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Menu items that have "jumped the shark" in DC

mdpilam Jul 4, 2012 10:17 AM

It seems that there are a growing number of ubiquitous menu items in DC, and I am starting to look for restaurants that stay away from trends and gimmicks (I earlier proclaimed - and then shortly retracted because it was hard to do - "no more going to restaurants that have beet salad on the menu!"). Here are some items that I am sick of seeing (even though I generally like said items, I feel like restaurants just have them because they are trendy):

Pork belly (this jumped the shark before I even moved here a yr and a half ago - in CA atleast)

Beet salad


Can you add to the list?

Also, please mention places that offer non-trendy or gimmicky fare (but still good).

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  1. cheesepowder RE: mdpilam Jul 4, 2012 11:22 AM

    I see alot of tuna tartar and/or seared rare tuna steak on salad on menus around DC.

    1. r
      reiflame RE: mdpilam Jul 4, 2012 12:22 PM

      Sliders of almost any form - the bun:meat ration is just never that good.

      1 Reply
      1. re: reiflame
        hill food RE: reiflame Jul 4, 2012 06:02 PM

        sliders, yes.

        cheese p -I still find tuna or really anything seasoned and served raw, appealing but it does seem like everyone has Tartare or Carpaccio in some form

      2. s
        Steve RE: mdpilam Jul 4, 2012 12:33 PM

        Beet salad is a good thing, but I'd like to see it without the ubiquitous goat cheese. As if beets can't be eaten without it.

        As I mentioned in the Green Pig Bistro thread, I had a tomato salad that was wonderful. What other places are offering a tomato salad, because quite frankly I have never seen much of it on DC area menus even in the middle of summer.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Steve
          wineo1957 RE: Steve Jul 4, 2012 04:26 PM

          Last week we had a great Caprese and a cous cous tomato salad at Dino. The latter had chopped tomatoes, some sort of pickled onion, cucumbers & radish. The beet salad had a cheese on it, but not goat. The grilled vegetable plate had grilled broccoli, zucchini, onions, sugar snap peas, garlicky string bean looking things. The squash blossoms were stuffed with ricotta and came on a puddle of tomato sauce. Was easy to be a vegetarian that night!

          1. re: wineo1957
            Steve RE: wineo1957 Jul 4, 2012 07:52 PM

            Thanks for the rec!

          2. re: Steve
            TastyK RE: Steve Jul 12, 2012 10:47 AM

            Willow has a great heirloom tomato salad that is only on the menu in the summer when tomatoes are in season.

          3. GraydonCarter RE: mdpilam Jul 4, 2012 01:54 PM

            Hard for me to jump on board because I like all of these:

            - fish cooked on a Cedar Plank

            - grilled cheese sandwich

            - chicken pot pie

            7 Replies
            1. re: GraydonCarter
              agarnett100 RE: GraydonCarter Jul 4, 2012 02:10 PM

              chicken and waffles - every new spot is jumping on this bandwagon
              shrimp and grits-
              pork belly - which is a really inexpensive cut of meat
              Kobe burgers - Kobe way too expensive to be made it a burger

              1. re: agarnett100
                Hal Laurent RE: agarnett100 Jul 4, 2012 03:53 PM

                Any beef you get in the States isn't really Kobe anyway. The best it can be is "Kobe style".

                1. re: agarnett100
                  wineo1957 RE: agarnett100 Jul 4, 2012 04:33 PM

                  I am not sure the hate on pork belly. I mean it is just a cut of meat. If its well done, then it can be fabulous. Too often its just poorly cooked and the fat is too much the only feature of the meat. But when cooked properly, with a goodly amount of fat rendered, it can be amazing.

                  But I do agree that some chefs are just adding belly to add belly. I don't really want pork belly in my Bloody Mary or in my dessert. I had a vanilla bean braised pork belly that would have been so much better if it hadn't been vanilla bean braised, but just braised braised.

                  On the other hand, the pork belly dish at Golden Bangkok's Lao menu was amazing in recipe, but the pork itself was nothing special. Bar Pillar and Cafe St. Ex have had great pork belly dishes in the past but we haven't been back since the remodels. Dino has pork belly with brussel sprouts where the belly is firm and crispy and luscious.

