Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Most Annoying Restaurants in NYC


weinoo
 Share

Recommended Posts

See, I'm not allowed to say this here, but I thought the original Tasting Room was one of the more annoying restaurants I'd ever been to.

I would agree, except that my only meal there was so atrocious that it could not reasonably be considered "annoying". Of our six dishes, five were complete disasters from conception to ingredients to execution. (The sixth, chicken slathered in barbeque sauce with a side of okra, was tasty enough although not particularly well executed and comically out of place for that sort of restaurant.) The ingredient quality at this supposed market-oriented restaurant was a considerably bigger joke, ranging from mediocre (at the top end) to certain standouts like a large slice of tasteless canteloupe which seemed to have been poorly selected from the nearby Key Foods; and the lamb in one dish which had literally gone rancid, a quality that was then enhanced by its sous vide preparation. Also they were out of some particular variety of pepper, which left one dish utterly flavorless, and a soup where they subbed in a different pepper tasting bizarre (although given the rest of the meal, far be it from me to suggest it didn't taste bizarre originally).

But the most unbelievable moment of that meal came when our waiter lectured my dining companion and me for caring too much about food. Yes, this actually happened--prompted I think by our having the temerity to ask what was included in the "Selection of American Farmstead Cheeses". He disappeared to run down to the kitchen, then came back up to ask us, "you mean, the actual names??" (We nodded.) Whereupon he disappeared for several minutes before bounding back with a small notebook in hand, in which he had written the actual names of the cheeses, although he still managed to mangle one or two of them. Although I think it had been building the entire meal when we asked him to describe several of the by-the-glass wines so we could match them to upcoming courses. (As for the famed all-American wine list, I would have been impressed that everything we drank was food-friendly, with proper acidity and decent varietal character, if only I hadn't felt like identical European wines would cost half as much.) In any case, after we selected some of the available cheeses (served way too cold, by the way), our waiter crouched next to our table (annoying!) and began to recount his own personal journey with food: how he had started out as a waiter at Gramercy Tavern, and how back then he had "bought into" the whole "food thing"--learned about wine regions, and types of cheese, and this and that--until one day he realized that it just didn't matter and everyone who cared about it were assholes, and lucky for him he was able to drop out of that hellhole and get a job at the Tasting Room. He then pointed out that we were young, presumably just starting out on our eating careers, and that we should stop caring so much about food before it was too late. No, really.

All of this said, I fully understand that one of the distinguishing features of the Tasting Room is that the menu changes drastically from day to day, and while we managed to order perhaps the five worst dishes I have ever been served in a starred New York restaurant, I realize that on a different night we could have received food that was better enough to make the restaurant merely extremely annoying. Also apparently someone left the fridge open overnight the night before, and who can really blame them for that?

Anyhow, while we're on the subject let me nominate The Grocery as Most Annoying Restaurant in the city. (Yes it is, too! Since 1898!) My lord, what an amateurish operation. The cooking resembles that of a somewhat precocious home cook with no training or education whatsoever. Sauces are unreduced and flood everything on the plate. The waitress has to warn you to "be careful, the plate's really hot" (where are we, TGI Fridays?); too bad she didn't warn the duck breast, which may perhaps have been medium rare when placed on that plate, but is inching toward well done by the time you eat it. And, more than anything, the food is all the same: soft proteins, loads of braised greens, and wet vinaigretty sauces slopped through everything breaking it all down to a perky acidic mush--which is somewhat tasty, to be sure, but is also, in the end, slop. No contrasting textures, no contrasting flavors, no contrasting temperatures; just warm, mushy, tangy slop.

The service is bizarre and aloof. Of the very few wines by the glass (three reds, IIRC?) I managed to pick one that was just terrible, with no redeeming qualities and massively overpriced at $9 or whatever it was. The owner was condescending and unapologetic when we tried to explain that the fact that they had a large private party in the backyard was not, in fact, a valid reason for our appetizers to take 45 minutes to arrive. And so forth.

But of course by far the most annoying thing about The Grocery are the legions of idiot Brooklyners who actually think it's any good. Well, it's not.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

they just think it's good cause it's not in Manhattan.

