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Industry Tastemakers on Their Biggest Restaurant Grievances

The time-honored airing of grievances begins now. Join in!

"Farm to table" gets conflated with "automatically good," grumbles one contributor. Cooking matters, too.
"Farm to table" gets conflated with "automatically good," grumbles one contributor. Cooking matters, too.
Adam H. Callaghan

EOY SmallAs is the tradition at Eater, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, industry types, and bloggers. This year, we asked the group eight questions running the gamut from meal of the year to top restaurant newcomers. Their answers will appear throughout the week. Responses are related in no particular order; all are cut, pasted, and (mostly) unedited herein. Readers, please do add your survey answers in the comments.

Q: What was your biggest restaurant grievance in 2014?

Mister Meatball, writer:
The idea that less (on a plate, that is) is more. Less is less. We're not stupid, you know.

Rachel Forrest, Seacoast Online:
Bad music. Music can make or break a vibe and so many places don't pay attention to keeping a theme that matches the restaurant or integrates into the goal of the ambience.

John Golden, The Golden Dish:
My biggest grievance is when restaurants—especially the popular ones—don't take reservations. Don't get it.

Rob Schatz, Eating Portland Alive:
Kenchin Udon no longer being offered on Miyake's menu and the closure of The Salt Exchange.

Emily Burnham, Bangor Daily News:
People conflating "farm to table" with "automatically good." You need to learn how to cook the food. It isn't just magically delicious because someone you know grew it. I'm also really sad that Cleonice in Ellsworth closed. Truly a bummer—they were way ahead of the locavore curve, and Rich is a real, old school, no BS chef. I hope they can come back in some capacity somewhere else.

Joe Ricchio, Maine Magazine:
It involved me coming to the realization why I used to enjoy restaurants in the late 90s so much—it was before all of the ego, trends, scenes, buzzwords, old-timey revival, and other bullshit. Back then if you opened a restaurant it was likely you had some experience and you wanted to serve good food—you weren't looking to become some kind of "star," or be the next "underground pop-up king."

Kate McCarty, The Blueberry Files:
Servers not writing down orders, then getting the order wrong. Also, when servers bring your food and "auction" it off. I would love for higher end restaurants (all of them, really) to take the time to write down who ordered what dish, rather than calling out the dish's name and having people raise their hand for it.

Kathleen Pierce, Bangor Daily News:
Restaurateurs from out of state swooping into Portland and changing the scene with pricey tasting menus, attitude, and arrogance, while hastening the disappearance of proletarian places like the much-loved Pepperclub and The Good Egg Cafe from the scene forever.

Susan Axelrod, Maine Today:
I'm going to sound like an old lady here, but I can't stand it when servers respond to requests, or even my saying "Thank you," with "No problem." It's lazy and sounds stupid—unless I'm asking you for caviar in a burger joint or to stand on your head, it shouldn't be a problem. And this doesn't just happen in casual restaurants, unfortunately.

The Salt Exchange

245 Commercial St, Portland, ME 04101 (207) 347-5687 Visit Website