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Does the meal have to be amazing?

  • j

Noticed this trend?

"The food was good but it wasn't amazing."

Are we so jaded, entitled, dare I say SNOBBY in our own hipster doofus foody ways that if it's not AMAZING it's not worth commenting on?

If that's the case so be it. (Many might refer to me as one of the above.)
I always like to hear about amazing meals.

But I probably eat more often at holes in the wall and Mom and Pops and I'd love to read more posts about these places without the expectation of "the best."

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  1. In my very SNOBBY voice, It had better be better than what I can do at home

    1. Hilarious! I had the exact same thoughts when I read that post.

      1. As someone who reads to gain information about a restaurant, it's really useful to know how good a place is. I'd much rather some one provide a nuanced distinction rather than a black and white good or bad.

        I've been to some holes in the wall or Mom and Pop places that are AMAZING; just because they're not fancy doesn't mean that they aren't inherently capable of producing superlative cooking. In some cases, these "simpler" places can surpass fancy looking restaurants.

        1. I have always found it very hard to ding a restaurant because the food wasn't mind blowing.
          I tend to highlight what I thought really worked, and play down the misses.
          I don't have the dining budget of a food critic, so experiencing the restaurant 3-4 times before I state my opinion isn't going to happen over a short period of time.

          I also adjust my expectations, and have been known to enjoy dining in chains.

          1 Reply
          1. re: monavano

            <I have always found it very hard to ding a restaurant because the food wasn't mind blowing.>

            So true. A local roadhouse just opened a new store a few blocks from home. Talking it over with friends, no one could think of a single item on the menu that stood out, but we all know we really like it.

            Then we realized, it's all just good. That's it. Typical menu, nothing spectacular, not one innovative item, but all done in house with fresh ingredients. There is not one single thing to complain about. That's worth a comment or two right there.

          2. What does "amazing" even mean? It has been overused to describe everything to the point it's nonsense.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Samalicious

              Agreed. We went to Turkey last year and it was so "amazing" that I swore I wouldn't use the word ever again to describe food!

              1. re: Samalicious

                Exactly. What "amazing" actually means is that the writer prefers cliches. It's right up there with "OMG!" and "awesome."

              2. I like to give and receive honest assessments, so I am indeed very likely to say the food was good but not amazing* and grateful if someone else does the same. I don't quite understand your issue with this. Would you prefer that we only post about places that we find amazing? or that we lie about the merely good ones and say they're amazing?

                *I actually say "it won't kill you, and it won't thrill you," because I like rhyming.

                1. I've found on CH that people are quick to diss a review, so it's just easier to downplay something that ~I~ thought was genuinely really good.

                  I just did it in the Railway Dining post:

                  1. I prefer to use a rating along the lines of: would definitely go back; may go back if there was nothing better; and never again.

                    To me a restaurant/meal is the whole package of food, venue and staff working. if one or more of those miss it gets a maybe. if one or more misses badly it gets a never again.

                    Whilst it seems crude to only uses three levels it tends to sum things up well because its about whether its worth spending money there again. Will the food be "amazing" at a revisit place maybe, mage not especially if the service and ambiance are great - tasty homemade burgers, cheap beer and wooden chairs on the beach represent a package better than amazing food in a dull room with pompous staff.

                    1 Reply
                    1. I am certainly in the "more is more" camp when it comes to what I post. Moreover, I can see, with frustration, that there are sometimes odd factors at play in how some folks choose to relate their own experiences - laziness, ignorance, timidity, pomposity, etc. But the truth is, as a community, we are populated with people who "come from different places", have different standards, different education levels, writing skills, the list goes on and on. When we venture into commenting on how others express themselves, I think it's important to tread lightly, lest we find ourselves shopping for real estate in "glass house" zip codes.

                      1. I'm not sure food has ever "amazed" me before. Maybe the youngns are more easily amazed...or lack pertinent adjectives

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: BiscuitBoy

                          Or perhaps some are just more jaded than others. Perspective.

                          1. re: BiscuitBoy

                            some people can be amazed 2 or 3 times a week, others 3 or 4 times in a life time. I lean towards the second choice.

                            1. re: genoO

                              If I had to choose, I'd rather be amazed as often as possible with good food.

                              1. re: chowser

                                I've had a few extraordinary meals in the last couple of years. I definitely find that it raises the bar. It doesn't make me at all dissatisfied when it's 'just' good or very good.

                            2. If we want to be analytical, rather than using prose, we could just rate it 1-10. Good=6/7, amazing=8/9. A place that is "good" to me means, if I happen to be in the neighborhood, stop by. "Amazing" means go the distance just to eat there. That includes independent hole in the wall places.

                              8 Replies
                              1. re: chowser

                                Ok, I am sort of with you on this. But if amazing is 8/9 on a scale of 1-10. What word would be used for a 10?
                                Seriously, I feel amazing is like defined in a dictionary, where in your terms it could be an 8.

