8 Restaurant Trends That Must End Now!

  

I’m seldom this grumpy. Really, I’m not. I worship restaurateurs and chefs who push limits and thrill us with their passion and unique take on food. But then there are those who shamelessly copy, imitate and take something that was once highly original, misuse it and render it impotent and outdated. Here are eight tired restaurant trends that were once great, but must now be shown the door.

Small plates
What’s going on here? It’s not OK to charge $16 for three minuscule meatballs even if they are made of sustainably raised elk and locally foraged fungi. Tapas and Dim Sum? You get a pass. You’re a well-oiled machine honed over centuries. But it seems that the all-appetizer phenomenon’s raison d’être is to charge an ungodly amount for mere morsels. And sometimes (most times), I’m hungry and I don’t want to share. There are many eateries that elevate small plates to an art form—bravo to them! But to everyone else, please hop on another (and preferably larger) bandwagon.

Mason jar cups
I get the whole reduce-reuse-recycle business but having to sip my over-priced cocktail in a vessel meant for grandma’s apricot jelly is all kinds of wrong. I doubt this is what Scottish farmer John Landis Mason had in mind when he patented his food preservation container in 1858. Here’s wishing that this trend ends now so that I never have to drink from a pickle jar when a regular glass will suffice.


Bistro-chic decor
Reclaimed wood, exposed light bulbs, chalkboards and plastic moulded Eames chairs. It’s hip, cool, edgy and groovy and it’s been copycatted to nauseating extremes. Labouring to read dodgy calligraphy off of a smeared chalkboard menu is not hip. Having to rest my tuckus on a backbreaking alibi for a chair is not cool. Being bathed in the blinding glow of an uncovered light fixture is not edgy. Eating off a barn door to feign a mod rustic ambiance is not groovy. As for the next trend in restaurant design, I’m hoping for daring AND functional. This bistro-chic decor just makes me weary.

Wooden cutting boards as plates
When did it become acceptable to serve my meal on a bacteria-laced cutting board? Did plates go out of fashion? Wooden cutting boards cannot be sanitized in the dishwasher. Do I trust that these makeshift plates are being scrubbed free of their offending microbes? Call me a germophobe, but I do not. I once was served a slice of pie à la mode on a slate and had to watch helplessly as my ice-cream puddled and streamed off the edge like the River Kwai. A plate or a bowl would have sufficed and I would not think the restaurateur any less avant-garde.

“Would you like sparkling or flat water?”
I mean, what a way to shame you into buying overpriced club soda. You feel like an unwashed cheapskate if you opt for flat. And flat sounds so unappealing. How about simply serving tap water, and if a patron wants to order sparkling, they will. Or better yet, don’t offer water at all unless it’s asked for and ship the water you save to California so they can grow more almonds.*

Communal spaces
I am not adverse to sharing. I’m the youngest of three and have had to share plenty. But sometimes (most of the time) I prefer the intimacy of intimates. Please don’t shoehorn me into an oversized backless communal picnic table where I’m forced to make idle chit-chat with strangers about how great my meal looks and whether I think they should order the beef Carpaccio. I don’t care and I want my own table. Please.

Pricey gourmet hamburgers
A hamburger should cost $5—not $15, $20 or even $100. I don’t care if it contains organic grass-fed, antibiotic-free beef and is tarted up with foie gras, black truffles and cave-aged cheddar while being enveloped in gluten-free gold-dusted buns. It’s douchey and completely unnecessary. A hamburger is one of life’s simple pleasures. Why must it be transformed into a costly bougie monstrosity?

Open kitchens
I long for the good old days when we didn’t know what went on behind the curtain. Back then, there was an air of mystery and surprise. Cut to present day in this new era of behind-the-scenes transparency where every detail needs to be known and everyone needs to be gawked at. Personally, I don’t want to see how my food is cooked and I’d rather not be witness to any kitchen dramedies. But most of all, I have a disdain for exiting a restaurant with my clothes reeking of pan-seared this or wood-fired oven that. Erect a wall in front of the kitchen and let me live in wonderment.

What are some of your least favourite restaurant trends? Leave a comment below.

 

*Submitted by Zimby

5 comments

  1. My pet peeve: why does vegetarian food have to cost as much as twice the price when there is no meat or fish or poultry usually no dairy or eggs – really? When did it become okay to charge so much because vegan or veg is trendy! I am sick of having to pay a premium for a salad with chick peas or falafel or soup (!). Got to stop. Loved the column.

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  2. Boy you are a grump pants😉 I totally concur with all the points you have made, especially the one about the 15-20$ burgers! Stay home and make them for $5 for 2, or go to Mellos!

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  3. When it comes to the small plates thing I park myself happily at Supply and Demand. I feel I get great food for the buck. I only order smaller dishes. Never their mains. I you can make an exception for them.

    This weekend we went to a pot luck and there were 30 people. I did a dessert that was single serving. The only serving vessels I have anywhere near 30 in quantity are my canning jars. I used the 125 ml for my dessert. Being glass meant they could see its layers. That was a bonus. For once I was happy to press mason jars into service for this event. Since it was out in the country, their rustic charm was perfect. Would do it again. If I was in charge of drinks, I would have used my larger jars. Pretty durable too for those party folks. All that to say, they have their place.

    I don’t tend to pay much attention to decor. I go for the food and I want to feel welcomed. I would eat in a garage if they made me feel great and the food was awesome. And a comfy chair is pretty important too. Good point. I do not like a decor that suggests ‘we need to charge you big bucks to pay for all of that’.

    I agree that the serving plate should be a vessel that works and doesn’t cause stress when eating the dish. Ergonomics matter and so does food styling. We eat with our eyes. I don’t care if it’s a board or slate as long as it works though.

    Tap water all the way for me and I like to mention when I’m asked that I absolutely love the taste of Ottawa’s drinking water. For city water, it is definitely one of the better ones. Upselling is just the name of the game. \Would you like fries with that.’ Probably not much different than asking if you want a drink with your meal.

    I love meeting people and chat. I am the kind of person that would sit down beside you if you were alone at a communal table. You’ve been warned! 😉

    I’m with you on pricy burgers. There is a price point where I feel they might be laughing at me if I am actually willing to pay that price. Don’t want to feel like I am being played. A pretentious burger will give you indigestion. But I do pay for good meat in my burger. No mystery stuff please.

    If there is an open kitchen then I want the seat at the counter closest. It’s hard to fake it with an audience. You know their teamwork skills if they are strong and the comes out on the plate. And you have a good sense of kitchen cleanliness too. For me, it’s a free show. And my favourite spot for that is Supply and Demand. Poetry in motion in that kitchen.

    You have me thinking now about what trends I think must end. Hmmm.

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