In 2023, Please Keep These Things Away from Me

dryice-flickr.jpg

Can we emerge from the dry ice bog, please? Flickr photo by Niclas, copyright via Creative Commons license.

Due to the pandemic, I have taken the past two years off from writing snarky bores, my annual bitchfest about things I don’t want to see in restaurants in the new year. And to be completely honest, it still doesn’t feel quite right to complain about anything, knowing all the difficulties that continue to plague the industry, including inflation, staffing shortages, supply chain issues, break-ins, Covid (people are still getting sick), and the lack of downtown workers and business. Oh hey, let’s add flooding and water damage! Things are still a mess. Places keep closing. Yeah, everything is expensive and it sucks for (almost) everyone. But you know where my heart is, so hopefully you can take this year’s bore with a few grains of sea salt, because it’s a great privilege to be able to dine out and have food and drink brought to you with a smile. Just consider this a sort of PSA.

  1. Horrible QR menus. Come on, you knew this was first. I honestly don’t mind the technology when it works, especially when you think about the environmental impact, and after I heard how much a restaurant was saving in annual paper menu printing costs, it makes total sense. But if I can’t read your cocktail list easily, or the ingredients in your $48 entrée, or I can’t scan the damn plywood QR tile (those really are the worst), let’s just say it’s a frustrating first impression. (And if you’re taking your parents out to dinner, just ask for a paper menu, don’t even attempt it.) Bar and restaurant owners, have you looked at your menu on your phone? Just keep an eye on it.

  2. Outdated info. Since we’re talkin’ technology…. Restaurants and bars, have you looked at your hours listed on your website, Google listing (we know, it’s a pain), Yelp page, and Instagram bio? Do they all look the same? No? Please fix it. We have no idea which one is correct, and most places don’t have a phone number we can call to confirm. (I totally understand closing time may happen earlier if things are dead.) But for the love of goddess, please add your hours to your Instagram bio, it’s the most important thing we need to know. (An address is also nice.) And if you can get your custom location/geotag working, it will help us promote your business and location in our posts, for free! Magic! Not really. Here’s how.

  3. Tinned fish. Trust me, I have quite a collection at home of tinned sardines, spicy tuna, smoked mussels, octopus, and razor clams, just waiting for me to crack into them as a last-minute snack when I’m trying to rustle up something tasty to eat. But they’re not what I go out for. Thanks for opening the tin (Fancy Feast!) and I appreciate the toasts and condiments on the side, but really, it’s like eating nuclear bunker rations in a restaurant. We’re getting out of the bunker, it’s time to eat something fresh.

  4. Awkward sharing. OK, sooooo, it’s great that we’re back to dinner with friends and work colleagues and first dates, but we don’t necessarily want them serving us a portion of our shared salad with their used fork, or splitting the burrata appetizer with my dirty spoon. There are a LOT of germs swirling around us, please serve share plates (and dessert!) with clean silverware so we can each take and enjoy our own portion in a hygienic fashion.

  5. Oversized cutlery. Since we’re talking utensils, enough with the bulky, heavy, awkward silverware that slides to the middle or falls off the edge of the plate (or to the floor, the worst). Restaurant owners: have you tried eating with your silverware and plateware … and then clearing it? I don’t need to feel like King Henry VIII with an enormous knife as long as my forearm. Clankity clank clank! Fee-fi-fo-fum! Where is my chalice?

  6. NFTs and anything to do with restaurants. Haven’t tech bros ruined things enough?

  7. Robots. Please, no more robot servers—times are already so dystopian. Hard no. Beep. And do not expect a 20 percent tip for Twiki.

  8. Boring $13 desserts. I know, I know, you can’t afford a pastry chef right now, it sucks. But is panna cotta, olive oil cornmeal cake, bread pudding, or ice cream the only thing you can come up with? Give us a reason to order dessert!

  9. Dry ice presentations. I get it, it makes for a fun Instagram Reel, but enough already. I’m beginning to feel like I’m on an endless Pirates of the Caribbean ride or in a vampire movie. Save it for Halloween.

  10. Cocktails with huge ice cubes. I’m seeing way too much liquid displacement in my beverages lately. A tiny vintage glass with big ice sloshing in it means my $16 cocktail is done in three sips. Save the big chonk for an old fashioned.

I could call out caviar, alllll the pizza, espresso martinis, and Aperol spritzes, but I’m no hypocrite, I love them too much, heh. If you’re looking for birria everything, smash burgers, and hot chicken sandwiches, those items would have been in 2021’s bore, but thankfully, their local proliferation appears to have slowed down. We can keep and adore the places we already have, no need for more, okerrrr? (Sushi handrolls, take note! You’re on watch!)

If you want to see previous kvetches about truffle oil (will it ever go away?) and omakase, you can read past issues of the bore here.