Those of you who have been receiving my newsletter or reading my Blog articles on EastBayHomesAndLifestyle.com know that I have been reviewing restaurants in the East Bay and beyond for many years. In the main, I have been favorably impressed and have found no shortage of such places to review but in recent times, I have noted a disturbing trend:
It’s Hard To Get A Proper Meal In A Restaurant Any More
There have been some really attractive restaurants opened in Walnut Creek, Danville, Lamorinda and other areas in the past year or so. Beautiful and imaginative surroundings and decor, attractive outside seating areas, designer color schemes, subdued lighting, trendy furnishings etc. Some of these places have cost a small fortune to set up.
You would have thought they may have taken the same trouble to get the menus right.
The problems I have experienced fall into two quite different areas. First (and most common), a total lack of imagination and/or individuality. How many pizza or pasta restaurants can Danville, for example, support? Do we really need more? How about something a little more interesting, perhaps a French or Spanish themed bistro, for example, or a fish restaurant. An English pub wouldn’t be a bad idea, either, something like the Crown used to be before it went into decline. And I’m sure I am not the only one to mourn the decline of Mudd’s Restaurant in San Ramon. There, you could always be assured of a menu with a few interesting entrees.
Another example of lack of imagination is the fact that so many restaurants have similar menus. How often do you look at the menu and see two or three salads including the ubiquitous Caesar, grilled salmon, braised short ribs, a prawn or scallops entree, a pork steak and a filet mignon or New York Steak. If you are lucky, you may also see a duck dish (never roasted though – always duck leg confit or seared duck breast). Supposed fine dining restaurants increasingly offer a range of burgers and even Mac ‘n Cheese. Not just on kids’ menus either!
Twice The Price For Half The Food!
The other issue where I have a problem is Pretentiousness – spelled deliberately with a capital P. Small plates masquerading as entrees just don’t cut it. An entree should be a meal of such a size that I can eat it without needing to have an appetizer and a dessert to stave away my hunger pangs. That is not to say that I expect a meal of the size I might get in Denny’s But a normal sized dinner plate artfully decorated with a few wafer thin slices of duck breast, some arugula and a drizzling of port wine sauce is just not acceptable. Would it kill you to provide a few vegetables or would that spoil the artistic composition? How is it that serving me less food gives you the right to charge double the price just for an artistic presentation?
Now I am not saying that all of the newer restaurants fall into these categories as many of you will appreciate, having read my reviews. It is an increasing trend though, and I believe the majority of them do. I am not just being critical without any foundation as Sylvia and I had a restaurant in a previous existence, so to speak, and we know what kind of food can be produced that pleases people, even when you have a tiny kitchen and limited staff.
What Do You Think Of The Newer East Bay Restaurants?
Do you share my opinion on today’s new restaurant trends? I would love to see your comments. You will see that I have deliberately not mentioned any restaurants by name, but I imagine you will be able to figure out some that fit my description and If you want to mention any in your comments, then feel free. In particular, if there are any restaurants you feel that I should visit soon and review, please let me know
You may wonder why I haven’t written a review of any of the restaurants I allude to. Have I even visited them? The fact is, I won’t write a bad review for a restaurant so you won’t see me reviewing them but there are also a few I haven’t gotten around to visiting yet, often because they are so busy and (in Walnut Creek in particular) because parking is such a pain.