The food must really suck there

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Okay, I admit there are parts of culture that I’ve never been exposed to yet, and probably never will get a glimpse of in this life and hopefully not the next one either if this shit is any kind of an example of what I’d be in for.
I cannot for the life of me understand why folks want to make their food pretty, so pretty that it outclasses the taste of the portion itself. The only reason I can think of is because the food’s just so-so. And if it wasn’t to begin with, it will be by the time it gets to your table with all the time they spent fucking around with it. It’s either going to be stale, hot or melting, depending on the course.

Not to say that your food can’t look appetizing as well as delicious, not trying to say that at all. Take a look at this pho for instance.

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Now here we have a bowl of  broth with thin slices of pork lining the sides to keep them moist and a pile of delicate noodles with sprouts on top. Functional and delicious. This is okay, I can live with this. Oh boy, can I live with that. I love that shit.

But this shit?

.......steven-dishes

Are you fucking serious? Some motherfucker’s going to wait for days or even weeks for his reservation to get into some overpriced sissified joint for the privilege of paying a couple hundred bucks (or more, I have no idea what something like that would cost) for something that can be devoured with 2 scoops of my fork and a swipe from a biscuit – after pictures, of course. That shit makes no sense whatsoever to me.
If I’m going to pay more than 50 bucks for dinner and you bring me this, I better get a goddamned lap dance with it.

Nope, just bring me my food. I’m easy to work with here – give me some meat (an end piece please so I can gnaw on the rind), some potatoes and gravy and some vegetables. And don’t waste no time arranging shit on it either. Bring it to me when it’s still hot and let the food speak for itself.

.......IMG_20130515_121131_239Here’s my kinda food – catfish, mashed potatoes and gravy, collards and a chunk of cornbread. Plus it’s eye appealing without being so fucking pretty that you feel bad about eating it. Judging by the table covering and the dab of potatoes on the side of the plate, I’d say you could probably score this meal here for under 20 bucks with beverage.

Yeah, fuck all that fancy shit.

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19 Responses to The food must really suck there

  1. Curmudgeon says:

    Like so much in life, there is presentation and there is performance. There was an era of “nouvelle cuisine” where presentation took over from taste. Gone.

    I’ll confess to being a bit of a “foodie”, but it is always about taste first for me. If it also has a killer presentation, than all the better. And when all is said and done, I’d better not be hungry after dinner because the portion would only feed half a Biafran.

    Sometimes you want filling and satisfying. For me, that’s the double burger or the extra-large slab of ribs. Sometimes, a bit more refined and structured. I worked up to the latter, but never gave up on how the former is like everyday life. Real and dependable. The fancy is the “weekend in Vegas”. Not for everyday, but nice on occasion when done right.

  2. paulb says:

    I et at a restaurant in Palm Beach, FL over the weekend. Worked out to about $130 a couple for the table. I had a piece of fish that was about the size of a wallet, with a lovely plate decorated with some thin mayo-tasting orange colored sauce. My wife had gnocci that tasted EXACTLY like my home fries at breakfast, but also with lovely garnishes that you can’t eat.
    Screw that.

  3. Neil R says:

    I’m going to put in a plug for a great little hole in the wall place here in Statesboro, GA.
    At Ralph’s Diner you can get essentially that catfish dinner with a big glass of sweet tea for about six bucks.
    Friday is rib day, and yes, I’ll be there.

  4. Leigh says:

    Back when I was dating the wife, we went to a high end place. After waiting an hour they brought our meals out. It was pretty and tasted great – but there was hardly anything there. Kind of ruins a fancy night out when you have to stop at a drive through because you are starving!

    Leigh
    Whitehall, NY

  5. Spiro says:

    I love greens, especially the kale that the missus cooks just like in Kenya, and mash potato, but never had catfish, and Greek cornbread is the best.

  6. RonM says:

    Naaah, the thing is, those fancy restaurants don’t just serve one plate of food like the one in the picture, but six, eight or ten plates, depending on the restaurant, brought to your table one after another. You won’t leave hungry and… oh, btw… every single bite of food you eat will positively be the best bite of food that’s ever crossed your lips. It’s an eye-opening experience.

    I’m no chef, nor could I even claim to be a foodie, but I’m convinced the reason portions are so small in those restaurants is because the best bite of a good dish is always the first bite (or arguably, the first two or three or four bites). Then it goes down hill. There must be a better way. Ever have a large serving of your favorite ice cream and notice that the first bite was delicious but the last bite, not so much? The palate gets bored rather quickly.

    So instead of having a big plate of meat and potatoes (I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that; I’ve eaten like that my whole life and love it), where the last bite isn’t quite as exciting and tasty on the old taste buds as the first, you have ten courses made by one of the world’s elite chefs, and every bite of that food absolutely knocks your socks off? You only live once and you owe it to yourself to give it a try, imo.

    Wirecutter, you don’t live very far from the French Laundry in Yountville. Call and make reservations (disclaimer: I have no financial interest whatsoever in the French Laundry, or any restaurant, for that matter). It’ll take several months to get in and the cost is going to be probably in the neighborhood of $300 per head or more (when I went it was about $150), not including tip and wine. You won’t have a choice as to what you’ll be served. They serve what they’ve carefully planned for that night and that’s it. Take your wife, maybe go in fifty-fifty with another couple, and try to enjoy it. Be open about it. Unless you know a lot about wine, let the sommelier make recommendations, and go with it.

