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What is the one thing you refuse to eat out because your homemade version is unbeatable?

For me, it's linguine with clam sauce, meatloaf and tuna salad. I am picky about all of these and refuse to eat them out because they just cannot compare. What are your homemade preferences?

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  1. Cioppino. Have had it while at restaurants and it is disappointing.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Emailfemale

      Cioppino for me as well, emailfemale! I'd love to hear your recipe :)

    2. Chicken Cacciatore and most other Italian dishes

      Hungarian Goulash

      French Onion Soup

      1. almost never eat italian... no point

        1. Thai food. Not that I'm so great at it, but having spent a decent amount of time in Thailand I just can't eat what they serve in the restaurants here - mine is far closer to what I experienced there.

          1. I'm interested in your recipe for unbeatable Meatloaf -- it's one of the things I think freezes and reheats well, but I'm not actually that awesome at making it.

            1. Crab cakes. Here on the west coast, the restaurant version tend to be heavy on filler.

              1. I'll still eat these foods at restaurants, but I'm not likely to order them since I almost always like my home-made versions better: rack of lamb, leg of lamb, mac + cheese, scalloped potatoes, tuna salad, meatballs, stuffed peppers, stuffed grapeleaves, cabbage rolls, potato pancakes, kourabiedes, apple pie, lemon poppyseed loaf, banana bread, chocolate chip cookies, fried chicken (Ontario restos have trouble getting fried chicken right- I like a good US resto version better than my homemade version).

                2 Replies
                1. re: prima

                  I avoid muffins -- always too oily. (I'll never forget one I ate when I was 9 that tasted of cigarettes!) I have yet to find very good apple pie, even if I like the restaurant's other pies. I don't think of my apple pie as particularly amazing, either, but bought ones are rarely very good.

                  I also don't tend to be impressed by egg dishes.

                  1. re: prima

                    +1 on the ccc's. I'll also add cake to the list, and actually most desserts.

                  2. In general, I tend to order things I either can't make or that involve a lot of prep/cleaning up, to avoid all that at home. Unless a special ingredient is involved, I avoid easily prepared dishes I can make as well, or even close enough, at home.

                    But the one thing I absolutely refuse to even try at a new place anymore is chili (con carne). I make a decent pot of chile, but I don't claim it's special. On the other hand, so much of what passes for chili here in NYC is a sort of thick, soupy mass of too-finely ground beef drowned in sweet tomato sauce and loaded with beans that it's just demoralizing. So I just gave up. Fortunately it freezes well so it's easy to keep some around for quick fixes. :)

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: MikeG

                      I'm the same. If I go to an Italian restaurant, I won't order something standard like meatballs or lasagna, even if theirs is fabulous. I'm more likely to order something like Veal Francese because I'm not likely to make that at home.

                      1. re: MikeG

                        Yeah, what is it with sweet chili in NYC? I never order it either because I just know I'm going to get a bowlful of sugar. Gross.

                        1. re: MikeG

                          I agree with the policy of ordering something that is too much to make at home. That's usually something that requires ingredients that are not staples in our house. I don't mind if I can use up the entire ingredient in the single dish, but if it calls for something that is very specific to the recipe and the rest of the ingredient would just sit on my shelf and go bad, I'll eat it when in restaurants and not make it at home. The other thing is that when we are out, I'll tend to splurge on calories and decadency because at home I try to cook dishes that are very healthy. So, for example, I'll order something with alfredo, but not make it at home.

                          Ironically, one dish, to answer the OP, that I do make at home, usually once a year and will not eat out is Biscuits and Gravy. But that's just made with whole milk, not cream, so it's still considered healthy, right? ;)

                            1. re: PHREDDY

                              Phreddy is absolutely correct. It is the only healthy meal I have only once or twice a year.

                        2. Anything with Hollandaise, tuna salad or egg salad.

                          1. Never think of eating out in that way. I happen to make a great burger but I love getting burgers anywhere. Even if they're not as good as what I make at home sometimes I get inspired by the options that are out there to augment or improve on my own. And that's just one example. When I eat out it's usually because I want a relaxing social experience unencumbered by rules, so I'll order what I feel like at the moment, content in the knowledge that I don't have to shop for ingredients, prep, cook or clean up afterwards. 't

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: ferret

                              I agree, never think of eating out that way. When we go out it is because we want the social/relaxing experience, don't feel like cooking, want to just get away from the house. We usually go out to eat "for" something...that might be a cuisine, like Thai or Indian or for a burger and a beer. Eating out is not a replacement to what we make at home, it is an addition to our life experiences. I rarely order anything that I cook at home in a restaurant.

