The Most Played Out Dishes and Ingredients (Part 1)

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Considering how much we spend at restaurants and bars, there’s no excuse for chefs and bartenders who resort to hackneyed dishes and ingredients. Here are some played out options that should be stricken from menus. Diners and drinkers deserve better. Down in the COMMENTS section, let me know what else you could do without.


It’s no secret that meat is most tender at the bone. The animal that suffers most when de-boned is undoubtedly the chicken, which has a lower fat content than the pig, cow or sheep. The bird’s limited potential is further debased when stripped of its skin, which – when crispy – adds texture and much needed-fat. Is there a more enjoyable dining experience than ripping apart a rotisserie chicken with crisp, caramelized skin and luscious meat? At places like Pollos El Brasero and Sevan Chicken, the answer is undoubtedly no.


This is an often-abused ingredient that overpowers everything it touches and acts as low-road shortcut to flavor. If chefs were confident enough in their ability behind the stoves, they would resort to other methods to generate flavor. Mix in some garlic, butter, cream or salt instead. White truffles are justly revered, but its oily counterpart serves to muddle the proceedings. Better for chefs to keep the cap on the bottle to spare nostrils and taste buds.


Why have people embraced a liquor whose very ideal is odorless, colorless and flavorless? When you eliminate enticing aromas, lush color and complex flavors, what’s left, and what’s the point? Thankfully bartenders and mixologists are turning to more vibrant options like Bourbon, whiskey and rum. On Sunday night at Death & Co., they didn’t even have vodka on the menu, and other top L.A. cocktail emporiums have similarly done away with the neutered distillate. Historically, vodka made sense in desolate places like Siberia where farmers had no choice but to ferment liquor from potatoes. We’re not in Siberia.


At this stage, roasted beets and creamy goat cheese are a no-brainer. Toss on some crunchy walnuts, even better. Or is it? This tired testament to ’80s California cuisine can still be found on many market-driven menus. Sure the beets may no longer appear in chunks. You might find a variation on the cheese. The walnuts might be candied. Still, there’s no disguising the core of this salad is played out.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

Blog Comments

What about tuna tartare?


Funny that you should mention tuna tartare. Matthew Kang just pointed that out in Part 2:

There are a lot of good points here, but why the vodka hating? I love how The Edison uses bourbon in their Wed night punchbowls, but a place with NO vodka on the menu? Book me a ticket to Siberia.

Places like Copa d’Oro have such fresh juices, herbs – the vodka flavorlessness lets those ingredients shine. I will be the first to admit that there are some nasty (with a capital N) flavored vodkas out there, but Absolut Peppar is the bomb in bloody marys and what about Modern Spirits infused vodka? The Three Tea flavor kind of rules.


Good point about infused vodka. Companies like Modern Spirits have taken the concept to another level. I have definitely enjoyed their infused vodkas.

Pasta and pizza. I’m tired of big name restaurants making big deals of these things at inflated prices. Can’t they do anything more imaginative?

Unless pasta is house-made, it’s hard to justify high prices. I’m more of a believer in pizza, as long as it’s stellar. Una Pizza Napoletana charges $21 per pie in New York, but it’s worth it. Also, that may be pricey for a pizza, but it’s still a relatively affordable dinner.

I agree the beet and goat cheese thing is played out, but I like the Madame Matisse one. I think it’s more 90s than 80s though. Balsamic vinegar and sun-dried tomatoes are very 80s to me, yet they can still be found at many mediocre places.

I’m getting tired of pork belly; but then again, I’m not a big fan of it anyway. So many of the recent DineLA menus featured this ingredient in different dishes, but so few restaurants get it right. Also, is “molecular gastronomy” (and/or really small bite dishes) really worth the price/hype?

I like beets, and they normally taste good with goat cheese, but with so many flavor combinations, chefs should find a new direction. It’s gotten to the point where I cringe if that salad is on a menu, no matter how they spin it.

haha matt you’re funny. I had a superb version of the beet-goat cheese salad at Madam Matisse the other day. It is possible to find good dishes with those ingredients, but I hear ya – sometimes we want something new! I think vodka is atrocious.

I too am tired of beet and goat cheese salad. I think beets taste like dirt anyway. Yeah, I said it. I don’t care for beets.

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