                  Pork belly is one dish where commercial pork just won't do. You need pork that has been raised properly. We got some belly from Truck Patch at Mt Pleasant Farmer's Market and it was the best we have ever had. Groff's Content too. Eco Friendly Foods is another.

                  1. re: wineo1957
                    agarnett100 RE: wineo1957 Jul 4, 2012 09:32 PM

                    FYI-the pork belly I purchased for $3 bucks from the Latin market in Laurel works just as good

                    1. re: agarnett100
                      wineo1957 RE: agarnett100 Jul 5, 2012 03:07 AM

                      We will have to disagree, I used to swear by the belly from H-Mart till I tried Truck Patch.

                      1. re: agarnett100
                        drewpbalzac RE: agarnett100 Jul 5, 2012 06:03 AM

                        I agree with agarnett100 completely. I grabbed 4 pounds of belly from a local farm at one of the Arlington farmers market last week at $7.99 a pound to give the locally raised stuff a whirl.

                        There was absolutely not discernible difference between it and any other pork belly except, for the black pig belly that I get from Super Hmart wich is much . . . . much better.

                    2. re: agarnett100
                      msjess RE: agarnett100 Jul 13, 2012 08:58 AM

                      I think the chicken and waffles obsession is that almost every restraunt has chicken on the menu as a concession to picky eaters but fried chicken is more fun than roasted.

                  2. m
                    Milocat1 RE: mdpilam Jul 4, 2012 03:12 PM

                    Not a type of food but a presentation--the ubiquitous "small plates." I am rarely in the mood to share my food.

                    1. hill food RE: mdpilam Jul 4, 2012 06:05 PM

                      lobster mac 'n' cheese. what a waste to someone who didn't grow up in New England

                      13 Replies
                      1. re: hill food
                        monkeyrotica RE: hill food Jul 5, 2012 03:15 AM

                        After the third time trying this, I gave up. I think it's just a way of taking comfort food and sticking a high-margin pricetag on it. Like kobe sliders. Or the burger that comes with a diamond ring and a bottle of Dom Perignon.

                        1. re: monkeyrotica
                          hill food RE: monkeyrotica Jul 5, 2012 12:31 PM

                          I agree but if you raise Kobe, bottle your own Champagne and mine diamonds sure. go crazy.

                          if I lived in Maine or even Nova Scotia maybe I could get my head around it.

                          1. re: monkeyrotica
                            Elyssa RE: monkeyrotica Jul 9, 2012 11:04 AM

                            I agree. Coming from Boston I rarely order lobster mac and cheese. It's often times too rich and you rarely can actually taste the sweetness of the lobster.

                            But I'm also a person who doesn't believe in frying lobster either.

                            1. re: Elyssa
                              Bob W RE: Elyssa Jul 9, 2012 11:55 AM


                              To me, lobster mac and cheese is simply a waste of good lobster. The added cost will never result in sufficiently added deliciousness. Good mac and cheese needs no help, anyway, and bad mac and cheese won't be saved by the addition of lobster meat..

                              We'll be in Maine next week and many lobsters will be eaten. 8<D

                              1. re: Bob W
                                woodleyparkhound RE: Bob W Jul 9, 2012 12:40 PM

                                "To me, lobster mac and cheese is simply a waste of good lobster. The added cost will never result in sufficiently added deliciousness. Good mac and cheese needs no help, anyway, and bad mac and cheese won't be saved by the addition of lobster meat."


                                1. re: Bob W
                                  Elyssa RE: Bob W Jul 10, 2012 02:36 PM

                                  Spoken like a true blue New Englander :)

                                  1. re: Elyssa
                                    Bob W RE: Elyssa Jul 11, 2012 06:15 AM


                                2. re: Elyssa
                                  flavrmeistr RE: Elyssa Jul 9, 2012 12:32 PM

                                  Agree on the lobster mac 'n cheese. Lobster mashed potatoes with butter and cream...man. That is a combo.

                                  1. re: flavrmeistr
                                    Elyssa RE: flavrmeistr Jul 10, 2012 02:37 PM

                                    Where have you had lobster mashed potatoes? Is this a side dish? Sounds incredibly rich (and possibly delicious...or falling into the same issue and lobster mac and cheese).

                                    1. re: Elyssa
                                      hill food RE: Elyssa Jul 10, 2012 08:18 PM

                                      I dunno, I'm more receptive to the potatoes. must be the cheese part.