                                1. re: genoO

                                  That made me look up the definition of "amazing" just to compare. It says, "causing great surprise or wonder." But that is the problem w/ adjectives vs numbers, right? One is far more subjective but that is the beauty of words--descriptiveness. I've seen many things I think are "amazing" but I've never seen the northern lights. In my head they are beyond that.

                                  1. re: chowser

                                    Exactly. Hence my reference to Turkey. When you stand there looking at Ephesus, you then begin to get an idea of amazing :)

                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      So the question is if you do see something/eat something that is truly amazing, does that make everything else subpar? Does it lessen the enjoyment of it? This is a tangent but something I've thought about recently. In grad school, I was perfectly happy with Beringer's white zinfandel ($1.99 a bottle). Over the years, I've become more familiar w/ better wines and can't drink Beringer's anymore. I buy wine in the range of $15-20 a bottle right now. Do I get more enjoyment out of them than I did when I was in grad school? No, not really. So, is there a reason for me now to move on to better quality wines? Enjoyment of food is along those lines, too. The better you get, the more you hope to get better.

                                        1. re: chowser

                                          Hi chowser,

                                          In answer to your first two questions, about subpar and lessened enjoyment, I would say my answer is "I hope not." We enjoy a fine meal from time to time, budget permitting, but I still like a bowl of Trix. I enjoy it, even. I suppose for some, tasting the best would make the rest taste like sawdust, but I'd say they're missing some fun in life. Because you never know where the next little bit of deliciousness will come from.

                                          We treat wine the same way. Most of the bottles in our big chiller are in the $50-75 range. Yet we routinely buy and enjoy $8-12 bottles of sauvignon blanc. We prefer it be from the Marlborough region of NZ, but it is still inexpensive easy drinking porch wine. And we love it, especially on a warm Florida afternoon. I haven't tasted Beringer White Zin in over 20 years, maybe more. But I'd sure drink it, just to see how it tastes to me now. I might like it! :-)

                                          1. re: chowser

                                            I would say there are a couple of things in play. Firstly, as you age your tastes do change, what was once unpalatable may now be great and vice-a-versa. For example the drink of your youth may now be far too sweet for your palate so what you once loved is no longer to your taste.

                                            Secondly, your palette matures as you gain new experiences. So the wines of your youth were good based on your experience. As you have broadened your taste your appreciation of quality changes. The one dimensional fruit driven wine no longer satisfies because you want complexity and subtlety - it very tricky to go back.

                                            Now thats not really price driven. It could be there is a $1.99 (or equivalent at today's prices) bottle that is really enjoyable - but it will probably be different in terms of flavour profile etc from the wines of your youth.

                                            I used to like Malibu and ice (and dancing to Wham - but that is another story) when I was younger I now prefer Campari - same price but so, so different.

                                    2. This OLD guy has been wandering in and out of restaurants for more years than I care to admit.
                                      There is one thing which turns me upsidedown more often than anything. It's SERVICE!!!
                                      Having worked "on the line", I can understand that there are times when it's just not happening. I'll forgive poor plate presentation, less than HOT food, and recognize that we often are served product that was not THE BEST when it came in the back door. BUT, I will never understand or put up with lousy service.

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: TedTask

                                        This thread is specifically about the quality of the food. If you want to bitch about service, why not cruise over to the Restaurant Pet Peeves thread?


                                        1. re: small h

                                          Good point, however, for some folks, service shapes the function of the palate so significantly that they can't really taste their food.

                                          1. re: MGZ

                                            I know. And if I'm having a sucky-ass day, the food probably won't taste very good even if it and the service are phenomenal. But that's not what this thread is about, and I'm anti-thread creep.

                                            1. re: small h

                                              To be pedantic the title says "meal" then has an example about the food before taking about the meal again. To me a meal is the sum of all the parts: food, service, ambiance, company etc etc.

                                              1. re: PhilD

                                                I think the OP is only interested in the quality of the food, despite his/her use of the word "meal," which as you say encompasses stuff like how clean the bathroom was and whether the music was too loud. I breathlessly await either confirmation or correction!

                                        2. re: TedTask

                                          I've always kinda felt that service quality was proof of the fact that "karma counts".

                                        3. There's a recent thread on the Seattle board. A couple will have, IIRC, one dinner only in Seattle and want "amazing." They'd heard about a particular favorite of ours. I commented that we think it's "very, very good" but not "amazing." I knew what they were talking about.

                                          6 Replies
                                                1. re: greygarious

                                                  I apologize. CH taught me that one :)

                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                See, I get that. very, very good is how it would be described to people from all over the world.

                                                1. re: genoO

                                                  But it's not any better than "very, very good." I've had many meals that were much better but this is VVG. Get the difference?

                                              2. I've rarely been "amazed" by a meal. On occasions, yes - there's been some wild bit of gastro-magic. The "how the f**k does the chef do that?" sort of moment.