                              1. re: ferret

                                this is my exact feeling too.

                                i also don't think i'm near as good a cook as others here feel they are - and i'm not doubting anyone at all. i'm decent, but not great. i would love to eat at the homes of many of you!

                              2. Creme brulee & cheesecake.

                                1. Nothing. I've never had a potato salad, coleslaw, meat loaf or mac'n'cheese as good as mine, but I might some day … and I've enjoyed a lot that have come close. Sometimes my trying something I've done well will reveal a restaurant chef's shortcuts; there's a place here in Pasadena with French pretensions and Lapin à la Moutarde on the menu, but I think it's just rabbit cooked sous vide and finished in a mustard sauce! Having gone to the trouble (and richly rewarded) to do it properly I know what depths of flavor the dish should have. This was not a bad dish, fairly tasty, but it missed the boat by a mile. Still, it was fun to figure out how that had happened. Also, I wasn't paying ;-)

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Will Owen

                                    Will, I should have thought of potato salad. Never had a good one unless it my own or my Mom's. Well, maybe yours:) What's your recipe?

                                    1. re: LeftoverFoodie

                                      It's from Mom's father's people, a large tribe of Mennonite farmers, and it's more a formula: 1 egg : 1 potato : 1/4 onion, season as wanted, mayonnaise to bind. The potatoes are usually russets, boiled to still rather firm. We always used Hellman's; the only real improvement I've been able to make is to use homemade mayo. The beauty of this stems from its being a farm recipe, easy to scale from enough for two to a mob of hungry hands.

                                      Though I sometimes add some chopped celery or fresh dill when it's available, I don't care for either mustard or sweet pickle, but they don't repel me. I CAN eat about any potato salad you set before me, but seldom would I care to repeat it. Trader Joe's is good enough to bump with egg, onion and more mayo if I want one in a hurry …

                                      1. re: Will Owen

                                        Wow, very close to my potato salad recipe. The only difference is a little celery and a some celery seed. Surprisingly simply and really, really good

                                        Mine came Iowa farm grandparents

                                  2. Lobster.

                                    Restaurant versions just aren't as tasty as my home stuff. The meat should be both sweet and untainted by other flavors. That's easy for me to do at home but difficult for a restaurant.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: steve h.

                                      Agree on the lobster. Here in FL, Maine lobsters are goofy expensive and one nearby restaurant, a nice place, is starting all you can eat lobsters for $35 on Wednesdays, I may give it a try. Pappadeaux's in Denver tried that for a while, but it attracted so many obese professional eaters who would down 7 of them that they had to discontinue it.

                                      1. re: Veggo

                                        We're pretty spoiled up here in Connecticut.

                                        I have a decent fishmonger with huge tanks. They cater to the trade but have a retail business as well. I get the jumbos, kneel at Jasper White's timetable altar and then all is bliss.

                                        Maybe the best lobster I ever had was grilled on the stern of a sailboat I chartered out of Saint Lucia. The boat wasn't memorable but the spiny lobster was. The sailing was Cugat!

                                        1. re: steve h.

                                          It's actually difficult to source spiny lobsters in Florida. When I had a house in Providenciales, fresh spiny tails at the lobster packing plant were one of few bargains on the island, and I sometimes dived for them. Prepared correctly they are delicious. Pretty animals, too.

                                    2. Everything except lobster, soft-crabs and duck.
                                      Those three things I eat maybe once a year and choose to eat them in a restaurant (I wouldn't know how to prepare them properly, although I love all three).
                                      Everything else, restaurants don't come close to my cooking :-)

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: acssss

                                        I like my home prepared lobsters and duck, but my soft shell crab attempts have been disasters! Also iffy on the crab cakes, I think in part because I can't get good fresh crab meat.

