Happy Groundhog Day! Now let's stop repeating these things on menus

Categories: The List

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Stop it. Seriously.
Groundhog Day may be officially devoted to celebrating a rodent that allegedly has some sort of ability to predict the onset of spring (and we think he's wrong, because despite Phil not seeing his shadow this morning, it's negative degrees outside and very much still winter). But unofficially, it's a celebration of Bill Murray, who made the holiday important by starring in an awesomely hilarious film in which he was doomed to repeat February 2 over and over and over again.

In honor of Murray's character's plight, we've pulled out five items that keep mercilessly repeating themselves on menus -- and need to go. Now.

1. Sliders
Small things are cute and all, but we've about reached our limit with tiny burgers, which are looking really tired on starters lists. Especially because the whole gourmet burger trend is also commanding plenty of (occasionally annoying) attention. At this point, we don't ever want to see a tiny sandwich again unless it's gracing a lovely silver platter at an English high tea.

2. Truffle oil
With all the flak truffle oil has gotten from the restaurant community at large, we're shocked that it's still around. But we keep finding dishes that reek of the sickly, pungent stuff -- sometimes reek so badly of the stuff that we've had to abandon a dish after two bites.If you must use truffle oil -- and sometimes you must, we suppose -- remember that a very little goes a long, long way.

3. Butternut squash soup
We love butternut squash soup in the winter. It's warming. It's delicious. It's also on practically every menu in town, from the Wolfgang Puck's at the airport to high-end dining establishments downtown. And unfortunately, almost all of these are the same standard, butternut squash soup. So while we love butternut squash soup, after eating the same dish for two months, we're ready to pour it down the nearest prairie-dog hole.

4. The poached egg garnish
Yes, a poached egg can add something magical to a dish. But that doesn't mean it should be used promiscuously, spilling yolk on everything from parsnips to pancetta to polenta. We're tired of glancing down a menu, only to say, "Oh, yep, there's the poached egg dish, of course." So we propose a moratorium, temporarily sidelining this ingredient for a while unless it's topping an English muffin for a proper eggs Benedict. Then, when it's really magic time, we'll bring it back.

5. The beet-goat cheese-hazelnut combo
Okay, we get it. Beets, goat cheese and hazelnuts go together. Really go together. They're a classic combo, like peanut butter and jelly, chips and salsa, wine and cheese, beer and, uh, more beer. The ingredients are harmonious, and seem made for each other. A couple of years ago, that was a revelation. Now we just feel like we're getting beaten over the head -- by beet-goat cheese-hazelnut combos.

Bonus Groundhog Day complaint: Can we all agree that it's time to ditch the 18 percent auto-gratuity for parties over six that's so carefully scripted at the bottom of many menus in town? We know from our days of waiting tables that nine times out of ten, those policies just screw the server out of an extra 2 percent, since most large parties default to 20 percent on their own. And whether we'd rather over-tip or send a message by leaving less, not being given the privilege of making our own assessment of the service is just annoying.

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12 comments
DenverScener
DenverScener

First - Sliders where never a trend, just tiny appetizer burgers that have been around for 10-15 years.

Second - Beet Salads Rule especially with goat cheese and some type of nut.

Third - Can you write about Denver restaurants or food? Trends? this isn't fuckin Cosmo.

Jon S
Jon S

Apparently kabocha is the new "it" winter squash. I've noticed kabocha squash soups popping up in place of butternut on a lot of menus. Besides still not being that original, it's annoying to hear the various pronunciation butcherings from the servers.

ScubaSteve
ScubaSteve

I don't even know why restaurants call those little burgers "sliders". In the military, a hamburger was called a slider because the burger patty on the grill actually slid. The beef patties used in the military have a lot of fat in them and when you have about 3 dozen beef patties cooking on the grill, the fat accumulates on the grill and the patties slide around when you flip them or take them off of the grill. So I really don't know why those burgers are called sliders. Restaurants will call any small sandwich a slider. I don't get it.

offdisc
offdisc

Thanks Kyle, for another enlightening posting that should be called "why I don't belong in this business".Oh, wait, this was Laura. Wow! Stop taking lessons from Kyle!

Seriously, you are a restaurant critic -- or at least trying to be. I've been a 'benefit of the doubt' supporter of your reviews; no Sheehan, but you've got your own style; OK.

Now you decide to rant about 'trends' that need to go -- but nearly every one includes a line of the ilk "it's really good and everyone likes it, but you've got to stop". Really? If you walked into a restaurant that offered lemonade but no water "because everyone else offers water", I bet dollars to donuts that you'd ding them hard! If everyone else does something that you want to also do, just do it better!

Case in point: Butternut Squash soup. Yes, it is everywhere. And Yes, some do it poorly. But, I don't want *everyone* to remove it from there menu --- because it's a pain in the *ss to make at home! Just do it better, or not at all.

Don't cut off the nose to spite the face. I WANT to be able to find it *somewhere* out there. And if only the BEST survive? Yea Me!

max
max

I want to open a restaurant called tiny buns. No more "sliders" just tiny buns. Just as ubiquitous as the slider, but a way more catchy name.

bgreen
bgreen

Have we not seen this list before?

DenverScener
DenverScener

I thought that was the end of the Ritz cracker trend?

Mantonat
Mantonat

Butternut squash soup is probably one of the single easiest (and cheapest) dishes to make at home. That's probably why it's on so many menus; it's dirt cheap for restaurants, it's hard to screw up, it has like four ingredients, and they can charge $7.50 for a bowl. I'm with Laura on this one. I'll make my butternut squash soup at home and save my $7.50 for a soup that's a little more original or creative.

Tyler
Tyler

This is an interesting point. But isn't there something to be said for doing the best preparation for a fantastic ingredient in season? And also, if it's only four ingredients (which it should be), then it does take some technique and talent to make it truly delicious. The creativity may, or may not, lie in the garnish of it. Of course, there are plenty of other fantastic things you can do with winter squash, but a soup or puree suits it maybe better than anything.

Tyler
Tyler

Or, Mantonat, butternut squash paint, poached quail egg, truffled mac and cheese bubbles with bacon fat powder.

Mantonat
Mantonat

I'd like to see chefs get more create with butternut squash. Maybe butternut sliders drizzled with truffle oil topped with a nice jiggly poached egg!

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