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(The Atlantic)   Six rules for dining out, from a foodie who also happens to be an economist. #2: "Beware the Beautiful, Laughing Women." Depends what you really want to eat   (theatlantic.com ) divider line 225
    More: Interesting, Indian cuisine, Chinese restaurant, street food, food choices, food critic, signage  
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26587 clicks; posted to Main » on 15 Apr 2012 at 4:30 AM (3 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-04-14 10:48:56 PM  
Which of these items do I least want to order? Or: Which one sounds the least appetizing?

I'm glad I don't know any economists, for civility's sake. The one part of my budget that I don't f*ck around with is food. Food is good.
 
2012-04-14 10:54:13 PM  
If it sounds bad, it probably tastes especially good.

Krispy Kreme cheeseburger it is, then!
 
2012-04-14 11:10:04 PM  
In the Fanciest Restaurants, Order What Sounds Least Appetizing

F*ck you. If I don't think it sounds appetizing, it probably won't be appetizing. Eat what you enjoy. How does that escape food hipsters?
 
2012-04-14 11:39:06 PM  

GAT_00: In the Fanciest Restaurants, Order What Sounds Least Appetizing

F*ck you. If I don't think it sounds appetizing, it probably won't be appetizing. Eat what you enjoy. How does that escape food hipsters?


the point makes sense though - at nice restaurants, the familiar foods probably aren't the chef's specialities and you'll probably end up over-paying for a dish the chef doesn't care about. if you want familiar food, don't go to a high end restaurant.
 
2012-04-15 01:41:19 AM  
I hate the term "foodie". It seems lots of people are calling themselves that. The only thing it means is that someone thinks they know more then you about what you should be eating. I think it is a synonym for annoying asshole.
 
2012-04-15 01:53:01 AM  

thomps: GAT_00: In the Fanciest Restaurants, Order What Sounds Least Appetizing

F*ck you. If I don't think it sounds appetizing, it probably won't be appetizing. Eat what you enjoy. How does that escape food hipsters?

the point makes sense though - at nice restaurants, the familiar foods probably aren't the chef's specialities and you'll probably end up over-paying for a dish the chef doesn't care about. if you want familiar food, don't go to a high end restaurant.


So what should I order at Olive Garden?
 
2012-04-15 04:29:06 AM  

Krymson Tyde: So what should I order at Olive Garden?


An antacid?
 
2012-04-15 04:39:04 AM  

EvilEgg: I hate the term "foodie". It seems lots of people are calling themselves that.


It's for people too stupid to know how to spell "epicurean".
 
2012-04-15 04:45:30 AM  
actually, some of these make sense. Where I live, there is one Indian food place, and it's terrible. There are however, a plethora of Mexican food places (and a really awesome taco truck). Some of the Mexican places have been around a year or two, but a couple have been around more than 5 years. And THOSE places are really REALLY good. There is one Thai place, and it's terrible. Then there's the Old World Deli that's been here since before I was born (30+ years) and they have great sandwiches, world class chili and an old school moms type lasagna. Mmmmhmmm.

Keep eating at McD's fatasses.
 
2012-04-15 04:45:45 AM  
I first heard (well, read, in a British book) the term "foodie" over ten years ago, but now a trillion people in N. America are saying it, and I'd like to know their names, so I can track them down and throw an aluminium pie pan filled with Kool Whip (sp?) in their faces. Thanks, if you can assist me with this mission. I will reward you with many epicurean delights.
 
2012-04-15 04:46:27 AM  

SchlingFocker: EvilEgg: I hate the term "foodie". It seems lots of people are calling themselves that.

It's for people too stupid to know how to spell "epicurean".


Or too cowardly to say big fat fark.
 
2012-04-15 04:46:28 AM  

GAT_00: F*ck you.


I like how he spends two, two and a half paragraphs explaining the purpose of his point and all you have to say is "fark you".
 
2012-04-15 04:47:00 AM  
Exploit Restaurant Workers

You know, I get what the author is saying about some restaurants being more about status than food, but this really, really should have been phrased differently.
 
2012-04-15 04:53:54 AM  
He is right about the strip mall locations in Northern Va. My dad and his wife are great at finding the best places in stripmalls. A club venue with great chili, some of the best Mexican food near Dulles airport. Sometimes a place with atmosphere is nice, but the types of places you see on DDD can really be the best to enjoy a meal.
 
2012-04-15 04:54:54 AM  

Baryogenesis: Exploit Restaurant Workers

You know, I get what the author is saying about some restaurants being more about status than food, but this really, really should have been phrased differently.


