointed. I basically never eat breakfast out for this reason, why bother?

        1. re: coll

          "forget about actually squishing them"


          1. re: sandylc

            Some methods of home fries, involve smashing cubed potatoes on the grill to get a better crispy fried surface.

            1. re: Quine

              Most places around here used to always finish it off with a steak press, so it was nice and crispy and burnt. No biggie, I have a steak press I bought just for that purpose so all is well. We;re talking potato cubes or fat slices here, not hash browns.

              1. re: Quine

                I think what you call home fries are what we call fried potatoes and what some others call hash browns (silly people - don't they know that hash browns are shredded?)

                My fried potatoes are raw cubes between 1/4- and 1/2-inch in size. Are these your home fries?

                Now we can wait for the fallout from the hash brown remark! :-)

                1. re: sandylc

                  I've seen them called the same thing, but around here home fries are cubes only; then I started realizing some people think shredded.....which to me is more like latkes. Not something you can get in your local diner! I've learned the two are different in other parts of the country, and that's fine, until I forget.

                  1. re: coll

                    I don't like when home fries are close to raw and then not well fried.

                    1. re: smartie

                      The reason the home fries are close to raw is because they are starting with cubed, raw potatoes. That never works well. The potatoes need to be cooked first and then fried. The interior will be cooked and the exterior will be crispy.

                      1. re: John E.

                        I strongly disagree. I have been frying potatoes from a raw state for many, many years with great, fully-cooked results! I'll invite you and wife over for some, John....

                        1. re: sandylc

                          I've been eating my brother's diced, raw fried potatoes for years at our deer camp. I know it's an extra step, but I have found they really are better having already been cooked before frying. Just how small is your dice?

                          1. re: John E.

                            Hm-mm...I'd say between 1/4 and 1/2 inch.

                    2. re: sandylc

                      To me:

                      Fried potatoes: raw cubes or slices of potato fried in shallow oil or oil/butter combo until soft inside and brown/crisp on the outside

                      Hash browns: raw shredded potatoes cooked in a patty until the insides are creamy and the outside is brown and crunchy

                      Home fries: I have no clue

                      1. re: sandylc

                        Home fries to me are what you are calling fried potatoes, with or without onions. And O'Briens add onions and peppers. And hash browns are shredded. And some places in the south serve cannonballs which are thick sliced potatoes fried in the pan until they are about halfway cooked and just blonde

                2. re: coll

                  Ha! Once I ordered hash browns 'extra crispy', and you could see where they picked up a wad with their hand, squished it together, and threw it in the deep fryer.

                  1. re: coll

                    Fully agree. Too many places (mostly chains) are using frozen potato pieces (breakfast potatoes?) as "home fries" which are really disgusting.

                3. re: Ditdah

                  Now I'm just the opposite. I never order bacon in restaurants because while I like it "cooked", I don't like it crispy, so I only enjoy bacon at home where I cook it the way I like it. The few times I've had bacon in a restaurant, it's about one step down from incinerated.

                  1. re: Ditdah

                    For the bacon and hash brown folks who say they don't order because it is undercooked/overcooked - don't you order it the way you want it? I always order hashbrowns well-done and crispy. It is no surprise to me when they arrive cooked just that way.

                    1. re: FrankJBN

                      Sorry, I can't agree with you on this point, FrankJBN.

                      I used to try and specify my bacon and hashbrown orders according to how I liked it. Ordering crispy bacon at many places equals burnt bacon. Ordering crispy, not burnt, doesn't make a lot of difference, either. I then switched to ordering them firm, not floppy, not burnt, but that was a total crapshoot.

                      Similarly with hashbrowns, I would order them well done and crispy, which usually came out close to burnt with none of the soft potato-goodness inside. I would then go with crispy outside, soft interior, which often didn't mean anything to the server/cook.

                      In my experience, at all but the fanciest of breakfast joints, you can order bacon or hashbrowns and specify how you want it done, but it isn't going to be to your liking. I think the best course of action is to 1.) either not order them, or 2.) just order the bacon or hashbrowns and let them do it they way they always do.

                      I'm a lot less picky than I used to be and do not hesitate to order bacon or hashbrowns at any breakfast place, but I have found that most breakfast places - diners and the like - do not excel at cooking items "to order."

                  2. Pasta, believe it or not. Pasta must be cooked in salted water and served al dente. I can't trust a restaurant to do that so I rarely order pasta out

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: ctfoodguy

                      Very understandable
                      It isnt cheap out..and why pay for mush?

                      1. re: ctfoodguy

                        Amen! I stopped eating pasta for the most part, but I will only get it, if the dish is special. I refuse to have a tagliatelle bolognese for $15 that I can make at home for that price....and have it for five meals. People who always get pasta baffle me. Plus most places can't even top some better jar sauces. I believe most Italian restaurants have stopped trying. Definitely needs to be enjoyed at home.

                        1. re: jhopp217

                          Plus you can modify that jarred sauce to your liking in 5-10 minutes. Adding more black pepper, olives, mushrooms, what have you. So definitely pays to not eat pasta out unless it's a side they are giving away

                          1. re: zzDan

                            While I agree with the spirit of your post, I can not agree with the content. NO jarred sauce EVER crosses the threshold of my kitchen!

