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? 



Perkis-Size Me

May 20th, 2017 at 9:05 AM ^

I love cornflake chicken. One of my favorite dishes, but then again we use dijon mustard and not mayo. Gives it a lot more flavor. Can definitely see why slapping a ton of mayonaise on chicken wouldn't be all that appealing. 

I'd just advise trying it with mustard mix instead of mayo. 


May 19th, 2017 at 8:48 PM ^

Wendy, you sound like you give a serious shit about food, so I'm going to tell you my best story.


Paris a couple of years back.  We're not ITB or anything, but my wife and I love good food and I'm a reasonably skilled home cook, etc.  We go to a well regarded restaurant in Paris, and for that night, whatever reason, its a fun romantic date, we drink a fair bit of good wine, the food is good, we start laughing and asking for second and whatever, we sort of just kill the whole food temple vibe, and the front of the house guy decides we're ugly Americans who don't know what we're doing and literally kicks us out of the restaurant midmeal. It feels fucking terrible.  We're basically escorted out in front of the entire place like a couple of perps.  

As we leave, I stare the host down and say something to the effect of, "you kicked out the wrong americans, pop".  Guy stares me back.  Hostile as hell experience.

Anyways we get back to the hotel where we've been staying a week.  The concierge at the hotel just moved back from my hometown in the states, where she was the somm at one of my favorite restaurants.  So we had bonded and she know how much I liked food.  She was like "why are you back so soon" and I tell her, "because we got thrown out of the place!"  She was appalled.   We go upstairs. 

1 hour later, phone rings.  It is [CHEF], who is reasonably famous and michelin starred etc.  He doesn't quite apologize (do the French ever?) but basically says, look, come tomorrow for lunch, I'll treat you right.  I say, I'd love to, but I cant, tomorrow is my last day in Paris and I have reservations at Arpege, and i've wanted to eat there my whole life.

Little did I know.

It turns out this guy got his start with Passard.  Passard swore the next day that he didn't call him.  I didn't believe him.  Have you ever been in a three star restaurant and had the chef basically make it his business to give you the best meal of your life?  Because I have.  I've eaten all over the goddamned world, I've eaten at many of the best restaurants in the world (and I don't mean in a shallow Pelligrino top 50 way), I've cooked my entire life.  Like, my sample size is fucking large.  And nothing comes remotely close to what I ate that day.  Every course, Passard is coming by having the waiters ask us for him  was it good, did we like?  Uh, yeah we did.  Every dish is executed perfectly - like you know that famous Eater review from several months ago slagging Arpege?  Sort of the exact opposite of that.  It was like going to Le Cirque back in the day with someone who knew Sirio, except the food was 1000 times better.  Then the off menu stuff starts coming, almost like a vegetable omakase meal.  Then they ask my wife what her favorite desserts are AND MAKE UP A DESSERT FOR HER.  Then they bring EVERY DESSERT ON THE MENU FOR US TO EAT, LITERALLY COVERING OUR TABLE WITH PLATES.  I ask for the check, fully expecting i've run up a $2500 bill but goddamit, it was worth it because for 3 hours I ate better than anyone on earth.  And basically all of our meal was taken off the bill other than the wine and the cost for the 2 lunch prix fixe.   We shared a smoke with Passard outside, told him how grateful we were and went on our way.


That was a good day, and the second best meal of my life immediately following one of the worst.


The best meal of my life is an hot italian sausage fresh off the grill on a warm bun at a tailgate on a clear cool fall day.


May 19th, 2017 at 9:24 PM ^

Not a freaking word.  I'm very knowledgeable about food and, particularly, wine, but I'm hapless with languages and don't speak a lick of French.  The waiter had to translate for us with Passard. 

I was amazed too.  It wasn't a once in a lifetime experience, it was a never-thought-it-would-happen-in-my-lifetime experience. 


May 19th, 2017 at 9:57 PM ^

The mention of language / culture reminds me of a story about some visitors from out of the country who were convinced they had one of the worst meals ever.  My wife was hosting an international conference here in central Oklahoma, and a group of three, one from Germany, one from Austria, and one from Canada decided to venture out on their own to sample the local cuisine.  They found some mom and pop restaurant and were very concerned about the chicken they ate.  They said it was awful: brown in color, not the right texture, didn't taste like any chicken they ever had.  Even though they didn't eat a lot of it, they were worried that the chicken was so off, they might get sick.  My wife kept asking questions, and finally discovered that they had ordered chicken fried steak.  They were greatly relieved when she informed them that what they had eaten was in fact not chicken at all, but beef. breaded and fried like chicken. 