(that's not a slam on Brooklyn restaurants...of which quite a few I wish existed in Manhattan!) but I've also had enough friends (usually Brooklyn Heights residents who just moved there from Murray Hill or the UES -- the most Manhattan-like part of Brooklyn) who will rave about all the great Thai they have...Joya, Sea...etc. of course those places are just as equally insipid as their Manhattan equivalents (and equally priced). it's some form of reverse snobbery I think.

Edited by Nathan (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

it's some form of reverse snobbery I think.

It's that, but it's also a consequence of self-sorting. If they were knowledgeable restaurant goers, they would pay the extra rent to live in Manhattan, or the extra time to eat out in Manhattan. Since they don't understand what makes a restaurant comparatively good or bad, they end up yapping about places like The Grocery because it fits into their preferred narrative of Manhattan is a waste of money and everything in Brooklyn is just as good but undervalued by snobby Manhattanites. (This is also, of course, why Zagat ratings are useless--because Blue Water Grill is rated by the sort of people who eat at Blue Water Grill.)

A further consequence of this is that they don't understand or appreciate the truly superlative restaurants in Brooklyn. (I'm thinking primarily of Franny's, but I also get the sense that the Brooklyn chauvinists in Park Slope, Brooklyn Heights, etc. are the least likely people in the city to schlep out to Di Fara's or Totonno's or explore the great ethnic cuisines in the less accessible reaches of their borough.)

Edited by Dave H (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would disagree with almost all of that, based on my own sample set. Now, I know everyone's sample set differs, but...

1) People don't *choose* to pay Manhattan rents because they're foodies. If only this were the case! People move to Brooklyn in large part because they want actual. living. space. It's awfully hard to get that in Manhattan. Almost all the Brooklynites I know care a great deal about food; many of them grew up in Manhattan.

2) Even assuming that Franny's, DiFara's, or Totonno's actually *qualified* as restaurants that are somehow overlooked by Brooklynites (they're not IME; they're just mobbed by Manhattanites), I've never found it to be the case that Brooklynites overlook ethnic or out-of-the-way restaurants... at all.

If they were knowledgeable restaurant goers, they would pay the extra rent to live in Manhattan, or the extra time to eat out in Manhattan.
EDIT: Man what? Edited by Mayur (log)
Mayur Subbarao, aka "Mayur"
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I nominate Café Gray, which has some of the city's best food in one of its most unpleasant spaces.

I would second that - although those braised short ribs are pretty damn good. I amazed that I still remember how really good the food was, even though we asked to change tables midway through our meal (due to some screaming me-me's at a table no more than 8 inches away from ours) and still had problems conversing over the din of the cackling clientele.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If they were knowledgeable restaurant goers, they would pay the extra rent to live in Manhattan, or the extra time to eat out in Manhattan. Since they don't understand what makes a restaurant comparatively good or bad [...] A further consequence of this is that they don't understand or appreciate the truly superlative restaurants in Brooklyn.

Clearly, the only reason that the 2,465,326 of us living in Brooklyn haven't joined the 1,537,195 of you in Manhattan is that we aren't knowledgeable enough about restaurants to choose to pay the extra rent to live there.

Thank you so much for pointing out to us (as we are incapable of understanding or appreciating the superlative) that Franny's is a great place to eat. And that there are great ethnic places in the outer reaches of our borough! WOW!!! Who'd have thought so?

I've learned ever so much from this. I can't begin to thank you enough for your knowledge, wisdom and guidance. :smile::smile::smile:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh, come on--what's the point of a "most annoying" thread if we can't bitch and whine and make unsupported generalizations??

Having said that, mine happen to be correct. Note that this does not imply that the 1,537,195th most restaurant-savvy Manhattanite is more discerning than the most sophisticated Brooklyn resident, or whatever HdB took my personal attack on her restaurant-going chops to be. Actually the antecedent of my and Nathan's "they" was "partisans of The Grocery," a group that, though at one time quite vocal, probably includes only a few thousand of the 2,465,326 folks in the borough.

