The task of selecting a delicious meal when you are next at a restaurant should be a little easier with this list of options that should be avoided at all costs, according to leading chefs.
Eggs with hollandaise sauce
Chef Anthony Bourdain has advised diners not to order any meal with eggs and hollandaise sauce as brunch meals often feature leftovers from the previous night’s services. Hollandaise is also a particular bugbear for Bourdain as he believes that the sauce is a haven for bacteria and needs to be kept at a certain temperature. He added: “And nobody I know has ever made hollandaise to order.”
Fish on Mondays
Fish is another menu item that should be approached with caution, according to Bourdain, especially on Mondays. This is because restaurants receive their batch of fish orders on a Thursday, so it’s actually four days old by early next week. Fish should be consumed when it’s as fresh as possible, and the quality takes a big hit the longer the period after it's caught to when it’s served up in restaurants. Bourdain said: “I never order fish on Monday unless I'm eating at a four-star restaurant where I know they are buying their fish directly from the source.”
Kobe and Wagyu beef
Kobe beef has the luxurious distinction of being the world’s most expensive meat, so it is very unlikely that it will be served up at a local restaurant. When it’s the real deal, the meat is served up in small amounts, and chefs believe that any process of mincing it up for use in a burger is sacrilege. For this reason, you should be wary of burgers advertised as Kobe, as it may be a way to increase prices.
There is nothing inherently wrong with chicken dishes, but restaurant chefs shy away from serving up the meat in signature dishes as it is so difficult to make it tasty, due to its rather dry and flavorless makeup. Chicken dishes can be overpriced and uninspired, and really lack in quality compared to high-quality lamb and beef alternatives.
This is perhaps a more well-known faux pa when dining out as overcooking beef strips it of its delicious taste and succulent texture. According to Bourdain, there is another reason too as discarded strips can be served up to unsuspecting customers. He said: “‘Saving for well-done’ is a time-honoured tradition dating back to cuisine's earliest days. What happens when the chef finds a tough, slightly skanky end-cut of sirloin that's been pushed repeatedly to the back of the pile? He can throw it out, but that's a total loss… Or he can ‘save for well-done’: serve it to some rube who prefers his meat or fish incinerated into a flavorless, leathery hunk of carbon.”
High-quality oysters are the domain of specialist fish eateries, so it is always best to skip on shellfish at standard restaurants as they can cause serious illness. If you do fancy a plate of oysters and lemon, make sure that you visit a place that sources them directly and fresh from a supplier.
Play to a restaurant’s strengths
If you visit a steakhouse, then it doesn’t really make sense to order a fish dish. The same can be said for pasta at a pizza place. According to Dream Downtown Executive Chef Michael Armstrong, identifying the restaurant’s specialty and going with that will ensure that you get the best-quality meal available. Making substitutions with ingredients is also a crime, according to chefs, as you have to trust their experience and the meals that they have curated.