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? 




May 19th, 2017 at 4:04 PM ^

The wife and I had dinner at Lena (missing the tilda on the "n") Brava last weekend.  Wonderful meal.  Rick Bayless does it again.  The pineapple and avocado dishes were excellent.  Very light and refreshing like good summer food should be.  I had the halibut as my main course and it was some of the best fish I've ever had.  We will be going back.  The cocktails were pretty interesting too.

Brown Bear

May 19th, 2017 at 3:18 PM ^

I ate at Grace a few weeks back here in Chicago. Meal of a lifetime.
Worst meal ever was from the Big State here as well. Mexican food. How do you screw up Mexican food? Well they did. Terrible.


May 19th, 2017 at 4:21 PM ^

Hey Brown Bear, a friend recommended Goosefoot Chicago if you like Next. I can't vouch for it personally, but it looks interesting. By the way, I'm curious where your girlfriend works. I just met a woman who used to do pastry at Frontera. That sounded like fun. 


May 19th, 2017 at 4:38 PM ^

I had a decent experience there, but it seemed a bit overhyped.  A similarly themed but better experience was Elizabeth - I've been 3 times and it has always been great.

As for small footprint, northside restaurants, I had dinner at mfk for the first time in a while this week and it was great.


May 20th, 2017 at 4:51 AM ^

In the midwest?  Mexican food is generally terrible.  Don't quite know why, but haven't ever found decent mexican food in the midwest.  Even places with good reputations tend to be terrible, esp compared to what I can get from just about any road side stand/truck here. 


May 19th, 2017 at 3:21 PM ^

This is actually the second worse meal. The first, I will tell about in another post. This particular meal, while not quite the worst, was the most memorable.

So, back in 1989, I spent six months in Korea. I took a couple classes at Yonsei University, and also a few at Luther Seminary about an hour south of Seoul. There were four of us in Seminary doing a term overseas with a Korean professor. One of the other 3 guys was ALWAYS ribbing some of our Korean fellow students about when we were going to have roast dog. And they decided to really pull his chain, once and for all.

They (the Korean guys, all of whom were previous ROK army,) invited the 4 of us Americans to go out for a special meal. It was kind of a situation where saying no wasn't an option. We literally went out to buy a live dog, which was sold by someone who provided dogs for food. The former ROK guys strung the dog up until dead, and then burned off the fur. (I would post pictures, but I don't want to go to Bolivia.) Then they butched the dog. We were out in the forest for this special picnic event.

As part of butchering, they cut up and served the dog liver raw as a delicacy, with a bit of salt. That in itself is something I'll never forget. With a huge cast iron pot, over a camp fire, they stewed the dog with various spices and garlic and kimchi and pepper for hours, and we had dog stew with rice. I will tell you, dog does not taste like chicken. Not at all. It had a peculiar flavor, that just wasn't pleasant. Kind of greasy and gamey.

I like venison. I like fish. I like raw fish (sushi.) I have eaten antelope, and frog, and bison. I have had barbecued squirrel in East Texas. I love steak tartare. But if I never have dog stew again, I won't miss it.

Addendum:  while in Korea, I had sushi and sashimi and many occasions. Loved it. Very fresh, very good. The one odd sushi memory, though, was having octopus sushi. The chef literally pulled a live octopus out of a tank, and cut it up. And while eating it, tentacles still squirming, one of the suckers grabbed onto my lip going down.

Hardware Sushi

May 19th, 2017 at 3:39 PM ^

I've had live scallops and clams as well as fish and octopus that was still moving and it never bothered me, but eating dog would be too much. I've heard it's really greasy - like eating the fattiest part of goat with a strong gamey taste.

The mental part plus the taste is too much for me. One of the only foods I'm not willing to try once.


May 19th, 2017 at 3:32 PM ^

My mother in law will make mostaccioli with ground turkey instead of sausage, ketchup instead of tomato sauce, and american cheese instead mozzarella.  My wife's family thinks it's delicious, but I'm not even Italian and I know it's just wrong.


May 22nd, 2017 at 4:05 PM ^

I know right.  I'm pretty sure it is a passed down "depression" meal that my MIL subbed turkey in for beef from.  I know she grew up in rough circumstances but ketchup for tomato sauce is not something, God willing, I plan on feeding my kids.


