Connect with:
HomeCultureWhat He Doesn’t Like in Restaurants

What He Doesn’t Like in Restaurants

A list of what's wrong with restaurants


Everyone is entitled to his opinion, including our social critic, Robert Joselow.  Thus, we offer his list of signs that a restaurant may not be to his liking. We don’t necessarily agree with all of these points and have added our own comments.  Feel free to put in your two cents.

There are about, count ‘em, 46,000 restaurants in New York City.  And there are many publications specifically recommending where to eat, what to eat where, or what to avoid.  With this in mind it seemed like a good idea, and a lot of fun, to take a different approach and provide a listing of general rules for determining where not to eat.

1.  There is no such thing as “Continental Cuisine ” or “International Dining.” The concept includes the cuisine of Australia and Antarctica as well as English cooking.  Comment: Can’t argue with that.

2.  Stay out of places with a set of drums and amplifiers in a corner. The same goes for a dance floor.  Comment: We like dance floors.

3.  Forget joints that advertise “Just Good Food.”  Comment: That’s why we go to “joints.”

4.  Restaurants that don’t know from single malt scotch are to be avoided as well as those that have only Cutty Sark (a good breakfast scotch) on the shelf.  Comment: You have a point there.

5.  Don’t dine where the menu speaks of “children’s specials,” “senior citizen’s specials,” or where booster seats are readily in evidence. “Free rice pudding before 4:30.”   Comment: There is something to say for grownup dining.

6.  Be wary of franchise joints with Formica beams and fake Tiffany fixtures.  Comment:  A matter of taste, for sure. 

7.   Stay clear of places with too many rules printed on the menu, e.g., “No substitutions allowed.”  Comment: Good point.

8.  Dartboards, jukeboxes, and/or gaming machines are negatives.  Comment: Not at a pub, they’re not.

9.  Cute or cryptic names for restrooms are negative indicators. “Buoys and Gulls,” “Boars and Sows.” The same applies to indecipherable signs on the doors. Who has not found it a bit of challenge to distinguish between a stylized “M” or a “W?”  Comment: We do like clearly marked restrooms.

10.  Similarly, eschew establishments: with nasty restrooms; that have run out of paper towels; that have run out of toilet paper; that have prophylactic machines on the wall; or, that have windows sounding alarms when opened.   Comment: Except for the machines, we agree!

11.  The auguries are not favorable where place mats, particularly place mats with games, riddles, and connect the dots are evident. And free crayons.  Comment: We get it.  You don’t like family restaurants. 

12. There is no such thing as “Kosher Style.”  Comment: Good point.

13.  Never ever eat where there is a gift shop.  Comment: RIP Mamma Leone’s.

14.  Shun places that include in its name “Mother,” “Mama,” “Ma,” or “Mommy.” Similarly, joints advertising “Home Cooking“raises questions. In any event, not necessarily a happy association. Comment: Wrong.  See above.

15.  A TV in the corner is a turnoff and should be turned off.  Comment: We thought you liked Donohue’s. 

16. Noisy places where you can’t hold a conversation, or hear yourself think make for a miserable experience. Comment: Yes! Conversation friendly noise levels are a mark of civilization.

17. Don’t eat where anything served in plastic baskets.  Comment: The baskets are now coated paper.

18.  Stay clear of places where antlers or other parts of deer anatomy are on the wall.  Comment: Ole’s Steakhouse in Paxton, Nebraska, is utterly charming.

19. Having to “Pay the Cashier is not a good omen.  Comment: There go the diners.

20. Wandering minstrels, opera singers, accordionists, accordionists again, or gypsy violinists who come to each table are incredibly intrusive.  Comment: See #13.

21.  Obviously, avoid places where ketchup and mustard are re-bottled in red and yellow squeeze plastic containers. The same goes where something other than a name brand ketchup is apparently poured into name brand bottles.  Comment: Woah! How can you tell?

22. It’s not a good sign where drinks or other offerings are named after celebrities, animals, or sports teams.  Comment:  How about peach melba and oysters Rockefeller?

23. There is a reason the lights are so dim a flare is required to see anything.  Comment: Good point.

24.  Exit if the menu is stained, made of parchment, has a plastic cover, contains color images of all the offerings, or is more than six pages long with index tabs.  Comment: See #19.

25. Be wary of a place that doesn’t accept reservations.  Comment: We sympathize.

26. Do not patronize places where the management publicizes its right to do anything.  Comment: Ç’a dépend.

27. It is disquieting when American songs in foreign languages are continuously played over speakers.  Comment: Grouch!

28. “Ten Dollar Minimum Purchase on Credit Cards” indicates something adverse. Comment: Where are you going to find a check smaller than $10 on the UES?

29. What, specifically, is “Seafood?”  Comment:  Food from the sea, we suppose.

30.  Particularly hateful are places where the goal is to obviously flip tables. “Can I get you anything else?” “Can I get you anything else?” “Can I….”  Comment: Finally, we totally agree.