                                        1. re: Veggo

                                          lol. Actually I think if I ever brought a lobster home, my husband would kill me - he says they look like huge red cockroaches. He hates them. I usually save them for "girls night out"

                                          1. re: acssss

                                            Reminds me of the time I brought a bagged live lobster to the register in a large grocery store, and the check out girl saw the bag on the conveyor move. She absolutely freaked and screamed and left her work station, another clerk had to check me out.

                                        1. re: valerie

                                          Yes, agree absolutely. Far better homemade.

                                          1. In the last few years I've become less enamored with eating out than ever before. I've eaten wonderful meals up and down the east coast from FL to the Maritimes and beyond, but lately I do worry about where the food comes from, how is it cooked, who's cooking it, how much salt. etc. This takes all the enjoyment out of the whole dining experience, except for restaurants I trust and believe in. And, to answer the question, i don't order pasta anywhere.

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: Gio

                                              I'm pretty fond of the carbonara at Roscioli. :-)

                                              1. re: steve h.

                                                Ah, well, Roscioli. When I get to Rome that's what I'll order and tell them steve h. sent me. Mille grazie.

                                            2. Pretty much everything other than Chinese food and pizza.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: rjbh20

                                                That's a bold statement.

                                                I like the sushi at Shunji in Los Angeles.

                                              2. Maybe not unbeatable, but I rarely get anything crab when eating out... crab cakes, stuffed flounder, etc. ONE MINUTE piece of shell/cartlidge... I'm totally turned off. When I splurged, buy nice crab, and make cakes... I KNOW there will be NOTHING in them that will not be acceptable in my mouth!

                                                1. Grilled steak, chicken salad, grilled shrimp and roasted chicken.

                                                  1. Meatballs, burgers, any ground meat preparation.

                                                    I have a butcher nearby and he grinds all the meat I need with no grizzly bits or bone. I don't frequent fast food joints, just never have. However, even the well regarded restaurants can mess up with the grind and it's gross.
                                                    I'm not against fat - it's needed with a good mix - I just hate biting into grizzle and bone.

                                                    Well, hey - it actually sounds like a cool outlaw eatery for an underground food club: Grizzle&Bone.

                                                    1. Pies, chocolate chip cookies (ok, kidding- city bakery and levain are the exception) and brownies because no one will top my mother's versions.
                                                      I rarely order out salads or soups-those seem to be what i make most at home for six months or so each and i know how to make what i like! :)

                                                          1. re: Antilope

                                                            Barbeque is one of the few things that I will, order out because it isn't something that I do well at home.

                                                            I tend to order Chinese, SE Asian, Indian and other ethnic dishes that are too much trouble to make at home.

                                                            I make decent fried chicken/fish but I almost always order it out because I don't like to clean up the mess of fried food.

                                                          2. Shrimp and grits. Mine is better than any I've had in a restaurant - which isn't that often because I quit ordering them a long time ago.

                                                            1. BBQ pork ribs, and pulled Pork roast. Having a good smoker really makes a difference. Ours is a Kamado which is no longer available. It's replacement is called a Kamado-Komodo. Or close to a BGE(big green egg), which is a great ceramic cooker also.
                                                              We seldom get steak out either because we can do it so much better at home.

                                                              1. Spaghetti bolognese, sukiyaki, and oatmeal

                                                                1. Cesar Salad..... mine is normally better than what I get at high end places

                                                                  1. Lasagna. Everybody loves mine. I have to agree.

                                                                    1. My husband's burgers on the grill.

                                                                      1. I keep trying it, but I'm always disappointed with other people's pie crust. They're usually heavy, tough, and crumbly rather than flaky.

                                                                        1. Two items, Stew and Caesar salad.

                                                                          When was the last time you really went out to dinner to tuck into a nice stew? Boullaibaise for that matter. We have an irish pub in town that does a great lamb stew. The exception to the rule. I have had too many beef stews that seemed to consist of turned back over cooked steaks reutilized the next day.

                                                                          And Mulligatawney seems to be chicken on its' last day in the cooler. I know that stews are designed to use up the odds and ends, but the quality I have found has been low. Not that mine are any better. Just fresher.

                                                                          And there have been other threads lamenting the demise of table side Caesar salad prep with garlic clove and coddled egg.