                                      still as a MidWestern kid for whom ANY shellfish was a treat - I want to yell: keep it simple! doesn't need more (grumble grumble grumble) even drawn butter seems un-needed ('K I'll keep the lemon)

                                      1. re: hill food
                                        monkeyrotica RE: hill food Jul 11, 2012 04:05 AM

                                        I think some cooks are afraid to keep it simple or risk having their dish called out as being "uninspired." Unsophisticated and uninspired are not the same thing. I'm reminded of the menu item I spotted in a trendy eatery that was obviously trying too hard. It was grilled cod served with a lime vanilla sauce. I told the waiter, "If I wanted a Key Lime Fish Pie, I'd order that."

                                        1. re: monkeyrotica
                                          hill food RE: monkeyrotica Jul 11, 2012 08:30 PM


                                          once on the old Salon Table Talk I started a thread called "When Foods Collide, an Ingredient too Far"

                                          this would qualify.

                                      2. re: Elyssa
                                        flavrmeistr RE: Elyssa Jul 11, 2012 08:44 AM

                                        The Tasting Room in Frederick serves lobster mashed potatoes in a large martini glass as an appetizer. The creamy plain goodness of the mashed potatoes heightens the sweet richness of the lobster. Flavrfrau describes it as "Food of the Gods" and orders it as her main course. I am not quite as ardent, but it is a pretty good paring.

                              2. h
                                Hue RE: mdpilam Jul 4, 2012 06:41 PM

                                Pork belly, was once the term used for bacon!!!
                                Are those American or Canadian bellies/bellys?

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Hue
                                  Hal Laurent RE: Hue Jul 5, 2012 04:14 AM

                                  Bacon is smoked pork belly.

                                2. ipsedixit RE: mdpilam Jul 4, 2012 09:12 PM

                                  Gourmet or artisan burgers (or burger joints)

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: ipsedixit
                                    agarnett100 RE: ipsedixit Jul 4, 2012 09:31 PM

                                    gourmet pizza joints how many do we need

                                    1. re: agarnett100
                                      GraydonCarter RE: agarnett100 Jul 5, 2012 12:08 AM

                                      Flatbread Margherita if you aren't a pizza joint and you don't have a brick oven.

                                  2. monkeyrotica RE: mdpilam Jul 5, 2012 03:09 AM

                                    Arugula. Arugula has gotten so cliched, they've gone back to calling it "rocket." Please let this nasty bitter cr@p die. Hell, I'll take a freaking wedge salad over this stuff.

                                    If there's a restaurant that doesn't serve a grilled chicken caesar, I haven't been in it.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: monkeyrotica
                                      hill food RE: monkeyrotica Jul 5, 2012 12:34 PM

                                      yeah what's wrong with a simple caesar? but even so it's never a proper one. either no dressing or bottled glop.

                                    2. j
                                      Jeserf RE: mdpilam Jul 5, 2012 04:07 AM

                                      Salted caramel. I love it, but come on - there ARE other flavor profiles. And if it's not done really well, it's just such a let down. The salted caramel gelato I had at Bibiana a while go was some of the best "salted caramel" I've had. Salted caramel cupcakes....why?

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Jeserf
                                        Elyssa RE: Jeserf Jul 9, 2012 11:05 AM

                                        This is actually a trend I hope sticks around for a long time. I LOVE...LOOOOOVE the salty sweet dessert creations I see on menus these days.

                                        1. re: Jeserf
                                          Transplanted Texan RE: Jeserf Jul 10, 2012 07:41 PM

                                          I agree. I'm thoroughly tired of the salt-on-sweet trend.

                                          Chocolate covered bacon is another thing that should go the way of the do-do bird.

                                        2. d
                                          drewpbalzac RE: mdpilam Jul 5, 2012 06:16 AM

                                          Chocolate with chile - I don't care if that is the way the ancient Aztecs ate/drank it. If I want my chocolate funkied up I'll have it as a mole . . . .not a candy bar.

                                          Macaroni and cheese bites, most restaurant can't get a good mac & cheese right, why bread it ant fry it.

                                          Fried calamari . . . . more often than not poorly executed or frozen food service nastiness.