                        2. re: ctfoodguy

                          Agreed. I rarely order pasta when I'm out but I also can't be bothered to make it at home from scratch. I have two go-to places for very good pasta and just stick with those. Other than that, I'll only order pasta when I'm prepared for a mediocre or less-than mediocre dish -- sometimes I will succumb to this if I'm not the chooser of the restaurant and nothing else on the menu is any better.

                          1. re: ctfoodguy

                            +1 Pasta is probably my fav starch but won't order it out.

                          2. Seafood, unless a place has an EXCEPTIONAL reputation for seafood I avoid it like the plague.

                            13 Replies
                              1. re: mizzdee

                                Yeah, tiny portions and colossal prices

                              2. re: twyst

                                As someone who almost only gets seafood when going to nicer places, I will stress...nicer places. Unless I know the place has a good seafood rep.

                                  1. re: twyst

                                    Thumbs up on this one. I take it one better; I won't order most seafoods in a landlocked state.

                                    1. re: pinehurst

                                      Well, trout in Wyoming could be an exception!

                                      1. re: coll

                                        I would say walleye in Minnesota would also be an exception (even though most walleye served in Minnesota restaurants is from Canadian waters).

                                      2. re: pinehurst

                                        i agree. i am from boston, and the worst seafood i have ever eaten was from pennsylvania.

                                        pennsylvania has also produced the best whoopie pies i've ever eaten, so i'm not meaning to offend!

                                        1. re: pinehurst

                                          I dont take it that far, at least with sushi, because its all frozen anyway. All sushi served in the US has to be previously frozen to be legal to serve. (except tuna)\\

                                          Thats the reason some of the countries best sushi bars are in places like Chicago and Austin.

                                          1. re: twyst

                                            Let's not forget about the seafood available in Vegas. Some of the best seafood in the country.

                                          2. re: pinehurst

                                            I've thought about this one before.....isn't fish from lakes/rivers more accurately called "lakefood" and "riverfood"?

                                            1. re: sandylc

                                              Look at a restaurant menu sometime. The freshwater fish are located under the seafood part of the menu.

                                              People go 'sea' kayaking on Lake Superior too even though it is not a sea.

                                              1. re: John E.

                                                "Look at a restaurant menu sometime"

                                                Gee, never seen one of those....

                                                I really was just joking.....!?

                                        2. Crab cakes and lobster rolls come to mind. Unless the place is known for them, I don't bother.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: LeoLioness

                                            I second crab cakes. Being from MD so few places do it right. If I've tastes or sometimes even seen someone else's I can get it but otherwise I pass.

                                            1. re: melpy

                                              Yes. I never order crab cakes outside of Maryland. To do so is to invite bitter disappointment.

                                            2. re: LeoLioness

                                              Crab cakes are one I almost never purchase. 99.9% of places just serve breading with a little crab.

                                              I prefer to make it exactly how I like it at home and avoid the frustration of paying for crumbs.

                                            3. Do martinis count? I can never get one properly stirred or made with decent (Noilly Pratt) vermouth. It's always just gin that had maybe been introduced to some cheap vermouth once, shaken beyond recognition and served in a glass the size of a punchbowl.

                                              Also, +1 for crabcakes. I'm from Maryland and the best ones are always made at home.

                                              1. Thai food. I grew up in Bangkok and it never tastes the same outside of the country. Funny, I will eat Vietnamese.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: whs

                                                  That would be my husband's pick. He'll only eat Thai if I make it. He says that Thai food he's had at restaurants have an "off" or metallic taste (and believe me, we've tried lots).

                                                  1. re: whs

                                                    ha, i have a really difficult time eating thai. my best friend growing up was thai, and her "nanny" made the most incredible pad thai. when i've tasted what restaurants serve as "pad thai," i'm always appalled and disgusted... almost wondered if nanny didn't make pad thai, but just called it that. nonetheless, after growing up with home-cooked native thai food, restaurant thai food is pretty unappealing...

                                                  2. Definitely scrambled eggs: I don't want the broken omelet that passes for scrambled eggs in most American breakfast establishments. (Omelets are child's play; properly scrambled eggs are art.)

                                                    Pasta: it's mostly guaranteed mediocrity.

                                                    Buffet Chinese and Indian food (virtually guaranteed mediocrity).

                                                    Hash browns.

                                                    Chicken; again, easy to do a meh job with.

                                                    Caesar salad (need I say more).

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: Karl S

                                                      Rarely order chicken at fine dining. Usually a chef's after thought so they can say they have it on the menu. Although one of my favorite places just put chicken Milanese on the menu which is one of my favorite dishes so I may break that rule.

                                                        1. re: Karl S

                                                          Another vote for Chinese buffets (although I'm not a fan of ANY buffets in general). ALWAYS lousy food.

                                                          1. re: Bacardi1

                                                            I would have agreed with you until I started to visit some of the excellent buffets in Asia.most recently in Hong Kong,Manila and Singapore.

