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Have you ever been disappointed by a restaurant recommended in a travel book?

Have you ever been disappointed by a restaurant recommended in a travel book?

Old Oct 29th, 2005, 11:57 PM
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Have you ever been disappointed by a restaurant recommended in a travel book?

We were in Venice, and anyone who's been there knows the city is a giant maze. My husband read a recommended place that served great happy hour appetizers. We walked a good deal, and kept asking people directions. The answer always was, just a little ways past the bridge. We walked what seemed forever. When we finally reached our destination, we walked in and saw the appetizers sitting on the table. We were so disappointed, we turned around and went back to our hotel. It became a big joke. We still laugh about it to this day.

Have you been disappointed or disagreed with food ratings? Who writes and determines these ratings anyway?
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Old Oct 30th, 2005, 12:40 AM
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The quality of a restaurant depends on its chef! They come and go. It also depends on the current owners. Your eview may have been correct at the time it was written. Unless the reviewer is on your 'wave length' his review can be meaningless. Today, Americans seem concerned with portion size. European multi-starred restaurants are concerned with quality and originality. A truism about food states that people generally judge all offerings by what their mother served.
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Old Oct 30th, 2005, 01:45 AM
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I always hate when people ask me about a restaurant or a recommendation. Where I live the chefs seem to change jobs so frequently that what might be a great restaurant one week is awful the next.

Every place has off days even if the chef hasn't moved on. If it is consistently bad though, the news will get out.
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Old Oct 30th, 2005, 02:16 AM
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Chef changes or not, I think you also have to remember that personal taste and opinion are a part of any recommendation be if for a restaurant, a place to see, a hotel, etc.

I'm glad you didn't ask "Have you ever been disappointed by a restaurant[or other place, thing, hotel, country] recommended here because the resultant answers would probably have turned into a "Did so-Did not" fest pretty quickly.

Good food editors go to a restaurant several times before they write their recommendation because they realize the one thing that must be inplace for any restaurant to be good: consistency.
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Old Oct 30th, 2005, 02:25 AM
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It happens all the time. Things change, especially in the restaurant business, but it takes time for the effects to be felt and publicized.

Check out my recent post about an experience in a highly recommended restaurant in Tuscany. After I posted it, I found out that we weren't the only people disappointed at the restaurant during the past few months!

http://fodors.com/forums/threadselec...=sssteve&fid=2
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Old Oct 30th, 2005, 07:52 AM
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First of all - do you mena a "travel book" or a food/dining guide?

I actually don't think I have ever gone to a restaurant because it was mentioned in a Travel guidebook, unless maybe it said there's an amazing view or something like that.

I do use Food/dining guides, but they vary so much - and their rating processes are different. So I may use one of them just to scope out what places are in the area.

As the others say - the chef, owner, even night of the week all make a big difference. When chefs move on the whole menu/format may change. And w/ the lead time needed to publish a book there is no way it will be accurate for everyplace - it is basically out of date before it hits the bookshops.

Our local newspaper restaurant critic won't write about a place until he has been there (unrecognized) 3 times because things are not the same every day.
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Old Oct 30th, 2005, 08:02 AM
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I never go to a restaurant because is recommended for the food. This depend of your personal preferences. I never have enough time to try to found a restaurant address just because of the food, and I am not sure that I'll like it.

But if in the recommendation I see that it is a special place (architecture, a very old building with history, nice decoration, or very nice music or artistic program).. yes, I'll go there. And in 99% of cases I was not disappointed.
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Old Oct 30th, 2005, 08:20 AM
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Sorry, 'happy hour' appetizers in Venice?
Do you mean a bacaro, a bar that serves a choice of food items (cicchetti) along with cocktails or wine?
The place where you went, what disappointed you in the looks of the food? Selection? Quantity? Unappetizing? Which place was it?
Also what book did you use?--some books are much more reliable than others, especially about food.
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Old Oct 30th, 2005, 08:20 AM
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I'm in total agreement with valtor.
We've often gone to restaurants and hotels because of the architectural value. But I hate wandering around trying to find a restautant just because it's listed in a book.
I look for a decent place that local people seem to be enjoying.
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Old Oct 30th, 2005, 09:01 AM
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Yes, I've definitely disagreed with food ratings! I use as many sources as possible to find restaurants in vacation spots, to try to narrow down places that will suit us. Some sources are good for describing food, others are better for the experience as a whole. Ambiance and location is important to me, so I try to cull that information from anywhere I can. But keep in mind that the best descriptions, and the best reviews, may still not give you the information that would let you know that you love that restaurant or their food. But I think that, on the whole, all my research have helped me come up with more special, wonderful restaurants (that I wouldn't have found just be wandering) than dogs that I disliked (actually, there were few that I dislike, more of a case of liking less).
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Old Oct 30th, 2005, 09:04 AM
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I don't usually go to restaurants mentioned anywhere, guidebooks or this board, etc. Once in a while I do make note of some places near where I'll be staying, but I just don't care enough about special restaurants to really get into that stuff so much and usually just dine at places that look like a pleasant atmosphere and where I like the things on the menu and the prices.