This.
 
2012-04-15 05:01:03 AM  
Corollary: Prefer Pakistani to Indian.

Babu Bhatt likes this.
 
2012-04-15 05:05:14 AM  
The logic is simple. At a fancy restaurant, the menu is well thought-out. The kitchen's time and attention are scarce. An item won't be on the menu unless there is a good reason for its presence. If it sounds bad, it probably tastes especially good.

THAT IS NOT HOW LOGIC WORKS. That is not logic. It is a series of unrelated sentences.
 
2012-04-15 05:07:16 AM  
ALSO: If the author ever owned a restaurant, it would be called: "The Pretentious Douche"
 
2012-04-15 05:11:48 AM  
My rules: Don't get Mexican food in the State of Washington. Don't get Thai food anywhere except in the State of Washington.
 
2012-04-15 05:19:50 AM  

FarkinGoofy: My rules: Don't get Mexican food in the State of Washington. Don't get Thai food anywhere except in the State of Washington.


Add "or Hawaii" to both of those rules.
 
2012-04-15 05:21:54 AM  
i.imgur.com
 
2012-04-15 05:22:11 AM  

Teknowaffle: He is right about the strip mall locations in Northern Va. My dad and his wife are great at finding the best places in stripmalls. A club venue with great chili, some of the best Mexican food near Dulles airport. Sometimes a place with atmosphere is nice, but the types of places you see on DDD can really be the best to enjoy a meal.


Do tell. I go to Fair Oaks to visit friends once a month. Got any recommendations ?
 
2012-04-15 05:22:33 AM  
Rule #3 For Dining Out From A Chef: Never listen to an economist on advice on dining out.

Corollary: Do not take investment advice from a chef.
 
2012-04-15 05:30:07 AM  

hubiestubert: Rule #3 For Dining Out From A Chef: Never listen to an economist on advice on dining out.

Corollary: Do not take investment advice from a chef.


If you go to a place that is a restaurant (not a chain) and has a chef, and you want a smashingly good meal, show up around 2 or 3 o'clock. Tell the waiter this: "can you ask the chef if there is anything he would prefer to prepare? maybe in chicken/beef/pasta etc.? I would love to taste his best."
 
2012-04-15 05:40:57 AM  

blackheart666: Teknowaffle: He is right about the strip mall locations in Northern Va. My dad and his wife are great at finding the best places in stripmalls. A club venue with great chili, some of the best Mexican food near Dulles airport. Sometimes a place with atmosphere is nice, but the types of places you see on DDD can really be the best to enjoy a meal.

Do tell. I go to Fair Oaks to visit friends once a month. Got any recommendations ?


Oh god, I can't remember the places' names. I live a bit far away to have been there recently, but I know we have a ton of NOVA farkers who can list out some good ones.
 
2012-04-15 05:46:45 AM  
He's absolutely right about Pakistani restaurants, as long as you can stand a bit of heat.

In fact, he's right about most of these.
 
2012-04-15 05:49:26 AM  

Yogimus: hubiestubert: Rule #3 For Dining Out From A Chef: Never listen to an economist on advice on dining out.

Corollary: Do not take investment advice from a chef.

If you go to a place that is a restaurant (not a chain) and has a chef, and you want a smashingly good meal, show up around 2 or 3 o'clock. Tell the waiter this: "can you ask the chef if there is anything he would prefer to prepare? maybe in chicken/beef/pasta etc.? I would love to taste his best."


Um... no. You will sound like an asshole if you do that. If you go to any decent restaurant, the chef will stand behind his entire menu and everything on the menu given to you will be what the head chef determines to be great products and a great dish. Why would they withhold a great item that they for some reason have all the ingredients prepped for, just to prepare for the random customer that wants the 'chef's best'? You are going to the wrong place if the head chef doesn't have what he wants on the menu...
 
2012-04-15 05:51:25 AM  

jeffrey626: Yogimus: hubiestubert: Rule #3 For Dining Out From A Chef: Never listen to an economist on advice on dining out.

Corollary: Do not take investment advice from a chef.

If you go to a place that is a restaurant (not a chain) and has a chef, and you want a smashingly good meal, show up around 2 or 3 o'clock. Tell the waiter this: "can you ask the chef if there is anything he would prefer to prepare? maybe in chicken/beef/pasta etc.? I would love to taste his best."

