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Very Popular Restaurant Dishes That Tick You Off


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Er, I could be wrong about this, but as far as I know alfredo sauce = butter, parmiggiano reggiano (sp?), and cream.  My gripe is "chefs" who make it from bechamel.  (Yes, I have seen this).

I have had this dish at the restaurant where it was created...Alfredo's in Rome. It is indeed fresh pasta (a thinner version of tagliatelle) tossed at the table with fresh parmesan, butter, and cream (just a bit). It was delicious and not heavy at all. I have to say, I have never had a comperable version anywhere else. My experience in the US is 1) the pasta is too heavy, 2) the sauce is too rich and cloying.

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I have had this dish at the restaurant where it was created...Alfredo's in Rome.  It is indeed fresh pasta (a thinner version of tagliatelle) tossed at the table with fresh parmesan, butter, and cream (just a bit).  It was delicious and not heavy at all.  I have to say, I have never had a comperable version anywhere else.  My experience in the US is 1) the pasta is too heavy, 2) the sauce is too rich and cloying.

jennahan, I don't know when you visited (and far be it from me to guess anyone's age, least of all online), but by chance was it prepared by Alfredo (of the venerable story with the gold utensils for the dish, said to've been confiscated by the Fascisti)?

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Again, I don't see what the big deal is about offering both types of ribs? 

You don't? I've managed kitchens, and I'd say that offering one type of ribs involves a considerable amount of expense, space in the walk-in, and time in prep, all for an item that is very high food cost, and not extremely profitable. Offering both types of ribs is twice the expense, twice the space and twice the prep.

And then, if you don't have enough customers who like both types of ribs, you get to throw away the ones you prepped that didn't get sold. So that's exactly what the big deal is.

Why thank you for enlightening me. And your so-o-o-o polite, too! :raz:

So exactly how do you (or other restauranteurs on this thread) go about finding out what your customers like? I'm not a professional--just a mere Earthling-- but I would assume that one of the first steps would be to actually offer it on your menu and see how well it's received? I know there's also all kinds of marketing to be done, tastings, etc. as well. I'm sure there are many dishes that initially seemed promising on menus at first, but didn't fly with the clientele, or somehow fell out of favor/fashion, or maybe there was some well publicized food scare and now your stuck with tons of the product in your fridges/freezers and can't give it away or any number of reasons that I'm sure you know more about than me that may cause a restaurantuer to throw out all type of foods, unfortunately to the financial loss of said restauranteur.

Just asking. :smile:

Inside me there is a thin woman screaming to get out, but I can usually keep the Bitch quiet: with CHOCOLATE!!!

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I have had this dish at the restaurant where it was created...Alfredo's in Rome.  It is indeed fresh pasta (a thinner version of tagliatelle) tossed at the table with fresh parmesan, butter, and cream (just a bit).  It was delicious and not heavy at all.  I have to say, I have never had a comperable version anywhere else.  My experience in the US is 1) the pasta is too heavy, 2) the sauce is too rich and cloying.

jennahan, I don't know when you visited (and far be it from me to guess anyone's age, least of all online), but by chance was it prepared by Alfredo (of the venerable story with the gold utensils for the dish, said to've been confiscated by the Fascisti)?

I was there in the summer of 2002, and no, Alfredo himself didn't serve the dish to us...don't thnk he's still alive. However, the waiter who did the mixing did so quite skillfully. He placed the hot plasta in the shallow dish where the butter, cheese and cream were already placed. He tossed the pasta into this mixture using what looked to be 2 ordinary forks, but done very quickly and with much aplomb.

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Let's keep this discussion focused on the thread topic, shall we? In particular, please refrain from any personal references; if you feel that someone has in fact made an inappropriate personal reference, please report the post.

Keep in mind that one of the things that makes the Forums a special place on the internet is respectful dialogue between those who work in the food profession and those who are customers in those folks' restaurants and stores. Those two groups will certainly not always agree or see things from the same perspective, but those differences are precisely what help us learn more about this subject for which we all feel such passion!

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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but I would assume that one of the first steps would be to actually offer it on your menu and see how well it's received? 

Well, that's exactly what I was referring to, when I made my initial comment. I managed a restaurant kitchen that did, for a test period, offer baby backs as well as a separate, fattier and meatier cut of rib. It wasn't a barbecue restaurant, which would have made this a more workable option, but we did go to the extra expense and trouble of doing this, to see how it would work out. And it didn't. Work out, that is.