                                                        2. Having grown up in the business and well as a life long food geek, I seldom order out what I can make easily for myself. Also as a result of that, I am not a picky eater.

                                                          I do not see sending back food for reason of incorrect doneness, as making me look like a jerk, be it an egg or a steak.

                                                          I also do not set a level or expectation that is out of range for the place. Hence, if I am in a diner, I do not expect Peter Luger standards if I am ordering a steak. If I am at an AYCE $7 chinese or Indian buffet, I am not expecting to be wowed. Sure it is nice if it happens, but if it is what it is, no disappointment either.

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: Quine

                                                            Ditto, ditto , ditto....and ditto.
                                                            I find that I prefer my own ____ to a restaurant version most of the time.
                                                            However, I order alot of deep fried food. I never make that at home so I don't have a skill set with that. Same with deserts, I don't make enough of them at home to compete with a restaurant version for many things (except cheesecake). No one can top my cheesecake :)

                                                            1. re: Quine

                                                              Funny. If I order a steak anywhere (always MR), and it comes back overdone, I have no problem sending it back. After all -- c'est le ton qui fait la chanson.

                                                              One does not *have to* sound like a jerk when sending food back. Try it some time.

                                                              1. re: Quine

                                                                Bingo! I do not order anything I can make myself at home easily unless I have to make a forced choice. (On long road trip and I have little say where we stop, traveled for business and there is little to choose from, ect.)

                                                                1. re: Quine

                                                                  Quine wrote "I seldom order out what I can make easily for myself."

                                                                  Same here and why I don't like to go out often. Every once in a while I get something out that makes me want to go home and make it.

                                                                2. Fugu.

                                                                  I seldom order it in a fast-food sushi restaurant.


                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                    EVERYBODY loves a smart ass! Funny! And just where do you order fugu? '-)

                                                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                                                      Actually, I do not. Even in Toyko, I take a pass. It is probably flavorful fish, and I am sure that there are many chefs there, who can whip up a mean Fugu, but I just take a pass.

                                                                      I also have a problem once, with calf brains at a wine dinner at our country club. About two days before, a ton of cattle were slaughtered, when there was an outbreak of Mad Cow Disease. Those cattle, IIRC, were being shipped in from a feed lot in Canada. For the 2nd course, the chef comes out and announces that he's serving Canadian Calf Brains. Probably perfectly fine, but I passed - the timing was just horribly wrong.

                                                                      Now the other evening, I grilled up some Bluefin Tuna, and did not even have to turn on the little lamps in the grill - did not need them, cause the tuna was glowing brightly... [Grin]


                                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                        You are not missing anything, really. Fugu sashimi is really bland and almost tasteless.
                                                                        Totally overrated item in Japanese cuisine, I think.

                                                                        1. re: Tripeler

                                                                          As I understand it, they savor the danger, not the flavor. I'm with Bill on the pass.

                                                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                                                            That's my understanding too. The chef's skill is not in avoiding the toxin completely but to prepare the dish in such a way that the customer will feel a tingling on the lips and ~know they risked death to eat the fish~.

                                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                                              You understand all wrong. If you were to go to, say, southwestern Japan, where a variety of fugu is one of the locally prized seasonal fish, most regular folks enjoy it for its flavor, the variety of cuisine that's derived from the fish, as well as its significance to the season (winter-ish). I have bought and eaten fugu at the local supermarkets, the central markets in the fishing villages, as well as restaurants that feature fugu during the season. Not one person would put "savoring danger" among the reasons why they eat fugu. I'm not sure where else you'd be getting this "understanding" other than by stereotype or other sources of misinformation. Back on to topic, I probably wouldn't order fugu in Tokyo or even Osaka, where it's mostly a status item, that's not worth blowing a lot of cash on. In places like Hiroshima, Hagi, Shimonoseki, Matsue, Matsuyama, Oita, and probably Fukuoka, I'd certainly give it a go.

                                                                              Also, fugu is more than sashimi. That's usually the first course in a fugu kaiseki style meal. I prefer fugu kara-age (fried) or the fugu chiri nabe (hot pot). Around southwestern Japan, it's not unusual to get some fugu when you order an assorted sashimi plate at an izakaya or seafood restaurant.

                                                                              1. re: E Eto

                                                                                This is a great post and gives me the impression that, having only had fugu in Tokyo, and only as sashimi, that there are much better fugu experiences out there. Thanks to E Eto for this clear explanation. I'll keep an eye out for more diverse ways of preparing and eating fugu.

                                                                                1. re: E Eto

                                                                                  Somehow, I have missed this post before now, to my regret. Information is always best from an expert. Thanks!

                                                                      2. Chicken salad.

                                                                        I am extremely picky about chicken salad and need a list of ingredients and it can't have too much mayo.

                                                                        1. Anything that advertizes itself as Gluten Free.

                                                                          19 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Duppie

                                                                            your post reminded me of a cafe i went to once a couple of years ago. a soup was listed as "mostly dairy free." when i asked the server, really in jest, she said, "oh yeah, it's only got a little cream in it. so don't worry about the calories." ...riiiight. because that's what most people looking for "dairy FREE" are concerned about. the excess dairy calories... really though, i just couldn't imagine what moron suggested emblazoning that on the menu.

