These days your average restaurant customer has enough cooking skills to be able to plate dishes that can, not just compete, but even surpass chefs attempts in service.
Most people have exact preferences when it comes to cooking certain dishes and try as a chef might meet their demands, sometimes it just doesn’t come off. Sometimes, you just have to realize that there are some dishes that you prepare better yourself and no matter where you order them they just won’t compare.
Here are the top ten dishes you shouldn’t order in a restaurant, according to chefs.
1. Scrambled Eggs
Most people can make decent scramble eggs these days as it’s all about simple technique and understanding how they cook. So chefs recommend that you don’t order them at a restaurant, where a kitchen under pressure might over cook them. There’s also the question of value for money, as you can make scrambled eggs at home for a fraction of the cost. Everyone has their own preferences for scrambled eggs, hence the propensity for couples to fight over them in the early stages of a relationship, and the ones you make yourself are always the best.
“It seems nearly every place is just giving a semi-dry unseasoned empty omelette.
"I've had good scrambled at a couple of really great restaurants but I'd say 95% of scrambled eggs at restaurants are terrible,” said one Reddit user.
“Exactly. You can make scrambled eggs at home with minimal effort and it’ll cost about 30 cents. I’m not paying several dollars for subpar restaurant eggs,” agreed another.
With salmon, it’s all about the quality of the fish. As chefs point out, it’s a very forgiving fish and needs very little seasoning. However chefs claim that when you order it in a restaurant it is either over or under-cooked and over or under-seasoned.
“I’ve had a lot of salmon OVER-seasoned(i.e. drenched in teriyaki or BBQ sauce...) as well, if you have a REALLY nice piece of salmon you don’t need much more than salt and pepper or you’re just covering up that flavor and you might as well use something like tilapia! And overcooking is pretty much the norm as well,” writes one poster.
"Usually a crappy piece of cake in actuality,” according to one poster. Brownies are very easy to make and almost impossible to mess up. Plus, desert often has the biggest mark up of all dishes at a restaurant, so you can save yourself a ton by making it at home. Brownies freeze well and can be microwaved when you need them, served with ice-cream. If you must finish your meal with a brownie, wait til you get home.
Some chefs even claim there’s nothing wrong with a store-bought boxed brownie mix. “To me there is no shame in this. They're objectively delicious and incredibly easy. They are great for last minute things,” says one poster.
There is so much potential in salads and when done right can be one of the most delicious, satisfying meals you can order. However, so many restaurants neglect the salad and just turn out lettuce with onion and tomatoes. Pizza restaurants in particular, seem to think of the salad as an afterthought.
“Salads. When I make a salad I chop up everything into bite size pieces and load it with everything. At restaurants you get giant chunks of lettuce and whole cucumber slices and like two cherry tomatoes,” reads one post.
5. Eggs Benedict
The staple of brunch menus everywhere can be easily and quickly whipped up at home. The fact you don’t have to leave the house on a Sunday morning to enjoy the best Eggs Benedict at home is an added bonus. Often the one you’ll order ion a restaurant includes an over-cooked poached egg, disappointing hollandaise and dry bacon.
“Poached eggs are easy if you have a sous vide. 63°C for 45 minutes. Crack egg onto plate directly out of shell. Delicious,” writes severoon,
“Hollandaise is a snap if you use a little mustard powder, an egg yolk, and a bit of cold water to start. Create an emulsification with that, and you can keep adding egg yolks and melted butter until you have enough. Finish with salt and lemon juice, white pepper, and cayenne.
Take a few tablespoons of the sauce out before seasoning, then add a little too much of each seasoning, add back the bit you reserved and it'll be perfect. I learned this trick from a chef friend, it's super hard to get hollandaise seasoned perfectly if you don't make it a lot, so season and taste, season and taste until you take it a hair too far, but you reserved some unseasoned so you win.”
Italians will agree with this, the best Carbonara is the one you make yourself. While it’s extremely easy to make, it’s all about technique and there are so many variables. How much liquid? How much pepper? Smoked or unsmoked pancetta? What size of spaghetti and should it be al dente? If you have any questions, ask an Italian, they set you straight.
“Carbonara. I only started making it myself after a poorly cooked restaurant one (even the pasta was all gluggy and stuck together)”, writes one poster.
“There is nothing I hate more than to see the word “cream” when describing a restaurant’s carbonara. 5 ingredients and cream is not one of them,” writes another.
Again, it’s all about technique, but the cut you choose can make a big difference as well. You’ll most likely have a specific way you like your steak cooked and chefs under pressure can sometimes get it wrong. Value for money is also an issue when ordering steak at a restaurant. Some chefs might not have the time to let a steak rest for long enough before serving it. A good rule of thumb is, don’t order steak, unless you’re in a steakhouse or speciality restaurant.
“I never really enjoyed steak until my husband bought me Alton Brown's Good Eats cookbooks and we learned the proper method. The right cut makes a huge difference, too! It is SO much cheaper (and usually better) to make it ourselves these days!,” says Dr_Mrs_Pibb.
Risotto is something that can take years to perfect, but once you do it’s a reliable, delicious dish that you can come back to again and again. Some posters believe that risotto at home is always superior and it has to be eaten when ready, which can be hard for a restaurant to get the timing right.
"Came here to say this. I really think it needs to be made to order/eaten right when it is ready and that's really hard for a restaurant to do," writes lichter.
Pancakes are one of those comfort foods that brings you back to your childhood, so nothing else will compare. People are very particular about their pancakes as this post by chelseabuns can attest.
“Pancakes from restaurants always have the texture of being overmixed causing too much gluten development,” writes a Reddit poster.
10. Mac and Cheese
Like Italians, when it comes to their classic Italian dishes, Americans can be seriously picky and opinionated about their mac and cheese.
"Mac & Cheese no matter how hard I search for good Mac & Cheese mine is still the best.
“This is it for me,” writes jordanjay29. “I don't like the breadcrumbs stuff in restaurants, most of it is too dry. And the others are usually reheated and congealed, and it's gross.
There's one noodle place I can trust to make a good Mac & Cheese. Otherwise, I'll make it at home.”