Hip food items have a way of eventually becoming pedestrian and worn out, even if they taste great. This happens every few years when trendy foodstuffs and dishes seemingly end up–in some form or another–on every menu in America. As a restaurant critic, I’ve seen originality get thrown out the window when chefs bow to the pressure of diners who demand dishes that have outlived their usefulness, at least for now. Of course, in order to put butts in seats, you gotta give them what they want. But, c’mon, enough already with the hummus.
1) Hummus is Pureed Chickpeas; Humus is Dirt
Creamy chickpeas with tahini, garlic, olive oil, and lemon is no doubt a winning amalgamation of flavors. This Mediterranean dip (hummus bi tahina) used to be relegated to falafel shops and hippie cafes, but when it started showing up in steakhouses and at state fairs, you knew it was time to give it a rest. And then there are annoying menu claims such as “best hummus in town,” when it’s usually no better than the pasty stuff served at the place next door.
|Enough with the Hummus already.|
2) Fish Tacos? Not Again
This popular Mexican dish used to be fun. While grilled or deep-fried fish (depending on what Mexican seaboard you’re talking about) plopped on a warm corn tortilla with salsa, white cheese, and lettuce has its merits, it’s unfortunately been overplayed like a bad Mariah Carey song in recent years. We’ve all perused menus, at just about every kind of restaurant these days, thinking that pescado sounds good, only to be let down by some status quo fish tacos (often made with low-grade mahi mahi, called dorado in Mexico.) dripping with cloyingly sweet fruit salsa, next to goopy refried beans and parched Mexi-rice. Sound familiar?
3) Portobello Mushrooms? Must Be Fancy
Hate to ruin a good thing, but portobello mushrooms are really just overgrown cremini mushrooms that used to be thrown away by fungi farmers until some genius gave them a fancy name and a culinary purpose, in order to make a buck. Since portobello or portobella are made-up words, solely for marketing reasons, either spelling works for this dense mushroom that seems to be everywhere. It’s true that a properly grilled portobello cap has a steak-like consistency, but, please, let’s call it quits on the elevated status of this overrated shroom. Dare to be different and try shiitake or oyster mushrooms every once in a while.
|There’s nothing special about it.|
4) What the Hell is a Hanger Steak?
Things don’t change much in the realm of beef butchering, yet it’s funny how certain cuts of beef that were once considered undesirable suddenly become in vogue with restaurant diners. Hanger steaks and flat iron steaks are good examples of beef cuts that are currently experiencing a buzz. Hanger steaks, from a cut that “hangs” between the rib and loin on the underside of a steer, are pervasive in the new millennium. Granted it’s a flavorful strip of meat, yet hanger steak needs to be marinated or tenderized. I’ve been served lots of tough hanger steaks, and I can tell you it’s kind of like chewing on a wad of rubber bands.
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