According to Zagat.com, these are the top 10 most annoying restaurant trends right now. What do you think? What are the most annoying to you?
by Kelly Dobkin
Some restaurant trends are easy to embrace: lower prices, bigger portions, free refills, you get the idea. But other, more recent trends are bordering on the absurd. In fact, some of them are just downright annoying. Here’s a list of some of the most irritating restaurant trends – developed with some suggestions from our 30 Under 30 honorees – that have us shouting: “Dear God, make it stop!”
1. Communal Tables
Like Communism itself, communal tables are a great idea…in theory. But let’s face it, even Karl Marx couldn’t endure this much sharing. Sure, they’re great for the single diner who’s looking to make “friends,” but for the most part, if you start talking to the person next to you at a communal table, you’re probably interrupting a date or butting your nosy self into someone else’s business. If the restaurant has even an ounce of cachet, you’re most likely shoved up against the next table anyway – in which case you should still MYOB.
2. “The Civil War” Look
A hallmark of the “Brooklyn aesthetic,” more and more restaurants nationwide are being decked out in rickety furniture that looks like it got ganked from the home of a Civil War reenactor. Note to restaurants: wall-mounted wagon wheels and photos of dead bearded dudes don’t make the food taste any better. Live in the now!
3. Chalkboard Menus
We kind of got over reading off a chalkboard in say…pre-school? After a long day of staring at a computer screen, the last thing we’re trying to do is have to squint at a barely legible menu scribbled on a wall halfway across the room. Are restaurants doing this to make the prices appear fuzzier?
4. Mustachioed Bartenders
We’re not knocking all facial hair, but we don’t need Wyatt Earp mixing up our martini. The suspenders, the fedoras, the mustaches…nuh-uh. The more pretentious the whiskers, the more we just want to get wasted on Malibu bay breezes and be done with it.
Note to restaurants: The Civil War is over
5. “Gourmet punch”
There’s nothing like a $45 bowl of Earl Grey–spiked punch served in dainty crystal teacups to get the party started. Last time we checked, we weren’t attending a turn-of-the-century high school prom. Can we get a real drink, please?
6. Iceless Table Water
Whatever happened to ice? Just a quick note to restaurants: not everyone is an ice-hating European or a germaphobe who thinks all ice is contaminated. All of a sudden, it’s as if liking ice in your water makes you a T.G.I. Friday’s–going rube. What gives, man?
7. Pop-Up Restaurants
Pop-ups are to real restaurants what hot, emotionally unavailable men on motorcycles are to love-starved 38-year-old single women – a pointless tease. The allure of pop-ups is clearly their impermanence, but are they merely a way of dodging failure? Some brilliant person thought to himself: “Most new restaurants fail within the first months of opening, so, hey, why not just open one for only that long?” Note to that dude: um, no. The odds of anybody making a profit during such a short run are slim, and what’s worse, fans of the eatery will have to say buh-bye to it the second they get hooked. Le sigh. Pop-ups are a lose-lose for everyone.
8. “Comfort-Food” Menus
We’re all for indulging in comfort food when the moment strikes, but lately it seems like an alarming number of major chefs are opening eateries that serve nothing more than overpriced, overly gussied-up versions of dishes you could have learned watching Paula Deen. Eighteen dollars for some mediocre mac ’n’ cheese, $26 for a breaded pork chop, $22 for fried chicken. Can chefs please go back to being chefs?
Putting the word “slider” on your menu has been known to cause instantaneous food boners among middle-aged ex–frat boys. “Dude, they’ve got sliders on the menu…hook those up, brah!” And lately it seems like almost any meat item is being “slider-ized.” Crisped-up kernels of pork belly packed between two bready buns is no doubt delicious, but it’s definitely not a “slider.”
10. Bread Baskets You Have to Pay For
Restaurants that charge for bread are as irritating as airlines that charge for a bag of peanuts. We don’t care how many wheat-scything artisanal bakers it took to make it, there’s no way bread should cost as much as your appetizer.