Of course, more generally it was indeed meant to touch upon a narrow class of Brooklynites, the sort of yuppie folks whose cohort forms the backbone of the restaurant dining class over here in Manhattan (but does not actually constitute all 1,537,195 of us! And many Manhattan yuppies don't know anything about food either!!). Broadly going by neighborhood (more generalizations!), this basically tends to mean Williamsburg, whose restaurants are obviously not even worth talking about (although Bedford Cheese Shop is nice); Brooklyn Heights, which amazingly seems to have been zoned restaurant-free (how did they manage that?); and Park Slope and Carroll Gardens, home to a relatively visible number of deluded residents who not infrequently make claims that their restaurant neighborhoods are equal to the best of Manhattan. Claims I find annoying.

But Smith Street and Park Slope are not, in fact, strong restaurant neighborhoods in the context of New York City or even of Brooklyn. I say this not, by the way, on the basis of having eaten at every notable restaurant in each neighborhood, but on the basis of having eaten at a handful and comparing the claims made on their behalf to the reality I saw.

The Grocery is a particularly illuminating example. Here is a restaurant that is frequently cited as evidence that Brooklyn restaurants are every bit as good as Manhattan's, but in reality it is not very good at all. Not only that, but it is overpraised in a way that reveals ignorance and unsophistication on the part of those involved.

Conversely, Franny's is a truly excellent restaurant, but its reputation is less than it deserves. Reading through online comments one frequently finds gems like people complaining that $13 is an outrageous and insulting amount to charge for a pizza (this one is pretty much a constant), that $4.50 is an outrageous amount to charge for a beer, that the pizzas aren't sliced, that their crust was charred, that it's no better than the pizzeria on their corner, etc. (Rarely do you find someone who has managed to order something other than pizza.) Of course, there are plenty of positive comments as well, but the overall opinion is clearly mixed, and the comments against are ignorant and stupid. There are many ignorant and stupid negative comments about great Manhattan restaurants on Citysearch too, but the Franny's comments are notably stupider, more ignorant, and more frequent.

Or take Frankie's Spuntino, which opened last year a couple blocks south of my apartment. In the context of similarly targeted Italian restaurants in the lower East Village, and the general standard of restaurants on Clinton St., the food served there is an embarrassment. But it is apparently the exact same food they serve at Frankie's 457 on Court St. And Frankie's 457 is apparently beloved by local residents. Now, I have not eaten at Frankie's 457 myself. Nor have I interviewed a statistically valid sample of local residents. But I can ascertain online that the menus are, in fact, identical, and I can know that by reputation and by the fact that they opened up a second outpost in Manhattan it is in fact beloved by local residents. The fact pattern is clear enough for me to safely conclude that local residents are idiots.

I can go on. Mayur, I'm glad your sample set gives Franny's the love it deserves; my (admittedly not that large) sample set of acquaintances living within half a mile of Franny's tend to have barely heard of it, and on my (inexcusably infrequent) visits I have never had a problem getting in. This is not to say it's not popular, although if by your own admission it takes mobs of Manhattanites to make a place that small and that superior to the surrounding options full, that is frankly pathetic. (For what it's worth, one comment that has not shown up online since mid-2004 is that the waits are too long.)

Look. There are plenty of great reasons to live in Brooklyn but let me just suggest that actual. living. space. tends to correlate with an actual kitchen and often an actual family, both of which anti-correlate with frequent, serious restaurant going. (Normalized for degree of caring about food. In case it is not clear, I am claiming that Brooklynites may be more likely to cook, and Manhattanites more likely to go to restaurants or order delivery. Please note, however, that this does not mean that no one in Manhattan can cook, or that the 2,465,326th most frequent cook in Brooklyn cooks more than the most frequent cook in Manhattan.)

Of course, just because these generalizations are not iron-clad rules does not mean they are not important. The dining patterns of a neighborhood's residents, and the discernment of their restaurant tastes, eventually determines the restaurants that open and thrive there. (Of course the arrows of causation go both ways and the interaction is contingent and complex.) Yes, there are plenty of terrible, overpopular restaurants in Manhattan, too...

