Before I get into what is the closest thing to a rant you're likely to find on this blog, I must preface my list by stressing that these are purely personal peeves so feel free to shoot me down and add your own comments if you wish. So in no particular order, the top five issues which make my heart sink when I open a menu are as follows:
1. FARMED MEDITERRANEAN SEA BASS
I know it's cheap, but it's also flabby and tasteless. We have cheap local fish in Ireland like mackerel, gurnard & pollock. They are wild, far tastier and you'll be supporting Irish fishermen to boot. If you're serious about your menu, do us a favour and leave the bass in the Med!
2. SAME OLD VEGGIE OPTION
I've nothing against beetroot and/or goats cheese but seriously....give them a break for a while! There are thousands of great vegetarian dishes that do not involve the usual suspects. Your veggie option should be attractive enough for meat eaters to want to order it.
3. OUT OF SEASON INGREDIENTS
So your opening menu blurb tells me about your dedication to using local produce in season. Then why are you using asparagus in October? All too often Irish restaurants, even some good ones, leave produce on all year round yet still spout about their "seasonal" ethos.
4. BLACK PUDDING & EGGS
If it's not breakfast or brunch, these have no place on your menu unless you're a café. I'm completely over the black pudding/scallop combo and also the egg cooked for hours in a water bath. They are cheap, require no preparation, and are the last bastion of the lazy restaurant chef in my opinion.
Whether it's new Nordic, foraged weeds, or molecular gastronomy, some chefs can't seem to help jumping on the latest band wagon. It NEVER works. You become the culinary equivalent of a karaoke singer! Use the freshest ingredients you can find, cook from the heart, find your own style, and you won't go too far wrong.
So that's my tuppenceworth! Let me know if you agree or disagree and if you have any you would like add in.