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Good Restaurant.....um...Not for Me...

What are the signs that you're probably not going to fall in love with a restaurant?

I'll begin...if the menu has six salads on it and they all contain meat, it's probably not my style of food.

If they like to serve food "with au jus sauce", I'm going to have doubts.

Etc.

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  1. If the menu is silly and pretentious, that's a tipoff for me that the food may well be, too. Misapplied quotation marks, for some reason, also set up red flags: "Our Special" Pasta, etc. It sounds purposely ironic to me. Misspellings also make me a little crazy. Foodwise, if it's TOO health-oriented, or specific food-lifestyle oriented, it ain't my thang - I don't do raw foods and will NEVER order a dish called, "I Am Delightful," or "Love is Bounteous and Shines in Me" as a local restaurant has become nationally famous for doing. (Plus and which, I just really really hate their food.) Sue me. :)
    Fun Topic.
    Maybe someone could start a corollary thread, "What Are the Signs You'll Probably Love a Restaurant?"

    30 Replies
    1. re: mamachef

      Ugh, don't start me on the misspellings, not to mention the apostrophes on plurals. I am trying to get over these things, because some might be ready to call me a bad person over it ;-P

      Nonetheless, languages have standards for a reason.

      All great points, BTW.

      1. re: sandylc

        Here's a great mis-spell. I cooked at a Southern food restaurant, so of course, biscuits were a big thing there. I don't know if the waitress who did it ever actually looked at the menu, because on the letterboard, when we ran a special that included them, she spelled it "biskets." I saw it when I left that night and wanted to throw myself in front of a car. But it taught me a valuable lesson about doublechecking everything.

        1. re: mamachef

          But were the biskets good? I must know.

          I see potato misspelled most often. Dan Quail Disease. DQD. I am bringing it back!

          1. re: Sal Vanilla

            uhh that would be Quayle (sorry I couldn't resist)

            1. re: hill food

              Haha. Right. I was too lazy to look it up. I blame public schooling... and too many carbs.

              Thanks for the laugh.

            2. re: Sal Vanilla

              Those biskets were amazing; made w/ full butter. Big round flaky pillows of delicious. We had trouble w/ the waitresses eating them and then not having enoughfor their tables, which necessitated us having to STOP everything to make a new batch. Everybody got biskets and cornbread when they were seated, and those things put me off Whomp biskets forever.

              1. re: mamachef

                True story: Like many here I have been lucky enough to enjoy some of the best restaurants in the world, but what plagues me - what I remember the most was this fresh fro the oven cheese roll I had on a road trip from CA to FL. I stopped in a cafeteria in a spit in the road in Texas - a lunchateria for ranch people. On a giant pan lay my dream roll - glossy brown outside... unbearable lightness and pull apart sweetness wrapped in cheddary heaven. I took it for granted at the time. But for the next few days and ever since I recall them and drool and wonder if I can one day recreate them. Lunch plate 3.75. I miss thee.

            3. re: mamachef

              We just ate dinner last night at a place where the dessert menu offered "Chocolate Moose Cake"'. When I pointed it out to my companions, my husband said that he thought they were trying to be cute. It was a local and pretty authentic Italian trattoria, so I don't think they were aiming for cute - just a misspelling. However, they also offered Pig's Blood Chocolate Pudding (I forgot the Italian name)...so who knows what may have been in that chocolate cake, heh, heh.

              1. re: Justpaula

                Sanguinaccio; good stuff if done properly - the blood adds an extra richness.

            4. re: sandylc

              I usta kinda liked misspellings in Asian restos (e.g. Human Beef) as a sign of recent-immigrant-authenticity. Now I wonder if this is not the product of a slick PR firm trying to give that impression.

              1. re: sandylc

                I should say here that I don't have a problem with misspellings on menus when the owners have a different native language.

                1. re: sandylc

                  and with immigrants grammar can be as big an issue as spelling. how is an immigrant supposed to understand the difference between:

                  vegetarian stir fry with tofu
                  stir fry vegetarian with tofu

                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                    I think I prefer the second one :p

                    1. re: KaimukiMan

                      Regardless of whether I ascribe to their dining choices, I do NOT think that any vegetarian should be "stir-fried," or even shunned... [Grin]

                      Hunt

                    2. re: sandylc

                      I agree unless the fellow running the FOH went to the my High School :-)

                    3. re: sandylc

                      If that makes one a bad person, I don't want to be good.

                      1. re: sandylc

                        The only time I will accept misspellings is when it is an ethnic restaurant that has clearly made the menus in house. Especially if we're talking a country that doesn't use the roman alphabet.

                        1. re: sandylc

                          Speaking of ill-placed ˜ apostrophe's˜, it would take a lot for me to dine at Frank's Bill's Dave's etc. though there are areas where the apostrophe is automatically attached. Frankly this poaches my eggs a little, takes the chew outta my carmels

                          1. re: demitasse04

                            er....why?

                            Frank's -- Bill's -- Dave's as you wrote it have the apostrophes correctly places.

                            If the place belongs to Frank or Bill or Dave...???

                              1. re: demitasse04

                                I'm not really sure what you mean either, demitasse04. If Dave owns the sub shop, and chooses to call it "Dave's Sub Shop", why is that an ill-placed apostrophe?

                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                  How to agree not too sure what exactly is wrong with 'Dave's' or 'Frank's'.

                                  1. re: Withnail42

                                    Restaurants under the train track of my young adulthood. Geeze people. Yes, carmels; as in NUCULAR.

                                    1. re: demitasse04

                                      I wonder if maybe the "fruit of the vine," might not be at play here? One of us is not making any sense.

                                      Hunt

                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                        Hunt - if your posit is correct, in e-mail it's called 'de-railing', but on boards I think the term is 'prosting'.

                                        1. re: hill food

                                          OK, my mind must be mis-firing here. It seems that you completely understand the post, to which I replied, but even with the terms that you used, it still does not make sense to me. Maybe it's time for me to head to the Barrow Neurological Institute, as something is very, very wrong.

                                          Just not sure what this means "Restaurants under the train track of my young adulthood. Geeze people. Yes, carmels; as in NUCULAR." I only hope that you can explain that to me.

                                          Hunt - feeling like I need major medical treatment.

                                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                                            oh I agree, there is some kind of synaptic disconnect going on here. but to look for a point is to miss the point. like when you try to look directly at a star and it disappears until it's in the corner of your eye. sometimes these little eddies and whirlpools lead only to a river's undertow and the result is never satisfying. or happy.

                        2. re: mamachef

                          "if it's TOO health-oriented, or specific food-lifestyle oriented, it ain't my thang"

                          Yep. There's a chain here called "Know Fat." Never tried it. Never will.

                          Oh, and if the word "sustainable" appears too many times on the menu, well, that's it for me, thanks. Hate self-righteous food!

                          1. re: mamachef

                            I'm curious (and in agreement)- what to hell is 'I am delightful'? Some narcissistic Asian short-order cook? Criminy.

                            1. re: EWSflash

                              mama and EWS - 'I am delightful'

                              also an ill-advised tramp-stamp.

                          2. Anywhere with a cutesy name, like "Karrie's Kountry Kitchen". Not so much. (that is an example I made up, in case there happens to actually be somewhere of that name!).

                            12 Replies
                            1. re: Kat

                              Like Harry Anderson once said, "Never eat at a place called "Mom's" and never play cards with a guy called Pops".

                              1. re: PotatoHouse

                                There is a great restaurant in Portland, Oregon called Mother's.

                              2. re: Kat

                                Hey the best breakfast place where my mom lives has "Kountry Kitchen" in the name LOL But, I think the mark of a good breakfast place is it being "country style" which this place very much is. Amazing biscuits.

                                1. re: juliejulez

                                  We have a Countrie Eatery nearby that has fabulous foods!!

                                2. re: Kat

                                  unless it's on a backroad in the middle of nowhere and surrounded by pickup trucks with local plates -- in which case, pull in NOW.

                                  Places like Chat 'n' Chew, Kathy's Kitchn (sic), in out-of-the-way locations are sometimes local favorites...for a reason.

                                  In a perfect world, all the signage would be correct and the menus free of errors. But I'll take a messed-up menu and great food over a slick menu and meh food any day of the week.

                                    1. re: sr44

                                      yeah but that one is also an old lower Haight hipster joint

                                      1. re: hill food

                                        OMG, you mean there's more than one of them?

                                        1. re: sr44

                                          actually there are 5 in SF. I assume there's no connection to the one in Bluffton SC.

                                  1. re: Kat

                                    'Anywhere with a cutesy name, like "Karrie's Kountry Kitchen"'
                                    _______
                                    The cutesy aspect doesn't bother me too much. But I'd be a little worried I was stepping into a Klan hangout.

                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                      HEH! And I would be on the lookout for surly looks (I don't look like a redneck bubba) or pointy white caps in the corner.

                                    2. Any place that advertises a "vegan charcuterie platter".

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: Vetter

                                        Oh this made me LOL. Have you ever actually come across one of those on a menu?

                                        Along these lines, I hate when a dish is altered so far from its purest form that its insulting. Mexican pizza for instance. Or the chimichanga - dropping a burrito into the fryer ruined the burrito.

                                        1. re: desertdweller

                                          http://www.gatherrestaurant.com/kitchen

                                          Sorry, I can't link directly to the menu, it's a Google doc. But this restaurant has it on their dinner menu.

                                          They could have, more acurately, called it an antipasto platter, but I guess they think this is funny.

                                          1. re: desertdweller

                                            desert - a friend calls that 'chimikitty'

                                            1. re: desertdweller

                                              I'll see up a Mexican pizza, and up you a takoyaki pizza and a kimchi beef pizza. At Pizza Hut, no less.

                                          2. This is one of the silliest threads I've seen on C'Hound. Today we took my brother-in-law and my sister out for lunch to a favorite place of ours, While the chef there is well trained in cooking the menu contained many grammatical errors. Darn but the food was unusual and delicious.

                                            1. A few warning signs to me:

                                              Home Cooking

                                              Vegetable Plate

                                              Meat & Three

                                              Before moving to Georgia, I'd never heard of the last two. They're everywhere down here.

                                              87 Replies
                                              1. re: jmcarthur8

                                                That just proves how personal quirks/likes/dislikes effect different folks, doesn't it? Because to me, those are buzzwords for a restaurant I'd likely really enjoy.

                                                1. re: mamachef

                                                  Same here. I feel my car pulling me into that parking lot right now.

                                                  1. re: suzigirl

                                                    +1
                                                    We're losing all our meat n 3 places here to so-called progress and that's a pretty big loss, as far as I'm concerned. And while I'm not one to order the vegetable plate, that's a clue to me that the butter beans, greens, and maybe even field peas are so good that they can stand on their own as a meal.
                                                    Grab me a seat and please pass the cornbread.

                                                    1. re: rockycat

                                                      I guess I don't have to say that I love this type of place! 2/3's of the time I will order the vegetable plate and have a difficult time deciding which three.