                                                                            1. re: Emme

                                                                              I tend to avoid the "fad du jour" menu items..... No sous vide,anything topped with foam,poached pigeon egg,embryonic greens,fuchsia salt made from the tears of disappointed Olive Garden diners....

                                                                              1. re: Duppie

                                                                                I think you're going to be disappointed if you are waiting for sous vide to go away. The other things are a fad and will pass, but sous vide is here to stay and is only going to get more popular.

                                                                                1. re: twyst

                                                                                  Food cooked 'too' long at a low temperature, is that not what sous vide is? If so, sounds sort of if-y.

                                                                                  1. re: Rella

                                                                                    Well, scientists and the board of health disagree with you. There are still people who think microwaves present radiation danger though, so I know many people just refuse to accept science.

                                                                                    1. re: twyst

                                                                                      I'll have to check Stephen Hawkin or Leonard Mlodinow on this one -
                                                                                      Thanks for the information re the safety of microwaves, I've always wondered about that.

                                                                                      1. re: Rella

                                                                                        "I'll have to check Stephen Hawkin or Leonard Mlodinow on this one"

                                                                                        I assume you mean Hawking, but regardless, no need! Why consult a theoretical physicist when food scientists have already published all you need to know?


                                                                                        1. re: twyst

                                                                                          I hope you haven't downgraded my intelligence by my abillity to catch this spelling. As a matter of fact, I had the feeling that you might do so, so I went to my library to get the correct spelling so as not to give you that opportunity. Now, I'm so glad that I didn't spell it correctly; afterall, you did point out the spelling for me and for the other readers who might not know the difference, looking up this giant of a man. Thanks so much!

                                                                                          I did go to the link; however, I didn't get past the first pargraph ".. plastic pouch." The words plastic doesn't work for me.

                                                                                          Aw shucks, forget all I've said. I'm against it All! LOL.

                                                                                          1. re: Rella

                                                                                            "I did go to the link; however, I didn't get past the first pargraph ".. plastic pouch." The words plastic doesn't work for me. "

                                                                                            Well, that is a shame. The science explaining the reason why it's not "iffy" is explained in great detail about halfway through the article, with references to work from lots of PhD's who understand the risks and benefits a lot better than you or I.

                                                                                            1. re: twyst

                                                                                              Yes, no doubt the science is correct, but actually cooking in plastic, eating from plastic, storing food in plastic, is not something I care to consider. No shame accepted :-))

                                                                                    2. re: Rella

                                                                                      Devil is in the details. Sous vide in some ways actually allows you to cook things more safely than traditional methods (for example, you can make a fully pasteurized and completely safe medium rare burger, if you're so inclined). It also comes with its own inherent risks if done incorrectly (an anaerobic cooking environment favors the growth of certain bacteria more than most traditional cooking methods). But hey - you can poison people with food cooked in an oven just as easily.

                                                                                      Incidentally, sous vide doesn't necessarily have to be cooked for a long time. There are preparations that cook for under 20 minutes. Likewise, not everything is cooked at particularly low temperature even - you might cook vegetables or confit sous vide at or just below a simmer. It is a very versatile technique.

                                                                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                        Yes, I do believe it is one of the newest pieces of equipment to come into use. And I believe that most people still love the microwave ovens, which IMO was the last revolution in home cooking.

                                                                                        But I'm wondering if it - like induction cook top which is coming into it's own here in the U.S. - will ever be accepted in everyday home kitchens. I think there will probably be something newer and more acceptable (even for folks like me who are not opposed to change, but some things just seem too excessive) in its place than the sous vide.

                                                                                        Actually, over the decades, I have embraced a lot of new additions in the kitchen, but I'm really back to basics. Of course not the hearth and kettle basics, but ... you know what I mean.

                                                                                        Thanks for your information. Appreciated. And I'm sure others appreciate it, too.

                                                                                        1. re: Rella

                                                                                          I doubt it will ever truly be commonplace in home kitchens. Despite its billing, it's not really an easier way to make good food.

                                                                                          But I don't think it's a passing fad either. I suspect while home cooks probably will never completely adopt it, there are too many upsides of the technique for it not to sustain and grow in popularity in professional kitchens. The simple fact that it allows you to shift the balance of work for a high-end dish away from service and towards prep will continue to make it extremely useful for pro kitchens. It simply makes too much sense to a fine dining restaurant's bottom line to be easily discarded. If it is ever replaced with a newer technique, that technique will probably be very similar and based on the same principles.

                                                                                          1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                            "The simple fact that it allows you to shift the balance of work for a high-end dish away from service and towards prep will continue to make it extremely useful for pro kitchens"

                                                                                            This is far and away its biggest strength IMO. In a pro setting it allows you to completely remove human error from the cooking of proteins, allows amazing consistency, and allows for speedy service. It really is a lifesaver and I would not want to work in a kitchen that is not using it TBH.

