Dishes You Don't Eat Unless They Are Really, Really, Good?

See the topic. I place chicken fried steak in this category. I grew up with this, and am still looking for a respectable recipe that lives up to what I had as a kid. Even a search here doesn't turn one up. Great when good - horrible when less than good.

I'd also put meatloaf and strawberry shortcake in this category.

Can any of you make a decent CFS? I have faith in some of you because I've read your posts. It's been at least 15 years since I've had this dish because I keep passing it up in the dodgy places that offer it.

How about the rest of you? What don't you eat unless it's really good? You must have a snob dish.

Oh yeah - and Peach Cobbler. My major snob dish. Doesn't get any better than my gram's.

This message was edited Sep 17, 2008 8:23 PM

Houston, United States(Zone 9b)

What a great topic!

I don't eat dessert just because it's offered. The cookies or cake etc etc has to LOOK really good.

Rocky Mount, VA(Zone 7a)

Oysters, and Liver and a few other things are so easily overcooked, that the only way to prepare them seems to be to do it yourself.

I have been grocery shopping with friends who winced when I threw a package of Liver into the cart. Only too have them come back for seconds when it was prepared properly.

Not really into desserts, but there are some I like to sample because the presentation is so well done.

With the cold front that came through - the DW has requested chili for this weekend. This will be a feat in itself in this tiny apartment but I think I can handle the challenge. If not she will figure out where to eat out. And she will not find a finer pot of beans, meat & seasonings.

Plano, TX

i agree that some foods just have to be really good to eat and country fried steak is one of them--i only eat it at restaurants that i know have a very good one---there are other foods (ribs) that i just always like better when i order them at a restaurant than when i cook them--i like fish better cooked at a restaurant too--i only like good coffee--i am a coffee snob for sure

Durham, NC

Love this topic - I'm a coleslaw snob. Most places have truly horrible coleslaw.

Rocky Mount, VA(Zone 7a)

There are foods that I miss from earlier times in life, Cuban espresso in Key West, Pizza from the Staten Island ferry terminal in lower Manhattan, Darya's Steelhead trout buffet in Alaska, the list goes on and on. I feel blessed to have been able to have partaken of some of these culinary delights.

We all need food, but when it is special, it is more so, shared with special people.

Coming up on the second century, I can only hope to find more special food & the proper company to experience it with.

Rocky Mount, VA(Zone 7a)

Coleslaw! I used to rate restaurants by their coleslaw - I would have a cup of coffee & some coleslaw if the coleslaw was good I would eat there, if not - well there are more places up the street.

This was in Detroit / Dearborn around 1974.

Plano, TX

i agree with the cole slaw comments--i am a cole slaw snob too

Great responses! Liver is also on my "only-if-mommy-makes-it" list.

Also, there's something about Mac'n'cheese where it doesn't quite work if your mother didn't make it.

Missouri City, TX

Mac & Cheese - some places are great, and a whole bunch are so-so at best.

Liver & Onions - we both love it, but even at places we like it depends on the cook and the meat. Always if'y.

Chicken Fried Steak - one of the State Dishes of Texas - some are to die for and most have waaay too much batter and/or cold oil, so it comes out awful - even worse if they overcook it because the oil is cold.

Biscuits & Gravy - delightful when done right, and something that might clog a garbage disposal if wrong.

I like all kinds of cole slaw, but have found at least one that was horrid - and that was at a world famous BBQ restaurant.

Bubba, I was hoping you would chime-in with a decent CFS recipe.


I used to work in DC two blocks away from a guy that ran a pho place (go figure) and he also specialized in Cubano sandwiches. He had a line forming each day for lunch. He made an espresso that would knock you on your a--. And he didn't have the long lines at breakfast (unfortunately for him) but I recall him fondly.

Missouri City, TX

andidandi - I don't even try - LOL. We know a few restaurants that "have it down", so not worth the time to perfect our own. But I do have a funny story about CFS.

When the "oil patch" died in the mid-80's moved family to CO for a couple of years then to LA for a couple more before relocating back to the Houston area. On one of the road trips back, when we had been out of Texas for about a year, we stopped at a tiny town in the panhandle. There was a PO, a gas and general store, and a small 2 story motel with a restaurant. After six or so hours on the road we were hungry, and there were several PU trucks in the restaurant parking lot, so we stopped.