The extra cost was very large, especially in that we had two entirely different smoking procedures for the different cuts, meaning we couldn't put both batches in at once, and we had different sauces for both of them, and as I mentioned before, they both took up a good deal of space in the walk in coolers and freezers. Extra prep means extra labor cost to prep it, and ribs are pretty expensive anyway.

The end result was that we went back to just selling baby backs. My experience, of course, only applies to restaurants where I've worked, and possibly others may be able to do this more easily than we did. I don't know, and I don't claim to know anything outside of my own experience. Sorry if I provoked or offended anyone. :sad:

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First of all FoodTutor, thanks for clarifying this point. I apologize for any offence to you or anyone else reading this thread. I guess it's no surprise that we are all passionate about our opinions on food or we wouldn't be members of a forum such as this.

We all bring who we are to the eGullet table. I am a home cook and a consumer. I have no experience in the "industry"--unless working as a student eons ago in the college cafeteria to feed 2,000 people per night or volunteering and cooking in hot church kitchens qualifies--but appreciate learning from all of you with your varied backgrounds as relates to food.

As a consumer, I have had mostly thank goodness, either decent, good or great restaurant experiences. Even when I've had awful food or service, I usually try to see it from the establishment's point of view. I've seen customers behave in such a fashion where I've actually apologized to a restaurant worker for their bad behavior and even left a larger tip than I originally intended because I felt so bad about how they had been treated, often over an issue that was completely out of their control. Again, your well thought out response FoodTutor is sincerely appreciated and once again I come away from a discussion knowing a heck a of a lot more than I did before.

My screen name says it all, I guess, but I promise I will strive to keep in check some of my "Diva-ish" ways. :smile:

Inside me there is a thin woman screaming to get out, but I can usually keep the Bitch quiet: with CHOCOLATE!!!

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Usually they throw nine million other things in with it - often in a salad setting - and the delicacy of the meat is obliterated in a drunken mardi gras of flavors.

:rolleyes:

Perfect expression of a sad syndrome. Vanilla lobster, anyone?

Pick me!

Restaurant Eve in Alexandria served me and a bunch of eGulleters lobster flan paired with a fennel "confit" (or whatever they called it) that had been spiked with vanilla and it was quite a good dish. I've cooked a Keller dish that features black bass and a vanilla/saffron cream that was spectacular.

Subtly done, it appears that vanilla and fish can be a pretty dynamic duo. Though I, like you found the concept troubling, at first. (I actually only cooked the bass because the photograph was so cool -- and, also, if it was good enough for TK...).

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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If we're referring to classic dishes that have somehow been basterdized by virtue of "modernization" then put me in the school of Caesar Salad haters. The first time I had a Caesar was in my early 20's (circa 1978) when I waited table at a casual bistro. A few of my colleagues and I went out for a special dinner at a "fancy" restaurant with tableside service (Steak Diane, Caesar Salad, Cherries Jubilee etc).

That salad was nothing short of a revelation and I made it at home many times subsequent to that. Garlic closes rubbed into a wooden bowl with coarse salt, anchovies crushed into that... fresh lemon juice whisked in... coddled egg drizzled over and then tossed... fresh parmesan grated and sprinkled... fresh ground black pepper... freshly made garlicky croutons (made on site from yesterday's leftover French bread)

Was it the salmonella scare that prompeted so many decent places to stop using coddled egg and making their own Caesar dressing? Hard to say but as the quality declined hte numebr of places offering a "Caesar Salad" seemed to increase in geometric proportions. And now they heap on crap like tomoatoes, chicken, salmon, onions....

The final insult was at a restaurant in Ireland where my GF was served a toassed salad consisting of iceberg lettuce, sliced cukes, tomoato wedges, sliced red onion and stale store-bought croutons. But it had Caesar dressing.

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Let me get Diva's back here for a moment before getting on with my own little rant.

The problem is that once a dish reaches a certain critical mass, it starts crowding other stuff off the menu: those stupid Caesar's salads; Fettucini Alfreda and, generally, mediocre-at-best pasta dishes; grilled salmon; fried calamari... and, arguably, baby backs.

Why? Cutomers embrace the trendy and familiar, restaurant supply houses figure out how to make them easy for and profitable for restaurants to serve. People, especially accountants, are risk-averse.