                                                                                  2. re: Duppie

                                                                                    I wonder if the fuchsia tears you speak of are better than the embittered tears of people who thought they were going to get good seafood at Red Lobster?

                                                                                    1. re: suzigirl

                                                                                      I do believe both are surpassed by those who wept in pain at the irony of "Running for the Border" and only succeeded in the running......

                                                                                      1. re: Duppie

                                                                                        Running, yes. But was it for the border or the bathroom?

                                                                                    2. re: Duppie

                                                                                      fuchsia salt made from the tears of disappointed Olive Garden diners....
                                                                                      I needed a good laugh today, and this was it! Thanks, Duppie!

                                                                                  3. re: Duppie

                                                                                    For those of us with celiac that is a very difficult thing to do. At some places that may be our only option, sadly. However, most places my husband and I go to are higher end and often have great naturally GF options. Thank goodness for duck and game options!

                                                                                    I also cook as well as many restaurants so there is no point in eating out often or ordering what is physically possible to make at home (which is most things).

                                                                                    Chicken dishes of most kinds except when in Italy a great cacciatore perhaps if that is safe for me.

                                                                                    Pasta. I make my own from scratch so would not bother to order it out (fresh GF pasta at restaurants is not exactly great nor is it common).

                                                                                  4. Come to think of it, I would never order egg salad....from anywhere. Janet from Richmond just made me think of that when she mentioned chicken salad

                                                                                    1. Caesar Salad...I've given up. It's always overdressed or the dressing is some creamy version of Italian dressing. I have to have my own Caesar!

                                                                                      Oysters...rather steam 'em mahself or cook 'em on the grill so they aren't cooked into oblivion.

                                                                                      Spaghetti...nobody makes a good spaghetti and I can make my own so much cheaper.

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: SweetPhyl

                                                                                        These last two. I've worked in enough restaurants to know how they make chicken salad. And if they're unwilling or unable to use anchovies in Caesar dressing, why bother offering it?

                                                                                        1. re: SweetPhyl

                                                                                          Absolutely with you on the Caesar salad

                                                                                        2. Sushi, egg foo yong, tzatziki, chiles relleno, crab cakes, risotto, waffles, tempura, tacos al carbon, squid, baby back ribs, and chicken, to name a few. I've been served a lot of bad food in my lifetime.

                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                            I've not had a chiles rellenos in years that i have eaten more the first two bites. Only a optimistic fool like me keeps on doing so. Somehow they used to be good - or at least I thought so - living in San Diego in the 60's. Whah happened?

                                                                                            1. re: Rella

                                                                                              They're still good. If you make them at home...

                                                                                              1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                Yes, you are sooo right. Poblanos are quite good and cheap at one particular grocery I go to. My recipe is only a faux-relleno recipe. No worries, never fail. I'm happy. Wish I had always on hand an appropriate cheese. If anyone has a suggestion for the right cheese for a regular relleno, please post. Thanks.

                                                                                                1. re: Rella

                                                                                                  I don't bother with chiles rellenos either. I do make them at home and use a blend of monterey jack and queso blanco or whatever hard mexican/central american cheese I find locally. That seems to best replicate the 1960s/70s so cal flavor I remember.

                                                                                                  1. re: tcamp

                                                                                                    Costco always has two cheeses queso blanco and another one that are Mexican - one melts easily in a pan for a fried cheese treat, the other one doesn't. I'm always at a loss and then walk away :-))

                                                                                                    I prefer to buy cheese and mix and shred it myself rather than the 'mixed/shredded' Mexican cheese that they sell there, but I have to admit it tastes good.

                                                                                                    Yep, me too, the 60's San Diego Mexican food I recall. Try to find that in Virginia - forget it. At least in my neck of the woods.

                                                                                            2. re: Caroline1

                                                                                              Only "bad food," that seems to have caused a problem, have been some mussels, and several hamburgers.

                                                                                              For the former, not sure what the deal was, but I did some research on the latter, as two incidents happened at a local restaurant, where I loved the hamburgers. My butcher told me a story, but I cannot vouch for the veracity. It seemed that many slaughter houses were using a lot of neck meat, and many glands were being included. This had just begun to happen with some larger operations. His statement was that many people are allergic to a lot of the glandular secretions, and he was hearing a lot of problems. Since I have, to my knowledge, no food allergies, I thought about the little story. I never returned to that restaurant for burgers. Not too long afterwards, I had a cheeseburger at another restaurant, and suffered the exact same symptoms. OK, maybe there was something to that.

                                                                                              Now, I only buy sirloin steaks, and have them twice-ground, when I do burgers. I cook under a few strips of Benton Bacon, so there is some fat dripping down, since my burgers are very, very lean.

                                                                                              Still not sure about the "neck meat" thing, but that butcher never steered us wrong in 20 years?


                                                                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                Sounds reasonable to me. Most of the problems with our food today (including mad cow disease) stem from breaking with tradition, and/or throwing common sense to the wind.

                                                                                            3. Shawarma

                                                                                              Some places do it very well, others really muck it up...

