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daves

Misrepresentation of menu items -- what do you do?

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Last night, my wife and I were out eating at a decent French restaurant (who shall remain nameless). We finished up dinner, and then decided to have a look over the dessert menu. The Tarte Tatin caught our eye. We're fans of this dessert and ended up both ordering the same thing. This rarely happens and you should take it as a sign of our enthusiasm for not sharing :biggrin: .

Here's the rub: the restaurant's Tarte Tatin wasn't Tarte Tatin. I'd venture to say that it wasn't even a 'modern interpretation'. Sure it had apples and a puff pastry crust (although I prefer pate brisee), but it wasn't cooked upside down or even caramelized. It was good, but it wasn't Tarte Tatin.

So how do you think of menu labeling? If the restaurant significantly changes a traditional dish, should they tell you about it on the menu? Is everything a gamble?

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This reminds me of a meal my husband and I ate in Bloomington, Illinois .. the menu said "Duck with Cherries" .. the duck turned out to be dark meat chicken and those cherries?green canned grapes dyed red! (waitress said they were an "exotic cherry" brought all the way from New Zealand.. :huh: ) :laugh:

If we had not been on a trip to a specific destination, we would have engaged in a quarrel .. but, times being what they were, we shrugged our shoulders and laughed hysterically ... we nicknamed the place "America's most fraudulent meal" ... :wink:

If the restaurant significantly changes a traditional dish, should they tell you about it on the menu? Is everything a gamble?
depends upon the restaurant in question ... they can always claim that the finished product is their "unique personal interpretation" ... Everything is a gamble really unless you have been there before and had the dish prepared properly .. but you are free to question and not return if the answer is not satisfactory ... authentic is in the mind of the chef really ...

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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I once ordered "truffled potatoes" and they tasted nothing of truffles or even truffle oil. I asked the waiter about it, and he said that it was just a method of making mashed potatoes, it didn't have anything to do with actual truffles. Okay...

And don't you love it when the 19 year old waiter looks at you like you're a complete idiot when you ask questions?

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There must be a fine line between creativity and scamming. So when is that line crossed? The more I think about the 'tatin' last night, the more I think it was a serious scam. Tatin takes time to do right and it should be priced accordingly. What we got last night was their interpretation of "let's make up something easy to put together and hard to screw up, but priced like tatin." Fine -- but that isn't tatin.

I know there would be a lot of seriously peeved people if a restaurant served hamburger when the customer ordered the filet (but in their defense, the menu obviously didn't say it wasn't ground).

Of course, I can walk with my future business, which I probably will.

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I once ordered "truffled potatoes" and they tasted nothing of truffles or even truffle oil.  I asked the waiter about it, and he said that it was just a method of making mashed potatoes, it didn't have anything to do with actual truffles.  Okay...

And don't you love it when the 19 year old waiter looks at you like you're a complete idiot when you ask questions?

I laughed so hard when I read this.

To his defense, I guess a lot of people would have swallowed that explanation.

What makes me mad is when they try to pass off one kind of fish as another. I don't often order seafood in restaurants, but I've seen many a dining companion being served a different kind of fish than what they ordered.


Marsha Lynch aka "zilla369"

Has anyone ever actually seen a bandit making out?

Uh-huh: just as I thought. Stereotyping.

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I've heard of restaurants trying to foist "false" morels (aka Spring morels) on diners. If I received a dish of these at a restaurant that clearly stated "morels" on the menu, I would say something to the effect of: "Perhaps I am mistaken, but I was under the impression that I was ordering morels, as your menu indicates." I wouldn't be rude, but I would definitely speak up.

With the tarte tartin--I was served a "tart tartin" of the same description last year (slices of apple on puff pastry) and wrote about it on EG in the infamous "Irish Heather" thread in the Western Canada forum. The owner of the restaurant read my review, but I don't think he addressed my thoughts about how the classic dessert was interpreted at his restaurant.

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I've heard of restaurants trying to foist "false" morels (aka Spring morels) on diners. If I received a dish of these at a restaurant that clearly stated "morels" on the menu, I would say something to the effect of: "Perhaps I am mistaken, but I was under the impression that I was ordering morels, as your menu indicates." I wouldn't be rude, but I would definitely speak up.

