OT: What was your worst meal?

Submitted by Wendyk5 on May 19th, 2017 at 2:57 PM

I previously asked you all what your last meal would be. Presumably, that would be your ideal best meal. Today, I'm wondering if you recall your worst meal. Mine was last night, at Next in Chicago. I still haven't gotten over how incredibly awful the food was. Every course, all 17 of them. The cooking is molecular gastronomy meets high concept, and the theme was Hollywood. Sounds great, but it wasn't. Here's a list of all the things I ate in one meal: 

popcorn, fennel, guanciale, meyer lemon, aerated cheese, bacon, crisped white rice, crisped black rice, watermelon, lime oil, trout roe, kiwi, coconut, turnip, an egg shell made out of invert sugar, fava beans, golden raisin puree, poppy seeds, sardines, octopus, scallop, peanut cream, black bean cream, oregano foam, caviar, unflavored aspic, pumpernickel toasts, madeira and orange aspic, almonds, frog legs, split peas, assorted ethiopian spices, rice noodles, duck, pickled ginger, scallop cracker, ricotta cheese, taro root, olives, red pepper, eggplant, smoked pork neck, beet puree made to look like blood, edible tin foil, garlic chips, wagyu beef, onion soubise, potato, cabbage, fried heart of palm, chives, foie gras, green strawberry, granola, strawberry jam, rhubarb, raspberry, black tea, cotton candy, butter cookies, fromage blanc, saffron, sarsaparilla, tonka bean, honeydew, menthol, spicy chocolate, cigarettes and coffee chocolate, celery root, basil, parsley, elderflower, miso, concord grape, honey, verjus rouge, bubble gum, verjus blanc, passion fruit, green tea, vanilla, green tomato, black walnut, paprika, olive, butternut squash, malt soda, tart cherry, blood orange, chicory, coffee, white chocolate, twizzler, mango, bitters, and maple syrup

So what was your worst meal? 



Blue Balls Afire

May 19th, 2017 at 4:04 PM ^

My time in South Quad featured Meatless Jambalaya quite frequently.  I had never heard of jambalaya before so I thought it was a made up funny sounding name for the dish, like, say, calling a green bean casserole a Fanabaloo or something.  It was some years later that I found out jambalaya was a real dish and not just a South Quad concoction.

L'Carpetron Do…

May 19th, 2017 at 4:17 PM ^

A hot dog was the worst meal I ever had.  Years ago when I was living on LI I worked some long awful day and was waiting for a late train at Penn Station. I had just missed a train and I  was late for a family party back at my folks' on the Island. I really wanted to eat something and  instead of getting a slice from the numerous Penn Station pizza joints (which are seem nasty but can be legitimately decent) for some reason I decided to get a hot dog from Nedick's, which was some kind of old-school poor-man's Nathan's.  It was gross.

As I tried to eat it and I looked at my surroundings and I thought 'this is the most soulless meal I've ever had'.

Hardware Sushi

May 19th, 2017 at 3:10 PM ^

IT HAS EVERYTHING: popcorn, fennel, guanciale, chocolate with cigarette burns, screaming babies in Mozart wigs, sunburned drifters wearing bubble bath beards. All that and a party room filled with human fire hydrants.


May 19th, 2017 at 3:19 PM ^

No, I took home the menus they gave us and marvelled at the all the ingredients they admitted to using. Then I filled in the gaps because they didn't list everything. Well, on the drinks, they did. One drink - a non-alcoholic juice-like concoction -  was green tomato, verjus rouge, black walnut, paprika, olive, and lapsang souchon tea.


May 19th, 2017 at 3:10 PM ^

Studying abroad in England, I ordered a cheese sandwich to tide me over until dinner. I got thin bread, one slice of cheese, and a layer of pickled onions about as thick as a whopper patty. I didn't even know pickled onions existed. I dry-heaved twice while typing this comment. Terrible experience


May 19th, 2017 at 3:10 PM ^

First sleepover at my BG Greg's house on Park rd in Pontiac Michigan (right behind the old Tel-Huron shopping plaza).  Anyways - all night Greg talked about breakfast and how his mom was going to make her world-famous blueberry pancakes the next morning in honor of my staying at the house.  These were allegedly the most amazing delicious flapjacks anyone has ever eaten and because of the compexity of the recipe and the difficulty in making them mom seldom, if ever, made them for the family.  Needless-to-say I was pretty damned pumped for these pancakes given the size and the frequency of the build-up.

Next morning comes (seemed like forever) and we're watching cartoons or something and I remember smelling something burning.  Like on fire burning.  And it was coming from the kitchen.   About one minute later we hear "breakfast's ready boys - I made the pancakes" and we run in.   Sitting on my plate, as God is my witness, was the single most burned pancake I've ever seen.  It was literally black and I'm pretty sure had smoke rolling off it.  Both mom and my BF Greg beamed with joy and they poured syrup on their charred piece of batter and dug in. 