                                                      With so many people not having time or energy to cook I am surprised that this genre is on the decline. When I was working, my weeknight meals were usually quickly prepared - pastas, stir fries, casseroles. Sometimes you just want an old fashioned farm style meal and a meat n 3 answers that craving perfectly.

                                                      1. re: meatn3

                                                        Exactly. I love that you can get those long stewed dishes that you want but just don't have the time or energy to make. Such as black eyed peas, Collard greens stewed tomatoes and okra, butter beans,smothered green beans etc...

                                                      2. re: rockycat

                                                        grew up in the west and now live even further west, i've heard of meat n 3, but never actually seen such a place. only now figured out it's a southern term. never too old to learn I guess. didn't realize i had lived such a sheltered life.

                                                        1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                          Yes, you are about as FAR West, as it gets. Go another mile, and you will be East.

                                                          Though I am from the Deep South, and have dined, and traveled there extensively, I still do not know what "Meat n 3" translates to. Gotta' go upthread and do some reading.

                                                          Hunt

                                                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                            I always thought "Meat n 3" was an English thing that translated to the American South.

                                                            1. re: hill food

                                                              Hill Food,

                                                              I could well be, but is just something that I have never encountered, at least not by name, in either the Deep South, or the UK.

                                                              Thanks,

                                                              Hunt

                                                            2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                              You? Never heard of meat-n-3? Now THAT surprises me.

                                                              It's meat served with three sides - almost always at a small restaurant in some little town south of The Line.

                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                  Maybe it was because of the area of the Deep South, that I grew up in - Gulf Coast and New Orleans? OTOH, we traveled all around the Deep South, and never encountered that term. Must have just gone to all the wrong places?

                                                                  Hunt

                                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                    Dunno -- it's very commonplace in Florida and Georgia.

                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                      Bill Hunt appears to eat only in places that are Michelin-star quality and which have extensive wine lists.

                                                                      1. re: huiray

                                                                        Good for him. He's obviously done something right.

                                                                          1. re: huiray

                                                                            I dunno -- he's done something that means he has the money and the time to eat wherever he wants. Whether that's Michelin stars or a hot dog at the ballpark, he and his lovely wife are happy with their life and with one another.

                                                                            May we all be so lucky.

                                                                            Michelin stars aren't my thing, but I'm not going to pee on the parade of those who enjoy it -- it's their life and their money.

                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                              Nobody's peeing on anyone's parade. We are discussing possible reasons for why someone (anyone) might not have heard of the phrase "meat and three".

                                                                              1. re: huiray

                                                                                from the thread, there are a lot of people who'd never heard about it.

                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                  It certainly seems so. I suggested one possibility. Of course there are other possibilities.

                                                                                2. re: huiray

                                                                                  OK. I'll bite. Having traveled around the Deep South, the South (there IS a difference), and many states, on those borders, I have just never encountered that term. Those border states are Florida and Texas (not part of the "official" South).

                                                                                  No greasy spoon, truckstop, mom-n-pop, or chain, in about 1/3 of the US, has ever used that term, to my knowledge.

                                                                                  Does that make it "wrong," or even "moderately incorrect?" No, and not even on a bet. It is just a term, with which, I am unfamiliar.

                                                                                  Why? I can only assume that the term was very localized, and I never made acquaintance with it. Just like some of the Tidewater and Low-Country terms, that I did not discover, for 40 years of my life.

                                                                                  Hunt

                                                                                3. re: sunshine842

                                                                                  I had never heard it before and I am 48 years of age :o. It is sort of self-explanitory though :p

                                                                                  1. re: cacruden

                                                                                    When I looked it up, it did become self-explanatory, but until then, it was like Greek to me. Guess that I have not lived?

                                                                                    Hunt

                                                                                  2. re: sunshine842

                                                                                    We do not "collect" Michelin stars, but have been fortunate enough to dine at many. That has been over a very long lifetime, and not all at once.

                                                                                    For us, it is the experience, and sometimes "stars" do count, though not always. Just did two 3-stars in Paris, and one was excellent, and worth every penny. The other... ? Well, not above mediocre, and the costs were actually slightly above the other. Still - no "meat & three... " [Grin]

                                                                                    As I mentioned above, the very top food memories were at "side-of-the-road" places. The next top-four were at similar places. While I have enjoyed many great meals, and dishes, at Michelin starred restaurants, the best falls behind such dishes as Fried Shrimp at Magnusen's House of Seafood, the same at Marquez Brothers', the Fried Flounder at Benny's in Handsboro, MS, the Pecan-Crusted Soft-shelled crab at Tante Louise (OK, if there were Michelin stars in those days, they deserved at least a couple). The Seafood Gumbo at Baraceive's in Biloxi, MS, the Fried Catfish at Catfish Charlie's, Pontchatoula, LA, and the Fried Chicken at Alamo Fried Chicken, Biloxi, MS. No, while I HAVE dined well, and on a couple of continents, the ultimate was in the US, and mostly in the Deep South - still, no "meat & three."

                                                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                      I don't think I had ever seen the term till I started reading the Sterns. I've been to these restaurants, but haven't seen one actually use the term--have only seen it in writing about food.

                                                                                4. re: sunshine842

                                                                                  No, he just got lucky... Or married smart. Uh-ho, that is not correct, as it would give me more credit, than I am due.

                                                                                  In my case, my mother exposed me to "fine-dining," at about age 5, or 6. It had been part of her life, and was something that she held onto. We'd take the train to New Orleans, and then the family would meet up at Galatoire's, or Antoine's, and have a nice meal. Aspects of that imprinted on me, and still hold sway, 60 years later. As my wife grew up there, and it was similar for her, we just sort of "fell into" fine-dining, except for all those truckstops on US Hwy 11, but we were poor students and newlyweds, back then.

                                                                                  I would definitely attribute it to "luck," or to my young wife's need to "help the disadvantaged," and including me, in that group.

                                                                                  Hunt

                                                                                5. re: huiray

                                                                                  Well, while I often DO seek out such establishments, I still dine "on the road" in the Deep South, and quite often.

                                                                                  Five of my "all-time-favorite" restaurants were anything BUT Michelin starred. One even had a Grad D sanitation rating, and I thought there was nothing below an A.

                                                                                  Still, the South (and even the Deep South) is a very large, and often localized space. What plays in Holly Springs, MS, might seem alien in Beaufort, NC. Heck, what plays in Beaufort, NC, might seem alien in Beaufort, SC.

                                                                                  In my youth, I possibly did half the truckstops between the HWY 90/.11 cutoff, outside of New Orleans, and up Hwy 11, to Chattanooga, TN, before I-59 replaced much of it.

                                                                                  While I dine at Blackberry Farm, Walland, TN, now, there WAS a time, when we did "road food," and all across the South.

                                                                                  Nah, just a term that I missed, over all my years, but that is not uncommon.

                                                                                  Hunt

                                                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                    My family and I were traveling through Nashville three years ago and took a lunch break at Arnold's Country Kitchen. It was my one and only meat and 3 experience and I really enjoyed the food. There is a base price for the meat and then one can choose to make it a meat and 2, meat and 3, etc.

                                                                                    It's basically down home Southern cooking, done well, with a rotating daily menu. Service is cafeteria-line style and dining is communal. As a Northerner, I was charmed by the place and the food.

                                                                                    Arnold's is also the recipient of two James Beard awards.

                                                                                    1. re: justalex

                                                                                      That sounds perfect. I would be a happy girl there.

                                                                                      1. re: suzigirl

                                                                                        That sounds like a place you go in the afterlife when you've been a veryvery good person who adores Southern food.

                                                                                        1. re: mamachef

                                                                                          I would go and eat buttered cabbage and Lima beans and Collards til eternity. :-)

                                                                                            1. re: linguafood

                                                                                              I am taking into account there is no farting in the aftrelife. One can hope

                                                                                              1. re: suzigirl

                                                                                                and here you thought it was *wings* that allowed angels to hover.

                                                                                                Now you know.

                                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                  the cabbage-eating angels are responsible for thunderstorms, dontcha know?

                                                                                                  1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                    y'know, they say there's an ill wind blowing...!

                                                                                              2. re: linguafood

                                                                                                One reason that I pre-plan my menu, before I fly the next morning...

                                                                                                Hunt

                                                                                            2. re: mamachef

                                                                                              We're not dead yet, mamachef, but the hubster and I went to a new restaurant for lunch today, across the street from the new County Courthouse...called, not surprisingly, 'The Courthouse Cafe'.
                                                                                              It was a short cafeteria style line, meat & three, (or two or one, according to the menu board) with the ubiquitous divided plates. Hubby had meatloaf, butter beans, yellow squash & onions, and green beans with a side of cornbread and a bowl of 'naner puddin'. I had the meatloaf and butter beans, both were excellent, and a biscuit.
                                                                                              My dessert was one that I had to tell about. It was listed on the menu board as "Fluff of the Day". Of course I had to get that, though the other choices were the banana pudding and the ever present peach cobbler.
                                                                                              Today's Fluff, according to the proud owner, contained whipped cream, cream cheese and crushed up chocolate wafer cookies. Nothing else. It was fluffy and creamy and chunky all at the same time. Here's what you eat for dessert in the afterlife if you have been veryvery good and adore Southern sweets.
                                                                                              For all that, and two large iced teas, the bill was $14.01.

                                                                                              The food was very good, the staff was super friendly and the place was neat and kind of cute in a Southern family sorta way. I will go back for breakfast sometime, because I do like Southern breakfasts, but as I said at the beginning of this long conversation, Meat & Threes just don't make my heart flutter. For the rest of you who don't have a Southern lunch place on every block, please come visit us in Georgia. We'd love to see you!

                                                                                              1. re: jmcarthur8

                                                                                                I understand where you are coming from. When I lived in middle Tn. I was an hour from the Nashville city limits. There were several meat & 3's nearby ranging from bad to quite good. We had a Sonic and a fast food burger place. If you wanted anything remotely exotic then there was Taco Bell or a truly horrid pizza buffet place.

                                                                                                I love a good meat & 3 but I enjoy a wider variety in my eating out options than that town provided. You don't always have an extra 3+ hours to devote to a satisfying a craving with a drive to the big city! The grocery selections were quite lacking so it wasn't easy to cook something "ethnic" at home.

                                                                                          1. re: justalex

                                                                                            Though I am a "son of the Old South," I am learning something here. The term, "meat & three" was just not in my vocabulary. It could have been that it was not used, where I dined, or maybe I just missed it?

                                                                                            Arnold's sounds great. My time in Nashville has been very limited, so there is much, that I need to explore in that area.

                                                                                            Thank you,

                                                                                            Hunt

                                                                                      2. re: sunshine842

                                                                                        Hm-m. I traveled throughout both Florida and Georgia, but still do not recall that term.

                                                                                        However, I was in my 40's, before I was introduced to "Hopping John," so there are probably still Deep South terms, with which I am not familiar.

                                                                                        Hunt

                                                                                      3. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                        I'm from Kentucky and had never heard the term, either, and I've eaten at plenty of unstarred places!