                                                For the last few years, I've tended to post a review of most of my restaurant meals to Chowhound (and, at times, other boards). It's no big deal as I'm generally writing it up for my own record and other purposes. I'm happy when a Tuesday night bistro dinner is "good" or, even, "OK". I enjoy the writing and have to say there's a greater range of creativity when there was a negative meal, than a positive one.

                                                That said, I am not a professional writer, nor am I well educated - which means that the language I have available can be limited. Which means I find myself repetitively using favourite phrases and words. In that context, what I do find "amazing" is how professional restaurant reviewers manage to find fresh words to review a place week in, week out.

                                                1. Let's not all start squabbling about word choices, please? My reply would be that given the choice between 'good' and 'really good', CH is one of the resources I use to, hopefully, have 'really good' food whenever possible. When I am paying ten hard-earned bucks for a grilled cheese sandwich, I'd rather have one that is REALLY good. I don't stomp my feet and storm out of the place if my food is only 'good', but I'm a lot more likely to return if the food is, you know...really good, or even (dare I say? ) amazing. And I'm not being entitled if it is my money that I am spending for the meal I want. I'm too old to be a hipster, but I'll embrace doofus and foody, no problem.

                                                  1. Since I try to never use the word for food anymore, I think a couple of replacements, IMO, are "excellent" and "outstanding."

                                                    16 Replies
                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                        This is why I don't mind "amazing." It's just another synonym for "excellent", "outstanding", "terrific" or the other host of words that mean the same thing. OTOH, I also don't mind "awesome" which is like nails on a chalkboard to some hounds.

                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                          Amazing would be something like turning water into wine., or even ripple into something outstanding.
                                                          If you use the word too much it loses its value, and then what would we use?

                                                          1. re: genoO

                                                            That's how I feel. If the country of Turkey is amazing and the foie gras I fixed recently is also amazing...well, it just doesn't work for me :)

                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                              Is the key to this the overuse of amazing or awesome by the yoof of today?

                                                              I have just walked through the centre of Sydney, followed by two young ladies who used awesome and amazing in every sentence as they discussed the restaurant and meal they enjoyed last night.

                                                              It seems they also have awesome and amazing friends, awesome and amazing plans for the weekend, and plans to go to some awesome and amazing places on holiday.

                                                              Sadly they seem to lack a awesome and amazing vocabulary. If I was charitable they could simply have been dazzled by the splendour of the new day, the sun glinting on the harbour, the smell of great coffee percolating from the numerous bars - and so lost the power of coherent thought and speech.

                                                              1. re: PhilD

                                                                So it's not just the US? ;-) It doesn't bother me what people use in personal conversation. Some people are literary and conjure up images with words I'm not. I'd rather describe by number. At the same time, I won't put someone down who's not analytical.

                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                  I have no problem with what words others use. I'm just trying to not use "amazing."

                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                    I'm a group fitness instructor. I'm guilty of overusing "awesome." But, when we're doing burpees for a long time, it's far easier to say that than, "Great job getting that blood pumping so quickly through your veins and doing your body good!!!" ;-)

                                                                    Honestly, if I were nearly as eloquent as PhilD in the PP and could conjure up images easily, I would. But, I could spend hours and still not. I really don't think I've lost the power of coherent thought and speech, though.

                                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                                      Burpees? Isn't that seed company????

                                                                      I know what you mean about eloquence. I don't have the vocabulary to beautifully describe some of the food I eat.

                                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                                        Understood that awesome and amazing are great words. But my point was they seem to be the only words and isn't that the issue.

                                                                        Now that the common usage means that anything from just OK to great is now described as awesome or amazing how does one differentiate the merely adequate from the outstanding?

                                                                  2. re: PhilD

                                                                    OMG! That is such an awesome and amazing observation because it seems the same in the US.

                                                                    1. re: PhilD

                                                                      No, the yout' uses the term "amazeballs" these days, AFAIK.

                                                                      1. re: linguafood

                                                                        I think "amazeballs" is now out :)

                                                                2. What if a meal is not Amazing but there are some dishes that would make you go back?

                                                                  I'm thinking about some kimchee I had recently with a meal.

                                                                  I'd go back for a beer and bowl of this kimchee but I didn't post because the meal wasn't amazing.

                                                                  I'm guilty.

                                                                  Let's share this type of experience too, where one dish or a cocktail was so good you'd go back just for that one thing.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: JayDK

                                                                    I try to post on almost every place I haven't posted on before. Unless it's not so good and in a small community and I don't want to hurt their business.

                                                                  2. "amaze" as mentioned above has an element of surprise - so its not a measure of quality per-se. My first encounter with Quesadillas Camarones in a Texas taqueria was "amazing" because a drunk, Yankee, freshman never knew "Mexican" could taste like that. A most excellent filet at a famous East Side restaurant was exquisite, but not "amazing" because excellence was expected (and paid for)