May 19th, 2017 at 10:13 PM ^

Another France culture story.  Out in Stasbourg (one of the coolest places I've ever visited, and highly recommended).  Anyways, my wife and I go out to a traditional place near our hotel. not intended to be some sort of gastronomic night just wanted some old school stick to the ribs alsatian food on a cold december night.   I look at the wine list and nearly fall over, its loaded with one of the best collections of natural wines i've ever seen including some insane unicorn type stuff that you can only get in the states if you run up a 10K annual tab at Chambers Street Wines or one of the other 2 or 3 stores in the US that gets an allocation. 

Meanwhile, my wife and I have made friend with the bilingual couple next to us, we're having a great time / bought them beers. The proprietor, this gruff old alsatian sort, comes over to take my wine order.  I order the most exciting bottle.  Sold out.  Next one.  Sold out.  Next one, sold out.  So I turn to our new friends, and I say, 'translate for me.  Tell him I think he's lying."

They translate, he answers.  They crack up.  "He says  . . . I think in english it translates to go fuck yourself"

I say, "look, tell him that the first bottle I picked, it was the wine my wife and I shared on our first meal of our honeymoon, the day after we got married"

They translate, he responds, and now the whole restaurant cracks up

"He said that if President Obama came into his restaurant and ordered that wine, he wouldn't serve it to a goddamned American"

He stormed off in a huff, and brought up an crazily obscure bottle from his cellar, not on the list.  Plops it on the table angrily (or faux angrily?) and huffs off.  We shared it and two more bottles with the tables around us and had a blast of a night, while this guy glared at us the whole time.


May 19th, 2017 at 9:39 PM ^

The worst thing I can remember was meatloaf at my in-laws.  It was a potluck affair, and some neighbor brought meatloaf that must have used dog food as its base.  My wife was able to foist off the leftovers on Cousin Nancy (the family called her Batsy behind her back after a child in the family mispronounced her name so--and the appelation fit).  Cousin Batsy was well known for taking all the sugar, creamer, jelly packets or whatever were on restaurant tables or requesting a doggy bag after dinner parties.


May 19th, 2017 at 11:23 PM ^

Well I did 30 days in Oakland County Jail and had the worst meal of my life every single night!

I went to a McDonald's as soon as I got out and words cannot explain how delicious that tasted. McDonald's. Tasted good. Real fucking good.

Lou MacAdoo

May 19th, 2017 at 11:55 PM ^

I got a bad piece of chicken at KFC about 15 years ago. I took one bite, spit it out, threw it away and haven't been back since. It was that disgusting. They tried to ruin fried chicken for me forever. It's too good to give up though, I'll just never get it from there again.


May 20th, 2017 at 12:13 AM ^

I'm a big fan of spicy. In any way, shape or form. Have done several challenges involving spicy foods. Even a habenero eating contest. There was a small restaurant in Richmond Virginia called Caliente which featured the Stupid Wings challenge. 8 wings covered in a thick disgusting sauce that could only be described as "chemically." Well I choked them down in maybe 10 minutes with tears in my eyes but I didn't really feel like they were any hotter than many of the other challenge wings I had tried. Then things took a turn later that night. As I lay in bed my stomach started to cramp a little so I tried to relive the pain by drawing my knees up closer to my chest. It steadily got worse. Next thing I know my stomach feels like it is being crushed in a vice. I crawl over my girlfriend and make a dash towards the bathroom. I make it just in time and start violently throwing up in the toilet. The mixture of bile, chicken, hot sauce and toilet water splashes back up into my face and eyes causing me to not be able to see. The regurgitated hot sauce also causes me to lose my breath as really hot things tend to do so I can't cry out for help. So here I am crouched over a toilet thinking this is the end for me all because of some damn chicken wings. After what felt like an eternity it was finally all over and I just sat there exhausted like I had run for miles. Didn't learn my lesson though. Still love the spicy stuff!