The waitress was friendly - hollered to us, "Just sit yourselves down anywhere, I'll be right there. Want some tea?"
We hollered back, " We'd love some, but unsweetened".
She brought quart sized glasses and a pitcher to the table with some menus.
A couple of minutes later, came back with another pitcher - first one was empty - and asked, "See anything you like?"
We said, "There's a bunch of things we like, but not what we want."
"Well, What's that?"
"Chicken Fried Steak - we can't get we are used to in Colorado."
"Shucks, darlin's, we don't have to put that on the menus in Texas - it's always available. So y'all want three orders. Want mashed or fries? Just set up the salad bar - h'ep yourselves".

That was one of the best CFS we ever ate.

Mena, AR(Zone 7a)

I had my best CFS in Texas also. It was in a restaurant just south of Waco TX on I 35. It was so good. Lots of truckers always look to see if trucks are parked at the restaurant. Sorry I can't remember the name of the restaurant. I have since married a man that loves to cook.....and his CFS are to die for. He will also make his own meat portions...pounding the beef out just so. I guess being a Texan is half the answer, no offence intended, to just how much you love CFS. Although we live in Arkansas now I still love CFS with a Texas origin. I think the waitresses make a certain difference in how much you enjoy your food. We will be on the road soon and will look for CFS.

Clay Center, KS(Zone 5b)

Our years in Southern Colorado (Trinidad, CO) left us with some real preferences in both Mexican and Italian cooking, but green chile, eggplant Parmesan, and marinara sauce were difficult to adjust to in the rest of our world. We are still reserved about ordering Italian or Mexican dishes. (Also, I agree, CFS and sausage gravy & biscuits are iffy) I know what I like in coleslaw when I eat it out, but don't have a good recipe...any suggestions? Bubba, I agree, some sausage gravy and biscuits would clog a garbage disposal!!) I once made the light remark, "how can you mess up breakfast?" and I promptly found out, and it has come back to haunt me too many times.

I didn't even think about Mexican food. There is one restaurant in the entire U.S. where I eat Mexican food.

Missouri City, TX

Mexican food:
There is Mex-Mex, Tex-Mex, Cal-Mex, NM-Mex - all different. And I really don't want to discuss CO-Mex.
It depends on what you were first exposed to. We had some Mexican imigrees who opened restaurants in Tulsa where I was first exposed, so they represented central Mexico's style. Since USAF brought me to TX, found what I really liked in San Antonio. And have had food from Yucatan, both coasts, high mountains, and other places in Mexico - again all different. California Mexican food is closeer to Texas style than others, but has its own twists, too. Really LOVE the albodigas (sp) soup (tiny meatballs with vegetables) that was a "house" tradition on many of the restaurants there. I have asked for it at some of our favorites, here. They understand, but do not make it.
There is one canned version that I know - Juanita's. It is good, but not great, and certainly not like the home made versions we got in the LA,CA basin. But there are some people that think Taco-Bell is Mexican food.

Very similar experiences. If all you are exposed to was Chef-Boy-R-De, or that sort of canned food, you may not like real Italian food. Fortunately for me, my step-dad knew lots of restauranteurs so I was introduced to some wonderful Italian food as a child.

Same with me. A Mexican place in OKC is the only one I will go to. Unfortunately I get there about once every five years. And I recall a trip to Italy as a kid where I first realized that having everything covered in thick tomato sauce is not the way it's done.

And if you're talking fast food burger, and ice cream, it's all about Braum's.

Missouri City, TX

You are an Okie - Braum's was my mom's favorite.

By birth, but I don't get back too often these days. I recall those places fondly.

This message was edited Sep 24, 2008 1:45 PM


This message was edited Sep 24, 2008 6:24 PM

This message was edited Oct 3, 2008 2:17 PM

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

For me the dishes that I am a snob about are fried shrimp and fried oysters and fried soft shell crabs. Need I say that I am from New Orleans. I get so hungry for all of them that every now and then I try them here in New Mexico in a really good restaurant or maybe even some coastal town, in the East or West or even Europe.
There is nothing like good fried shrimp, oysters and soft shelled crabs and there are very few places that know how to make them so the batter isn't to thick, the seafood is fresh, and they aren't over cooked. It sounds easy but its like playing really good piano. If you don't do it regularly you won't be able to do a decent job. Sigh.

