Going out to eat should be an enjoyable experience full of brilliant food and lovely wine, that you can't stop thinking about for days after. Sadly, though, that's not always the case, and the chances are you've been victim to a bad meal at one time or another.
Thankfully, chefs of Reddit have been sharing the red flags they look out for in restaurants, that might indicate that you don't want to eat there. And from oversized menus to dirty bathrooms, these are definitely things to consider next time you step out for dinner.
'If they have a really big menu'
"If a restaurant has a giant, multi-page menu that's a gigantic red flag. The longer the menu, the better the odds that you're paying to eat a boiled bag frozen meal. Conversely, if a restaurant has a one-page menu that's usually a pretty good sign, it means their line cooks have become specialists and can usually nail all the dishes listed."
'If the staff don't seem to like each other'
"I always [base a good restaurant on] how the staff interact with each other. If they all seem to enjoy being there, and coordinate well, more often than not it's because everything is running smoothly and they have a good system, which usually means they know what they're doing and you can expect good food. That's how it always is for the smaller, family run restaurants I frequent anyway, which I believe always have the best food."
'If your food arrives too quickly'
"If you order a meal that should take a long time to cook and it comes out very quickly. It’s been pre-cooked. This applies mostly to quiet nights. If it’s quiet and it comes out immediately it’s just been sitting there. But if it’s busy than there’s enough turnover that it’s likely alright and chefs are just being prepared."
'If the presentation isn't nice'
"Presentation is a big thing. Even the cheapest greasy spoon should be taking a couple seconds to make it look nice. If you see your meal look like utter dog crap, the kitchen crew doesn't care about the little things, which means they likely don't care about the bigger things like food safety."
'If the bathroom isn't clean'
"Not a chef but a friend of mine is a health inspector and he says if the bathroom isn't clean, the kitchen is invariably not clean as well. The first place he checks is the bathroom in every restaurant he eats in, and if it's dirty he walks right back out. I guess it's just something that is easily overlooked by restaurant staff and indicative of lenient management in regards to cleaning."
'If there aren't enough staff'
"Pay attention to the size of the seating area versus how many servers are on the floor. If it's a large busy restaurant with lots of tables and only a couple of people serving, don't bother eating there. That's your first clue that the owners are cheap, and will happily sacrifice quality for a couple extra bucks."
'If it's open 24/7'
"If the restaurant is open seven days a week, chances are your food is being negligently prepared by a burnt out chef, your vegetables are not being washed properly and more than likely everything is old because it was prepared in huge batches that are then frozen."
'If all the food looks uniform and identical'
"Food items that look uniform in size, shape and consistency are not made on site, but ordered in, frozen, and then thawed and heated. It’s somewhat usual in places that serve large quantities of food in a short period of time, like lunch buffet places, but shouldn't be in a la carte places. A decent restaurant takes pride in actually cooking everything they serve and try to avoid processed crap as much as possible."
Consider us schooled.
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