                                                                                        1. re: pine time

                                                                                          Thank you. Somehow, I feel better now. Maybe not "redeemed," but certainly better.

                                                                                          Appreciated,

                                                                                          Hunt

                                                                                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                            I have seen the term used the most in middle Tn., less so in other parts of the South.
                                                                                            I am now living in NC and seldom see the term in print at a restaurant. But most North Carolinian's seem to know the term. I think it was a regional thing within parts of the South.

                                                                                            1. re: meatn3

                                                                                              I've lived and travelled throughout the south, and I've heard the term meat and three everywhere, but never in print or restaurant advertising. It's always been more of a term that patrons of such places use to describe it. So I might ask a friend, what such-and-such restaurant is like, and she might reply, "typical meat and three." But I wouldn't expect to see an ad for a restaurant use that term. Kind of like how we might refer to a restaurant as a "Mom and Pop" or a "dive". Terms we use to describe restaurants, but not how they describe themselves.

                                                                                              1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                This is fairly typical of what I have seen in TN.

                                                                                                http://www.blueshoenashville.com/arno...

                                                                                                I totally agree about the term being just verbal else where!

                                                                                                1. re: meatn3

                                                                                                  One thing I've heard in NC is people referring to what I would call a meat and three as a "meat and two". I had never heard that term until I lived in NC. I kept thinking, "Y'all are getting short-changed on the veggies."

                                                                                                  1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                    We are living in tough times!

                                                                                                    :-D

                                                                                                    1. re: meatn3

                                                                                                      Yes. With inflation, and such, it might be "meat & one," before we know it... at least the price might remain constant?

                                                                                                      Hunt

                                                                                                    2. re: MelMM

                                                                                                      Or in Scotland.... It is just called meat.... :o

                                                                                                  2. re: MelMM

                                                                                                    Hm-m, was there a "secret handshake" required?

                                                                                                    Guess that I just never traveled in the correct circles, as it was new to me, as of this thread. Now, I know what it's all about, and will keep that in the back of my mind, when I travel throughout the South. Before, I would have responded with "Huh?" but can now converse, like a local, or at least a tourist from the South.

                                                                                                    Thanks,

                                                                                                    Hunt

                                                                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                      The great thing about a meat & 3, is not the meat & 3 plates, but the vegetable plates, which every single one of these establishments feature. It will be 3 or 4 or 5 of the "&3" selections of sides. I think every southerner in-the-know orders these plates for lunch. Has nothing to do with being a vegetarian (god knows, there's bacon in most of the vegetables). It's just good food and the best way to eat at such a place.

                                                                                  2. re: suzigirl

                                                                                    Me too. That particular objection sounds like somebody who likes dining on cuisine, rather than eating good chow.

                                                                                    And what's the objection to a vegetable plate? There's used to be a place near my work, carryout only, called The Country Preacher, and when we'd order out, I'd get the VP -- Collards, black-eyed peas, baked tomatoes, and mac-n-cheese, a Southern vegetable.

                                                                                    1. re: jmckee

                                                                                      Order me a big glass of half-and-half tea, y'all -- I'm on my way.

                                                                                      1. re: jmckee

                                                                                        Well, sandylc asked for restaurants we would not "fall in love with ", and those are my least favorite types of restaurants. As I said upthread, until I moved here to rural Georgia 10 years ago, I'd never heard these terms. Vegetable Plate to me would have conjured up a picture of fresh vegetables, all colorful and crunchy and fresh. Not Mac n Cheese (much as I adore good Mac n Cheese) or cooked to death greens.
                                                                                        I do like Southern foods, but being relatively new to the cuisine, it's not my comfort food, nor my preferred choice at a restaurant. Besides the fact that I get excellent home made Southern food when I eat with my friends at our monthly potlucks or one another's homes.
                                                                                        If I'm looking for a restaurant, I'm going for good Italian or German or Mediterranean or some new hip American joint- something I don't make at home, or a place to give me ideas of new things to make at home. There's a meat & three around every corner in my town. It's not really very inspiring.
                                                                                        I'm not yucking your yum....it's just not my personal preference for a meal out.

                                                                                        1. re: jmcarthur8

                                                                                          Not living in the South, a good meat and 3 is a fun novelty thing to do once when visiting there - I don't imagine that I would make it a regular thing to do if I lived there.

                                                                                          1. re: sandylc

                                                                                            your waistline would tell you you shouldn't make it a regular thing.

                                                                                            Good food, but lots of it, and while I don't shy away from calories, you leave feeling like you won't need to eat for a week or two.

                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                              Nahhh...only till the next meal with maybe a few extra hours. :-)
                                                                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8535...

                                                                                              Oh, and when you said "half-and-half tea" in your previous post you meant half sugar half tea, right? :-)

                                                                                              1. re: huiray

                                                                                                nope -- half sweet, half unsweet.

                                                                                                Every self-respecting Southern restaurant will have two huge iced-tea urns -- one with sweet tea, one with unsweet tea.

                                                                                                The sweet tea is usually somewhere north of simple syrup on sugar content, and the unsweet is for those with diabeeetus (sic) or those who are watchin' their weight (bless their hearts).

                                                                                                I can't drink the sweet - it's nauseating -- and I don't like artificial sweeteners, so half-and-half strikes a good midpoint.

                                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                  LOL. What a great description, sunshine I was born Southern, raised Northern, and moved back South. I still can't stomach sweet tea and my blend is more like a splash of sweet and the rest of the cup unsweet. And no, honey I don't want Sweet n Low with my tea. I'm good actually tasting the tea, bless my heart.

                                                                                                  1. re: rockycat

                                                                                                    rocky, yes, bless your heart, those of us in proximity know what that means, so don't be so hard on yourself (smirk)

                                                                                                    1. re: hill food

                                                                                                      For all those who think we're speaking Greek: a guide to sh*t Southern people say:

                                                                                                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6N3zHm...

                                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                        I'm so up in the hills n hollers I can't download youtube. but yes my exe's mom spoke of her first grandchild "she just smiles and laughs so much. I just hope she's alright. bless her heart"

                                                                                                        1. re: hill food

                                                                                                          that one's a belly laugh because it's all commonly heard-- "Good night" as an exclamation, not the end of a conversation in the evening!-- "you're barking up the wrong tree" -- "she's older'n dirt"

                                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                            There is many a saying in that video that I heard out of my grandma's mouth.... and she wasn't from the south.... but Scotland. missing a few scottish ones though.

                                                                                                            - You're slower than molasses.
                                                                                                            - Auch, Go fly a kite

                                                                                                            Guess they are unique to her territory :o

                                                                                                            1. re: cacruden

                                                                                                              The southern (Kentucky) branch of my family is of Scottish origin - many Scots landed in the carolinas and the smokies - they are the original "hillbillies", whose origins are fascinating to read about. So your Scots/Southern-Speak connection is right on.

                                                                                                              1. re: cacruden

                                                                                                                There ARE some similarities, and especially if one were to compare some of the music of each area. More than many suspect.

                                                                                                                Hunt

                                                                                                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                  You beat me to it, guys. The Appalachians were settled largely by the Scots/Irish and their gifts run deep in our culture. Bluegrass music, turns of phrase, Jack stories, clogging, and all sorts of other cultural artifacts are not that far removed from their Celtic origins, even today.
                                                                                                                  Anyone ever been to the Highland Games at Grandfather Mountain, NC?

                                                                                                                  1. re: rockycat

                                                                                                                    Mr. MM used to play with the Grandfather Mountain Highlanders

                                                                                                              2. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                Many of these sayings - "barking up the wrong tree", "older than dirt", "slower than molasses", "go fly a kite", etc etc - are common idioms...I certainly learned them or heard them when I was growing up in a former British Colony and later elsewhere (like when I lived in England). I would not have thought of them as strictly "Southern US"? Of course, the *accent* might be a different matter.

                                                                                                                1. re: huiray

                                                                                                                  Y'all -- I didn't say anything about the origins -- I said they're commonly used in the South. Unless I was paying a lot less attention than I remember, the South is a former British Colony.

                                                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                      Well, the Northeast was a British Colony, and then, there was the South (if you do not count Virginia). What is termed The South now, was basically a frontier, and was not considered part of things, until later. At the time, much of the land was lain claim by Spain and France, and not England.

                                                                                                                      Still, I do get your point.

                                                                                                                      Hunt

                                                                                                                    2. re: huiray

                                                                                                                      I have noticed that sometimes someone's enthusiasm for the southern-speak encourages them to attribute things to the south which are really more widespread.

                                                                                                                      1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                        again -- we weren't talking about origins. we were talking about things that are part of daily conversation -- never said it was exclusive, either.

                                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                          sunshine, I was speaking more about websites, books, and articles that I've read about Southern accents and idioms - I wasn't talking about anyone here.

                                                                                                                          I know I did not even come close to making myself clear here....sorry!!!

                                                                                                                        2. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                          Yes. That has happened.

                                                                                                                          Also, some attribute things to the Cajun regionality, when they are not.

                                                                                                                          Stuff happens,

                                                                                                                          Hunt

                                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                    sunshine, here's one for the girls (GRITS, that is. Girls Raised In The South).

                                                                                                                    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUFL2G...

                                                                                                                    It's even funnier when you live here! My girlfriends all talk like this. I love listening to them, but I do have to ask some of them to slow down now and then.

                                                                                                                    1. re: jmcarthur8

                                                                                                                      Oh wow. We have a chapter in Phoenix, and my wife, and I, are members. At a point in the past, GRITS was changed to G&GRITS (Girls & Guys Raised in the South). Lots of fun, and some interesting observations. Still, no "meat & three," in any of those conversations.

                                                                                                                      Hunt

                                                                                                                      1. re: jmcarthur8

                                                                                                                        I don't even have to click - I know which one that is -- and it IS hilarious.

                                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                          Folks, all of this is getting ever farther afield from food than this thread started -- and given that this thread is already on Not About Food, that's saying something. Can we let this branch go please?

                                                                                                2. re: jmcarthur8

                                                                                                  meat & three is a legitimate type of restaurant in the deep south -- don't discount it!

                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                    Sunshine, I live in the very depths of the deep South, and what I crave is a good pizza, a Chicago dog, an Italian beef sandwich and a plate of mostaccioli
                                                                                                    It's not that I don't like Southern food- I do. But when half the restaurants in Georgia have the exact same menu, I know it's going to be no fun to go out to eat at those places. Every buffet, every wedding, every lunch joint serves beans, greens, cabbage, beef tips with rice, fried catfish, fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, sweet potato casserole, squash casserole, cornbread and banana pudding. Any or all may be prepared well or not, but there they are.
                                                                                                    Having lived in several areas of the US during my life, I was used to every restaurant being an adventure of sorts...I love new and unusual dishes that I've never tasted before.
                                                                                                    So you see why I answered as I did. If I'm out and looking for somewhere to eat, I know there will be no surprises at a 'meat 'n three'.