May 19th, 2017 at 3:25 PM ^

How can you mess up such a fantastic meal? I ordered a Shepherd's Pie from an Irish pub on 3rd Ave in NYC. Mixed up the meat and potatoes. Finished 3/4 of the meal and see a blue paper on the bottom of the bowl. Go in for closer inspection and its an unopened sugar packet. Bring it to the waiter's attention and he goes "we don't even have sugar packets here." 


May 19th, 2017 at 3:39 PM ^

Boiled Rabbit in survival training, flavored with dandelions and other plants we could scrounge up.  We were told to boil it because that is the best way to capture all of the nutrients from the rabbit(still convinced that was bullshit and no, I don't particularly want to look it up as I am never eating this again) and boiled rabbit is awful.  Even though most of us hadn't really eaten that week and only had one rabbit to share between the ten of us we still had a tough time finishing it off.  

Squid on a stick in Japan from a street vendor was also an experience I am not especially eager to repeat and I really like street food in Asia.

As far as restaurant meals, I've got nothing truly awful but I find if I am in a touristy, but somewhat out of the way place, like the Oregon coast or up in Mackinac City or Munising in the UP then going to a sit-down restaurant is likely to be regrettable.  

MMB 82

May 19th, 2017 at 3:37 PM ^

a 3-star restaurant in Chicago; I had done some consulting work and was given a gift certificate for a dinner for two back in the 90's. They didn't take reservations, they had seatings. We opted for the 7:45 PM seating, which we had to arrange 5 weeks in advance. The restaurant was in a house off Armitage Ave. Kind of like in a living room, with everything in hushed tones, almost like a church. They did not have a menu, they had a choice of dégustations; either regular or vegetarian. Back then my wife and I didn't drink, but that would have been a good evening to start. We made the huge mistake of arriving hungry, what did we know? After seating us and taking our order, they offered us some bread. About a half hour later, the first course of the dégustation arrived. I don't remember what it was, and I am sure it was very good, but at this point we were so hungry we just kinda wolfed it down. It was small and nouveau cuisine, FWIW. Fortunately they gave us more bread, because we asked. About 25 minutes later, the second course arrived; again some sort of wonderfully prepared appetizer-like item. Again we were too hungry to appreciate it. By this time we noticed that we were served about 7-8 minutes after the foursome to our right, who were a pair of couples from Dallas who had made a special trip to Chicago and seemed very wealthy. Because of this, we were able to determine that we had missed a course, and they haughtly brought it out to us late when we mentioned this. The whole affair continued on into the night, and gradually all conversation in the room died. My wife, a journalist voted Most Talkative in her class, for the first and only time in the 30 years I have known her ran out of things to say. Finally I said to the room, "I am looking forward to having my coffee, and going outside to watch the sun rise!" The entire room burst out laughing, and we all joined in regarding what a bullshit experience it all turned out to be....


May 19th, 2017 at 4:48 PM ^

experience we had at Charlie Trotter's; with one exception -- we needed about 6 servings of bread to feel like we had any nourishment at all.  I think we had a total of 8 courses/tastings, and other than a medallion of Bison, there was nothing I recall that was memorable other than the silent, morgue-like atomosphere.

Charlie Trotter's did not crack my Top 100 dining experiences.  I would have preferred to walk two blocks to Weiner Circle (or Doggy Diner?) and saved about $500. 





May 19th, 2017 at 8:00 PM ^

We went a couple times over the years. Talk about pretentious. We didn't have the waiting problem, but after 2 - 2 1/2 hours of eating, everything starts to taste the same. It all sort of was the same if you think about it. Not really all that enjoyable. 

Blue Balls Afire

May 19th, 2017 at 3:38 PM ^

I'm probably the least picky eater on the planet.  I will not only eat anything, but will also really enjoy it.  Given that, I had a Sbarro pizza at an airport decades ago, I think it was DTW before the new terminal, that was so awful I have never eaten at any Sbarro ever again anywhere in the world.  A turkey sandwich I had at KCI/MCI (Kansas City) is a close second.  A freakin' turkey sandwich!  They couldn't make a decent fucking turkey sandwich!  It was vile.


May 19th, 2017 at 3:38 PM ^

The thing that stands out right now is a side order of French Fries I had at Arbor Brewing.... very cold, very greasy, limp and soggy.  I understand mistakes are made, but whoever put the damn things on the plate must have known they were shit and gave them to me anyway.  