However, whenever I have gone to a place mentioned in a guidebook, I don't think I have ever been disappointed. I think guidebooks authors do a pretty good job of picking out good places, at least the guidebooks I use. I do read the reviews and decide if the comments appeal to me or the kind of things I like. I have used both all-purpose guidebooks (Frommers, Fodors, Access are probably my usuals) and ones specific to restaurants (Michelin, Sandra Gustafson, Zagat), as well as local newspapers.

I tend to trust guidebooks more than I would a travel forum like this, as the reviews are usually more complete, and I think individual anecdotes on here are more likely to be one person's opinion that could be very different from mine. I can give a couple examples--a few people on here like La Coupole in Paris (one guy, I can't remember who, says it is his favorite restaurant in Paris) and I don't like it at all for either food or ambience; some others on here like, or at least recommend, Leon de Bruxelles and I think it is very low-level desperation time food.

The main or only restaurants I have been disappointed in compared to reviews have been ones where I live and written up in the local newspaper.

Some experiences could not only be chefs changing, but just that some restaurants have one dish that you would have liked a lot, but you ordered one that was just average or worse.
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Old Oct 30th, 2005, 09:23 AM
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Curious as to what kind of place offered "happy hour" in Venice. And why did you not eat what was on offer? Can you tell us the name of the place you were so disappointed in?
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Old Oct 30th, 2005, 09:54 AM
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Yes, on a number of occasions--you have to remember that restaurant guidebooks can quickly become outdated as chefs and owners change.
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Old Oct 30th, 2005, 10:14 AM
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I was really disappointed with a Michelin approved place in Umbria. Later we figured out that they were resting on their laurels and had let their quality and service go down. Two people with us got sick later that night, one was a matyr and picked at the plate, I sent mine back.
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Old Oct 30th, 2005, 11:34 AM
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Absolutely. We picked a place in Venice based on reviews in several guides and the concierge in the hotel.

Well - the food was awful and the service pretentious and rude. (perhaps the chef was ill - or in a snit - I don;t know what excuse the waiters had).

But both appetiezrs and one main course were not what we ordered (the appetizer served to my eau was some sort of shrimp to which he was allergic - not the pasta he had ordered). And the one that was - supposdly a lightly sauteed white fish in a mild caper sauce was fried crunchy all the way through to the middle. We noticed diners at several other tables - one americn - but the rest Italian - were having similar types of problems. We ended up leaving without paying and going to a local pizza place recommended by one of the Italian diners leaving when we did.

The restaurant: Al Graspa d'Ua.
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Old Oct 30th, 2005, 12:12 PM
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Just remembered that we ate at Le Vieux Bistro in Paris on the basis of a guidebook recommendation, and the meal was terrible.
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Old Oct 30th, 2005, 12:44 PM
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I am always hesitant to even recommend a restaurant I love as a restaurant can have a bad night, the head chef can suddenly leave, ownership can change etc. One of my favorite restaurants in SF has had their head chef leave so until I eat there again I am afraid to even mention it to anyone visiting SF.

I do pay attention to recommendations but I still prefer to sort of check out restaurants ahead of time by walking into them the night before with the idea if they look good and the patrons all seem happy etc. I can make a reservation for the next evening. Or at least do the same during lunch time for a dinner reservation. A good way to find out if the restaurant has an "attitude" also.

I think when travelling we can all expect a few dissapointments. But hopefully none of us will get food poisoning!!
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Old Oct 30th, 2005, 01:00 PM
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The information you read in the very latest guidebook is probably a year old already. There have been times when the listed restaurant no longer existed. One time, I arrived to find out the restaurant had become a brothel!
Nowadays, I think message boards like this one are more on target.
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Old Oct 30th, 2005, 01:13 PM
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LOL Platzman...that was funny!!! But you are correct, guidebooks are old by the time they are printed and distributed. Now about that "not there restaurant" dissapointed or happy? Just being silly of course!! Take care.
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Old Oct 30th, 2005, 03:01 PM
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I use food guides and recommendations in trip reports to cross check. If four different sources agree it goes on my list. Only place I was disappointed was in Venice - Cips Club at the Hotel Ciprini (sp). The boat ride was great and the outdoor terrace was romantic. The appetizers were very good, but the wine I ordered was bad - it had turned and they would not believe me! That had never happened to me before and did not expect it at a restaurant of this caliber. They did replace the wine, but then the main courses came - they were incredibly bland - tasteless. Not a good experience also a very expensive experience.
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