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: pickledFiend

                                                                                                Agreed that shwarma and gyros can range from awesome to awful - but that's a food I find I have to be willing to eat out. Because I can't imagine ever making it at home.

                                                                                              2. Chow mien

                                                                                                Chicken noodle soup

                                                                                                1. Omelets. I dread the overcooked, even browned egg. And I agree with Coll on the home-fries. Also hash browns...the operative word is BROWN. If I want hash tans I'll ask for them.

                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Jeri L

                                                                                                    Corn beef hash, nobody seems to know how to make a decent corn beef hash with the right potato to meat ratio.

                                                                                                    1. re: ericthered

                                                                                                      I don't think most places that serve corned beef hash make it from scratch. I must admit, I can eat the stuff in the can every day. Definitely a guilty pleasure for me. I have had home made hash a few times and it's always hit or miss. The canned stuff is always good to me.

                                                                                                    2. Scrambled eggs. I like mine overcooked, and most places around here cook them properly. I also like my bacon very chewy, and most places serve it crisp. Consequently, I only go out to breakfast when I'm on vacation. I can overcook my own eggs and undercook my own bacon perfectly well, thanks.

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                        Sounds like you and I need to switch locales for breakfast! Around here it's overcooked scrambled eggs and chewy bacon, neither of which I like. (Although I'm not very picky on the eggs... I'll eat them overcooked. But bacon undercooked? No way!)

                                                                                                      2. Chicken, especially chicken breast. I love chicken and cook it all the time. But too many restaurants use it as a 'safe' option for picky eaters and those who don't enjoy big flavors. Which translates to many chicken dishes that are tame, bland, and often overcooked.

                                                                                                        OTOH, if the chicken dish uses risky or unfamiliar ingredients or features dark meat when white meat would be a safer, more popular option, or if it's a specialty of the house, I assume it's on the menu because the chef actually likes the dish, and I'll order it without reservation.

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                          Yes, things like onion soup or chili, Caesar salad, a chicken breast dish with rice pilaf, and some dessert variation on death by chocolate or tiramisu are the pablum of American dining.

                                                                                                        2. Popcorn shrimp. I just do not see the point. All you taste is the breading or batter. I like shrimp! If I order shrimp I want to taste their flavor and enjoy the distinctive crispness when biting into one.

                                                                                                          On reflection, most of those I know who love popcorn shrimp really don't seem to like seafood or are very unadventurous in their seafood choices. Maybe popcorn shrimp is a gateway dish for the seafood timid?

                                                                                                          1. i have two... and two that i love.

                                                                                                            omelettes -- i do not like pancake style omelettes at all. i want my omelette wrapped crepe-style around the veggie fillings. not smashed in and cooked together, like a frittata... and for some reason, if a place does the latter, they have a very hard time doing the former. i've learned where to abstain, and when in doubt, i look at other egg orders going by the table for insight.

                                                                                                            seared tuna (ahi) -- i will never have seared sashimi (ie albacore), as i don't like the taste of cooked when i go for sushi. but as a restaurant entree, i have a hard time getting the least amount of sear possible. I want 1/8" or less. Damn near impossible to get them to serve it to me as an almost giant slab of sashimi. i'd rather not order it, than have them wreck a piece of perfectly good sashimi grade fish.

                                                                                                            1. Well, when I am dining at a French restaurant, and see an entire section on the menu for "poison," I shy away.

                                                                                                              No, wait, that should read "poisson." what does that mean?


                                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: LBJR09

                                                                                                                    I am sure that Bill Hunt was pulling our (collective) legs.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Tripeler

                                                                                                                      Yes, he knows his way around a menu better than anyone here.

                                                                                                                  2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                    When I registered for this site I was told there would not be any math (and I consider statistics to be in the same category).

                                                                                                                  3. #1 Risotto - It's all cheap rice that's been par-cooked and then creamed or buttered out making a sickly bastardization of delicious dish.
                                                                                                                    #2 Steak - It's a feeling of being ripped off that I can't stomach, many places cook it just fine.
                                                                                                                    #3 Any Buffet/Brunch
                                                                                                                    #4 Pasta
                                                                                                                    #5 Soup is very iffy, higher end places usually do okay but forget about it at any chain.
                                                                                                                    #6 Gyro - (There are exceptions Aladdin Falafel Corner in the U District Seattle OMG)

                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: RetiredChef

                                                                                                                      "#6 Gyro - (There are exceptions Aladdin Falafel Corner in the U District Seattle OMG)"

                                                                                                                      I'm a huge fan of this place too. (I do, on rare occasion, order gyros at other places, though... can't help myself)

                                                                                                                        1. re: sydthekyd

                                                                                                                          The soups in many (if not most) chain restaurants can be pretty crappy...New England Clam Chowder that's often a thick and gloppy starch thickened mess, and even simpler soups that might be at least passable if they weren't so salty.

                                                                                                                          1. re: sydthekyd

                                                                                                                            Most are mass prepared Frozen bags of concentrate, that taste highly processed and salty.

                                                                                                                            1. Mussels. I've never ordered them in a restaurant - even reputable ones.

                                                                                                                              Why? Because they're so damn cheap to buy & frankly there isn't a restaurant around who could make them for me any way that would be worth the price they charge.