I choked that thing down and took a drink of milk on every bite.  All the while my firend and him mom keep asking me "arent these just incredible" while they ate.  To this day I'm not entirely sure if it was just an enormous goof on me (it was 1971 so all the Jackass stuff was still far off in the future) or if mom had just successfully brainwashed my buddy into thinking flaming charred pancakes were somehow delicious if you put enough butter and syrup on them.


Hardware Sushi

May 19th, 2017 at 3:15 PM ^

My mom was always (unreasonably) worried about ground beef/pork making us sick so she forced my dad to turn all the burgers into hockey pucks and pork chops into what looked and tasted like crappy pork jerky.

That's what I thought they taste like for much of my childhood so I wouldn't put it past Greg's mom to brainwash him into thinking that's how pancakes taste.


May 19th, 2017 at 6:10 PM ^

I have a buddy who will take a well done steak and put in the microwave for 3 fucking minutes. Now, when the guys are together and we have steaks, we get him a burger or bologna sandwich or something. No one can stand to see what he does to a steak.


May 19th, 2017 at 3:23 PM ^

Go eat there now, with the Hollywood theme. I'm sure the Bistro theme, and the Alps theme, and the French Laundry theme were all great. The Hollywood theme is different. One course was smoked pork neck (that looked like digested cat food) with an edible tin foil pouch of beet puree that looked like blood. It was like eating cat colon cancer. 

Brown Bear

May 19th, 2017 at 3:27 PM ^

I don't care what it looks like as long as it tastes good. You described the looks of the dishes and not the taste.
And to say that one of the acclaimed restaurants of the country is your worst meal ever discredits your tastes. Maybe you didn't like it but I don't believe for one second it is your worst meal of your life.


May 20th, 2017 at 4:45 AM ^

Even the best places can do a bad menu.  I have access to perhaps the largest collection of top restuarants in any city in the world.  Some of that is because of experimentation, and sometimes that experimentation can go way way way off. 

I've had some prex fixe's that were just god awful at places I generally absolutely adore.  And they are usually at the places that push the boundries to create insanely great meals.  It is just sometimes they push it over the edge.  And so far it has't just been me, everyone in my party also thought it was discombobulated.  In one case I had a friend go back with another group to the same place with the same menu on a different day with the same reaction, so it wasn't just an off day. 


May 19th, 2017 at 3:55 PM ^

Trust me when I tell you it was the worst meal of my life. The mistake they made was not having a culinary frame of reference, like most of the other themes. Bistro: classic French dishes like onion soup and beef bourgignon. Alps: raclette and hearty stews. French Laundry: Butter poached lobster and Coffee and Doughnuts. Hollywood: cerebral interpretations of food seen in movies but not a literal translation. Not the McRoyale with cheese from Pulp Fiction, but wagyu beef (nicely prepared, by the way) smothered in an onion soubise which completely obscured the beef. Why would you do that to wagyu beef? The dessert, from Marie Antoinette, looked like, as a friend put it, the tray of a high chair after a baby is done eating. It was a tuft of cotton candy, raspberry gelee, a butter cookie, a pink sugar shell filled with fromage blanc sauce (awful), rhubarb dust, and globs of cashew butter messily strewn on a plate. Why not cake of some sort, deconstructed or the flavor of cake served in another form, for Marie Antoinette? Not creative; just wrong. For the Wizard of Oz, they served fava beans with a spiral of golden raisin puree (follow the yellow brick road) with poppy seeds and bits of sardine and romanesco sauce. Gustatorily, does not work. It's like listening to AC/DC, Miles Davis, and Mozart all at the same time, followed by Kiss, Elvis Presley, and Opera all at the same time. 


May 19th, 2017 at 8:06 PM ^

My point, now that I've had a few hours to think about it, was that while I think taste is subjective to a certain extent (I love cilantro, my husband hates it), I also know that I'm pretty educated compared to most. I've worked alongside a lot of talented people, and been exposed to a lot of different points of view, and a lot of damn good cooking that never even made it on to a menu. I'm not a rube who just didn't understand what I was eating. 


May 19th, 2017 at 5:23 PM ^

If you normally like chicken and pie when they are separate though, what turned out to cause this for me was an allergy to peas, or sometimes the soy protein used in soups that were used to make the filling. Without any of those, it suddenly became food again. Probably only worth a try if you know you have some food allergies already.


May 19th, 2017 at 3:17 PM ^

Ah, that sucks.  I went to Alinea last week and would advise you to try and get a reservation.  Oriole was another place I went to recently that I really liked.  It really is amazing how many great dining options we have available to us in Chicago.