We are lucky enough to live in a time of restaurant saturation. There are tons of places to eat in most American locales. Hell, if my unscientific observations and drunken calculations are accurate, there are actually three point two seven (3.27) pizza places for every adult in the State of New Jersey.
There is a grey cloud to this silver lining though. It seems everyone eats out more than ever and has opinions to share on the subject. Any dull, cocktail party has some turn of conversation that leads to folks recommending dinner places without solicitation and regaling you with glorious tales of mediocre chow. Ugghh!
Consequently, I've started to note certain words, phrases, and prefaces that set off warning sirens in my brain - spreading imaginary, yellow, "Caution: Do Not Enter" tape across the front door. So far, these have proven pretty good "tells":
"They have the BIGGEST portions!"
"It's my kids' favorite."
"They don't even HAVE vermouth." (Usually, detours into a vodka conversation . . . ."
"Make sure you try the fried calamari." (This one may be pretty NJ-centric, but it's become almost as ubiquitous a restaurant offering as tap water. Not sure why it's such a good trigger that the person speaking doesn't know much . . . .)
Anyway, you get the just. Are there things you hear from folks that make you rethink trying the spots they suggest?
"Any dull, cocktail party has some turn of conversation that leads to folks recommending dinner places without solicitation and regaling you with glorious tales of mediocre chow. Ugghh!"
So other people aren't allowed to make recommendations? This seems somehow anti-social.....
Comments to-date seem focuses on restos deemed unduly mass market. My own warning bells relate to restos with foodie pretensions. Note that these terms don't necessarily portend bad food but they just are turn-offs for me.
"Small plates" or tapas-style - fine if they serve traditional Spanish tapas but otherwise just not a format that I like
No reservations taken - sorry, I will not wait in excess of an hour (or even 15 minutes) for a table
Craft cocktails or any resto that hypes its "mixologists" - I am strictly a beer and wine gal so really don't care about your mixed drinks. It won't prevent me from patronizing the resto if it has good food and a good wine list but it won't be what attracts me either.
Any restaurant that hypes it's bacon and pig-centric menu -- I've nothing against pork products but this focus is overdone
Small plates to share -- bah. Invariably, not enough of things I like and too many of things I'm not crazy about. Stupid service, exemplified by seven meatballs (or whatever it may be) for three people in a tiny crock and regulation flatware. A bill that makes me curse (to myself) mildly or profoundly. Needless to say, this is A) a minority opinion and B) something I don't do anymore.
And everything else Masha said.