                                                                                                  2. re: jmcarthur8

                                                                                                    I've never heard of "meat and three" till just now.

                                                                                                    1. re: jmcarthur8

                                                                                                      We went to Pine Mountain GA yesterday for sourdough bread and native plants. Passed by the local Southern food place. Hubby took a picture of the menu on the window.

                                                                                                       
                                                                                                      1. re: jmcarthur8

                                                                                                        Very typical to see. Thanks for capturing the big foot of this thread. You rock jmcarther8

                                                                                                        1. re: jmcarthur8

                                                                                                          Interesting.

                                                                                                          Thank you for sharing.

                                                                                                          Hunt

                                                                                                      2. The most obvious to me is if they have 10 pages of dishes reaching through 5-6 different cuisines like Chinese, Utalian, US Steak abd BBQ, Seafood , etc... The first thought that goes through my head...how do they have all these ingredients at hand, how long have they been there. Second....usually if you don't specialize at something, well usually that means average at best. Hey, I am cool if you just do something simple like wings and pizza, just do them right. These places with the 10 page menus.......are friggin scary.

                                                                                                        36 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: Owtahear

                                                                                                          This is one I agree on. If the restaurant does multiple cuisines (with the exception of countries that border each other), then I get very nervous. So a restaurant that says Thai/Lao.... I will chance it since Thai / Lao border each other and Isan region and Lao cuisine are very closely related or the same, but if the restaurant says Thai / Philippines, then it makes me nervous since I know I will want to go in there for Thai food but the people running the restaurant probably are filipino and only add a second cuisine because the primary cuisine is not popular (or they cannot make it popular). If they were good filipino cooks they could probably make a niche Philippine inspired restaurant (and build up a reputation) - and would not need Thai as a second.

                                                                                                          1. re: cacruden

                                                                                                            Pish. many place serve sushi just so they have something for "that crowd" despite specializing in other things.
                                                                                                            I'd look at the traderoutes... Japanese/Chinese doesn't bother me the way German/Carib would.

                                                                                                            1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                              Chowrin - but then that begs the question: what's your take on Dutch Riijstafel (sp?)

                                                                                                              1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                Rijstaffel's a classic colonial dish that just works. Much in the same way as south asian food has adapted in the UK

                                                                                                                1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                  I'm only pointing out there is a cross-pollination of Northern European and more tropical places.

                                                                                                                  if the German-Carib place mentioned was for novelty sake alone, I too would probably pass.

                                                                                                                  1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                    <edit> there are (or were) great German, French and Spanish bakeries in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

                                                                                                                    1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                      A German-Paraguayan place would certainly pique my curiosity.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Tripeler

                                                                                                                        just make sure the beef isn't cloned.

                                                                                                                        I did once meet a guy who was cagey about his country of origin and would only allow he was "a German speaking South-American" hmmm. and your grandfather did what in the 1930's and 40's?

                                                                                                                        sorry that's not fair, there are large communities of German immigrants since the late 19th c. that never really assimilated.

                                                                                                                2. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                                  due to disagreements between landlord and tenant we had an Irish-Mexican place here for a while. Actually a very short while. Corned beef tacos and boxty churros just didn't appeal to many.

                                                                                                                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                    Actually, going back a bit in history, the "Irish-Mexican" combo is not THAT uncommon. In AZ, we have some restaurants, that play on that combo, but do not do it very well.

                                                                                                                    Hunt

                                                                                                                    PS - took some Googling, but finally got a handle on "Meat & Three," but still have never heard the term applied, throughout the Deep South. Maybe the roads that I traveled?

                                                                                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                      Hunt, I'm in West Georgia, and there are plenty of Meat n Threes here. They are usually lunch places, with a cafeteria type set up. For a fixed price, often $7.99, you get one meat (fried chicken, meatloaf, chicken fried steak or beef tips for example), and three 'vegetables' of your choice on your divided tray. The vegetables will be sweet potatoes, cabbage, flat beans, pintos, collards, macaroni and cheese, pineapple casserole or squash casserole. Cornbread is included. Banana pudding is extra, but required. Unless you get the peach cobbler.

                                                                                                                      1. re: jmcarthur8

                                                                                                                        Wow.

                                                                                                                        While we have never lived in GA, we HAVE traveled though, many times, and over the last 40 years. It was just a term, that I had never heard applied.

                                                                                                                        OTOH, there was a time, having lived in the Deep South, when we did not know what "Hoping John" was, so there is always much to learn.

                                                                                                                        Thank you,

                                                                                                                        Hunt

                                                                                                                        1. re: jmcarthur8

                                                                                                                          man, you ate at the uptown places -- no divided trays anywhere I went! (heavy-duty standard-issue heavy restaurant plates)

                                                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                            Sunshine, 'Louise's' in Griffin Georgia has trays with 6 sections. The menu board shows a choice of meat and two, three or four sides. Or a vegetable plate of four. No matter which you intend to choose, who stops before all the sections are full? You can't help but have enough food piled on there to take you through an entire week.
                                                                                                                            I think the plates are better for our girlish figures. It's easier to stop at three.

                                                                                                                            1. re: jmcarthur8

                                                                                                                              So the trays have actual sections in them like an old school caf tray?

                                                                                                                              1. re: cleobeach

                                                                                                                                Yes, they do. We've been to maybe a half dozen places that have the trays. Guess it makes it easier for the cashier to count the 'sides'.

                                                                                                                        2. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                          Sounds like the Irish-Mexican place may have spawned some unusual ethnic jokes.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Tripeler

                                                                                                                            Not sure about "jokes," but some have taken a tid-bit of history, and then run with it?

                                                                                                                            Hunt

                                                                                                                        3. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                                          I don't know. I love a good corned beef egg roll.

                                                                                                                        4. re: cacruden

                                                                                                                          Though I generally agree with your sentiments about "pan-Asian" restaurants, there happen to be two implausibly good Thai/Filipino restaurants here in New York. One is co-owned by a group well-versed in Southeast Asian cuisine and the other is run by a chef of Thai and Filipino descent.

                                                                                                                        5. re: Owtahear

                                                                                                                          Based on where I live and dine, prodigious menus seem to be the new hotness. A recently opened Mediterranean place has a nine page menu, a family-friendly restaurant I frequent, has an 11 pager.

                                                                                                                          Same concern as you: how can they do over a hundred different offerings well?

                                                                                                                          1. re: RedTop

                                                                                                                            Oy Vay. I hear the thundering hooves of the Four Horsemen. A NINE-PAGE MENU? Ridonkeylous, oui?

                                                                                                                            1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                              I totally agree with a 10-page menu (or whatever large number) being strongly suggestive of a bad (or at best mediocre) restaurant. Diners in particular seem to do that.

                                                                                                                              One American-Italian place here in my city until not so long ago had more than a hundred items on its menu - and the place was beloved of a certain demographic. More recently they renovated and the menu *was* stripped down...

                                                                                                                              1. re: huiray

                                                                                                                                Me, too. I can't imagine how they could have fresh ingredients at hand for so many dishes. Or have the talent/knowledge to prepare (well) so many different kinds of foods on demand.

                                                                                                                                1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                  A place that has thankfully closed had this 10 pager. An ex-employee said they'd reheat the previously cooked chicken and then cover with whatever ethnic sauce you had ordered, also portion frozen from ages ago (or bought from a giant distributor). Did I mention they're now closed?

                                                                                                                                  1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                    They can't. That's the problem. It usually means that you're getting stuff that's yanked out of the freezer and boiled/microwaved/deep-fried, and had a generic sauce dumped on it.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                                                                                                                      There is also a perception held by some out there that when you open bags, boxes, and containers, then combine the contents, possibly adding eggs or liquid, that you have "cooked from scratch".

                                                                                                                                      1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                        You've been swapping recipes with my spouse?

                                                                                                                                    2. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                      I suspect that the dishes are provided by SYSCO or another large conglomerate. Frozen cooked chicken or whatever, frozen and reheated sauces, etc.

                                                                                                                                2. re: RedTop

                                                                                                                                  that's what so amusingly predictable about Ramsey's and Irvine's shows. 9 out of 10 times the first thing they do is rip the menu apart and toss 80% in the trash.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: RedTop

                                                                                                                                    Again, aside from the multi ethnic cuisine mashes and the lack of being expert in any of them my problem would come also from moving the food. You have say Tuna, Salmon, Flounder, Scallop and Shrimp entrees on your 9 page menu spanning 4 continents, how do you know who is going to order what? How do you keep it fresh? How do you thaw it?

                                                                                                                                    It in my opinion is a recipe for disaster for both diner and restauranteur. You have to carry too much inventory, for too long which leads to a less quality, which could lead to less business, which makes it then even harder to support such high food costs. Just common business sense.

                                                                                                                                    Also....I know these chalkboard restuarants are de rigeur, but they make sense. You offer a few entrees, apps, soups, salads and sandwiches based on what you have on hand, hopefully fresh. It is not like "oh crap, table 7 ordered the Frog Legs Provencal, we haven't had someone order that for 6 months. Where in the freezer are they?"

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Owtahear

                                                                                                                                      I'm not always opposed to this, but a few months ago I was in a very small pub that appeared to only be staffed by one bartender during the afternoon. The menu this place had was easily 10 pages long. Other than french fries/chips and other items dumped in the deep frier (that the bartender had to leave the bar to make everything ordered) - I can't imagine much of anything being worth eating there.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: RedTop

                                                                                                                                      The only ten page menu I've ever encountered was in the Rathskeller in East Berlin (before the wall came down.) Four of us spent at least half an hour just reading and translating. We made our decisions, the waiter came up and as each ordered, he said not avaiable tonight. Finally we asked what was available.

                                                                                                                                      In reality, they had three dishes to choose from.

                                                                                                                                      But the menu was (as you can tell from my remembering it) memorable.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: shallots

                                                                                                                                        I can easily believe that. My main food memory of East Berlin in the absolutely gorgeous cakes that tasted like cardboard. The people still had their skills, they simply had nothing to work with. On the other hand, I've found that in Cuba, although there is very little to work with foodwise, the cooks can work wonders with what they do have.

                                                                                                                                  2. Having researched and decided where to go, I try not to judge a place until after I've eaten. Of course, you start to form an opinion that you might have made a wrong choice early on. The menu is usually a give-away. One overly long for the likely size of the kitchen crew probably means there's not too much fresh cooking going on. A menu that seems disjointed with no real sense of the chef's cuisine is another. That's not to say that you are not going to pick the dishes at which the chef excels and have a really great time - which is why I wait till the end before judging. Give me a place where there's five or six choices at each course that look seasonal and give an impression that the chef knows what s/he is doing with them and I'm usually going to be a happy bunny.

                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                      Sensible and well-thought out. Why doesn't it suprise me that it came from you, good sir?

                                                                                                                                      1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                                        Too kind, ma'am.

