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Local Food Writers Air Their Biggest Restaurant Grievances of 2015

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As is tradition at Eater, we close out the year by surveying local food writers and our own staff on various restaurant-related topics, and we'll be publishing their responses throughout the week. Readers, feel free to share your thoughts below. Next question: What was the biggest restaurant grievance of 2015?


MC Slim JB, restaurant critic for The Improper Bostonian:

I hated the number of new restaurants that opened with dangerous noise levels. I understand the reasons for loudness — Millennials equate cacophony with hipness and quietness with death, and noise deters table camping, which can mean an additional table turn or two per service, a significant profit booster. But if your dining room routinely registers over 90 decibels (yes, I carry a sound pressure meter these days), you’re begging for a class-action lawsuit on behalf of your front-of-house staff, who are at risk of long-term hearing damage. Restaurateurs: Please dial it down to 85 dB or so; we’ll still have to scream to order and to converse, but you’ll be less likely to inflict tinnitus on your servers and patrons.

Marc Hurwitz of Boston's Hidden Restaurants and Boston Restaurant Talk:

Shortsightedness when it comes to trends and business feasibility; for instance, everyone knows that having three million frozen yogurt shops in a four-square-block area in a city that's cold or chilly much of the year is unsustainable, but everyone jumped on board, anyway — and now many are paying the price for that.

Luke O'Neil, drinks writer for Metro and writer of many other things for many other publications:

It’s just not worth going out anymore. Everywhere is too expensive, and small plates are a scam. I’m completely disinterested in most of the new places that have opened of late. While a lot of them are great, I’m just not excited about spending $25 on a protein and filling it out with $8 sides — or, the only other option now it seems, buying a bunch of small plates that add up to $150 and leave you feeling hungry on the way out the door.

Matt Martinelli, managing editor of The Improper Bostonian:

Just because it’s shareable plates doesn’t mean the dishes should all come in rapid fire. There’s still an art to properly pacing your meal that some places can’t master or don’t even try to.

Kerry J. Byrne, food writer for the Boston Herald:

The dearth of talent, especially noticeable from a dining perspective in the front of the house. Every chef and restaurateur complains about it and struggles with it. One of the inevitable fallouts of an ever-expanding welfare society in which millions of Americans find it's more profitable to sit at home than it is to work. Restaurateurs are struggling as a result.

Scott Kearnan, writer for Zagat and more:

I remain a non-sharer in a world of menus "meant for sharing." I resent that fellow diners so often now view you as a weird, gluttonous hoarder if you just want to commit to choosing yourself a couple courses. You do you, I’mma do me, okay?

Sam Hiersteiner, food writer for Lucky Peach, First We Feast, Art of Eating, and other publications:

I don't have much to complain about, because I moved to Boston in June 2014, just as things were really starting to take off. I would like to see more collaboration between chefs, food innovators, and food equity organizations in Boston. This city leads the world in so many things, and I feel like there's no reason we can't be right at the vanguard of where dining, sustainability, and other related things are going.

BosGuy, LGBT Blogger (with a lot of South End restaurant coverage):

Everyone's love affair with small plates. I rarely visit small plate restaurants anymore. Their inability to time the delivery of plates and the pathetic-sized portions have lost their appeal. I go out to enjoy the company of friends and good food, not to try and figure out how to split a single scallop and pretend I am satisfied.

Catherine Smart, managing editor of WGBH's Craving Boston and Boston Globe correspondent:

If you are going to try and fancy up a cuisine, the quality of the food AND the service should match the prices. Of course I’m glad my sticky ribs are from a happy cow and I can get a craft cocktail with my fried rice. But if you are going to charge twice as much as the spot across town you got your inspiration from, I shouldn’t have to hassle you to refill my water glass or beg for the bill. Of course it goes without saying the food should be at least as good as the original.

Dana Hatic, Eater Boston associate editor:

This is more a grievance against myself than restaurants, but I did not eat enough tacos. Especially now that I live in Cambridge, there are too many places nearby whose tacos I heard raves about but have yet to eat.

Rachel Leah Blumenthal, Eater Boston editor:

I have to pile on to the small plate grievances. In theory, I like the idea of sharing a bunch of different dishes with friends rather than going with the classic appetizer, entree, and maybe dessert. But as it's being executed around the city (seemingly everywhere), the prices are climbing insanely high. If I have to pay much more to fill up on the recommended two or three or more small plates than I would have paid for a single normal-sized entree — and this is how it tends to turn out — than it's not a price I'm going to be able to pay very often. Doesn't matter how great the food is; I've been turned off by too many surprisingly expensive restaurants recently. Sometimes the arrangement works out with decent value if you're with a large group, but for a couple dining out, the numbers just don't make sense.