On a side note Ma Lou's in Ypsi is every bit as good as advertised.


May 19th, 2017 at 3:51 PM ^

No time to go to the store.  Had Ramen.  Had hot dogs.  No hot dog buns.  So I cut up a microwaved non-kosher hot dog into pork Ramen (they're both pork, right?).  That was a horrible mistake.  I had two spoonfuls and thought it was better for my health if I starved.

That one is closely followed by some kind of acorn squash rice casserole that my vegan friend made.  Like the casserole went in the left over husk of the acorn squash.  I hate all squash but ate it anyway in the vain hope that previous squash meals were just not prepared as well as this meal was.  No, it turns out all squash is indeed terrible.


May 19th, 2017 at 3:44 PM ^

Out in the field in the Marine Corp in 1974 we had C rations from the 1940's, WW2 era. Scarmbled eggs were blue on top. Beef and pork pattys were mostly thick jell. To much work to heat them so ate them cold right out of the can. Not that great of meals.


May 19th, 2017 at 3:51 PM ^

GREAT post for a boring Friday afternoon.   While I'm still entirely sure how long it will be before I'm able to eat again after reading Stephen R's opus it truly is a really fun thread.


May 19th, 2017 at 4:00 PM ^

I was hoping for some funny stories. On a positive note, my husband and I laughed our asses off last night during this horrible meal. Had a really fun time laughing at the absurdity of a savory saffron and sarsaparilla milkshake (that was so gross, I couldn't drink). 


May 19th, 2017 at 3:54 PM ^

Many years ago, the wife and I were touring England and Scotland and were staying in York, England, for the evening after touring the city.  Standing Rib Roast and Yorkshire Pudding are the feature items in our traditional Christmas dinner and we just happened to see a restaurant in York that advertised that.  So, we decided to try it.  Had to be ther real deal.  Mind you, we've been in England/Scotland for a week at this point and have only had good food at Italian or Indian restaurants, but we were all in for this.  Horrible.  Beef was thin sliced shoe leather and whatever their version of Yorkshire Pudding was, it didn't resemble anything we'd ever had before.  I think that was the last restaurant we visited that served English cuisine.


May 19th, 2017 at 4:07 PM ^

There's a joke about Europe.  In European heaven, the cooks are French, the lovers Italian, the mechanics German, the police English, and the place is run by the Swiss.  In European hell, the cooks are English, the lovers Swiss, the mechanics French, the police German, and the place is run by the Italians.


May 20th, 2017 at 11:18 AM ^

but I have lived in London a few times, the first in 1990 and again in 2000 for a few years. During both stints, the food there was awful... for being one of the most cosmopolitan places on Earth, the shortage of truly good restaurants was embarrassing.

That has completely changed now.....I was back there a few times last year and it is unbelievable how good the food is...healthy, diverse, international, innovative...I was blown away at the difference.

Living in San Francisco I'm spoiled for choice and London easily matches or surpasses what we've got.

His Dudeness

May 19th, 2017 at 3:59 PM ^

I was in the airport ( I think it was Charlotte). I was pretty late semi-running through. My plane was already boarding, but I hadnt eaten all day. I stopped by a place that had hot make-to-order sandwiches.

I dont eat meat, so I order a hot onion sandwich with cheese. I thought it would be basically a grilled cheese with some onions on it. It ended up being about a pound of carmelized onions on a soggy roll with pepper jack cheese melted on it. The roll completely fell apart. as I mashed it into my face while I sweated. I made eye contact mid bite with one guy. He happened to be the guy who I sat next to on the flight. He was disgusted.

I did eat the whole thing though. I was desperate.

Goggles Paisano

May 19th, 2017 at 6:05 PM ^

My worst meal was at an airport restaurant at ATL.  Some of you may know what I'm talking about as I don't remember the name of the place for the obvious reason that they serve the shittiest food on the planet.  It was a bookstore themed restaurant.  Worst meal ever.  For as big and busy as ATL is, their restuarants sucks out loud - easily my least favorite airport in the world.   


May 19th, 2017 at 4:00 PM ^

Anything eaten while camping, ever. If by "camping" I mean passing out in in cars parked on the high banks of the Muskegon River after Spring Term ended, subsisting on Rolling Rock and blister-burned processed meat products.