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Being Dragged To A Crummy Restaurant


DC in DC
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New etiquette question: If you suggest a place for dinner, and the friend does not like the place, is it rude for the friend to go on and on about how bad the place is, especially after you have told this friend that it's one of your favorite places [place in question is 2 Amys]. Am I being oversensitive when I think this friend is being rude? (Friend was also from out-of-town, and visiting for the weekend, if that makes a difference).

In general, if I am out with someone, and they have suggested the place and mentioned it as one of their favorites, if I don't like the place or my food was bad, I don't say much because I don't want to be rude and insult them. Likewise, if I am in casual conversation, and someone says, "my favorite place to go is Lauriol Plaza or [ ]" I don't respond by saying that the place is terrible because I don't want to be insulting. Certainly there are more diplomatic ways of responding, such as "I've never liked what I've gotten there, but what do usually get? Maybe I should try that next time."

I also think the situation is different if the group is trying a new place for the first time, or if no one has staked the place out as one of their go-to/favorite places.

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New etiquette question: If you suggest a place for dinner, and the friend does not like the place, is it rude for the friend to go on and on about how bad the place is, especially after you have told this friend that it's one of your favorite places [place in question is 2 Amys].

Yes.

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New etiquette question: If you suggest a place for dinner, and the friend does not like the place, is it rude for the friend to go on and on about how bad the place is, especially after you have told this friend that it's one of your favorite places [place in question is 2 Amys].  Am I being oversensitive when I think this friend is being rude? (Friend was also from out-of-town, and visiting for the weekend, if that makes a difference). 

In general, if I am out with someone, and they have suggested the place and mentioned it as one of their favorites, if I don't like the place or my food was bad, I don't say much because I don't want to be rude and insult them.  Likewise, if I am in casual conversation, and someone says, "my favorite place to go is Lauriol Plaza or [  ]" I don't respond by saying that the place is terrible because I don't want to be insulting.  Certainly there are more diplomatic ways of responding, such as "I've never liked what I've gotten there, but what do usually get? Maybe I should try that next time."

I also think the situation is different if the group is trying a new place for the first time, or if no one has staked the place out as one of their go-to/favorite places.

If the complaint is about 2 Amy's then yes they are being rude. If the complaint is about Lauriol Plaza then it is completely justified.

On second thought, they're both rude. :lol:

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If it's a close friend and we're talking about where to go, I'm pretty upfront about liking or not liking a place with the intent of picking either a place we both like, or somewhere neither of us has been.

I'm not made of money so unless it's completely awkward to suggest an alternate location, I do try to avoid places at which I haven't had a good experience.

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If it's a close friend and we're talking about where to go, I'm pretty upfront about liking or not liking a place with the intent of picking either a place we both like, or somewhere neither of us has been. 

I'm not made of money so unless it's completely awkward to suggest an alternate location, I do try to avoid places at which I haven't had a good experience.

I definitely agree with this. I hate blowing money on a bad meal. I have a close friend who used to live here and did not have great taste in restaurants. Fortunately, there were a few that she did like that were good (e.g. Colorado Kitchen, Jaleo), so I could frequently steer us to those places. However, I never told her that I thought Mrs. K's (and this random Italian place in Bethesda), her favorite places, were totally horrible. The situation I was presented with was the out-of-town (close) friend who made faces during the meal, kept saying how bad her pizza was and pointedly dumped red pepper flakes on that pizza. The whole thing is pretty obviously rude, and while I was looking for affirmation of that (which I've gotten-- thanks bilrus and banco), I was also wondering where the line is drawn in criticizing restaurants.

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...I was also wondering where the line is drawn in criticizing restaurants.

This is essentially a philosophical question; the possible answers depend so much on the context that I don't think any one of them could be definitive.

ETA: It depends mostly on the relationship you have with the person you are eating with, and if the criticizer's comments are volunteered or solicited. Frankness and honesty in one context can be rudeness in another.