What's the problem? Eating out gets boring. Restaurants begin serving food not because they do it well, but because everybody else is doing it. And you go to try someplace new (or find yourself in strange environs) and you end with culinary deja vu all over again.

Diva's neighborhood is flooded with baby backs. They're probably not that good, bcause they're not the product of cheffly passion for babybacks; they're the product of menu consultants and pre-packaged sauce and customers too timid to try the full-size version. No wonder she's sick of them. I would be, too.

But in my neighborhood, where we're a little more yuppified, it's summertime and what I'm sick of is:

Slicing, not cooking.

I'm not impressed with that $12 hand-crafted artisanal heirloom organic salad you're serving, chef. I can slice tomatoes myself, I have basil in the garden. And that wedge of iceberg lettuce? Same thing.

For dessert, do me a favor. Put the peaches in some ice cream or something, make me a plum tart, do a little work that I can't do at home.

Because for the next two months, my kitchen is going to have just as much great raw produce lying around as yours (and I'll have the fruit flies to prove it). Show me your chops. I can slice at home.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Low carb anything - I not only hate seeing this on menus, but also written across every packaged good in the grocery store.

Blackened anything

Salads made with weeds & listed as gourmet or organic

Seasoned french fries - when did everybody & their brother start covering fries with pepper & garlic?

And why can't you just make me a cheeseburger with American cheese on it? Why do you have to look at me like I am clearly insane for wanting American cheese on my burger?

Gee, can ya tell I'm not quite the gourmet, here? :laugh:

Edited by Metal Spice (log)
Rock is dead. Long live paper & scissors!
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Yep, got to go along with if you can't serve that stuff where it came from, don't try it here---Salmon. I am beyond burned. I live in Montana, for crying out loud! I will eat it where it's caught. And you will not get any premium price outta my pocket for substandard...Give me fresh trout, for instance! Or would that affect your profit point? When does cooking and serving turn into pimpin'??

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Anything touting "Wild Mushroom.." I don't think having cultivated crimini and portabello mushrooms in something makes it wild.

Edited by johnder (log)

John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2

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I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

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Let me get Diva's back here for a moment before getting on with my own little rant. 

The problem is that once a dish reaches a certain critical mass, it starts crowding other stuff off the menu: those stupid Caesar's salads; Fettucini Alfreda and, generally, mediocre-at-best pasta dishes; grilled salmon; fried calamari...  and, arguably, baby backs. 

Why? Cutomers embrace the trendy and familiar, restaurant supply houses figure out how to make them easy for and profitable for restaurants to serve.  People, especially accountants, are risk-averse.

What's the problem? Eating out gets boring.  Restaurants begin serving food not because they do it well, but because everybody else is doing it. And you go to try someplace new (or find yourself in strange environs) and you end with culinary deja vu all over again.   

Diva's neighborhood is flooded with baby backs.  They're probably not that good, bcause they're not the product of cheffly passion for babybacks; they're the product of menu consultants and pre-packaged sauce and customers too timid to try the full-size version. No wonder she's sick of them.  I would be, too.

But in my neighborhood, where we're a little more yuppified, it's summertime and what I'm sick of is:

Slicing, not cooking.

I'm not impressed with that $12 hand-crafted artisanal heirloom organic salad you're serving, chef.  I can slice tomatoes myself, I have basil in the garden. And that wedge of iceberg lettuce?  Same thing. 

For dessert, do me a favor.  Put the peaches in some ice cream or something, make me a plum tart, do a little work that I can't do at home. 

Because for the next two months, my kitchen is going to have just as much great raw produce lying around as yours (and I'll have the fruit flies to prove it).  Show me your chops. I can slice at home.

Word. Like what he said, only better than me. Thanks Busboy.

I just heard a new one today (at least it was new to me), no lie: a grilled salmon Caesar salad. :shock: Maybe in the right hands it might actually taste good; I don't know. I'm just not feelin' it.

Perhaps the upside of all of this is that more people who are disappointed in what's out there in restaurant-land will get fed up and be "scared straight" back into their own kitchens. One can only hope.

Inside me there is a thin woman screaming to get out, but I can usually keep the Bitch quiet: with CHOCOLATE!!!

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Saw a chicken parmesan on a restaurant menu today whose description didn't include (anywhere) the word parmesan, but it did have provolone. :blink::unsure:

Any chicken dish that features overcooked, dry, flavorless chicken. Whether that's strips across a salad, or the main element itself. If I wanted to eat cardboard, I'd order it. Why do so many places have trouble cooking chicken properly?

