In the last couple of weeks I’ve had the opportunity to get together with folks for lunch or dinner and I’m finding it’s hard to agree on a “nice place to eat.”
Here’s the thing.
I’m not a really picky eater. At least, I don’t think so. I like simple food that tastes good. The thing is, I live in the Portland, OR metro area, so when someone talks about “a nice place to eat” it usually has something to do with an independent restaurateur who has “a fresh take on old ideas.” This generally amounts to “I don’t want to eat there” for me.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve tried several of these places. I have yet to enjoy them. It’s not like I didn’t give it a fair shake.
With that in mind, I decided to post a list of “restaurant red flags” - things that warn me against eating at a place. No single item here instantly disqualifies a place, but a combination of them will probably result in a “no.”
If your restaurant has/does/says any of these things, I’m out:
- The description of your restaurant contains some version of the word “gastronomy” that is not immediately prefixed by “molecular.”
- All the pictures of the meat dishes appear to be barely cooked to rare.
- I have to look up what two or more of the words are on any item.
- Your menu is in English but you don’t use the common English words for things so you can sound fancier (e.g., you use “ali-oli” instead of “aioli”).
- You serve a dish based on a creature I would normally otherwise consider “vermin” rather than “game.”
- You’ve been in any top ten restaurant list where the food is described as “new and exciting.”
- The intent of the food is to have lots of small dishes purchased and get passed around. (I hate tapas. Joey doesn’t share food.)
- You think it’s a great idea to have a lot of community tables and no individual tables.
- There’s a lot of fermented stuff on the menu that isn’t alcohol.
- More than one item on the menu can be described as a “delicacy.”
- A significant number of the meat dishes are made with the less-common cuts of meat (cheek, tongue, tail, etc.).
I may add to that list in the future, but basically, yeah. Red flags.