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Open Table - Always a Bad Table

I must not be refined enough to tell the difference between a good table and a bad one.

Aug 23, 2011
medium_rare in Not About Food

Is overstimulation hampering our ability to enjoy simple food?

I'm glad it's not just me that sees this taking place. In my opinion, it's about more than just food. Think about this. Look at everything we see around us. Cartoons used to be cute, simple and hand-drawn, and now they are either computer generated and more "realistic" than the real thing or so distorted and abstract looking that they don't resemble people/animals, whatever. Restaurant and hotel logos used to be simple, colorful and unique to the establishment. Now, everything looks like a "splash" or like it was made for a children's book. Blackberries and iPhones that retail for $600 or more aren't good enough without a hot pink cover that had an unfortunate run-in with a Bedazzler. Why was the original Burger King logo (the words "Burger King" between two halves of a bun) not good enough and needed to be slanted and swooping? Every package on every shelf of a grocery store is splashier than the last version, all with the bold declaration of "New look! Same great taste!!!!" (I didn't add any extra exclamation points). I think in that context, I can't say I'm surprised by the food trends and the direction peoples' tastes are going. Either that, or I'm the most old-fashioned 34 year-old on the planet.

Aug 19, 2011
medium_rare in Not About Food

Is overstimulation hampering our ability to enjoy simple food?

Thanks for all of the replies. I honestly didnt expect more than a handful on this topic. Let me clarify a couple of things. First of all, I am not "extrapolating a couple of posts" and applying it to all of humanity. I'm commenting on something I see as a trend in restaurant critiques (many of which I found on TripAdvisor or Urbanspoon, etc), as well as what I perceive as a changing landscape of eating establishments. I'm reaching a point where national chains like Applebees, TGI Fridays, etc have become more than just "run of the mill," but flat out unappealing. Seasonings and sauces have evolved. Applebees "Bourbon Street Steak" is no longer spicy (not that it ever approached "hot), but it is now a salt-laden slab of cheap beef-like substance. Couple that with the reviews of restaurants that claim "tasteless" food when in reality there are many flavors present, and you get my initial question.

I also wanted to address Cowboyardee's comment. This has nothing to do with a criticism of Primanti Brothers. As I said in my own review of Primanti's, I didn't grow up on it. In fact, I didn't eat there until I wasin college. I happen to enjoy it, and some don't. My question is not about someone's negative opinion of a place I like. In fact, I made reference to that in my initial post. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and virtually every restaurant review has some level of subjectivity.

I think most of the responders here are got the idea, especially Karl, Sunshine and Cbauer. All three highlighted what I found with the reviews of Lombardo's in Lancaster. In addition to the questionable complaints about a lack of flavor, the negative reviews were highly pretentious and clearly depicting unreasonable expectations of traditional Italian food. This is not to say that every human going to Lombardo's is required by law to enjoy it.

I don't know if I'd call myself a "foodie" or not. I like to eat, and I like a wide range of foods from siimple to complex and my skills in the kitchen are at least adequate for my family and I. I hope those reading my post don't think that I'm suggesting that everyone conform to the same tastes (again, I mentioned that in my inital post). Sometimes I just like to know "why."

Aug 19, 2011
medium_rare in Not About Food

Is overstimulation hampering our ability to enjoy simple food?

Makes sense. I hope no one gets me wrong on this, as I enjoy a nice robust Cajun rub, spicy sauces,"bolder" seasongs, etc as much as the next guy. Yet somehow, I can still appreciate a good quality steak grilled to perfection with nothing more than a light sprinkling of salt and pepper. I guess I just find today's expectations to be interesting.

Aug 18, 2011
medium_rare in Not About Food

Is overstimulation hampering our ability to enjoy simple food?

This post stems from reading a few negative reviews of restaurants that I've come really enjoy. I'm not questioning the validity of the reviewers' negative opinions as everyone has their preferences, but I'm starting to notice a trend. Maybe it's been around forever, I truthfully don't know, but I'm looking for others' ideas on this.

I am seeing complaints, if you will, that certain restaurants' food has "no taste." Again, not off the wall in and of itself, but looking at the context of these ideas makes me wonder a bit. In a review of Primanti Bros. in Pittsburgh, one reviewer claimed "no taste" while expressing shock and surprise that "the fries weren't even seasoned!!!!" (I added a few of the exclamation points). My initial reaction was, between cole slaw, cured meats and fries, how much more flavor does one need in a sandwich? Similar complaints popped up in reviews of an Italian restaurant in Lancaster, citing "flavorless" sauce when in my very humble opinion it was quite robust with a clear spice presence of red pepper (I eat exceptionally hot food, so it isn't an oversensitivity to spice).

My question is this. Are we so overstimulated that we can't enjoy a simple sandwich? Does every sauce have to knock us out with "extreme" flavors? In "sit down" chain restaurants, I've ordered steaks, chicken, or other grilled meats that were so overloaded with seasoning that I couldn't detect the flavor of the meat itself. Moreover, in those same chains, Italian sauces are generally closer to marinara than traditional red sauce, which by definition contains more vegetables and spices. Perhaps it is a result of using cheaper, lower quality meats that can't carry any of the flavor load on their own. Maybe it is a lack of real skill in the kitchen. Either way, has anyone else noticed this seasoning "obsession," or am I just out to lunch, so to speak?

Aug 18, 2011
medium_rare in Not About Food