                                                                                                                                        It comes from having eaten too many indifferent meals over my 62 years - most in pre-internet days when research was all but impossible. Now many places have menus online, it's far easier to judge how a place *might* be - particularly when visiting an unfamiliar city or country where you have no other knowledge of the chef/place.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                          MANOMAN, do i hear that!! Whenever a road trip is nigh, I depend greatly on Jane and Michael Stern, who wrote Roadfood and Goodfood. Haven't had a bum steer from that souce, I'm happy to say. Theyve recommended some of the best restaurants I've ever hat the pleasure of eating at. I know it doesn't help you, being where you are, but it's a fun read, and I always get the serious munchies when I consult the books. :)

                                                                                                                                    2. Music so loud I can't hear the people talking at my own table, themed decor, high on the "concept" factor, waitstaff asking leading questions like, "Is everything tasting perfect?"...

                                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                                                                        "So good, I think I"m going to be raptured, " she yelled over the din, as the Polynesian waitress set your pupu platter aflame and adjusted her sarong.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                                          But if your umbrella drink tastes just right, you're not going to care too much.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                                                                          ^^^
                                                                                                                                          This.

                                                                                                                                          Mind you, doesn't Babbo have VERY LOUD so-called "music" (a.k.a. NOISE in my book) purportedly from Batali's personal play-list? (Egads, no accounting for taste)

                                                                                                                                          Also: Places where celebrities go to be seen rather than anything else, where you need to be an A-List personage to get in, that sort of thing.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                                                                            Overly loud music and overly dim lighting are two things I hate. I have sensitive ears and I'm horribly near-sighted. I'm just not going to eat at at a restaurant that is trying it's best to give me a headache.

                                                                                                                                          2. If I go to a hole in the wall Asian place and their menu does NOT have mis-spellings I question the authenticity.

                                                                                                                                            kidding...kind of.

                                                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: Rodzilla

                                                                                                                                              I never been sure how to take mis-spellings and the like. Or this scenario.....

                                                                                                                                              Many asian places will say something like "authentic Indian food". And the online menu mentions a dish as, say, "traditional Hyderabadi". Then when you Google the name of the dish, the only hit comes back to that restaurant. So, a completely invented name which has nothing to do with tradition or authenticity. So, how to know if it is actually authentic or just a made up gloop intended for uncaring, unknowing Westerners. I tend towards the latter.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                Good point. I'm more forgiving if it's from a culture which uses a different alphabet, otherwise I'm suspicious.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                  Isn't it possible they used an uncommon transliteration of the name? It's always tricky when translating between languages with different alphabets. There is almost always a standard for transliteration, but that doesn't mean your average bilingual restaurant workers know that standard.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Rodzilla

                                                                                                                                                    Used to think that (e.g. Human Beef) until somebody suggested that a slick PR firm may have been trying to give that impression. Hmmmm....

                                                                                                                                                  2. In addition to many of the above, I must say PICTURES of the dishes on placards outside. I see this often in Europe and avoid such places. It's not as though the photographs help to make the food look wonderful.

                                                                                                                                                    37 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: chefathome

                                                                                                                                                      A sure sign of a tourist trap, chef.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                        "A sure sign of a tourist trap, chef."

                                                                                                                                                        I've seen this done at restaurants that are waaay out of touristy areas. And, I might add, where the resident population is increasingly ethnically the same as the cuisine (primarily Chinese). So, what would be the explanation for that?

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: alwayshungrygal

                                                                                                                                                          In western Europe, you're begging for a crummy meal and expensive pricing.

                                                                                                                                                          See a few notches downthread for an acknowledgement of when picture menus might be acceptable.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                            That's not really an answer to alwayshungrygal's question especially with regards to the Chinese residents/Chinese restaurant menus with pictures.

                                                                                                                                                            There are several restaurants in Chicago's C-town which do this, for example. One of them, Ken Kee, has every dish on its menu illustrated with a picture of the dish. The food is decent to good. The place is almost always packed with Chinese diners, almost all locals from what I can gather and ranging from young folks to retirees, and little English is heard in the place.

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: chefathome

                                                                                                                                                        usually accompanied by a big sign "English Menu Available".

                                                                                                                                                        Yes. Avoid at all costs.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                          So very true. My best friend and I went to Italy a few years ago (her first time ever to Europe - it was fun to see it through her eyes!). She kept wanting to enter said restaurants but I refused to allow it, opting instead for off-the-beaten-path spots. When restaurant staff stand outside the doors, practically pleading, "Ciao, bonjour, dobar dan, guten tag" to entice you into Photograph Menu Place you know it can't be a good sign.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: chefathome

                                                                                                                                                            and if the staff outside the door calls you or your companion a beautiful lady -- run! (these are the worst of the worst)

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                And if I'm called a young lady, I want to run as well. I may be a lady, but I'm certainly not young.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                  Sunshine,

                                                                                                                                                                  I would obviously been remiss, and guilty of who knows what, but I refer to almost all "ladies," as "young ladies," as they are almost "young" to me.

                                                                                                                                                                  No harm, or negatives ever intended. It has just been my way, and for years.

                                                                                                                                                                  Guess that I must watch what I say, much more closely?

                                                                                                                                                                  Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                    Not at all, Bill -- these places are all located where English is not the mother tongue, and the "barkers" outside the front door are paid by the number of people they drag inside -- so they'll stoop to whatever level of false flattery they think will lure you inside the door.

                                                                                                                                                                    There's a difference between being called a beautiful lady by your dining companion and being called a beautiful lady by a guy trying to drag you (AND your dining companion) into the cheap crappy restaurant where he's working.

                                                                                                                                                                    "Oh, beautiful lady, we have very good food here - and very very cheap!"....Yeah, buddy, I don't think so.

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: chefathome

                                                                                                                                                                  Interesting! I haven't traveled that much overseas, but are there really that many Picture Menu restaurants in western Europe?

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                    I can't make a wide-spread comment - but this is completely the case in Brussels. The streets that attract the highest tourist traffic have restaurants with their photos of mussels, seafood platters, and other items largely associated with traditional (tourist) Belgian dining.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cresyd

                                                                                                                                                                      OK, since I've not ever been in Brussels, what would a non-tourist restaurant offer on their menu that isn't mussels or seafood platters?

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                        From my experience, it's not so much that a non-tourist restaurant wouldn't have those items (though many don't) - but rather it's the question of "what's the difference between eating in a non-tourist restaurant vs a restaurant in Disney World".

                                                                                                                                                                        My personal reason to dislike those places is that the chance of there being a large tables with around 10-15 tourists combined with higher prices and pushier wait staff. It's not that all food found at such places will be terrible - but rather the overall dining experience is often very unpleasant and overpriced.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cresyd

                                                                                                                                                                          Yeah, that Olive Garden atmosphere is what I would dislike the most.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                          It's the same food (mostly in name only) -- but it's the mass-produced, microwaved, lowest common denominator, for the maximum possible price and the snottiest service.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                            The European version of Sysco trucks.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                              not necessarily. Sysco sells fresh produce and fresh meats -- these dumps are quickie cooking at its worst that doesn't even *pretend* to be real.

                                                                                                                                                                              Not too long ago (about a year, I think), there was an expose of a hallowed old Paris restaurant -- they went out and looked in the dumpster, and found dozens and dozens of packages from grocery-store pre-prepared meals. They weren't even buying from a food-supply house -- they were going down to the corner grocery store and buying the equivalent of Lean Cuisine and nuking it, and serving it for $15-20 a head.

                                                                                                                                                                              (Chartier, for those who might be interested)

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                Having eaten at Chartier about 6 months ago, regretfully l am not surprised. OTOH the staff was wonderful and the place while huge was neat as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                                                                                                                                                  Deluca, it was packaging from Ed, no less.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: cresyd

                                                                                                                                                                            Linda, most European countries I've been to and I've been to many. Thankfully my husband and I often manage to avoid tourist traps but sometimes you've just go to see such and such. As we always rent a car, we drive to off-the-beaten-path spots to eat but sometimes cannot avoid walking past the Picture Menu places en route. We've seen some ghastly photos and hilarious translations!

                                                                                                                                                                          3. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                            Yes, they're *very* common in the main tourist districts in Germany, France, and Italy.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                              Very common in the main tourist areas of Spain, Linda. Tends to be prevalent in the more downmarket resorts. That said, less than it used to be, in my view - no doubt linked to the greater ability of restaurants to use online translation for their menu. Most Spanish resorts can get away with translating into English & German as those speakers usually form the majority of foreign tourists.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                                ...except that the translations are sometimes more confusing than the menu was in the original language!

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                  Our all-time favourite comes from a beach bar in Mallorca,where the offering in Castilian and Catalan was readily understandable. Whereas we might have struggled in English where the offering was "grill a dried brick pork loin". Yep, that's your pork kebab.

                                                                                                                                                                        3. re: chefathome

                                                                                                                                                                          I've eaten at lots of places that have photos but that didn't seem like tourist traps. I mean, when you've got a choice of kungullur, fërgesë, hashure or kaposh deti me përshesh, pictures help. Albanian does not belong to any other linguistic branch, so while you can make some logical conclusions about words like qofte, vishnja and oriz, the average tourist will be totally lost reading a menu.

                                                                                                                                                                          I also ate at a restaurant in Tiraspol that had pictures on the menu. At the time I barely knew Cyrillic, much less Russian, so deciphering most menu items was out of the question, and nobody can claim that Tiraspol has ANY tourist traps!

                                                                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Jetgirly

                                                                                                                                                                            I'll give you that, in places with linguistic difficulties. Moscow is another example of a place where pictures are really helpful.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: chefathome

                                                                                                                                                                            In Europe, I'd avoid this. In Japan, plastic models of food outside are pretty normal, and something the locals are used to (and when there's no English menu, and you don't know the alphabet, it's useful).

                                                                                                                                                                            And I agree on the "English Menu Available" or "Tourist Menu". In Italy, we worked hard to avoid these, and had some amazing meals. Although at one place in the heart of Rome, we skipped the tourist menu and ordered off the Italian menu, and had amazing food - mind you, the place was mainly populated by business types out for lunch.

                                                                                                                                                                            The one exception is when you are looking for something like Western food in an Asian city. If you're looking for a good pizza, or Italian food, or Indian food, an English menu is a good sign, because an Indian place that's just going for local customers is generally not very good. You want the places that the foreigners seek out for their home cuisine.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                                                                                                                                                              I LOVE those Japanese plastic food displays...

                                                                                                                                                                              I would say "I want that" but they might not understand it's not the actual food I really want.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                                I love them too. There must be a really awesome japanese restaurant supply place that sells them to the trade.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                                                                                                                                                                    That is going on my travel bucket list.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: tcamp

                                                                                                                                                                                      The "Food Model" stores in Tokyo are all on "Kappa-bashi" street about two blocks from the Asakusa district. It is really amazing, and the area is a great place to buy all kinds of kitchen tools, devices and such.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Tripeler

                                                                                                                                                                                        Still have a bunch of keyrings that are pieces of sushi from Asakusa area, Great knife stores there as well.

