When dining out, certain menu items seem to promise excitement but end up as mere wallflowers, often glanced over by patrons in favor of the familiar or tantalizing. Here’s a look at those 20 selections that linger in the background.
Clam chowder, with its creamy consistency and hearty ingredients, is a fixture in seafood and American-style restaurants. Despite its comforting qualities, many patrons find it too rich as a starter, particularly when there’s a desire to save room for the main course.
The Waldorf Salad is an icon of American cuisine, with a history dating back to the late 19th century. Its blend of apples, celery, grapes, and walnuts in a mayonnaise-based dressing offers a crunchy and creamy experience but this classic salad often gets bypassed for less mayonnaise-dependent alternatives.
Lobster bisque is synonymous with luxury, boasting a rich blend of lobster meat, cream, and sherry. While its sumptuous taste is undeniable, its typically steep price and filling nature often steer diners towards more economical and less dense choices, especially when considering space for an entrée.
Chicken Caesar Salad
The Chicken Caesar Salad, found nearly everywhere, from diners to high-end steakhouses, has become a victim of its own ubiquity. Though reliably tasty with its creamy dressing, parmesan cheese, and crunchy croutons, its omnipresence has rendered it mundane.
Ratatouille, a French provincial dish featuring a mélange of stewed vegetables, offers a taste of the Mediterranean with its tomatoes, zucchini, and eggplant. The vegetarian appeal is notable, but its simplistic preparation lacks the protein punch that many diners seek in a main dish.
Spinach Artichoke Dip
Spinach Artichoke Dip is a familiar appetizer, loved for its creamy and cheesy nature. It’s a staple for sharing, but as dining trends lean towards lighter, less filling starters that won’t spoil the appetite for the main attraction, this rich dip often remains on the menu as a less chosen option.
Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Broccoli Cheddar Soup is comfort in a bowl, with its velvety cheese enveloping tender broccoli florets. However, it’s often perceived as an indulgence rather than a healthy starter, with its high-calorie profile leading health-conscious guests to opt for soups that are broth-based and laden with more varied vegetables.
Shrimp Scampi is a garlicky and buttery dish that has a classic appeal. However, its straightforward preparation can seem lackluster against more modern or intricate seafood preparations. It is delicious but not exotic.
The Greek Salad, with its robust olives, feta cheese, and cucumbers, is a go-to for a refreshing starter. Despite its healthful ingredients, the intensity of its briny and sharp flavors can be too assertive for some, causing it to be frequently ignored in favor of milder or more diverse salad offerings.
Caprese Salad offers a simple yet elegant taste with ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil. While it’s a beloved Italian classic, its simplicity is also its downfall in the restaurant setting where diners are often looking for something they wouldn’t typically prepare at home, thus it’s commonly overlooked.
French Onion Soup
French Onion Soup, with its rich beef broth and caramelized onions topped with a generous slice of toasted bread and melted Gruyère cheese, is the epitome of a comfort dish. Despite its heartiness and depth of flavor, its heavy nature and potential for messiness (thanks to the stretchy cheese) often cause diners to skip over it in favor of a less heavy appetizer.
Fettuccine Alfredo is a classic Italian-American comfort food with its rich parmesan and butter sauce. Although this dish is a favorite comfort food for some, its lack of complexity and heavy, creamy texture make it less appealing for diners seeking a more balanced or adventurous Italian dish.
Chicken Alfredo Pizza
Chicken Alfredo Pizza takes the familiar flavors of fettuccine alfredo and transposes them onto a pizza crust, offering a creamy alternative to the traditional tomato-based pizzas. However, its richness can be a bit overwhelming, and its commonality on menus doesn’t help it stand out.
Stuffed Mushrooms are a delightful bite, with caps filled to the brim with an assortment of cheeses, breadcrumbs, and sometimes sausage. Despite their savory appeal, they are frequently outshone by flashier appetizers that boast more immediate flavor impact or a less predictable experience.
The Wedge Salad, with its chunk of iceberg lettuce, blue cheese, and bacon, is as straightforward as it gets. The simple flavor combo is often its undoing in the eyes of diners looking for a more complex or innovative salad experience, making it a less frequent choice.
Tuna Niçoise Salad
Tuna Niçoise Salad is a light and balanced meal with its combination of greens, potatoes, eggs, olives, and tuna. However, it’s a dish that requires an appreciation for its particular mix of textures and flavors, which doesn’t always align with the average diner’s palate, resulting in it being often overlooked.
Butternut Squash Ravioli
Butternut Squash Ravioli offers a sweet and nutty flavor that captures the essence of fall. Admittedly delicious, it tends to be pigeonholed as a seasonal delight and is overshadowed during other seasons by ravioli with more traditional fillings like cheese or meat, which diners gravitate towards year-round.
The Cobb Salad is a hearty option loaded with chicken, bacon, eggs, cheese, and avocado. It often loses out to more exotic or lighter salads that catch the diner’s eye with their novelty or healthful promises.
Linguine with Clam Sauce
Linguine with Clam Sauce is a dish that brings the sea to the table with its tender clams in a garlic and white wine sauce. It’s a risky choice for those not wholly committed to the idea of shellfish, and with so many pasta options available, it frequently gets bypassed.
Lemon Meringue Pie
Lemon Meringue Pie stands out with its bright citrus flavor and fluffy, toasted meringue topping. Yet, when it’s up against the indulgence of chocolate or the rich, creamy texture of cheesecake, this tangy dessert frequently gets passed over, as diners often prefer something a bit more decadent.
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