Friday, October 16, 2009

Top Ten Fridays: Annoying Food Trends

Recently, Esquire named it's 12 most annoying food trends. As a blogger, I am permitted to steal ideas without consequence, so I will. Many of the "trends" don't particularly apply here in Minnesota (if a bar doesn't have a sign, that usually just means someone stole it, or that most of the patronage doesn't ever leave, thus negating the need).

So here are my top ten obnoxious Twin Cities trends:

10. Soft openings

In the Internet age, there is no such thing as a soft open. Launches are tough enough without adding another hurdle of lacking preparation. If you don't have your act together (liquor licensing, remodeling, wait-staff), don't open. Otherwise, that buzz you're building is purely negative, and you're wasting your customers's time and money.

9. Burger hysteria

With 22,563 new burger restaurants in the Twin Cities, and 1,428,960 (estimate) slated to open in 2010, the Twin Cities is becoming a burger mecca for some reason. The reaction to this has either been unbridled enthusiasm or outrage. Stupid and annoying. I don't want to debate the merits of Five Guys Burgers vs. Sonic Burgers. Neither am I interested in hemming and hawing about how burgers are really just lips and anuses crushed into a patty.

There are several great burgers (h/t Victory 44, Vincent, and Blue Door), and they are well-worth eating, whether Fatburger opens 39 locations here or not.

8. Beets

I like a good beet salad, but since when did it become mandatory that they be included on at least two items on every menu? Seriously, find me an upscale restaurant that doesn't have beets on the menu. Worse, a lot of chefs manage to screw 'em up. Beets are the new seared scallops.

That said, if a fast food chain centered on beets were to open, that would be amazing.

7. Upscale bars with lousy tap selections.

Not going to name names, but if you are going to have the words "pub", "alehouse" or "brewery" in your name, you should offer a unique and excellent selection of beers. Throwing a Surly in with your assortment of Miller, Leinies and Summit does not qualify.

6. Employees who don't know directions.

I don't expect every hostess who picks up the phone to know how to direct me to their restaurant from, say, Chaska. But if I'm six blocks away? Lots of restaurants are popping up in non-traditional locations, so knowing where your restaurant is located is just good business.

5. Happy hour shenanigans.

With the economy on the downswing, we're seeing more happy hour specials. That means more happy hour related BS. If you're going to advertise it, live up to it, and make clear what it is. Keep your website updated, and be consistent.

4. Prix Fixe shenanigans.

I seldom complain about portion sizes, because it is not a restaurants job to make sure I'm stuffed. But some restaurants are using fixed course options to sneak in some pretty scandalously tiny stuff. If you're offering a tasting menu, call it that. If you're offering three courses, then provide three courses, not a niblet of each.

3. Valet parking at low to mid-price non-Downtown restaurants.

This is just stupid.

2. Crappy bread and hard butter.

This is not a new trend, but it has certainly gotten old. Here's a good rule of thumb w/r/t bread. If you have to heat it up, you probably shouldn't be serving it to your customers. And what, exactly, does the act of smashing an icy cube of butter against a wimpy piece of hot bread do to enhance one's dining experience?

1. Farm fresh, rather than well cooked.

Look, I appreciate great sourcing, and we have some great local resources for meat and dairy in this state. I absolutely want Berkshire pork to do well. But it's a disservice to their quality product when it is present in phoned-in or inconsistent dishes. I would rather eat a dish made from Sysco food products by an outstanding chef than a banal preparation of something that was killed five hours ago.


Blogger Jerad said...

Yeah, like this!

3:34 PM  

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