                                                                                                                                                                          3. For me, one sign that my meal might be heading in the wrong direction is when the entire staff of the restaurant forms a conga line and snakes around the place while singing a version of "happy birthday". The lead singer usually has a small piece of cake with a sparkler blazing away. Not a good sign.

                                                                                                                                                                            17 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                                                              Haha. That just reminded me of being 10 years old, visiting the US and seeing the afore mentioned conga line and being completely bewildered as to why anyone would do that (not to mention being aware it was unlikely the poor performers were unlikely to be on an hourly wage. It seemed so wrong!). One of those rare moments as a child I was grateful for it not being my birthday

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: TheHuntress

                                                                                                                                                                                You just cracked me up, Huntress. Poor kid, watching the krezzy Americans do their conga line thing!! (What would he think about a flashmob?!!!!)

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                                                                                  :D Ah, it was such an experience for this Aussie kid, growing up in the worlds most remote city. It's funny how I can now remember so much about the food over there. The crazy big servings, sugar-on-everything, a generous waitress in a diner somewhere between LA and San Francisco, the crazy big servings and oh, did I mention the crazy big servings of food? I still remember visiting Universal Studios and trying to eat an icecream the size of my head and my dad upsizing our fries and coke to go with our burgers, only to find that one of the buckets for each of us would have satisfied the whole family.

                                                                                                                                                                                  I remember going to stay with my uncle and aunt in Buffalo and visiting their 'cottage' on a lake. The tiny nearby town had an awesome bakery and I spent my days there lying on the little jetty and eating chocolate-chip cookies the size of frisbees and lemon meringue pie that could nearly have been as good as my mums. Pancake stacks that just did not exist in Australia for breakfast near Grand Canyon and birthday meals (without a conga line!) in the Rocky Mountains. I came home weighing roughly what I do now as an adult :/. But I had a great time getting there :D

                                                                                                                                                                                  But we do have flashmobs now...we're slowly starting to catch up to other more deveoped nations (only about 10-15 years behond now, probably thanks to the mining boom).

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: TheHuntress

                                                                                                                                                                                    Your post mirrors my German relatives' observations. My cousin's husband would order one soda for the family of four to share.

                                                                                                                                                                                    My younger cousin came to stay with my parents for several months when she was 19 yo and gained a good amount of weight. My mom was so worried that her mother would be upset when she returned home. (She wasn't)

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cleobeach

                                                                                                                                                                                      When some of Mr. Pine's family 1st visited us from India, they daily ate more candy bars and ice cream than I had the previous year. Each adult gained more than 15 lbs. in 2 months--truly. At least the women could just readjust their saris. The men had to buy new pants. My grocery bill (for junk food) dropped by a huge percentage when they went home!

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: TheHuntress

                                                                                                                                                                                      I *loved* reading the paragraph about your various travels around the U.S. and the meals you remember from your childhood, Huntress! :-D

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                        Aw, thanks :) I feel a little bit compelled to tell the generous waitress story, as it was a highlight of the hospitality of the US. (Somewhat off-topic, but I will say that if we were in Australia there is no way my parents would have let us eat at this joint!).

                                                                                                                                                                                        So we're somewhere on the Western coast in our hired car, starving hungry as it was my dads policy to drive without food, drink or stopping until you got to where you were going (boring!). We pulled up to this little diner and as we walked in there, there was a "cash only" sign. My dad carried virtually no cash, mainly just travellers cheques and VISA, so when he pulled out his wallet he had something like $15 (I can't remember exactly how much, but it definitely was not enough to feed four people) and was pondering what to do.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Anyway this lovely waitress came over and asked what was up and my dad explained the problem and asked if there was any chance of them accepting a travellers cheque. No dice, but the waitress sat us down, asked how much cash we had and said don't worry, I'll take care of you. So we sat and next thing we know 2 enourmous burgers with huge servings of chips rock up to our table...and our waitress stopped and asked if everything was ok - it was a massive spread of food and we couldn't have been more thrilled. When we were finished she took our plates and asked if we wanted dessert. My dad declined, saying we really didn't have the money but she said "Oh, it's ok, I think you have enough" and returned with a giant slice of lemon meringue pie piled with whipped cream and ice cream and four spoons. She really excelled in making us welcome and seeing we were fed well, knowing all the while we didn't even have the spare change to tip her appropriately. Obviously my dad left every spare bit of cash he could find, but it was a true act of generosity that we all remember to this day.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: TheHuntress

                                                                                                                                                                                                That is incredibly refreshing. It restores faith in mankind!

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: chefathome

                                                                                                                                                                                                  and faith in the idea of hospitality.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Exactly. Sadly, hospitality certainly is a dying art.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: TheHuntress

                                                                                                                                                                                              Huntress, I loved this! Thank you so much for sharing your memories here!
                                                                                                                                                                                              So, didja get enough to eat at our restaurants? Portions weren't too small?
                                                                                                                                                                                              <laughing evilly
                                                                                                                                                                                              <and running away.....

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                                                                                                LOL Seriously how do people eat food the size of their head? It just seems so anatomically/physiologically wrong!

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: TheHuntress

                                                                                                                                                                                                Sorry, it's Auckland (>1M) or Honolulu (>500K) if comparing with similar-sized cities. :-)
                                                                                                                                                                                                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extreme_...
                                                                                                                                                                                                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perth#Ge...

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: huiray

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Are you talking about the isolated city thing? Maybe it's changed, but in terms of proximity to other cities we have nothing nearby - Darwin in the north and Adelaide to the east. Ah, I see that Auckland has trumped us - their population must have grown as it used to be Perth. Anyway, no matter.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. The food might be good but I avoid restaurants where every dish on the menu has a name.
                                                                                                                                                                                          I really don't have the patience nor inclination to wade through that sort of nonsense.

                                                                                                                                                                                          A menu should be designed with logical categories and easily determined main ingredients. You shouldn't have to read a paragraph just to discover that Billy's Delight is a fish dish.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Here are a few from a local menu:
                                                                                                                                                                                          CALIFORNIA GOLD (perhaps served rolled up in a baggie with a wink and a nod?)
                                                                                                                                                                                          HANK’S BRIEF
                                                                                                                                                                                          DR. BARB’S SUGGESTION

                                                                                                                                                                                          Why make ordering so arduous?

                                                                                                                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: meatn3

                                                                                                                                                                                            Recently went to a south asian place where every dish was named after a Bollywood star. It might have been OK but the food was shite.

                                                                                                                                                                                            So poor concept, poorly executed. Surprised? No, me neither

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                                              Is the menu online? I want examples. What dish is Big B? Or SRK? Must know.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Lizard

                                                                                                                                                                                                I'm loathe to publish their website as folk might go and give them business - which would do nothing to hasten its deserved early demise. But here it is: http://www.bollywoodmasalauk.com/

                                                                                                                                                                                                FWIW, we had a Dileep Kumar and a Shakrukh Khan.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                                                  oh dear lord! Just reading the paragraph on the homepage made me sick up a bit! (Not really, but close enough!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                                                  That reminds me of the pizza by the slice place in grad school, where all the pizzas were named after celebrities.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  It was pretty good, by the standards of places where you could get a $3 dinner at 2 in the morning.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. A kids menu, especially one that states "Kraft" macaroni and cheese or "Perdue" chicken nuggets.

                                                                                                                                                                                                There is a restaurant near me that I was intrigued by until I saw their posted kids menu. How a place can tout their fresh made pasta and free range chicken turn around and offer that stuff is beyond me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                There is a place on the other side of the city that caters to families but doesn't dumb down the food for the kids. It always amazes me that more places don't do the same.

                                                                                                                                                                                                8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                                                                                                                  You just REALLY touched a nerve with me. I cannot believe the vegetable/fruit-free chemical laden, cheap slop that attempts to pass for food on most "kids" menus.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                                    You are missing the point. I get it at an Applebees, a local diner/chain, etc. But why would a place that sells themselves on their in house made pasta, their farm-to-table entrees, their use of local produce offer Kraft and Perdue? Go ahead and offer the mac and cheese, the nuggets but at least maintain your philosophy with the kids menu. Don't dumb it down. Why not assume if its important to the adults than chances are its important to the kids too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I understand and agree - it makes the restaurant look especially foolish and shortsighted when they clearly know what good quality is.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I just don't think it's ever all right to offer only crap to kids. I'm not sure my son EVER ate anything from one of those menus. We either ordered something from the regular menu and took the remainder home, or shared with him.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                                        gotcha, I am sorry! I miss read you, LOL! Glad to know I am not the only one who feels that way. Who really wants to feed there kids that stuff? I was getting the sense I was exception to the rule.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thats why I prefer places that don't even offer kids menu. Those places are usually more open to accommodating smaller appetites while not compromising on the food. I vote with my money and a place like that wins hands down.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yep, I agree. We have a 7yo and he eats "real" food and always has.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          One of our favorite spots does have what they call a kid's menu but it is, in my opinion, a way from them to make the kids feel special. It is a stripped down version of the adult menu, done up to appeal to a kid's eye.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Fortunately, in my area, many places have decent and innovative kids menus that feature smaller portions. When my kids were small, 2 adult + 2 kid meals was far more affordable than 4 adult entrees. Apps as an entree could work but are often lacking in vegetables.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I understand the wholesale dislike of kids menus but I am not opposed at all to serving smaller portions of the adult food. Not all places will accomodate a half share and rarely did my two make the same choice so sharing....not happening.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: tcamp

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I actually think that would be fantastic. Offer half-sized versions of regular entrees for kids instead of the usual "Hamburger/Hotdog/Mac and Cheese/Chicken Nuggets" lineup. Even both would be great. But the majority of kids meals are based on the assumption that kids won't eat the same food adults want.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I was a gourmet kid who loved good food. But I couldn't eat a full adult entree. So I ordered appetizers for meals well into my teens (I still have to revert to that sometimes when I visit the US). The problem is that appetizers and main courses are very different, and sometimes you want a real meal, rather than just an appetizer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I still remember the reaction of the waitress when I ordered the escargot appetizer at the age of about ten, though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Ha, well done. You remind me of my son. He also liked foods deemed unusual for a child. He did his own ordering from a very young age, too. You would be amazed how many servers pretended not to notice or hear his polite requests. They got small tips.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. I'd say the word "steakhouse" since my partner and I are long-time vegetarians, but I realize that that is a dietary choice.
                                                                                                                                                                                                    More in line with your query?
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Laminated menus
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Vinyl covered chairs

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I know that may sound picky, but we don't eat out much. When I do I want a "smallish" real paper menu that hopefully changes somewhat regularly. I want "real" chairs (and hopefully real napkins and table cloths to go along with them).

