This is the third installment of "Eat This List" - a regularly recurring list of things chefs, farmers, writers and other food experts think you ought to know about.
Yesterday, I was happily slurping away at my noodle and bok choy soup, when suddenly I felt it: sand rasping against my molars. I pushed the bowl away and swished my mouth out with a few tall glasses of water, but I was haunted by phantom gravel for the rest of the day.
Yes, there are far more pressing issues in the world than a little bit of foreign matter in my food, but we've all got our issues. When a restaurant can't take the time to properly rinse its greens, I can't help but wonder what else they're skimping on. I have an intense and visceral reaction to the feeling of grit in my food and if I do happen to return to a restaurant where that happened, I find myself bracing before each bite. It's mostly easier for me not to return.
Was I too easily aggrieved? I turned to Twitter to ask people what might cause them to cross a restaurant off their list. The answers came in fast and furious from food writers, chefs, servers and diners alike.
Here are a few of the most frequently mentioned or just plain nasty restaurant turnoffs:
1. Butt out!
Say what? The New Orleans chef clarified.
2. Hairy situation
The frequency of errant hair might be why planting it is a go-to trick of dirty-dealing diners looking to get their meals comped.
3. Beastly bathrooms
(And yet, that doesn't stop some people from going ahead and chowing down in a stall.)
4. He who smelt it...should get the heck out!
5. Halt the salt! Or, conversely, don't be stingy
Chef Wong knows of what she speaks. Not only did she finish in the top four of her season of Top Chef - in her subsequent tenure as culinary producer of the show, she saw her fair share of cheftestants pack their knives and go home for the crime of insufficient seasoning.
6. Pasta that's a flop
7. Worst of all: service with a shrug
Your turn: what's on your personal menu of verboten restaurant behavior? Unburden yourself in the comments below and we'll share the biggest offenders in an upcoming feature.
Previously - Eat This List: Food resolutions for 2013
Got someone you want to hear from? Let us know in the comments and we'll try to track them down.
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