Any underseasoned ethnic dish such that the original has been watered down so as to be a tasteless pile of whatever on the plate, probably with a sauce that's too sweet to boot. Simply waving the meat carcass over the pot is not going to get you a flavorful stock, people! :angry:

"I just hate health food"--Julia Child

Jennifer Garner

buttercream pastries

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I just heard a new one today (at least it was new to me), no lie: a grilled salmon Caesar salad. :shock:  Maybe in the right hands it might actually taste good; I don't know.  I'm just not feelin' it.

And I'd bet that the little salted fishies that are already -- or, at least, should already be -- in a Caesar salad are bummed out at the competition from bland, farm raised crap....

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Okay, this is as basic as it gets: How about when you ask for a glass of water at a restaurant and the waiter asks, "Do you want Pellegrino, or ...... TAP WATER??"

Oh, I want the nonpotable, tepid water from the hose out back - please!

Eliza Cross

"A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion."

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Okay, this is as basic as it gets: How about when you ask for a glass of water at a restaurant and the waiter asks, "Do you want Pellegrino, or ...... TAP WATER??"

Oh, I want the nonpotable, tepid water from the hose out back - please!

I don't think I'm following you. Are you against tap water, or the way they're asking, or what?

Personally, as someone with limited money that I'd prefer to spend on food rather than fancy water, I'd go for the tap water every time (and look back with nostalgia on places such as Japan where water is always provided for free, automatically, and topped up every time it gets low).

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.

But in my neighborhood, where we're a little more yuppified, it's summertime and what I'm sick of is:

Slicing, not cooking.

I'm not impressed with that $12 hand-crafted artisanal heirloom organic salad you're serving, chef.  I can slice tomatoes myself, I have basil in the garden. And that wedge of iceberg lettuce?  Same thing. 

For dessert, do me a favor.  Put the peaches in some ice cream or something, make me a plum tart, do a little work that I can't do at home. 

Because for the next two months, my kitchen is going to have just as much great raw produce lying around as yours (and I'll have the fruit flies to prove it).  Show me your chops. I can slice at home.

In defense of these salads, they are nice for those of us who are apartment dwellers (thus no gardens) and who have no access to local farmer's markets that sell true organic/heirloom produce (yeah, I could drive 45 minutes each way to Philly to pick up the stuff, but it is a lot easier to shell out the $12 at a local restaurant and have them do it for me).

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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Okay, this is as basic as it gets: How about when you ask for a glass of water at a restaurant and the waiter asks, "Do you want Pellegrino, or ...... TAP WATER??"

Oh, I want the nonpotable, tepid water from the hose out back - please!

I don't think I'm following you. Are you against tap water, or the way they're asking, or what?

Personally, as someone with limited money that I'd prefer to spend on food rather than fancy water, I'd go for the tap water every time (and look back with nostalgia on places such as Japan where water is always provided for free, automatically, and topped up every time it gets low).

It's the way they say "tap water," like it's a highly inferior product (compared to the $6 bottled water, of course)!

Edited by Eliza Cross (log)

Eliza Cross

"A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion."

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I can relate to that very well, as I am no longer gonna put up with a 20-something little snot who looks at you as if you needed a tick dip to come into their substandard cave. The impression does come across that you're on a par with those CapitalOne berserkers if you don't bend to their will. For every raised eyebrow take a buck off your tip folks. And I pay cash money. And I might know your boss.

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Any chicken dish that features overcooked, dry, flavorless chicken. Whether that's strips across a salad, or the main element itself. If I wanted to eat cardboard, I'd order it. Why do so many places have trouble cooking chicken properly?

This is a great question. It has gotten to the point where I am actually very surprised on the few occasions where the chicken is not overcooked into a dry, flavorless puck.

edited to add: I've had a lot of friends who've had chicken at my house who ask, "How do you get it so juicy and tender?" The answer, of course, is that when it is done I stop cooking it! Okay, I don't say it that way, but that is the answer.

Edited by MT-Tarragon (log)

M. Thomas

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BINGO! This weekend, why doesn't everyone who asks for chicken and gets the seemingly requisite hockey puck send it back? That ought to show up on the commodities trading boards!

I am not an elephant! I am a carnivore and I want moist, meaty poultry! It's so easy, people!

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