                                          1. Insidious Rex RE: mdpilam Jul 6, 2012 10:34 AM

                                            Well cup cakes in general but then I think saying cup cakes are overrated has become passe because so many people say it now. But Ill say it still... Oh and gourmet tater tots. Yes Ive tried some and there is never any real clear separation (minus sauce) between the over priced trendy tater tot menu items Ive tasted and the little nuggets I ate when I was in 2nd grade in the 70s... Yet full grown adults continue to get completely excited when they see tater tots on the menu at a fashionable gastropub or steak house and dont even blink when a small serving of them costs $10, $12, $15...

                                            And as for pork belly being overdone, Id agree. But its still amazing stuff when done right. And the chinese have been making it right for 2000 years. Just never became trendy until high end Manhattan restaurants decided to bring it above ground.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: Insidious Rex
                                              Insidious Rex RE: Insidious Rex Jul 6, 2012 10:56 AM

                                              ha ha I just had to share this link I found after making all those comments about pork belly and tater tots: http://ideasinfood.typepad.com/ideas_...

                                              1. re: Insidious Rex
                                                woodleyparkhound RE: Insidious Rex Jul 9, 2012 11:42 AM

                                                Speaking of cupcakes, it's gotten worse!


                                                1. re: woodleyparkhound
                                                  Insidious Rex RE: woodleyparkhound Jul 10, 2012 12:26 PM

                                                  Oh good lord... Ill wait for the pork belly vending machine.

                                              2. d
                                                drewpbalzac RE: mdpilam Jul 6, 2012 11:14 AM

                                                Do we owe royalties to that guy from the Howard Stern Show for using "jumped the shark"?

                                                I hear he now has his own fast food show on basic cable.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: drewpbalzac
                                                  Dennis S RE: drewpbalzac Jul 7, 2012 10:50 AM

                                                  Jump the shark comes from Happy Days when Fonzie jumped a shark on water skis.


                                                  Edit: I see that the guy you're referencing authored a book with that title. No, he gets nothing. No Soup For Him!

                                                  1. re: Dennis S
                                                    Bob W RE: Dennis S Jul 8, 2012 03:41 PM

                                                    The book was a poor attempt to cash in on a trend that had already jumped the shark. 8>D

                                                    1. re: Dennis S
                                                      drewpbalzac RE: Dennis S Jul 10, 2012 01:29 PM

                                                      John Hein made millions from selling his "Jump the Shark" website to TV Guide.

                                                      He popularized using the Happy Days episode to represent when a TV show has gone stale and tries a gimick to bring viewers back.

                                                      Now he is that host of his own food show. . . .

                                                  2. k
                                                    kellyc96 RE: mdpilam Jul 7, 2012 08:36 AM

                                                    - Korean tacos
                                                    - flatbreads (i.e. bad pizza)
                                                    - anything cooked 'low & slow'

                                                    13 Replies
                                                    1. re: kellyc96
                                                      monkeyrotica RE: kellyc96 Jul 7, 2012 08:54 AM

                                                      I can only guess you've never had proper Korean BBQ pizza.

                                                      1. re: monkeyrotica
                                                        Bob W RE: monkeyrotica Jul 8, 2012 03:41 PM


                                                        1. re: Bob W
                                                          shake N baik RE: Bob W Jul 9, 2012 09:31 AM

                                                          Can you please share where you can find Korean BBQ pizza? Sounds amazing!!

                                                          1. re: shake N baik
                                                            monkeyrotica RE: shake N baik Jul 9, 2012 10:48 AM

                                                            Why, Japan of course.


                                                            1. re: monkeyrotica
                                                              shake N baik RE: monkeyrotica Jul 9, 2012 01:27 PM

                                                              what a tease!! not cool!!

                                                              1. re: monkeyrotica
                                                                Ziv RE: monkeyrotica Jul 9, 2012 02:24 PM

                                                                Great, Monkeyerotica! I was whinging about fake Chinese at Minerva a couple years ago, and the Indian woman I was talking to said that 'Chinese' Indian food is a popular sort of comfort food in India. It isn't real Chinese, but an Indian adaptation of it using Indian ingredients. Now Japanese Korean pizza adds another cultural fusion twist to the menu!

                                                                1. re: Ziv
                                                                  wineo1957 RE: Ziv Jul 9, 2012 03:40 PM

                                                                  Korean Chinese is fantastic. There is one in Belltsville and one one Annandale, but I like the Belltsville one better. Hand pulled noodles {seafood or jajamein}, sweet and sour wings, the best fried dumplings, sizzling rice seafood. AMAZING!