                                                                                                                              I make them all the time in every preparation imaginable. And fresher & at a fraction of the cost of any restaurant.

                                                                                                                              1. I never order pasta or rice. Not because it won't taste good but because I feel it's always over priced. I want to order something I can't make myself. Shellfish is hit or miss taste wise... so I rarely order that unless I know they do it right.. mussels especially!!

                                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: e0023

                                                                                                                                  Ditto. There are VERY few pasta dishes (or shellfish dishes for that matter) that I can't make better at home. When I dine out, I like to enjoy dishes that I wouldn't normally cook at home.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Bacardi1

                                                                                                                                    Me, too, but fresh pasta in Italy and Croatia can be so wonderful, such as wild boar ragu and fresh pasta simply dressed with shaved white truffles and olive oil. I buy fresh truffles a few times a year and wild boar when I can get it. Other than that, I would not order pasta in restaurants. And I'm with you - I enjoy dishes I could not make at home. Period.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: chefathome

                                                                                                                                      Well, of course my whole outlook would be totally different if I were dining abroad.

                                                                                                                                2. Meatloaf. Never eat anyone's meatloaf but your own.

                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. Coffee. I'm spoiled. Most US restaurants serve regular grocery brands. The higher end places will brew the coffee darker, but they don't use an exceptional brand. I think Hyatt hotels serve StarBucks in the restaurant.

                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                    1. re: GraydonCarter

                                                                                                                                      As a home roaster I'm spoiled too and seldom order coffee out.

                                                                                                                                    2. Desserts. They're never as good as something I can make.

                                                                                                                                      1. I'm a lot easier than most of you. There isn't anything that's been listed that I have not ordered in a resto multiple times. We eat out a lot. Probably at least 3 times a week. The way I think about it, eating out means that I didn't have to cook it. I'm a pretty darn good cook and I don't want to eat something that's worse than I can make it. But it just means that I order things that I know the resto can prepare well.

                                                                                                                                        1. A couple of times I had butterfish in Hawaii. It was really good. When I got home I did some look ups. What is called butterfish is usually a fish called escolar. It is very fatty and can cause severe
                                                                                                                                          gastric distress.
                                                                                                                                          So I don't order it anymore, even though I had no problems.

                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: situke

                                                                                                                                            I have that kind of problem with Chilean Sea Bass, and have learned to avoid it from past experience.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: situke

                                                                                                                                              IIRC this is because the lipids/fats in escolar are unusually structured and as such aren't digestible in the same way that other fats are. The plus side of this is that, despite not actually having a lot of fat, escolar feels very rich and fatty, and you take in fewer calories because your body can't process the fat correctly. The minus side is that you can't eat more than a little bit at a time without risking the "gastric distress" you referred to.

                                                                                                                                              As far as I know, most restaurants take this into account when allotting portions, so there shouldn't be any reason you can't keep ordering it.

                                                                                                                                            2. Any fish that causes 'anal leakage' is to be avoided at all times. At least for me.

                                                                                                                                              1. A friend owned a small Chinese takeout & told me not to eat Chinese in the dead of summer.

                                                                                                                                                1. deli style tuna or chicken or egg or potato or macaroni salad.

                                                                                                                                                  1. I won't order anything from a Chinese restaurant because I've had so much bad stuff from many different places. Usually the food is overly sweet and greasy. I've just had it. I am sure there is magnificent Chinese cuisine, but not around me.

                                                                                                                                                    I resist ordering broccoli as a side, because, frankly I do it better at home. Often the broccoli is the only low carb veggie side though. I feel the same about a side of slaw, because I know the stuff will be too sweet, but sometimes it is the best choice.

                                                                                                                                                    Even in nicer restaurants, I seldom order beef of any sort. I have no idea why. I seldom order beef in any restaurant, unless its a burger in a burger place, but have no idea why. I agree with those who dislike chicken breasts as usually presented in mid-level restaurants. Never very good, often dry. I usually go for pork or seafood. Sometimes I think I've lost my taste for beef--or that beef has lost its taste.

                                                                                                                                                    12 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                                                                      I agree. Something is up with beef - even grass-fed. I LOVE beef, but finding any with flavor is becoming very difficult. I remember how delicious a good ribeye used to be; heck, a mediocre ribeye used to be pretty darn good. Now the $30 a pound stuff has no marbling and no flavor.

                                                                                                                                                      There must already be a thread somewhere here about it.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                        "Now the $30 a pound stuff has no marbling and no flavor. "

                                                                                                                                                        You're buying from the wrong places. I got these choice steaks from Costco but had to wade through several packages to find some that were closer to the prime level of marbling

                                                                                                                                                        I don't eat a lot of steaks. More often than not I'll take a home ground burger over a steak or a braised meat over a steak. Why? I guess not enough flavor ;-))

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                                                          You may not eat a lot of them..... but you darn well know how to pick them. I have a whole bone in strip loin that looks like that hanging in my buddy's meat locker for a 3 week dry age. Can't wait.