Um... no. You will sound like an asshole if you do that. If you go to any decent restaurant, the chef will stand behind his entire menu and everything on the menu given to you will be what the head chef determines to be great products and a great dish. Why would they withhold a great item that they for some reason have all the ingredients prepped for, just to prepare for the random customer that wants the 'chef's best'? You are going to the wrong place if the head chef doesn't have what he wants on the menu...


I do this after lunch/before dinner rush, when the place is dead. USUALLY, the chef cooks up something on the menu. Every now and then, I get something awesome. Never considered it an asshole move.
 
2012-04-15 05:57:53 AM  
When I win megamillions, I'm going to buy a limo, get a limo license, and at least once a week I'm going to go to the airport with a placard for a common italian name and wait at the baggage claim for arriving direct flights from italy. And the first family that comes up to me, I'm taking them to Olive Garden.
 
2012-04-15 06:02:51 AM  

Yogimus:
I do this after lunch/before dinner rush, when the place is dead. USUALLY, the chef cooks up something on the menu. Every now and then, I get something awesome. Never considered it an asshole move.


Yeah your timing of when you do that is decent, but the results probably vary greatly. Depends on how much time the chef and line cooks have on hand and if you have a personal relationship with the restaurant, what they are planning on running as a special, etc etc... As a line cook I would never have a problem making something awesome for a regular out of what we have on hand if I have the time but its not exactly something you can regularly expect out of a typical kitchen
 
2012-04-15 06:06:36 AM  

jeffrey626: Yogimus: hubiestubert: Rule #3 For Dining Out From A Chef: Never listen to an economist on advice on dining out.

Corollary: Do not take investment advice from a chef.

If you go to a place that is a restaurant (not a chain) and has a chef, and you want a smashingly good meal, show up around 2 or 3 o'clock. Tell the waiter this: "can you ask the chef if there is anything he would prefer to prepare? maybe in chicken/beef/pasta etc.? I would love to taste his best."

Um... no. You will sound like an asshole if you do that. If you go to any decent restaurant, the chef will stand behind his entire menu and everything on the menu given to you will be what the head chef determines to be great products and a great dish. Why would they withhold a great item that they for some reason have all the ingredients prepped for, just to prepare for the random customer that wants the 'chef's best'? You are going to the wrong place if the head chef doesn't have what he wants on the menu...


Pretty damn much.

Menus are in flux for a reason. Availability. Price. Season.

There are reasons why dishes drop in and out of the menu. Could I assemble different dishes from my regular menu's prep? Certainly. Sometimes have to, to accommodate allergies or dietary conditions. Do I want to consult with my waitstaff on pricing a dish in the middle of preparing 120-250 other meals? Hells naw.

Go be a pretentious douche somewhere else. There are reasons that the menu shapes up the way it does. Will I hold back something for a random douche? No. Will I hold back lamb for a loyal patron I KNOW loves lamb and is coming in that night? Yup.

You want special treatment in a restaurant? Build a relationship first. Like trying to cop a feel when saying "hello" for the first time...
 
2012-04-15 06:10:48 AM  

GAT_00: In the Fanciest Restaurants, Order What Sounds Least Appetizing

F*ck you. If I don't think it sounds appetizing, it probably won't be appetizing. Eat what you enjoy. How does that escape food hipsters?


Yeah, when I go out to eat all I want is a cheeseburger and fries, no matter where I'm eating. New and different things confuse me and make me feel stupid.
 
2012-04-15 06:13:36 AM  

FarkinGoofy: My rules: Don't get Mexican food in the State of Washington. Don't get Thai food anywhere except in the State of Washington.


Got a good Thai restaurant here in Tucson. Funky worn down place that badly needs a remodel. The owner/chef will put plenty of heat into the food instead of trying to keep it tame. She drives to LA once a week to buy ingredients.

The Mexican food here, of course, is farking awesome.
 
2012-04-15 06:20:07 AM  
I'm going to see if I can find a Pakistani place to try. That seems like good advice. Actually, most of the list was pretty good advice. Not sure about the food trucks, you need to have some place to sit if you want to enjoy what you're eating, but otherwise good advice.
 
2012-04-15 06:20:42 AM  
Yogimus: hubiestubert: Rule #3 For Dining Out From A Chef: Never listen to an economist on advice on dining out.

Corollary: Do not take investment advice from a chef.

If you go to a place that is a restaurant (not a chain) and has a chef, and you want a smashingly good meal, show up around 2 or 3 o'clock.