Wow...Verpas, okay, I wouldn't be thrilled, but at least they're in the same family as morels. But Gyromitras? Nothing like a little monomethylhydrazine to ruin your dinner!

(I know that some gyromitras are not very toxic, and that since MMH is volatile, supposedly it's okay after lengthy cooking, but still. I'm a fungus geek by training, and I've never, ever been tempted--even when my morel haul was pitifully tiny!)

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We had the strangest experience ordering sandwiches poolside at the Rio in Las Vegas last week. First my friend ordered a "chicken po'boy" and got a chicken salad sub, chicken salad obviously out of a tub. "That *is* a chicken po' boy," we were told when we asked. The next day it was a "pulled pork" sandwich which turned out to be a chicken breast, all in one piece, with barbecue sauce. It started to seem like a practical joke.

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"Chicken Picatta" a slab of griddled chicken breast, topped with some Mozarella?, and a cornstarchy lemon sauce made with lemon extract! I swear I was served this at a so-called Italian restaurant.

Never went there again, either.

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There must be a fine line between creativity and scamming.  So when is that line crossed?  The more I think about the 'tatin' last night, the more I think it was a serious scam.  Tatin takes time to do right and it should be priced accordingly.  What we got last night was their interpretation of "let's make up something easy to put together and hard to screw up, but priced like tatin."  Fine -- but that isn't tatin.

I know there would be a lot of seriously peeved people if a restaurant served hamburger when the customer ordered the filet (but in their defense, the menu obviously didn't say it wasn't ground).

Of course, I can walk with my future business, which I probably will.

Did you question it when it was brought out and obviously not what you were anticipating? If a dish is described as one thing and comes out another that is not to your satisfaction because it is different than what was described send it back.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Last night, my wife and I were out eating at a decent French restaurant (who shall remain nameless).  We finished up dinner, and then decided to have a look over the dessert menu.  The Tarte Tatin caught our eye.  We're fans of this dessert and ended up both ordering the same thing.  This rarely happens and you should take it as a sign of our enthusiasm for not sharing  :biggrin: .

Here's the rub: the restaurant's Tarte Tatin wasn't Tarte Tatin.  I'd venture to say that it wasn't even a 'modern interpretation'.  Sure it had apples and a puff pastry crust (although I prefer pate brisee), but it wasn't cooked upside down or even caramelized.  It was good, but it wasn't Tarte Tatin.

So how do you think of menu labeling?  If the restaurant significantly changes a traditional dish, should they tell you about it on the menu?  Is everything a gamble?

Why did you eat it ?

Why didn't you ask to speak to the chef ?

Why did you not show them the error of their ways ?

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Today I ordered french onion soup at Jack's a faux bistro that just opened in my hood. It was tomato based and in a large soup bowl. Um, what the fuck? It was beef base, tomato paste and evil. three ingredients served poorly. :angry:

Has ANYONE ever seen french onion soup not in a crock? EVER?

gosh..just call it something elses... perhaps....

"yucky soup"

The tarte tatain thing drives me nuts too...also mislabeled meats. anything thats supposed to have caramel that does not. grated parmesean insted of shaved. salad greens that are not what they say they are (spinach is not a sub for arugula)


does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

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My experience with this was ordering risotto (as a side dish to my entree) at an Italian restaurant and getting rice pilaf! I questioned the server and they claimed that this was risotto. I explained what risotto was and that it was made with Arborio rice and they looked at me like I had two heads.

Amazing.

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I have seen "braised" Beef tenderloin on a couple menus, and always been a bit curious to see what they mean... doesnt seem like the best cut of meat to braise, but who am I to judge....

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Hehehe, at a restaurant here in town that has hit the skids, I ordered a pasta dish with an uncooked tomato sauce that specifically states on the menu that it has olive oil (and up until this point, it always did). I sent it back with no protest from the waiter the first time.

The second time I sent it back he asked me why. I said, "There's no olive oil in it" I would have been happy to have them simply drizzle olive oil on and return my original dish.