                                                                                                                                                          Just picked up 40 lbs of ground sirloin from prime hanging beef scraps with a little extra fat added in from the same guy. Med rare over lump charcoal and it is as good as steak. Need a bib when biting into it.

                                                                                                                                                          What do you grind at home?

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                            Thanks Tom. There are some gems if you know what to look for.

                                                                                                                                                            You're lucky to have a friend with a meat locker. That's pretty cool. I've been thinking of using dry bags for aging but it would really be better with a whole bone in strip loin or rib section which is just too much meat unless I'm having a big dinner party. Guess I could cut it into steaks then vacuum seal and freeze. How are you going to use your bone in strips?

                                                                                                                                                            Currently I have packs of brisket, short rib and flap meat cut into long strips. About 1/3 of each per 2# pack which I've been using for ground meat. I have been keeping these in the freezer to quickly pull when the burger urge strikes.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                                                              The friend is an old school "hanging beef" butcher. The bones will get a little funky during the dry age & he will bone it out for me. I will then cut 12 to 13 nice thick boneless strip steaks and cook a couple at screaming temps over lump charcoal in the Big Green Egg. The rest I will vacuum seal and freeze. ***Without the moisture, dry aged steaks freeze & thaw great. *** I just found a Vac Sealed one in the back of the freezer that was 18 months old. No crystals or discoloration....tasted just as good as the day I got them. Wet aged would have been full of crystals & discolored after 1 1/2 yrs even if vac sealed.

                                                                                                                                                              The combo for the burgers sounds great. I can get the Flap meat from the same friend but it is USDA prime, not cheap and so good I just can't put it in the grinder. Would consider it if I could get cheaper select or bottom choice but most of the meat cutters in the supermarkets around my way that carry cheaper select & bottom choice don't even know what Flap Meat is. The few that do say their boxed beef shortloins are fully trimmed and don't have the Flap.

                                                                                                                                                              The reviews on the dry bag aging system seem pretty good but I have not tried them.

                                                                                                                                                              Wet aging whole primals in the cryovac is simple and I do a lot of them during the year. Wife and kids seem to like the wet aging better.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                                Have a packer brisket aging in cryo at the moment

                                                                                                                                                                Good to hear they freeze really well. Makes it worth trying since it's only the two of us eating most often

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                                                                  If you go with the dry bag let us know how it worked. For storage I use the 3.5 mil Food Fresh Vacstrip bags ...PT 6x10 for single steak , QT 8x10 for double steak. Last batch I got, 300 of each, from Webstaurant Store, with shipping came to .13 cents for PT & just under .18 for the QT.

                                                                                                                                                                  Also use them for high quality seafood.

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: scubadoo97


                                                                                                                                                            I recently purchased some ribeyes from Costco as well, and yes I, we (my sister and I) searched and found four steaks about a pound each. We put them on the grill with just a little salt and then some pepper at the end, of course we took them out from the fridge to warm up a bit. My sis and I believe it is all in the cooking. A good clean grill slightly oiled, searing them and then cooking them around the grill over varying temperatures. Over cooking is beef's worst enemy. Mine was rare, all of the others was medium. Great beefy flavor and very satisfying.....

                                                                                                                                                            I will not order fish in a restaurant unless I know of the restaruant....have had too many bad experiences...where teh fish really was bad...and I mean prepared poorly, not fresh, or over cooked....

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: PHREDDY

                                                                                                                                                              When I grilled those strip steaks I used a rub of fresh ground ancho, guajillo, espresso ground coffee beans, cumin, a little Dizzy Pig Red Eye Express rub, salt and pepper. The steak was cooked to med/rare. Even my wife liked it and she is less of a steak eater then I am.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                                                                I like the sound of that rub....I have tried something with coffee grinds on skirt steaks....

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: PHREDDY

                                                                                                                                                                  I used it on a flank and liked it so much I used it the strip which is often cooked more simply

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                                                                    I have to look in my file to find that marinade with the ground coffee... a business associate gave it to me a couple of years ago...

                                                                                                                                                        1. I'm with you on the scrambled eggs. I also won't order omelets in restaurants either. I cannot handle even the tiniest bit of browning on my eggs.

                                                                                                                                                          Schnitzel in a German restaurant. Mine is always better. ;)

                                                                                                                                                          Spaghetti and Meatballs. Again, mine is always better. ;)

                                                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: tiffeecanoe

                                                                                                                                                            Schnitzel? Wow. I order schnitzel whenever I can (at my trusted places, that is), because I never have veal cutlets at home, and I generally find them a massive PITA to make.... especially if we're talking the ones that will cover an entire plate.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                                              If using veal, I never make them massive. I tend to make pork schnitzel a lot more these days. I live in just outside of Milwaukee - you'd think it wouldn't be so hard to find good schnitzel around here or what is probably good schnitzel for under $20 in a restaurant. That's ridiculous - especially when mine will be better ;) ha!

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: tiffeecanoe

                                                                                                                                                                Ah, that makes sense, then. $20 for a pork cutlet is highway robbery. For veal, it would actually be a decent deal.