...but those are just full of people from New Jersey. :shock:

All of that said, I did not actually intend to turn this entertaining thread into Brooklyn Mobilize 2007!! vs. Manhattan Snobs Unite. I only intended to note that The Grocery sucks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'd like to know what the point of this thread is. I've had some disappointing experiences in restaurants, but I don't tend to go back after one disappointing experience -- unless it's a cheap restaurant I used to get dragged to, like Veselka (talk about an annoying experience) or even worse, Odessa. But frankly, I'm finding this thread very annoying and rather pointless. It would make more sense to just have a thread about disappointing experiences in New York restaurants or disappointing restaurants than to make annoying and useless generalizations. But even then, I'm not sure that a "Griping Thread" is really all that interesting or useful. These types of remarks are probably most appropriate in threads about the specific restaurants that have been mentioned, because in those threads, the "annoyingness" of the restaurants could be more fairly and interestingly debated.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think the point was to vent about the abysmal experience I had at the restaurant I mentioned up thread, and to see if anyone else felt the same way about a singular or multiple restaurant experiences. It was not only about the food at said establishment, nor the service at said establishment, but taken as a whole, the sum of the parts, the fact is that the place is truly friggin' annoying. Not disappointing, not anything but purely annoying.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think the point was to vent about the abysmal experience I had at the restaurant I mentioned up thread, and to see if anyone else felt the same way about a singular or multiple restaurant experiences.

Is there a difference between "annoying" and "bad"? The restaurant you described sounded like it was just plain "bad."

I would suggest that an annoying restaurant is a one that would be wonderful, but for a chronic singular irritant that always gets in the way. For instance, The Spotted Pig has great food, but they don't take reservations, and you often wait forever for a table. That would be an example of "annoying."

But I wouldn't use "annoying" to describe a restaurant that's simply awful. I also wouldn't use it for an isolated or atypical bad experience, at what is generally a very good restaurant.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Of course, more generally it was indeed meant to touch upon a narrow class of Brooklynites, the sort of yuppie folks whose cohort forms the backbone of the restaurant dining class over here in Manhattan (but does not actually constitute all 1,537,195 of us! And many Manhattan yuppies don't know anything about food either!!). Broadly going by neighborhood (more generalizations!), this basically tends to mean Williamsburg, whose restaurants are obviously not even worth talking about (although Bedford Cheese Shop is nice); Brooklyn Heights, which amazingly seems to have been zoned restaurant-free (how did they manage that?); and Park Slope and Carroll Gardens, home to a relatively visible number of deluded residents who not infrequently make claims that their restaurant neighborhoods are equal to the best of Manhattan. Claims I find annoying."

I'm going to agree with this paragraph only. (which dovetails with what I noted above..that Brooklyn Heights is filled with ex-Manhattanites who immediately developed an immense amount of reverse snobbery upon moving to the Heights....which doesn't make sense since their neighbors are also from Murray Hill or the UES....but anyway, the important thing is that I've eaten at three or four Heights restaurants that were supposed to be "amazing" and they all sucked.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Osteria del Circo and anything owned by the Maccionnis. Ick. Feh. Blech. Nasty service, bad food. What more could you want?

BeefCheeks is an author, editor, and food journalist.

"The food was terrible. And such small portions...."

--Alvy Singer

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think the point was to vent about the abysmal experience I had at the restaurant I mentioned up thread, and to see if anyone else felt the same way about a singular or multiple restaurant experiences.

Is there a difference between "annoying" and "bad"? The restaurant you described sounded like it was just plain "bad."

I would suggest that an annoying restaurant is a one that would be wonderful, but for a chronic singular irritant that always gets in the way. For instance, The Spotted Pig has great food, but they don't take reservations, and you often wait forever for a table. That would be an example of "annoying."

But I wouldn't use "annoying" to describe a restaurant that's simply awful. I also wouldn't use it for an isolated or atypical bad experience, at what is generally a very good restaurant.

As I said in my first post, the restaurant was annoying because of many reasons - screaming servers, loud and awful music, uncomforatble bar, and, to top it off, shitty food. It would have been bad if just the food was bad; everything else made it annoying.

Waiting forever for a table - yes annoying, but I've never done that - that's something you can actually control - by going somewher else.

Thanks for your suggestion, though.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I nominate Cafe Cluny as most annoying restaunt. The decor is just plain weird. The waitresses, who were apparently given a lenient dress-code. were completely apathetic and unknowledgeable. I ate there for brunch with decent expectations having read a few good reviews. The portions were miniscule, and just about everything was over-cooked. It felt as if a diner cook was given an interesting menu and fabulous ingredients to screw up.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...