Edited by Banco
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I definitely agree with this.  I hate blowing money on a bad meal.  I have a close friend who used to live here and did not have great taste in restaurants.  Fortunately, there were a few that she did like that were good (e.g. Colorado Kitchen, Jaleo), so I could frequently steer us to those places.  However, I never told her that I thought Mrs. K's (and this random Italian place in Bethesda), her favorite places, were totally horrible.  The situation I was presented with was the out-of-town (close) friend who made faces during the meal, kept saying how bad her pizza was and pointedly dumped red pepper flakes on that pizza.  The whole thing is pretty obviously rude, and while I was looking for affirmation of that (which I've gotten-- thanks bilrus and banco), I was also wondering where the line is drawn in criticizing restaurants.

The question is brought to mind more often than I would have thought, on one thread or another, "Do some people enjoy bad food?". Leaving aside the question: what is bad food?, I have to say :yes. Years ago I had a friend who thought that Red Lobster was the best restaurant ever.

Those who are interested in good food must use the tools available to them: persuasion, deception, education and mis-representation to get their way.

Particularly when things go wrong for lack of clear thinking: "Let's go to (name of chain restaurant here). I have a coupon." Shrieking, fainting, and tantrums can be used.

I'm sorry to drift off into ill-conceived humor. But still ...

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The question is brought to mind more often than I would have thought, on one thread or another, "Do some people enjoy bad food?". Leaving aside the question: what is bad food?, I have to say :yes. Years ago I had a friend who thought that Red Lobster was the best restaurant ever.

Those who are interested in good food must use the tools available to them: persuasion, deception, education and mis-representation to get their way.

Particularly when things go wrong for lack of clear thinking: "Let's go to (name of chain restaurant here). I have a coupon." Shrieking, fainting, and tantrums can be used.

I'm sorry to drift off into ill-conceived humor.  But still ...

. . . writes a man who had to endure a really awful meal in Baltimore last January to celebrate my Aunt's birthday. My cousin picked out the place, but we each had to pay our own share. What can you say? The answer is: absolutely nothing. We won't, however, allow him to pick out any more restaurants. I suspect this coming January, we will find a way to take my Aunt to lunch at one of our favorite places and be curiously busy if and when the "family" tries to get together.

There's a limit to how many bad meals have to be endured for the sake of others' ignorance or lack of taste.

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. . . writes a man who had to endure a really awful meal in Baltimore last January to celebrate my Aunt's birthday.  My cousin picked out the place, but we each had to pay our own share.  What can you say?  The answer is: absolutely nothing.  We won't, however, allow him to pick out any more restaurants.  I suspect this coming January, we will find a way to take my Aunt to lunch at one of our favorite places and be curiously busy if and when the "family" tries to get together.

There's a limit to how many bad meals have to be endured for the sake of others' ignorance or lack of taste.

Aren't we superior today. :lol:

With a friend's choice in restaurants, as with a friend's home cooking, the only proper response to what you feel is a horrible mistake is to smile, enjoy your friend's company, and suck it up. Surrepticious martinis beforehand and a baguette and cheese after will help.

The fact that one has a nuanced palate, far-flung wine expertise and a platinum card does not in the greater scheme of things give one greater moral leverage in choosing a restaurant, than one's friend's passionate addiction to deep-fried MSG.

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The fact that one has a nuanced palate, far-flung wine expertise and a platinum card does not in the greater scheme of things give one greater moral leverage in choosing a restaurant, than one's friend's passionate addiction to deep-fried MSG.

First, the platinum card is only marginally relevant; we're not talking expense here, but taste. As most people on this board know, they do not always go hand in hand.

Second, the other qualities you mention have nothing to do with moral leverage, but everything to do with knowledge. And knowledge does confer authority. The question of when to use that authority brings us back to the subject of this thread. I agree that "suck it up" is often the only courteous option.