Not in my place you won't. 2-3? That is usually the time I'm in the office. Either trying to sort out paperwork, trying to figure out why my meat order didn't make it in on time, figure out how to cover the dishwasher who just called out, get the nightly specs prepped, get the nightly specs printed, talk to the night crew that is just coming in to touch base, and is pretty much my busiest time. It's the time when chefs have their office hours, and those are fairly sacrosanct, because in the morning you are busy trying to get ready, after 3 your are in crunch time for dinner. Convenient for you? Fantastic. I got a brazillion things to do, a dozen calls to make, a half dozen I HAVE to talk to, and another half dozen I am trying to avoid, and who will probably fritter the little bit of time I do have between all the other crap.

The LAST place I want to be at 2-3 is on the line, because the rest of the day and night are going to suffer if I am.
 
2012-04-15 06:27:14 AM  

hubiestubert:
Pretty damn much.

Menus are in flux for a reason. Availability. Price. Season.

There are reasons why dishes drop in and out of the menu. Could I assemble different dishes from my regular menu's prep? Certainly. Sometimes have to, to accommodate allergies or dietary conditions. Do I want to consult with my waitstaff on pricing a dish in the middle of preparing 120-250 other meals? Hells naw.

Go be a pretentious douche somewhere else. There are reasons that the menu shapes up the way it does. Will I hold back something for a random douche? No. Will I hold back lamb for a loyal patron I KNOW loves lamb and is coming in that night? Yup.

You want special treatment in a restaurant? Build a relationship first. Like trying to cop a feel when saying "hello" for the first time...


Chef is that you??! I like the way you think good sir regardless...
 
2012-04-15 06:28:56 AM  

hubiestubert: The LAST place I want to be at 2-3 is on the line, because the rest of the day and night are going to suffer if I am.


No kidding. I've never seen the chef on the line during late hits. Hell, most of the A-team both in the front and the back of the house are either taking care of business or on break.

And extra emphasis on the "build a relationship" thing. I have a lot of contacts due to years of work in the industry, but even contacts alone wouldn't embolden me to waltz in to a place and demand "the chef's best". Please. If I come in on a quiet evening and she/he offers something new, or something special that they happened to get in? Awesome. But you don't get that kind of loyalty without first establishing some on your end.
 
2012-04-15 06:32:40 AM  
Too author and "foodies" everywhere:

hubiestubert: Go be a pretentious douche somewhere else.

 
2012-04-15 06:44:48 AM  

IBreakdance2NIN: hubiestubert: The LAST place I want to be at 2-3 is on the line, because the rest of the day and night are going to suffer if I am.

No kidding. I've never seen the chef on the line during late hits. Hell, most of the A-team both in the front and the back of the house are either taking care of business or on break.

And extra emphasis on the "build a relationship" thing. I have a lot of contacts due to years of work in the industry, but even contacts alone wouldn't embolden me to waltz in to a place and demand "the chef's best". Please. If I come in on a quiet evening and she/he offers something new, or something special that they happened to get in? Awesome. But you don't get that kind of loyalty without first establishing some on your end.


That's the thing.

I don't mind doing some amuse bouche or tidbits on the fly. Hells, if a meal is going to be late because the saute guy forgot the fish, then yeah, I want the delay and have something on the table, but likewise, if I know folks who are loyal and have been good to us are rolling in, it's nice to do something for them. Because they're our guests. Our friends. Even when we are busy, you pull out the stops for the folks you know will appreciate it, and who are worth that effort.

I HATE when a dining room manager comes in and tells the line to make a particular dish "extra special" because this customer is super important.

They're all super important. They all deserve our best effort. Each dish gets our attention, and if a dish isn't up to standard, it doesn't go out. With some customers, I know exactly what they like, and for them, I do that. A normal customer, I don't know personally, I do the dish to the standard, and if I get to know them, that can change, with feedback, with that relationship. You have to build that.

I like feeding folks, and I always send out my best, because they're guests. You treat your guests right, or you don't treat them at all. Will I do a little extra dish or two for folks I know will appreciate it? Who are having an anniversary and know it will impress their friends? Heck, for folks I don't know, but the fella slips that he's going to pop the question, I pull out some stops, because that's how you build up that relationship. Every meal is supposed to be special. Every single one, and I want to help folks have a great time. But I also have 175 other people to contend with, and unless I know you, the "something special" is going to be our very best right out of the gate.
 
2012-04-15 06:45:27 AM  
Have to say Vietnamese is great. There some great Vietnamese places in SW MO particularly Springfield.
 
