Chefs Share Red Flags About Restaurants

Chefs Share Red Flags About Restaurants

“If you can smell the seafood when you walk in, then it’s not fresh.”

It’s summertime, aka the best time to try out new restaurants. Unfortunately, sometimes we don’t know that a restaurant is trash until we get the check.

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Well, recently Reddit user u/LeafyQueefy asked chefs to share red flags that a restaurant might be low-quality — and some you can spot early on, so you can high-tail out of there.

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“Number one evaluation effect for me is smell. If it’s a sour smell or disinfectant smell — red flag.”



“Random, but if there’s a fish tank, take a look at it. If it’s clean, you can bet the kitchen is too.”


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“Dirty bathrooms and dirty floors equal dirty kitchen.”



“A huge menu is a sign that food is either frozen, precooked, and reheated — or ingredients are not very fresh.”


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“Ex-chef here, but weirdly, the setting. I’ve found if a restaurant puts effort into the ambiance, it’s normally an extension of their food. Not always, but it has been a pretty solid rule.”



“Where’s the manager and what are they doing? Do they look exhausted or are they upbeat, helpful, and engaging with their staff? Good managers tend to attract good staff which in turn leads to a good business. Bad management does exactly the opposite.”



“Carpet is a red flag — it’s quieter and doesn’t get slick, but it is one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever seen in restaurants. Vacuuming only goes so far.”



“The bread. It has to be good bread. If they can’t get the bread right, they don’t know anything. No chef in their right mind half-asses the bread.”



“Look at the wait staff’s name tags. People usually keep the same name tags the entire time they work there. There should be a little bit of wear and tear on them. If everyone has brand new name tags, that means they’re all new, and service is going to be slow and bad. It also shows that the restaurant isn’t good at staff retention and should make you question the quality of what you’re eating.”



“If you can smell the seafood when you walk in, then it’s not fresh. Fresh seafood doesn’t have that scent we usually associate with it — it doesn’t get that until it’s old.”


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“I tend to look down on fusion places as ‘jack of all trades, master of none.’ Everything might probably be passable at best. ‘Oh really?! You’re serving sushi, Thai, Chinese, Korean, and pho? Get outta here!’”



“If all anyone can talk about is the view, then you might as well go to a diner, the food is gonna be bad, exceedingly bad for what you’re going to pay. Seriously, I’ve never worked nor eaten anywhere with a ‘stunning view’ that didn’t serve lukewarm garbage at a highway robbery price.”



“Cheap ketchup on the table, or if they even let you see the ketchup brand.”


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“When you walk on the building and you aren’t greeted or nobody makes eye contact.”



“No matter how well managed a buffet is, it can never be sanitary. It is not reasonably possible to run a sanitary buffet business. This is true of salad bars, hot bars, desert bars, or whatever other kind of bulk food in a trough they are serving you.”



“Stock photos on the menu. Cheap silverware as well.”


Now, it’s YOUR turn! What are some signs you notice that scream, “This restaurant is gonna be bad”? Let me know in the comments below!