Plano, TX

oh i would love some soft shell crabs right about now! we do have a good sea food restaurant that has them but they have to be in season-and i think in season is the spring--oh well------oh and fried oysters------------just love them but yes they have to be done right and fresh--

Goldthwaite, TX(Zone 8a)

The secret to CFS is the meat! Forget the Round. Use Thin Sliced Sirloin instead.
I too am a coffee snob, but most would not like my coffee.I learned to drink coffee the way my grandfather, an old time cowboy, wanted his. Lots of coffee grounds and a little water.
Dyson, i've made it to the3/4 century (lacking2months) and hoping to continue finding good eats and people for another 1/4 at least. So lift a glass to fine food, whatever it is.

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

I am not quite to the 3/4 century mark but am well past the 1/2 century mark and I am with you in lifting my glass to fine food, wherever it is.

Missouri City, TX

Here, here to fine dining!!

S of Lake Ontario, NY(Zone 6a)

Great thread! My DH tells me that restaurants hate to see me coming because I am so picky. I'm really not, just don't like to pay for something I could have made better myself!

Missouri City, TX

Even something many think is simple - hamburgers - can be ruined by the wrong cooks. DW & I went to a place that had several different meats - elk, kangroo, emu, etc. Ordered two different burgers, so compare the flavor of the differences - both were so overcooked, the patties may as well have been some old shoe leather - no flavor left at all.

We wound up winning #1 in Hamburgers on CitySearch this year - yippee!

All of our staff really enjoy producing a quality product. One of our newest employees has a burger he wants us to add to the menu - it is really good, so just might do that. He modified our mushroom-jack with some of our specialty products. We will have to figure out the correct price for it, first - extra product and labor is involved.

Katy, TX(Zone 8b)

I, too, am a food snob for the right kind of food. Unfortunately, I don't like some of the spices that make Tex-Mex , Tex-Mex so I stick w/fajitas w/o bell peppers or onions. (The stomach rebels at these 2 foods and so does the nose.) Love good cfs if it is cooked in deep fat and floated so that the food never touches the bottom to take the coating off. No reason to have too thick a coat. Same thing w/fried seafood. My criteria for a good seafood place is if they can deep fry shrimp w/o all the coating that makes a salad shrimp look like a super colossal sized one. Friends, cornstarch is a much underrated coating if it comes well seasoned. Having left the 3/4 century age far behind leaves me w/a kind of touchy stomach. It's ok at the time of eating but a few hours later I am paying for my mistakes. Fried onion rings! thin and lightly coated. Wonderful and deadly. Artichokes, asparagus and avocado - my 3 favorite foods and they hate me! I can eat my weight in bacon, sausage, crisp waffles, fluffy pancakes w/butter and syrup and throw in a breakfast pork chop and I'm in heaven all day and night. We love each other. Same for fried gizzards or any fried chicken or seafood. Gosh but I get hungry!!!!!


Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

Yes, I agree, plantladyhou, most fried seafood have way too much breading. I like cornstarch as a coating myself -- learned it from Chinese cooking. Crisp but light. Beer batter -- puffs up whatever it is cooked in to look like more than it is, but it is very disappointing when one bites into air!
Luckily, my stomach is still good. I hope it stays that way. I feel for you not being able to eat all those veggies. I love fried foods but try to avoid them because they do add pounds and cholesterol.

S of Lake Ontario, NY(Zone 6a)

Do you use cornstarch just like flour?

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

Yes. And fry it like you would flour coated stuff, but it is a little finer than flour. I also like shrimp breaded with flour. It is a lot tastier than most batters.
Another kind of food I am a snob about is Thai food. I took a Thai cooking class and then a one month tour of Thailand and I can barely stand to eat Thai food in a restaurant. They don't use enough of the herbs and spices the Thais are so fond of and generally don't put in hot enough chile -- although you can request hotter chile in most Thai restaurants. Ask for medium or level 5 if you want your Thai food a little hot. Only ask for hot if you have tried medium and found it inadequate. Hot in Thai food can be off the heat scale! I knew a guy who didn't know anything about Thai food who went to a Thai restaurant and asked for hot -- he said he couldn't eat anything but the peanuts!

