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Menu items that have "jumped the shark" in DC

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

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

      1 Reply
      1. re: reiflame

        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. 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

          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: Steve

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

          2. 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

              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

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

                1. re: agarnett100

                  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

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

                    1. re: agarnett100

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

                      1. re: agarnett100

                        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

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

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

                      13 Replies
                      1. re: hill food

                        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

                          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

                            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


                              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

                                "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

                                  Spoken like a true blue New Englander :)

                                2. re: Elyssa

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

                                  1. re: flavrmeistr

                                    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

                                      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

                                        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


                                          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

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

                                1 Reply
                                1. Gourmet or artisan burgers (or burger joints)

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    gourmet pizza joints how many do we need

                                    1. re: agarnett100

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

                                  2. 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

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

                                    2. 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

                                        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

                                          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. 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. 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

                                              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: woodleyparkhound

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

                                              1. 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

                                                  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

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

                                                    1. re: Dennis S

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

                                                    13 Replies
                                                    1. re: kellyc96

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

                                                        1. re: Bob W

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

                                                              1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                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

                                                                  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

                                                                    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

                                                                      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!!!

                                                            1. re: kellyc96

                                                              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

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

                                                            2. 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

                                                                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

                                                                  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

                                                                    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

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