This year, as is our tradition, we have asked food writers and restaurant experts some questions, from restaurant stands, newcomers, the best word to describe the year in gastronomy, the best food, the surprises of the year and the Headline predictions for the next rich year. It is time to address your biggest restaurant complaints. The answers are related to each other in no particular order; all are cut, pasted and (mostly) unedited here. Readers, please include your survey responses in the comments.
Q: What was the biggest restaurant complaint in 2016?
Andra Zeppelin, eater Denver
The lack of social media decency among some restaurateurs, bartenders, waiters, and other members of the restaurant community. It is disappointing and cheesy to see direct or passive aggressive attacks or just snappy comments about guests, colleagues and food journalists or publications on social media. Hospitality is a lifestyle, a way of being, that is rooted in generosity, compassion, selflessness and grace in behavior. When that grace ends, when you clock out, I question its authenticity and see it as a reflection of the establishment that the person represents. I feel uncomfortable to patronize these places.
Laura Shunk, Westword contributor
The Denver industry needs to become more professional – I’d love to see restaurateurs work together to raise their own ambitions and raise the bar, and I’d like to see the industry take itself more seriously in order to empower hotel professionals with a real path. This would solve a lot of the service problems we see now, it could help tackle the hiring problems we see all over the city, and it would allow us to better nurture the talent that is leaving this city for the coast. It could also mess up the types of restaurants we see which would be a big bonus. I take responsibility here and would like the media to push this professionalization a little more energetically.
And to quote my friends at the Bread Bar, I’d like to see more restaurateurs focus on being good rather than conceptual – Denver feels like a land grab right now. It’s exciting, but there’s a lot of mediocrity that comes with being rushed.
Lauren Rapp, Westword Contributor
Landline for restaurants and bars. It seems like more and more stores are opening without a phone, and it’s quite difficult to get accurate information about a place if you can’t pick up the phone and call with specific questions. Also, what if a prospect has a key question in deciding where to dine? Or what if a guest misplaces something important but had to catch a flight before taking the opportunity to return? What if someone needs to speak to a manager to sing praises or provide feedback? I know landlines are a thing of the past for private individuals, but it seems business owners would benefit from promoting the good phone conversation. Websites can’t do everything.
Lori Midson, food editor for Denver Life Magazine
Service in Denver is still a minor matter, as is desserts. And I’m fed up with restaurant websites that are full of mistakes – grammar, spelling, and others. Come on, restaurateurs and chefs: it’s 2016. There’s no need to have a website that reads like it was written by a third grader. And can you please ensure that the information is current and relevant?
Callie Sumlin, assistant food editor for 5280 magazine
For me it was the inevitable sameness of all restaurant menus. The Brussels sprouts, octopus, crudo dishes etc that were everywhere. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoyed many of these articles. But sometimes it felt uninspired or superficial.
Denise Mickelsen, food editor for 5280 magazine
Service that is overly attentive or downright careless.
Gigi Sukin, Eater Contributor, CoBiz Editor
The service doesn’t get any better. There are the consistent standouts who get it right – but there are also plenty of low-piss attitudes in our restaurant scene.
Ruth Tobias, Zagat editor
For the past few years I have complained about the lack of tapas bars. We’ll be getting a few of these in 2017 so I can finally shut up. Another major complaint I’ve discussed on various forums over the years including Eater is that the Denver wine game has long lagged behind its beer and liquor game, with too many uninspired, interchangeable lists and too few servers serving the To get the necessary training, you will sell diner in lesser known regions and grape varieties. That has also changed recently – but we still have a way to go.
Rebecca Gart, Colorado Homes & Lifestyles Food Editor
Under-Achievers … I wanted to love Departure so much, but so far the only thing I really liked was the Departure wings. I’ll try again because I’ve heard from too many food experts that this place is the bomb. Waiting to be amazed.
Rebecca Treon, DiningOut editor
This Post Oak Hall is only open on Saturdays, and my favorite venues don’t deliver.
Adam Larkey, Eater Denver photographer
The general lack of price differentials in Denver. We need more non-chain options on the lower end of the price spectrum … more street food and opportunities for culinary startups to thrive.
Rachel Greiman, Eater Associate and Photographer
The price point “three dollar sign”. That means everything that is currently under a real fine dining experience. For some reason, restaurants that sit here aren’t exactly great. There are so many great things to eat in this city for less than $ 15. And if I’m spending $ 22 on something right, why not spend $ 30 on something overwhelming? Either grow up or go home.
Justin De La Rosa, freelance writer and contributor to the Denver Post
Howl. I understand it’s meant to give recommendations and a voice to diners, but many reviews set unrealistic or blind expectations of restaurants that honestly do their best. As any writer knows, we approach things objectively and visit a place a few times before we judge. Cooks, bartenders, and waiters don’t deserve the hot-take treatment. Give everyone a chance or two.
Josh Dinar, Editor of DiningOut
The Sorrow of Abundance: Too many great novelties to keep track of and still visit old favorites. The grief of high rents: Too many supraregional chain stores that open in our top-class inner cities endanger the uniqueness of a place.
Grace Boyle, contributor to Eater Denver
The closings of the Inventing Room and Z Cuisine.
Amanda Faison, freelance writer, former editor of 5280 Magazine
The loss of Patsys after 95 years was a heartbreak. So much history and so many memories within these walls. Meanwhile, forcing out of the Inventing Room was a twist of the knife that underscores how breakneck the Denver dining scene has become.