Carson City, NV(Zone 6b)

After a few years in Alaska I can no longer tolerate most seafood because it all tastes old to me. When the restaurant has a dock out back for deliveries straight off the local boats, you know that fish is fresh. Strong flavored fish like salmon seems to smell funky the fastest.

DH loves fish and loves spicy food. A couple of years ago we were driving around the Yucatan, tired and hungry and trying to find a place to eat. We ended up in the working class neighborhood of a very snooty tourist town and stopped at the first restaurant we saw. It turned out to be a fish place with the best darned Veracruz style fish and hottest habenero salsa we had ever tasted. We probably wouldn't have found anything that good around the hotels and resorts a few miles away!

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

Yes, cooking for tourists is often tired and sad -- because they are too unadventurous to try the local stuff. That works great in Mexico as long as you stay off the fresh veggies and water and ice.

I do not care for salmon and friends had told me that if I ate salmon from Alaska or Washington State, I would. I agree it is very funky tasting everywhere else. Oddly enough though, I like raw salmon sushi. I think most sushi places, of necessity, buy high quality fish. Also, I am thinking cooking may emphasize that strong flavor in fish.

Anyhow, I am definitely a sea food snob because I grew up in New Orleans and had fabulous sea food all my life. Here in New Mexico, I eat little fish even though we get a lot of fish that is pretty good because it is flown in. Still, I don't usually eat it. My husband though doesn't mind a bit.

I don't know if you read The Shipping News by Annie Proulx. The guy moves to Newfoundland and can't find anything worth eating there except for the squid burger. After much nervous apprehension, he gets used to them and recommends them to others. It is very funny.

Missouri City, TX

We learned almost 4 decades ago when traveling in Mexico - find a restaurant packed with "locals" and you will find good food and reasonable prices. Very few of them had Sanborn's or other tourist approval signs. Most places that displayed them were $$$ higher, with less service and concern for their patrons or food.

Plano, TX

my father always said he liked a good hamburger better than a steak--well now i say the same thing--there is nothing quite as good as a "good burger" and how i wish i could taste your award winning burgers bubba! i just know i would be a repeat customer! so what is the secret to a really good burger?

S of Lake Ontario, NY(Zone 6a)

A good burger is definitely better than a steak! My favorite food.

Missouri City, TX

Planolinda, it is a whole lot of little things that make our products work.
Proper training of employees - "Only ONE WAY to do things" - the way the tickets are coded, the way the buns and meat are cooked, the way the condiments and vegetables are assembled. Look and look again to be sure that what you are making is exactly what the customer ordered - right meat, right bun, right cheese, right veggies and sauces, right packaging (here or to-go).

BTW, we don't just pay minimum wage - if that's all you are worth, we do NOT have a place for you.

I have a philosophy - There are no bad jobs - any job can be done with pride, professionalism, and proficiency.
So we laugh at those who say, if you don't get a good education, you'll just wind up flipping burgers. Our staff may be the highest educated group of burger flippers around - majority are college educated, some with advanced degrees.

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

Congratulations Bubba, on understanding that wages don't determine a person's worth, but it is pretty hard to get a decent worker if you don't pay a decent wage. And thanks for taking pride in the humble hamburger which can be a truly outstanding dish. I don't eat many of them any more because most that you buy are over or undercooked and half the time don't even come with veggies. A hamburger patty cooked any which way and a white bread bun just doesn't whet my appetite. But a really well prepared burger is still heaven as far as I am concerned.

Missouri City, TX

Quality products help, too. We use a local custom bakery, and are very selective about our meet and produce vendors - have used the same vendors for years. And they are customers, too.

Our vegetable vendor used to have a place just a couple of blocks away - now many miles away, but several times a year, pre-orders burgers for his entire crew, and has one of his delivery drivres pick them up. He also brings his family by for a weekend meal quite often.

After "Ike" hit we had the busiest week ever - one again (like "Rita") we were one of the few restaurants with power, so became an oasis for many. And I thank those who were first-time customers, that are now regulars.

Post a Reply to this Thread

Please or sign up to post.