    If I could, I’d go every week, twice a week even. But you’d have to be rich. But… you don’t have to be rich to go once or twice in your life and see what you’re missing. Cheers!

    • Wirecutter says:

      And I’m thinking that a palate needs to be developed to appreciate fancy food like that. Somebody like me would probably have the shits for 2 or 3 days afterwards.
      And there’s no fucking way in hell am I going to drop damned near half a week’s paycheck for one meal. Ain’t happening.

  7. gamegetterII says:

    All this bullshit started in the early to mid ’80’s, back when I was still running hotel and country club kitchens.
    It started with these kids coming out of culinary schools where they taught them all about food-but nothing about running an actual restaurant/hotel/country club kitchen where no one has time for that shit because you’re too busy actually cooking real food.
    It caught on in the “spas” and “retreats” the rich people were going to back then-like a lot of other useless shit-it started in Ca,with the Hollywood types who think they’re special,and deserve to be treated as such.
    There’s always been a person assigned to making the food look good in a real restaurant kitchen,there’s even a name for the job-garde manger (pronounced gard man-ZHAY).
    Originally it applied to only cold foods,they would do the fruit/veggie carvings-make a swan out of an apple,etc.
    We only did the fancy shit on buffet lines,usually only on the cold foods-cheese displays,veggie displays,fruit and salad displays,often on mirrors,and that was about it,except for dessert plates.
    The farthest that shit ever went on plates of food for main courses was maybe twist an orange slice,and put a fan-cut strawberry on one side,and a slice of Kiwi or start fruit on the other.

    Then these idiots produced by third rate culinary schools started applying it to hot foods-and you have the bullshit you see today.

  8. Jimbro says:

    I do enjoy a hot bowl of pho. I may need to get some soon to help with this cold snowy NE winter.

  9. jay352 says:

    I totally get it. When people ask me what I did this weekend and I say “I cooked”, I mean it. It will be beautiful and it will be delicious, even if it takes all day. It will be flavors that will drop your taste buds in their tracks, not just ordinary stuff. I know that I hit when everyone becomes silent when they eat aside from a slight moaning. I am as serious about food and cooking as I am liberty. The only thing that really pisses me off is when I pay for food and it is not at least as good as what I cook myself.

  10. Dumbplumber says:

    The strawberries reminded me. I live in Northern (the real northern) California. Yes, there’s still over 125 miles of California north of us. Well anyway, Driscoll Farms has a strawberry nursery here that raises young plants to be shipped down to Santa Maria and elsewhere for replanting.

    I found out that the big beautiful strawberries they sell in stores taste like wallpaper paste. They are grown for size and color, not flavor. The Japs have this shit flown over to Japan.

    I was working at a clients house one morning when the local farm manager for Driscoll dropped by and delivered a couple of flats of the most juicy, wonderful berries I ever tasted. Seems that they grow these too, but are given to vendors, neighbors and friends. These “good” berries will not keep for long and are just for public relations.

    Just like babes, don’t be fooled by the looks.

  11. Bootmaker says:

    After seeing the noodle dish here last time you put it up, I had to try it.
    but i cheated, using sliced turkey breast and ramen noodles with the onion but without the sprouts.
    not bad at all.
    made enough for two and shared with the wife
    she thought i was a genius.
    didnt bother to tell her where i had gotten the idea.
    oh yeah, the fish plate looks good, but try it with chicken fried steak instead
    and as always, there should be enough gravy that it drips down off the plate and onto the table.
    no such thing as bad etiquette where gravy is concerned.
    or maybe its just a Texas thing.

    • Wirecutter says:

      Oh no, with pho you have to have rice noodles. Go to a Vietnamese restaurant sometime and try it. There’s a world of difference.

  12. Steve says:

    I always enjoyed this song about gourmet restaurants.

    Although I have also made a point of trying out gourmet restaurants, to see how high end food tastes.

  13. ColdSoldier says:

    The last picture you showed, its called the County Kitchen, it is 1/4 mile from my office and 10 minutes from my house, it is on the menu on Friday, which is all you can eat, its $11, and probably better that what you are eating in Kalifornia

    • Wirecutter says:

      Hey, I love American food, but my passion is mexican and I ain’t talking about Taco Bell or Chili’s.
      My favorite spots are taco trucks, authentic metsican cuzino, where you can buy a heaping carne asada or pollo taco for a buck with cilantro, radish, limon and a big fucking jalapeno, or a burrito as long and thick as your forearm for 3 bucks.
      Or how about a big plate full of carnitas and rice and beans with a platter of handmade flour tortillas? Fucking heaven, man.
      Watch for tomorrow’s post on some of your cajun cooking.

      • ColdSoldier says:

        Love authentic Mexican too. We have a place that moved into town about 5 years ago and it is spectacular. Its all fresh and the burrito is unreal. Its our Friday spot and today is Friday!!!

  14. Sara says:

    On the very rare occasion that we are going to drop a fuck ton of money on dinner, we go to Manny’s. http://www.mannyssteakhouse.com/
    This is spendy as hell but it’s also mouth watering just thinking about it, and there is a LOT of it. You’re eating leftovers for days. We brought my folks once for their anniversary and my dad asked if he could get some sauteed mushrooms and onions for his steak. I warned him, but he didn’t take me seriously. They brought out a huge platter of each. Would have been enough for 8 people. And that is how they do all their food. There is no such thing as the word “portion”, there’s just the word “glutton”. And I love it.

Play nice.