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When the ingredients aren't there

Am I just unlucky with the cook/chef, or is this a new trend? If the menu says the salad has almonds, shouldn't the salad have almonds? If you order coleslaw, shouldn't there be some kind of dressing on it? (Otherwise, it's just bland shredded cabbage, right?) If a place is famous for their breakfast potatoes with red bell peppers and onions, shouldn't there be more than one piece of each among the potatoes? There used to be lots!

Is it just my dumb luck, or are my suspicions right - some places are cutting back on or conveniently "just forgetting" the more expensive ingredients; or cutting back or eliminating dressing, etc. to keep the calorie count down? Or am I being just too picky expecting what the menu says?

I'm not grumpy when I go in, but this is really starting to bug me . . .

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    1. those sorts of experiences have caused the reshuffling of my regular rotation on more than one occasion. if asparagus are listed as a salad ingredient on the menu, using green beans instead doesn't cut it.

      also, i'm not a fan of ever-shrinking portion sizes.
      Chinois' decision to use smaller and smaller catfish changes the nature of the dish too much. i'd rather pay more and have the dish stay the same as when i fell for it. . . .

      2 Replies
      1. re: westsidegal

        That's distressing I like the catfish too been a little while

        1. re: westsidegal

          I'd rather have a smaller portion of whatever it is than a large dish minus the pignolis or whatever the expensive ingredient is.

        2. Not a "menu" item, but I had a problem with bagged salad greens from supermarket. Bought a bag of "romaine & arugula"... don't usually go for bagged, but it was on sale. I'm one of those people who washes bagged greens, even if ackaging claims it's pre-washed. As I was spinniing it dry, started wondering WHERE'S the arugula?? Went a bit ocd and actually separated the stuff. There was barely 1/4 cup in the whole bag?? I took it back for a refund.

          3 Replies
          1. re: kseiverd

            And did you actually get a refund - on something you agree was correctly described and, presumably, could have roughly observed the relative contents before you bought it. Please don't come to my business with a similar request as you're likely to leave not only empty handed but probably offended by my attitude.

            1. re: Harters

              Was offered a replacement, but opted for refund. I KNOW that ingredients are listed on packaging from most to least, but wasn't able to get a signal in the store to use my X-ray vision to see inside.

            2. re: kseiverd

              AND in my local market, the arugula is the less costly of the two ingredients, which means that the OP would have gotten better value for the buck . . .

            3. I can't recall ever ordering a dish that didn't include the noted ingredients.

              On very rare occasions I can recall servers saying they are out of X so are substituting Y, but always before ordering.

              Regarding portion sizes in restaurants I have not found them shrinking however I do find that trend continues in grocery items. In order to keep prices low the packages get smaller.

              1. Yes,
                I find that I am running into this more and more frequently.

                I chalk it up to lazy kitchen employees, not the owner cutting costs....................

                And I send the plate back.

                I ordered a dish because of the ingredients/composition on the menu. The restaurant does not have the right to substitute or leave out ingredients without asking my permission first.

                6 Replies
                1. re: bagelman01

                  It's a private business. They have the "right" to do what they want. As a customer you have the "right" to accept it or not.

                  1. re: foodieX2

                    Not sure what you mean by this. If the menu describes the dish as having a particular ingredient and it does not, that's a false representation; businesses do not have the "right" to falsely describe their goods. If it happens occasionally, it may be an honest mistake. If it happens regularly, especially involving the omission of expensive ingredients, that's pretty good evidence of bait and switch tactics -- otherwise called fraud. Sure, the customer could send back the dish but the restauranteur is counting on the fact that most won't complain.

                    1. re: masha

                      and sometimes, sending one dish back that is not as listed then prompts the cancellation of other items ordered to accompany that dish...causing chaos/havoc in the kitchen.

                      All can be avoided by a chef telling a server to inform the customer we are out of X and substituting Y is that to your satisfaction?

                  2. re: bagelman01

                    When you send the plate back, do the missing ingredients miraculously appear?

                    Do you also send the plate back if it contains an ingredient not listed on the menu?

                    1. re: Harters

                      #1 Sometimes the missing ingredient will appear.
                      This works fine when, for example, the croutons are missing from a salad, or onions, lettuce, pickle missing from a sandwich
                      It doesn't work when the missing ingredient was supposed to be cooked in the food imparting flavor and texture

                      #2 I do not send a plate back that has 'extra ingredients' unless I specifically inquired before placing my order as to whether there are any ingredients in the dish NOT listed on the menu.
                      I am allergic to mustard. I always ask if it is used in a salad dressing or potato salad (common uses in the US and not something that would be listed in a menu. BUT if I ordered a sandwich and it came dressed with mustard (or mayo-which I don't care for, but am not allergic to) I would refuse the dish, that should be disclosed in the menu, it is not an ingredient used in cooking the dish.

                      1. re: Harters

                        I try to avoid sending the plate back. Having married a former food preparer, I know too many stories about what happens to plates of diners who "complain." The server brought me a small bowl of toasted slivered almonds, which I added to the salad. With the coleslaw (different time), the server remarked that the dressing was thin. I guess that means it doesn't stick, but if they know it doesn't stick, shouldn't they toss it gently before scooping it out of the tray? Seriously, there was no trace of moisture or flavor on the slaw. She did bring me out a fresh bowl and there was a slight difference in taste, but not much better. Usually with slaw you end up with some remnant or even a puddle of dressing in the bowl. Not a trace!

                        I don't recall having extra ingredients not listed unless it was something "standard" like a pickle or ketchup on a burger. But I am annoyed when I ask in advance, "what's the fruit this morning?" when the option is potatoes or fruit, etc. (I can't eat cantaloupe or pineapple), and the server says they will make up a cup without them, or bring me a slice of watermelon instead, but I end up with a pre-prepared fruit bowl with cantaloupe and pineapple anyway. That's why I started just ordering the "house special" potatoes - with peppers and onion - to avoid the fruit issue, but ended up with one piece of onion and one of pepper. Seriously, the food preparer couldn't see how few there were? My husband had the regular version and they looked almost identical! And the reason to add them isn't just flavor - they add vitamins and minerals, as well as eye appeal.