But here's the kicker. He said "There's no olive oil in this dish." He argued with me for well over a minute and refused to bring a menu.

So, his tip was a quarter, superglued to the table.


I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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My big bugaboo is "wild mushrooms," which are inevitably portabellas or cremini mixed with button mushrooms.

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The most frequent thing I see in the menu not matching the plate is omitted ingredients. Restaurants love to have flowery descriptions of their dishes but a lot of times some of the things in the description aren't on the plate.

My pet peeve is all the places that claim to have "Shepherd's Pie" on the menu and it's made with ground beef, like a pot pie with potatoes instead of a pastry crust. I've gotten the blank stares when I tell them it's supposed to be made with lamb. Really, they say? Yes, why do you think it's called SHEPHERD"S pie? Geez! :blink:

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I get extremely animated, demand to see the owner and threaten bodily harm.

Ditto.

Probably should have gone ballistic like this :biggrin: but we were on a date night, so we wanted to keep the evening on a positive note. I have sent a note to the restaurant management, respectfully pointing out the error of their ways, and we'll see what happens. Hopefully they'll take feedback better than some Vancouver restaurant owners and not ban me from "darkening their doorways."

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There's a Mexican restaurant in town, at which I used to order quesadillas. I got tired of having to deal with the wait staff when I was brought pale, limp, half-soggy tortillas with stuff inside them. They always made sure I understood I was being SUCH a pain in the ass when I asked for them browned and cooked crisp. And they once argued me that they served quesadillas the way they're "supposed" to be served. I argued back that just because they always came out pale and limp at this restaurant, doesn't mean that's they way they're "supposed" to be. The meal was pretty much ruined at that point, since both the waiter and I were both in bad moods at that point.

But we do go back. They have several other dishes that are good, and they're one of the very few, anywhere-near-decent restaurants in our part of town.

I figure I'll run into the owner one of these days, and I'll condescendingly ask if he'd like me to teach him to make quesadillas. That will be my payback and my satisfaction. :wink:

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In Sidney, Oz, we were in severe withdrawal from our daily at home diet of taco-stand mexican food, and we made the mistake of ordering nachos. We got Doritos with spaghetti sauce on them, the cheese melted on top of the sauce.

My sister wrote a page-long letter to the cXhXeXf cook, explaining the how's and why's of proper nacho preparation.

editted to fix a technical term


Edited by Kouign Aman (log)

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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All of these are reasons I rarely eat out anymore and cook at home instead!

1. At a staid old restaurant, with exorbitant furnishings, known for classic French cuisine, I ordered the French Onion Soup. It was a clear chicken broth, with boiled sliced onions. No carmelization. It did have some cheese on top of the crock.

2. At another swanky place, ordered a filet mignon advertised with Bearnaise Sauce. The Bearnaise sauce had not a smidgeon of Tarragon in it, and tasted somewhat like a simple white sauce with nutmeg.

3. In the Quad cities, ordered a tenderloin with demi-glace. Tasteless, so I spoke to the waitress. She brought out some of the demi-glace in a bowl for me. It was Demi-glace Gold before being diluted and heated, but she swore this is what the chef puts on the tenderloin!

4. Double NY Strip steaks! Wow, sounded great. Got two rubbery minute steaks in a small Iowa town!

5. Ordered Moussaka, got Pastistio. When questioned, the waiter said this is "Genuine Greek Moussaka".

6. "Genuine Crab Cocktail" turned out to be that processed fake crab!

And the list goes on and on.

doc

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In Sidney, Oz, we were in severe withdrawal from our daily at home diet of taco-stand mexican food, and we made the mistake of ordering nachos.  We got Doritos with spaghetti sauce on them, the cheese melted on top of the sauce.

My sister wrote a page-long letter to the cXhXeXf  cook, explaining the how's and why's of proper nacho preparation.

editted to fix a technical term

What was the outcome?

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I had a funny experience in China a couple of trips ago.. I quickly realized that a hamburger at my hotel, was actually a ground pork patty.. So its really Western Folk that are misrepresenting the Ham-burger..

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