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Aren't we superior today.  :lol:

With a friend's choice in restaurants, as with a friend's home cooking, the only proper response to what you feel is a horrible mistake is to smile, enjoy your friend's company, and suck it up.  Surrepticious martinis beforehand and a baguette and cheese after will help. 

The fact that one has a nuanced palate, far-flung wine expertise and a platinum card does not in the greater scheme of things give one greater moral leverage in choosing a restaurant, than one's friend's passionate addiction to deep-fried MSG.

Actually, Waitman, this sojourn to Baltimore (which took 4 HOURS, round-trip) was so that my cousin COULD SHOW OFF! I'm not kidding. He insisted this place was a three-star restaurant and, oh by the way, he knew the owner! Isn't that special? I learned that this was in no way the case from the estimable folk on eGullet (ever heard of that?). So, we did indeed suck it up and go and uttered not a word of complaint in the company of the others. My Aunt actually appreciates good food in a nice restaurant and for her birthday this year, I will see that she gets it. Even if it is just in the company of DH and me. And all of us know what a difficult trick it is to get the chef to come out and wish someone a Happy Birthday and make a bit of a fuss over her, don't we?

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Some of my response to DC's question depends on where you are on the timeline of recommending a restaurant. If somebody you'll be dining with has merely suggested a restaurant that you don't like, but you're still in the planning phase, it's perfectly reasonable to politely say, "I'm not very fond of that restaurant. What do you think of []?" You've made it clear you don't want to go there and have provided an alternative. Even if the person has gone on and on about how good it is, you can still decline (e.g. "I've just never much cared for what I've eaten there. What about some other place?").

If you're sitting at the restaurant, there is no excuse, regardless of price, regardless of taste or anything else, for whining about the food at a restaurant somebody else chose to which you agreed to go. (Ok, the only excuse is age--2 year old are permitted limited whining.) It has nothing to do with dollars in wallet or taste or anything else. It has to do with courtesy.

Try to buy as little as you can, choose the least offensive item on the menu, smile and enjoy your conversation with your friend, and go home and make yourself a sandwich.

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Actually, Waitman, this sojourn to Baltimore (which took 4 HOURS, round-trip) was so that my cousin COULD SHOW OFF!  I'm not kidding.  He insisted this place was a three-star restaurant and, oh by the way, he knew the owner!

I'm curious-- what restaurant was it? Edited by Al Dente
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First, the platinum card is only marginally relevant; we're not talking expense here, but taste. As most people on this board know, they do not always go hand in hand.

Second, the other qualities you mention have nothing to do with moral leverage, but everything to do with knowledge. And knowledge does confer authority. The question of when to use that authority brings us back to the subject of this thread. I agree that "suck it up" is often the only courteous option.

Authority is relevant when bantering on a board such as this, or hanging with like-minded people. When picking a restaurant among friends or relatives, it is irrelevent (unless, of course, you are asked).

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Authority is relevant when bantering on a board such as this, or hanging with like-minded people. When picking a restaurant among friends or relatives, it is irrelevent (unless, of course, you are asked).

Authority is irrelevant among friends or relatives? Hardly. If I'm among friends or relatives I have no problem in making suggestions without being asked, and they have no problem hearing them, because they know my authority (relative to theirs, forgive the pun) on the subject. I think it's with others, such as work colleagues and acquaintances, where unsolicited suggestions could often be inappropriate.

Edited by Banco
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I swear I think I recall this thread on egullet and if I'm correct, it was Helen's Garden.  She was fully warned.

Barbara clearly enjoys the company of her relatives almost as much as I enjoy the company of some of mine.

DING! DING! DING! We have a winner! Yes, I was fully warned, but couldn't do a thing about it except go and hope for the best. Unfortunately, it was just about the worst food I've had in a white-tablecloth restaurant. And, wasn't all that cheap, either. I actually enjoy being with the family who lives in this area, particularly my Aunt and my brother and his family. It's just my cousin I have to figure out how to abide with any kind of grace. I like his wife, though, and his stepson is a really special kid.