                                                                  1. re: wineo1957
                                                                    Kris in Beijing RE: wineo1957 Jul 11, 2012 11:11 AM

                                                                    Korean Chinese IS fantastic. I lived in Seoul for a year, and YUM. Seafood is fresher, garlic is better.

                                                                    I've also only had Japanese shabu-shabu in Seoul, so I don't know how it is "for real" but mannnn was it good in Korea!!

                                                                    1. re: Kris in Beijing
                                                                      wineo1957 RE: Kris in Beijing Jul 12, 2012 08:27 AM

                                                                      There is an all you can eat Korean in Annandale that does AYCE Shabu Shabu for under $20pp. Right behind the Jerry Subs. Great when you are running on empty or are just a couple of hungry guys+++ like we are.

                                                                      +++ any implication that I am using this term as a euphemism for greedy pigs will be dealt with as soon as the boy and I get our pants let out!!!

                                                              2. re: shake N baik
                                                                Teddybear RE: shake N baik Jul 9, 2012 02:31 PM

                                                                Amazing? As in amazingly awful?

                                                            2. re: monkeyrotica
                                                              JoanArkham RE: monkeyrotica Jul 9, 2012 10:02 AM

                                                              Go on...

                                                            3. re: kellyc96
                                                              The Big Crunch RE: kellyc96 Jul 10, 2012 10:00 AM

                                                              Korean tacos? Really? I know a few places have them, and we do have a Korean taco truck, but I don't really see them as ubiquitous yet.

                                                              1. re: The Big Crunch
                                                                Elyssa RE: The Big Crunch Jul 10, 2012 02:38 PM

                                                                There are at least 4 trucks doing Korean/Asian style tacos now.

                                                            4. s
                                                              staughton RE: mdpilam Jul 11, 2012 12:29 PM

                                                              This Maryland item jumped the shark years ago, but it still persists: Old Bay Bloody Marys. I don't mind a little in the mix, but the top of the glass encrusted with it like a margarita w/ salt? YUCK. There's more than enough sodium already floating around in the average Blood Mary.

                                                              And, a real pet peeve of mine that has also jumped the shark EVERYWHERE: using a combination of very expensive imported cheeses (combined so that none of them are even detectable) in the all-American mac&cheese that doesn't need it. What a waste. Snooty versions of junk food by cooking school grads have gotten very tired. It's sooo 1997.

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: staughton
                                                                monkeyrotica RE: staughton Jul 11, 2012 01:43 PM

                                                                This seems to be the critical flaw in the lobster Mac and cheeses I've tried. They usually use gruyere or Emmentaler and instead of rich and creamy it's burnt and greasy. Maybe they're not using a bechamel, but it seems a waste. I've also seen a lot of country fried steaks where they use strip or ribeye and fry it until its battered shoe leather. I can only assume some genius thinks its an expensive cut and, therefor, the best. Anyway, if you have no freaking clue how to make the original, please refrain from any "playful reimaginings of the classic," idiots.

                                                                1. re: monkeyrotica
                                                                  hill food RE: monkeyrotica Jul 11, 2012 08:38 PM

                                                                  agreed, a proper chicken or country fried steak just wants a stupid chopped steak.

                                                                  I see a theme running through here. leave the good ingredients alone and save technique for the cheap stuff where it's needed.

                                                                  wish more restaurant owners popped up or lurked here. Dean of Dino's has on occasion (but he doesn't seem to need this particular advice), and very few others.

                                                                  1. re: hill food
                                                                    wineo1957 RE: hill food Jul 12, 2012 08:31 AM

                                                                    Have you tried the grilled pancetta apricots at Dino? Mascarpone, balsamic vinegar, pancetta and apricots.

                                                                    The avocado crostini at Cork?

                                                                    I remember an egg on toast at Bar Pilar which was toast, a perfectly poached egg and a salty condiment.

                                                                    Good olive oil, salt, bread?

                                                                    1. re: wineo1957
                                                                      hill food RE: wineo1957 Jul 13, 2012 01:45 AM

                                                                      that first one does sound wrong, the others sound good (I have an unswerveable prejudice about apricots)

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