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Restaurants with two and four tops placed too close together. If I have to move or another customer from an adjacent table has to move so one of us can get out, it's too close. That is my #1 objection. I've been at restaurants where I feel like I'm eating with strangers next to me because we're so close in proximity. If for some reason I go to a place like that, I never return no matter how good the food. I can't enjoy myself.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: marcia

                                                                                                                                                                                                        +1 I have a restaurant in my area that has amazing food but has banquettes ans your butt is in their face if you have to pee or leave. Great food though

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: marcia

                                                                                                                                                                                                          many places in Europe are very close quarters...including some pretty highly-ranked places.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Agree that some of these restaurants are very good, but I cannot enjoy a meal knowing full well that if another couple is so close that their conversation becomes a distraction to me, mine likely is to them. I've also had a topic of a conversation we were having become the topic the strangers' an arm's or so length away from me. One time another couple joined in on our conversation. Who does that? These were always in highly regarded restaurants in Chicago. A friend and I call it "intimacy dining with people you don't know" because that's what it basically is, and no matter the quality of the food it doesn't work for me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Then again, I hate B&Bs where the owners set up the breakfast part as one table and societal expectations are that you converse with people you don't care to, necessarily. So maybe it's me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. When the server, describing the special, informs you that it comes with "your choice of starch". (Just happened tonight)

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. When it smells bad before you even walk in.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: PotatoPuff

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Agreed, or if there are no food smells at all. Makes me wonder are they nuking all of the food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Silly me, do you know how long it took me to realize that Ruby Tuesday never smelled like food because they didn't actually cook there?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                I don't eat at chains a lot, and just never knew that nobody cooks nothin' at some of them

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Interesting, I was watching episode 4 - "Chicken" from "How to Cook Like Heston [Blumbenthal]" and the first step in the process is to cook the chicken at very low heat (90C) for a much longer period of time, then rest it, then I believe cook it at high for a short time to crispy out the skin, etc.. During the first step (most of the cooking) he mentioned that you will notice that there is almost no smell from the cooking of the chicken, when you cook and it releases the smell - it is releasing the taste as well...... Also if you cook sous-vide it will not smell that much. So you don't have to nuke to have food lack the smell. Of course the other possibility is that they have an EXCELLENT ventilation system :o

                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Have found for me the major impediment to pleasure are platings of precious bites of food that took so long to plate any semblance of heat in the food is long gone.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                The 'new' restaurants in Paris often are like this, with 4-7 courses of a bite or two of a bunch of things that may not not interest me, the menus are also no substitution.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                The people here love them ,however, and they proliferate almost daily.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                But it is Paris and no matter what you want it is easily available, there are 1000's of restaurants here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. up here in beautiful Vancouver BC we have a lot of "sushi' places that are owner/operated by people of other (ie not Japanese) Asian origins - but it's usually OK for just daily (not 300 dollars for a dinner) sushi type product

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  and also - we have pizza joints (mainly take-out) that are operated by south asians (from India) - who also offer - instead of the usual "spag and meatballs - curry & other traditional foods instead - and yes, it's really good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  or all the greek families who operate pizza takeouts (this time with the usual spag and meatballs sides - no moussaka sides ; )

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  for me, as a multi-generation North American - yes, one can talk about typos - and mis-spellings and so forth
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  let alone the odd graphic design (photos of all the foods ; )

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  that said, some of our family arrived in N Am in the late 1960's and are not the best yet with grammar etc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  it often happens that the "odd" names (Karrie's Kountry Kowdown = further to above post!) and typos happen in smaller communities where some of the new-North Americans have settled to make their way here. For example - i've known of a portugese baker in Churchill MB (the polar bear place) - etc. - WHY WHY would someone come from a land of mediterranean climates to one of the coldest places i've been - in MAY. But they do and it's very interesting to be their customers!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  i remember - years ago, on one of the road-trip hiways that our parents bravely endured - there was a coffee stop called the "chat and chew" -- we still joke about that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Fruit stand names are also kind of funny ... anyone from WA or BC will recall those.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  then again - Stuckey's anyone? (and their famous product was sticky chewy pecan roll fudge stuff that would certainly be stuck on you or vice versa)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  we were enthralled by their trademark blue roof and "menu" on road trips out west here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  i think it's one of my fav aspects of being a North American. All the histories, backgrounds, traditions - that come here to make us who we are in USA and Canada - as far as i know it. which would be west of the Mississippi..

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Georgia Strait

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Just finished a mega cross-country road trip: I was shocked to find a few Stuckey's still left. But they no longer had the blue roof, so I could only guess it was the same chain (we didn't stop there. Had my fill of their pecan logs a few decades ago).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: pine time

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      After a few bad experiences, my family renamed them "Stinkey's".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        they were just Yucky's in our car.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: pine time

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        next time I'm hauling on I-70 or I-44 I may just grab a 'log' and shellac it. maybe paint it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I don't even remember what the place was like except for the 'gift shop' area (sorta)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. I cannot stomach a 30 minute dissertation by the server about how they use all sustainable, organic, perfect products, and "don't believe in" high fructose corn syrup. (True Food Kitchen in San Diego). Oh honey pleeeease, your oversized, highly commercialized, shopping mall restaurant did not invent healthy eating.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. I don't like restaurants with tablecloths, where all the empty tables have glasses on them already, with the napkins tucked inside. The food may be good, but I can't imagine enjoying it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        60 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Not necessarily, sunshine. Some folk are nervous about dining in more formal restaurants, so never experience them, so continue to be nervous. It's usually because they have misconceptions about what the experience might be like - or, alternatively, have the correct conception and just feel that they would be "out of place". I know people who feel comfortable eating at their local chain pizza place or the neighbourhood Indian and are not interested in getting out of their comfort zone.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Well I don't feel any of the ways you described. I just think those restaurants are tacky.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm afraid I don't understand your question.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: plasticanimal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I'm afraid I don't understand why tablecloths and glasses are tacky.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Paper table covers and plasticware? That's tacky.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: gaffk

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Why do you care whether or not I like tablecloths? Were you planning to invite me to dinner?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The thread is called Not For Me. I don't like old fashioned things, be they tablecloths, gingham bonnets, or separate drinking fountains. Not for me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: plasticanimal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Tacky?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Gosh. I would never have occured to me that this would be something anyone would think about a restaurant with tablecloths. Well, you learn something every day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I know I just learned something.....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We always use a tablecloth at home - even for breakfast. Maybe for the last several decades we've been inviting folk to dinner and some of our guests have thought we were being tacky. It's a worrying thought.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          That made me giggle. We are also tablecloth people at home, a habit I learned from my German father.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          My tablecoths have been accused of intentionally making my ILs uncomfortable and the linen napkins were guilty by association. (No joke, that was not a good Thanksgiving day.....)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          In all seriousness, some people are just uncomfortable with certain things, probably dating back to their childhood. One of my closest friends refuses to use linen napkins because it makes her uncomfortable to think she is causing me work. She said her mom was the type of pull out all the stops for a holiday dinner then spend the next week berating all the kids for not appreciating the beautiful table, for dripping gravy on the tablecloth, chipping a glass, etc. My husband hates all manner of plastic drinking vessels because as a child, they were taught kids weren't "good enough" to have a real glass.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: cleobeach

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We have a number of old napkin rings which only come out on special occasions. A couple date to around the early 1920s and are made of ivory with the initials of my grandparents inlaid in silver. Another is mid 1920s and is made of brass - made by my father as a school project. Another is sterling silver, dating to 1920s. And the final one was a baptism present for me - again sterling silver and engraved with my initials - dating to 1950.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            They appear at the dinners when the cut glass candle holders and glasses are also out and, probably, when my grandparents 1920s cutlery is in use.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The day my table doesn't sport a cloth will be the day I....will be the day...I...Idunno what, but it'll be the day I do something or other!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              me, too -- there's always a fabric cloth on my table.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                our dining table is too gorgeous to put a cloth on. that said, for messier dinner parties (like our porkapalooza), i put one on to protect it from the grease drippings.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Come to think of it, I grew up around a gorgeous teak table, that was usually only covered up for kiddie parties!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm sorry for the confusion. I never actually said tablecloths were tacky, or that there's something wrong with people who use them. And there is a big difference between what I enjoy at home and what I enjoy in a restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A table full of empty glasses feels cluttered to me, and a whole room full of empty glasses is overwhelming. It's bad feng shui, and it feels like an accident is always imminent. And frankly, this restaurant layout seems unhygienic. Setting a table in your home before dinner is not the same as a room full of tables that are always set. I can't imagine an acceptable level of cleanliness can be maintained.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Formal dining, for me, is intimate. It's something special, shared with loved ones. I don't want to do it in a restaurant, among strangers who are also trying to have an intimate experience, and where the people who cooked the meal and washed the dishes aren't sharing in the feast.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: plasticanimal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                so.... you don't go out for dinner at all?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: plasticanimal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Ahha. I think the "tacky" confusion has arisen from a couple of your posts. The one where you wrote "I don't like restaurants with tablecloths....." and the one where you wrote "I just think those restaurants are tacky".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm sure you can see why we thought you were saying that you didnt like restaurants with tablecloths and that they were tacky.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: plasticanimal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ahh clarification, gotcha. especially if it's a place with low turnover as one has to wonder about the dust level in those glasses.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Count me among those who have just realized how tacky my guests must think I am. Both my kitchen and dining room tables always have tablecloths.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      And for holidays/special occasions I even use linen napkins nicely bunched in napkinr rings. (I guess I'll hang my head in shame now ;( But I won't change my ways.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: plasticanimal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Things take on a life of their own - let it go and don't worry about it!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: meatn3

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            yeah it's all just a toboggan ride anyway. it's the butterfly wing flap here = a monsoon there analogy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: plasticanimal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            At this point, since we now know what you meant, we're just messing with you and each other.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Don't hate the internet on my account . . . I was raised Catholic in a Jewish neighborhood; the guilt would kill me twice ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: plasticanimal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I am a bit on the obsessive side about germs...bacteria and things of that nature.The glasses sitting out with napkins inside of them would worry me...well truth be told it would actually revolt and repulse me so I can see your point:)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: plasticanimal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Plastic - I don't like napkins in the glasses (weird - linen fiber in my water?). I prefer a bare wood surface (easier to clean anyway). I get over-the-top fussy about cutlery and flatware (but then balance and hand-feel is personal). I have re-arranged the table. it's bad. but I contain it and won't avoid a place over this w/o external information.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I think why folks have been ticky, is that the distaste for such things hasn't been spelled out. just a few blanket dislikes w/o explanation. nobody is ganging up, we continue as we are curious. I suppress my impulse to hide my mothers plasticized table cloths (wish they were just muslin sheets)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  An environmentalist and he probably does not even know it. Tablecloths will often get one usage and then have to go into the washing machine, bare wooden tables just need a wipe. One table in a restaurant may have 3 seatings a night, that is a lot of washing that is not necessary.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cacruden

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Good point cacruden (as one who, when travelling, always opts out of the clean sheets and towels every day).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cacruden