My brother agrees with me about the lousiness of the food at Helen's. I may well be asking the advice of this crowd for the "cheap but good" places around here come January.

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Authority is irrelevant among friends or relatives? Hardly. If I'm among friends or relatives I have no problem in making suggestions without being asked, and they have no problem hearing them, because they know my authority (relative to theirs, forgive the pun) on the subject. I think it's with others, such as work colleagues and acquaintances, where unsolicited suggestions could often be inappropriate.

I don't know -- if my brother likes salad bar joints and my buddy likes "authentic" Italian, down to the squishy garlic bread and the bad chianti, I don't think it's my place, outside of the normal "I don't know, where do you want to go" negotiations to start unloading my greater "authority". If someone tried that on me, I'd tell them to kiss off -- again, unless I had asked their advice. I know for a fact that some of my acquaintences cringe when I get to choose the restaurant, and that's fine. We take turns. People have every right to be as put off by my taste as I have to be put of by theirs.

And those secret martinis -- they make everything better.

Brabara -- by coincidence, the Waitfamily has been to Helen's. It is indeed breathtakingly unfortunate. I suggest you take your cousin to Joy America Cafe in the American Visionary Art Museum for revenge. Weird food, mango martinis and art by crazy people -- it's the anti-Helens.

Edited by Waitman
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New etiquette question: If you suggest a place for dinner, and the friend does not like the place, is it rude for the friend to go on and on about how bad the place is, especially after you have told this friend that it's one of your favorite places [place in question is 2 Amys].

The interesting follow-up etiquette questions are, 1) what is appropriate to say back to them while still at the table, and 2) if you don't say anything at the table, what is appropriate to say later on?

The most kosher thing to do is probably just let it lie. I know I'd be tempted to say something, or act up the next time the friend took me to a place she liked, but I'd probably just let it roll off, because life's too short.

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I don't know -- if my brother likes salad bar joints and my buddy likes "authentic" Italian, down to the squishy garlic bread and the bad chianti, I don't think it's my place, outside of the normal "I don't know, where do you want to go" negotiations to start unloading my greater "authority".  If someone tried that on me, I'd tell them to kiss off -- again, unless I had asked their advice.  I know for a fact that some of my acquaintences cringe when I get to choose the restaurant, and that's fine.  We take turns.  People have every right to be as put off by my taste as I have to be put of by theirs. 

And if your buddy wants to go to Potbelly? :lol:

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From this side of the fence, I can tell you that I swore off completely telling the opposite sex about my interest in food until the friendship matures. Why? Because I just got tired of watching brows furrow over the 100th version of "where shall I take my sophisticated eater darling tonight to stay on her good side?"

Please. That's not what it's about. There's enough judging going on and it doesn't need any extras. And if that person was my family or dear friend, I would just shut up permanently.

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Please. That's not what it's about. There's enough judging going on and it doesn't need any extras. And if that person was my family or dear friend, I would just shut up permanently.

That's true, and I can vouch for Nadya (even though 90% of our meals together have been at Palena). Good cheer and good people come first.

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I was presented with an invitation to go with some friends to an expensive crummy restaurant tonight or as Don would put it, "A place that sucks Ventworms nuts". How did I handle it? Well I liked three of the other 5 people going and if it was a good restaurant I would of gone. But 2 of the people were not worth putting up with them and bad food. So I politely declined saying it would be a logistical nightmare with all my children's activities tonight and then I poloitely added that I thought the restaurant sucked. I am sure I will be brought up in conversation tonight. :lol:

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:-D Did you use different polite words, or a particularly polite delivery? Inquiring minds wanna know!

No I used the word sucks, but I said it with a laugh. I was not in the cheesriest of moods, I probably shouldn't of said it.

Edited by RaisaB
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