2012-04-15 07:01:09 AM  

hubiestubert: the fella slips that he's going to pop the question, I pull out some stops


Oh, I love engagements. I've taken part in some really fun and sweet ones over the years, including one where a bartender's mom proposed to her boyfriend. FOH staff can also really have fun with other events, provided the folks involved give you a little room to work with. The biggest tips I have ever pulled in were for birthdays, because I would go above and beyond and have a knack for tailoring presentation.

But yeah, any decent place is always going to send out high-standard fare. Instead of relying solely on some mythical kitchen demi-god to read your mind and deliver something amazing, ask your farking waiter what she/he personally enjoys. Sure, some will give a bullshiat answer (usually this is in chain restaurants) but most of us have a favorite dish and will happily recommend it. If your server's eyes light up when describing it? Order it and enjoy.
 
2012-04-15 07:17:02 AM  
He's mostly right on this.

And for looking for a breakfast joint after a night out drinking like Drew, look for pickup trucks. The more pickup trucks the better. Always.
 
2012-04-15 07:23:25 AM  

bubo_sibiricus: He's mostly right on this.

And for looking for a breakfast joint after a night out drinking like Drew, look for pickup trucks. The more pickup trucks the better. Always.


So true for small town diners. If there ain't a bunch farmers/ranchers in there move on
 
2012-04-15 07:25:04 AM  
He's dead right about ethnic food.

The best place for Indian food in the UK isn't in the upmarket parts of London, it's in a suburb of Birmingham called Sparkbrook. It's got the 8th highest unemployment of anywhere in the UK, and isn't at all pretty. The restaurants are OK looking. But by god the food is great and costs almost nothing. You pay less than a tenner for a main course.

I've eaten in some expensive London places where the dinner was like £150 for 2 and the guy is dead right. The location and the dining rooms are beautiful but actually, the food was no better than what I pay £100 for in Wiltshire.
 
2012-04-15 07:30:07 AM  

Yogimus: ALSO: If the author ever owned a restaurant, it would be called: "The Pretentious Douche"


That would be an awesome name for a restaurant.
 
2012-04-15 07:31:41 AM  
That said, Subby is also kinda right. If you're taking a woman out for dinner with the aim of nailing her later than ignore all this guy's rules. You're basically trying to get enough booze into her that she'll get frisky. That means setting the right mood and that's about things like atmosphere as much as food.
 
2012-04-15 07:34:31 AM  

farkeruk: That said, Subby is also kinda right. If you're taking a woman out for dinner with the aim of nailing her later than ignore all this guy's rules. You're basically trying to get enough booze into her that she'll get frisky. That means setting the right mood and that's about things like atmosphere as much as food.


Yeah, no. At least, that's not going to work on any women with taste. Like me.
 
2012-04-15 07:34:49 AM  

blackheart666: Do tell. I go to Fair Oaks to visit friends once a month. Got any recommendations ?


Drive west down route 50 about 3 miles and look for Dogfish in a strip mall on the left. (hint; you're not going there for the food. The food is "not bad" while the ale is farking awesome.)

There's also Auld Shebeen in old town Fairfax on Main street. Kind of hard to find, use your smartphone. Good irish pub.

Closer to Fair Oaks is a strip mall about 1/2 mile away east on 50 with a Thai or something, if you want to follow the author's advice. I don't remember if it's any good.

At Fair Oaks itself is a Cheesecake Factory and a Brazilian Steakhouse. the latter is expensive but an interesting experience if you've never done that before.

Personally I would be just as likely go to to 5 Guys and get a cheeseburger, about 2 blocks from Fair Oaks.
 
2012-04-15 07:35:01 AM  
If a restaurant cannot cover its rent, it is not long for this world. According to a 2005 study, more than half of all restaurants close in the first three years of operation, so this is not a small problem. You can lay off kitchen staff when times get tough, or substitute the cheaper tilapia for the fancier and scarcer Chilean sea bass. But rent is a fixed cost, meaning that you have to pay it every month no matter how many customers walk through the door and no matter what ingredients you are serving.

Ah, we have found the crux of the matter..
img515.imageshack.us
 
2012-04-15 07:49:01 AM  

farkeruk: costs almost nothing. You pay less than a tenner for a main course.


Is that with rice and/or naan?

Because I'm from the Midlands, currently living darn sarf, and a main course in a curry house shouldn't hit £10 unless you're going really upmarket and/or having king prawns. Even the posh Indian down the road from me only charges £10 for chicken balti with rice and naan......

A tenner for a main course isn't bank-breaking, but it's not cheap either.

/Mr Dave's Balti in Lye for the win...
 
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