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      well yeah, that's my thought, easier to see the crumbs when it's bare to begin anyway. and there's nothing to smoosh around under the plates/dishes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      for a formal dinner, a nice piece of linen, is umm nice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Don't care much for formal dinners.... which tend to be more about show and not necessarily about the food itself. Personally, I don't want to get dressed up to go out for dinner (it does not mean I will not get dressed up on a normal day). All the tablecloths and nappy's in the glasses do is to double the cost of the food, sometimes the food itself becomes secondary to being "seen". I don't like poor manners (and I am very aware of them) but excluding/including them people tend to try to be on "their best behaviour" which tends to mean that conversation and the joy of eating with people you like tend to also get lost. I spent 3 straight years on the road, getting dressed up eating in "nice" restaurants (luckily expensed) and I cannot remember the food from those restaurants. I can remember some surprising fantastic hole-in-the-wall restaurants (that did not have tablecloths) that simply provided great food. It then begs the question on whether a tablecloth is worth doubling (at the least) the cost of the food you eat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cacruden

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I can happily go either way on the table service items (does that make me a bi-nary diner?) I'm just trying to figure out why the use of linens is a turn-off. unless they're stained. then I do agree ecch, why'd ya bother.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Maybe his/her mother use to dress him up as a ghost at Halloween by covering him with a tablecloth and cutting the eyes out, and everyone asked him why he was coming as a dining table..... does it really matter why?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: cacruden

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I think we may be cross-posting and mis-understanding. but I really DO like the idea of going as a fully set dinner table next year. hmmm... will post photos if I do it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              back on topic: pa brought the issue up and yes I guess it doesn't really matter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              but does any of this?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I actually regret having mentioned tablecloths, now. It was just part of a picture I was unable to paint well, of a very specific type of uninspired restaurant that I've seen a lot of where I live.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: plasticanimal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                But think of the lively conversation you started!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  And it's what we DO! Dissect things to death until the Mods come in and shut the thread down. ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  But plasticanimal, not to beat poor Pokey to death, that very specific type of uninspired restaurant where *you* live doesn't mean that all white tablecloth restaurants are uninspired, does it?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  You said a bit upthread that formal dining, to you, is intimate, and you don't want to do it in a restaurant where there are strangers (diners and waitstaff alike) about and not sharing in the experience *with* you. So do you mean that you don't dine out at all in, for lack of a better word, "nice" restaurants that are more upscale?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    "doesn't mean that all white tablecloth restaurants are uninspired, does it?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Absolutely not! I'm not a black-and-white type thinker. Some places have a vibe that doesn't attract me, that's all. I have to admit I'm pretty embarrassed that my off-handed comments are receiving any attention.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I do end up somewhere "nice" and upscale occasionally, though it is always someone else's idea.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: plasticanimal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Don't be embarrassed. Many Hounds are nit-pickers. And even if we don't see any nits....we still pick. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      But your additional explanations fleshed it all out. Got it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: plasticanimal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  don't be sorry, we've had a bit of fun with it!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: cacruden

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            PLEASE tell me you are joking about the table cloths. They don't leave them on the tables for the next patrons do they? That is disgusting beyond belief.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Lillipop

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I think you misread my posting if you think I said they are used for the next patrons. That is why tablecloths ARE NOT environmentally friendly. Wipeable tables are more environmentally friendly. Gotta convince the environmentalists to throw paint at the overuse of tablecloths, like they have done with furs :o

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: cacruden

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I must have misunderstood when you wrote" tablecloths will often get one usage and then have to go in the washer".I took that to mean sometimes they are used once sometimes maybe more.My goodness I had a bit of a melt down imagining the "germ-fest"transpiring on a tablecloth used for multiple diners:( Gag Gag Gag sorry sorry sorry:)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Lillipop

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Actually, I have seen the tablecloth reused for the following guests. I have not been back to that restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Lillipop

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Still prefer tables without tablecloths. I prefer restaurants that you go to with people and order shared dishes, and that often leads to messy tablecloths - which are white and the mess is obvious when made. Easier to keep the cloth clean when the food is appetizer/main/desert style, but I find those meals to be boring. Tablecloths don't make the food taste better, it just increases the cost :o

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Lillipop

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Wow, that's quite a strong reaction you have.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    You are assuming that a reused tablecloth is stained, has food littered across it and sauces and snot and nose-bleeds smeared all over it. That is generally NOT the case in many high-end restaurants I've been to, especially those where plates and bowls of soup and stuff are served on top of other plates and chargers. Frequently all that is deposited on the (white) table cloth are some crumbs from the bread, which are easily swept up and removed completely by those specialized sweepers that the service staff have at their disposal. I myself usually leave my tablecloths spotless at the end of a meal. So do many others in my observations. It is only because such places *would* tend to have fresh-everything for a patron that a tablecloth is even changed at all in those cases. I've seen the same thing in much-less-than-high-end places. I would not object to sitting down at such a table where the tablecloth is, indeed, still clean.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: huiray

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      and an awful lot of places use a smaller surnappe that goes over the full tablecloth -- it's smaller in size, thinner fabric, and provides a "new' surface for each party of diners.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. re: plasticanimal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The thing that makes me sad is that there are quite a few fabulous, inexpensive ethnic restaurants that have tablecloths. They are very informal restaurants but they just happen to have tablecloths. Just be careful what you are writing off.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Just glad it isn't a fear of actual fabric that you have because then not sure what you would be doing regarding clothes!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Astur

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Gee, thanks for the image of naked people at a dinner table.....!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                sandy - that reminds me of my jr. high French teacher, she went to a Catholic Girls boarding school in the 50's and the rules the nuns had, oh the rules. if a girl was asked and allowed to go on a date, she was not allowed to go to a restaurant with white tablecloths. the rationale (rationale?) being, it would appear to the boy she was snuggled up in bed!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Oh, boy, could we go off on a tangent here. Resisting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    oh I know, while the board is 'not about food' the topic is restaurants that don't appeal...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I only brought that up in the tablecloth context. I could go on, but it wouldn't be right.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    "... it would appear to the boy she was snuggled up in bed..."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ----------
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    That's one of the most ridiculous things I've heard! Wow, nuns always have sex on their minds, don't they!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: huiray

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Not if he's used to leopard-print sheets! :P

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I have always wondered how many of our collective puritanical concepts were borne of someone with a depraved mind.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      (clothing painted over nude Renaissance masterpieces, statues altered to cover the dangly bits, books burned, etc., etc., etc.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Astur

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Don't worry, I don't write off any inexpensive ethnic restaurants! I realize now I was referring to times when I'm really opening the wallet, where I would prefer to do it in a more innovative, relaxed environment than a formal, old fashioned setting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. OK. I'm replying to sandylc's statement, "if the menu has six salads on it and they all contain meat, it's probably not my style of food" only to say that yes, maybe that is the universal situation for sandylc, but that in making that statement, she has removed certain restaurants in France and Belgium from her list of places to go. And I think that maybe that wasn't the intention.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I say that because one thing that is a consistent source of joy to me (when I go to parts of the states) is the fact that salads and vegetarian dishes are actually considered meals. It can happen in Europe, but it feels so much rarer. And in many cases, there are salads which are delicious, in restaurants that serve delicious foods, but where no salad is free from the touch of meat, (And not in the way it happens in the midwest of the US where salad is some leafs of lettuce buried under meat, cheese, and other fried things.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Does that make sense? I hope so. although I understand if I don't right now. It's been a long day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. If a drink list has a section for "martinis" made of flavored vodka or items sounding like dessert, I probably won't have high hopes for the food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    +1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I've never understood why you can change an olive to an onion, and the Martini becomes a Gibson, but some people think they can change every single ingredient, and still call it a Martini.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I just had one of those 'huh, that's a good point' moments. So simple but so true.thinking aloud why didn't I think of that?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. An Italian restaurant - NOT a pizzeria - where the bulk of the menu consists of pizza, 10 pastas with a red sauce variation, 4 baked pasta dishes, one alfredo, eggplant parm, chicken parm, misspelled francese, (insert protein here) marsala, and spaghetti and meatballs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      That describes the menu of 95% of the so-called Italian restaurants in my area. Spouse and I grew up the outer boroughs of NY and the above menu, as far as we're concerned, belongs in a pizzeria, not a ristorante or trattoria. It sure doesn't belong in a white tablecloth restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      If that's what you're calling an Italian restaurant, I don't want any part of it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: huiray

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          yummy sounding! That's how I'D characterize it :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: huiray

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Other than the "cutsie-poo"-ness of the links (Chow Down? What's wrong with Menu?), it looks pretty good to me. I have no problem at all with a place that calls itself a pizzeria serving pizza. Makes perfect sense to me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: rockycat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Yet the place is much more than a "pizzeria". ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. For me it's if the restaurant has someone standing out side with a menu on the side walk pestering passerby's to come in, or barking about their great 'deal'.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This has got to top the list for me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. For me, if the wine list only has the "usual suspects," then I know that someone does not take wine seriously, and allows the distributor to pick everything. For me, this is a really bad sign.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              You know, you've hit upon a point for me. But it does depend upon the restaurant. My expectations for a wine list a mid-to-high-priced place are far different than, say, an inexpensive Mexican place. My problem is that I do like to go to some lower cost restaurants, mostly small, ethnic places, and they pretty much never have anything worth drinking on the wine list. Heck, they usually don't even have a wine list. But even at these places, I would still like to have wine with dinner. Part of the problem is that I cannot drink beer due to a dietary restriction. Because otherwise, that would be the obvious choice. And in my area, I haven't found one yet willing to let me bring wine in (it is legal here, but they usually say it isn't), even though I'd be willing to pay as much in corkage as they would charge for a bottle (if they even have wine by the bottle) or several glasses. It's so frustrating.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. A restaurant menu which states that all the honey they use is "organic".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I see the "organic" label applied to honey sometimes. While the US does not (to my knowledge) have standards for organic honey, the EU does... e.g. see http://www.beekeeping.org/databases/e...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The most important provisions seem to be that the apiaries are in an area surrounded by crops that are certified organic and away from industrial sites, highways, etc. I think that people who like to eat "organic" would appreciate honey certified organic to the EU standards. On the other hand, I think there's sometimes too much self-righteousness in menus that trumpet the "organic" aspect of the ingredients.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Snooty waitstaff, long waits for seating, too many deep fried entrees, all entrees too rich, very noisy atmosphere.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Lack of fresh vegetables and no idea what to do with them anyway.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. A place that uses dishcloths as napkins. I can't bear to use the dishcloths because all I can hear is my Mum yelling at me to "Not use the dishcloths to wipe my mouth and my grubby little hands!"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. When the wait staff can't get the terminology right. I once asked a waiter what a pastrami rachel was and he said it has turkey instead of pastrami and has succotash on it. He meant sauerkraut. I did not want to thuffer thuccotath or thauserkraut there so I left w/o ordering. Bad training on such a small thing lead me to believe the managers may not have been good at training their employees in more important areas.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. One big turn-off for me, is if the menu is written in some copywriter's idea of "local dialect," or if the waitstaff uses such, in a very trained, and stilted fashion. Now, I am from the South, and travel throughout the South, and can normally tell when the "dialect" is studied, to sound "cute," or similar. If I want dialect, I can just read Eudora Welty.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        12 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I think it's Po Folks that left me cold -- the menus are just this side of illegible/illiterate.