As someone who dines out a lot, I see many restaurant trends. New menu items, food trends, chefs, and fancy cocktails, often cross my path. While dining out can be a joy, you occasionally come across some irritating things. I’m talking annoying trends that restaurants can easily avoid, but for some reason, continue to do. In no particular order, here are my top restaurant pet peeves. Do you have any?
Smalls, Bites, and Tastes
I like tapas as much as the next person. I also love appetizers. They each have their place in the world. What I don’t want when I’m looking for a satisfying dinner, is a mini taco served on a plate the size of my head. I’m not saying we need to bring back the Claim Jumper-sized portions of the past, where quantity is substituted for quality, but if I’m shelling out pretty pennies for a night on the town, FEED ME. I saw one menu that prominently listed “Bites”, “Smalls”, and an option for ordering half a “Small”. Why would I want half of something that’s already small? Am I a chipmunk? There were more “Bites” and “Smalls” on the menu than main dishes. I’ve seen this happening at several restaurants, and I just don’t get it.
So you mean, even though I just paid $15 for this salad, I gotta put it together myself? No thank you.
It’s called Happy Hour, people. Calling it “Social” doesn’t make you sound any more sophisticated and it won’t up your Zagat rating. On that note, if you’re literally providing ONE hour of happy, you might as well skip it. No one can make your 3-4pm $1-off oyster night, and they don’t want to.
I love a good presentation. There’s a fine art to cooking, and making a dish look pretty, is a skill. That being said, when my watermelon salad looks like it belongs in the Museum of Contemporary Art, rather than in my belly, it’s concerning. I came to eat, and I’d appreciate the attention being equally distributed between beauty AND portion.
Isn’t this just a given? Craft cocktails, craft beer, there’s even craft pizza! We get it, it’s all handmade, and it’s all done well. We figured that out when we saw the $12 margarita on your menu.
Casual environments are great, but if I can’t tell the difference between the person waiting on me, and the guest sitting next to me, there’s a problem. I’m not saying all wait staff need to wear uptight, penguin suits, but matching T-shirts would be nice. Heck, they don’t even need to have a logo on them. There’s just something uncomfortable about a guy in flip flops, jeans, and a flannel shirt approaching my table, asking me what I’d like to eat. If you look professional, I’ll treat you professionally. It’s like a job interview.
Missing Price Tags
I don’t know about you, but I like investigating a restaurant online, before my visit. Nothing racks my nerves more than restaurants that don’t list their prices. What, would you rather I be surprised? I realize Yelp is giving you a two-dollar sign, but what does that mean, really? Is that an $8 turkey sandwich, or an $18 turkey sandwich, because the tears of virgin maids are in the turkey? I like to know what I’m getting into.
House Made Ketchup
Look, I’m not saying don’t make your own ketchup. I’m all for organic, house-made stuff. What I’m saying is, don’t forgo the Heinz. It’s an American institution and if you’re calling yourself an American burger joint, or serving American food, it’s a given you’re going to have the red bottle we’re accustomed to. Let’s be real, we all grew up with chemically-treated, sugary products, and sometimes, that’s exactly what we want.