May 20th, 2017 at 12:18 AM ^

went with my sister and bother in law and some friends to travel around and go diving.

We have relatives-ish in Havana and stayed with then for a few days. Every restaurant we went to was awful..... seriously bad... on the last night the family killed and cooked a chicken, which was actually pretty good...until dessert.

They brought out something that tasted like they toasted damp toilet paper and poured water with a small amount of honey in it over the top.

I totally got that them making this meal, considering their means, was a huge deal and massively generous... so I set to choking down whatever this was. Once done...I turned to my brother in law, who is awesome, but a bit of a food weirdo, and smiled while i waited for him to consume his portion.

As I'm sitting there, some sort of ruckus happens upstairs/on the roof (they had a crocodile living on the roof, they were into Santoria...whole other story). While everyone is briefly distracted, my brother in law switches his untouched dessert plate with my empty one. By the time I realize what has happened, everyone is back at the table and I'm screwed.

I can't switch it back and let on that we think it is awful and I can't offend their hospitality by not eating it..... so I have to choke down an entire second helping of the dessert from hell.

It sucked and i gag just thinking about it now some 18 years later.

Durham Blue

May 20th, 2017 at 12:45 AM ^

It was "crab au gratin" at some shit shack posing as a Red Lobster in Daytona Beach, FL.  They should've called it crab au ROTTEN.  I was puking and shitting the whole night in the hotel room.  As luck would have it I was on a road trip for work and we had to drive 8 hours to South Carolina the next day.  I even puked standing up in the hotel lobby bathroom just before we left.  That drive was probably the worst 8 hours of my life.  The smell of crab made me sick to my stomach for many years thereafter.

Perkis-Size Me

May 20th, 2017 at 9:15 AM ^

That sounds like a restaurant that's trying to be fancy or unique by just taking a bunch of random shit, throwing it together, and calling it some New Age crap. 

I'm all for trying new things, but to a certain extent. You don't fix what isn't broken. 

a different Jason

May 20th, 2017 at 10:00 AM ^

I am not a terribly picky eater. I can eat anything but some things I can live without. But my worst meal ever comes easily to mind. My wife's dad's family Xmas on 2010. It wasn't on Dec 25 so there was 8 pots of leftover turkey. This was Jan 2 so the turkey had been cooked and frozen for a week then reheated. My mother in law had passed away before then so her food wasn't available. We left the place and my FIL says, that food was shit. I drove straight to a little burger place and we got something decent. They stoped getting together because they are old and decrepit.

Funny part is that they are all multimillionaire. But they started out poor and are tight with money. So you pull into the parking lot and it's brand new Buicks and Suburbans but inside there is twice baked turkey.

Craptain Crunch

May 20th, 2017 at 10:19 AM ^

Today, colleges have really upgraded the dorm food experience. But when at Michigan several decades ago the food was atrocious. It was so bad it made Dominos Pizza taste awesome.

Michigan might be the leaders and best but that didn't apply to dorm food. 


May 20th, 2017 at 11:47 AM ^

Next has a bit of an "emporer's new clothes" dynamic going on, where they make and present everything as horribly exotic/obscure/eclectic without any regard for how it actually tastes. As if you pay for reading the menu more than actually eating food that tastes good.

Once you get through reading all the fashionable ingredients, odd food pairings and witness the elaborate presentation, mentioning that the food actually tastes bad makes you some kind of heretic or non-sophisticate that isn't able to understand their gastronomic genius.

The triumph of style over substance.


May 20th, 2017 at 12:37 PM ^

Whatever it was I ate before having a 105 temp and food poisoning that defied time and space. I remember very little of it after the first 6 hours.

My wife says I was vomiting and explosively shitting at the same time while not on the toilet.

TMI, I know.

The worst meal I actually remember for its taste - is one of two:

1. California pizza kitchen. Wife and kids wanted CPK (which I think is way overrated). I had the ribeye, which was marked as a favorite and it was despicable.

2. This one probably wins. I moved to Orlando and ordered beef and brocolli with rice from the local chinese place. The beef was gristle and fat only. Every slice. It was remnants or something. I couldn't eat a bite. Only place I've ever called and reamed out for their rotten food.


May 22nd, 2017 at 12:27 PM ^

Your experience sounds exactly like what my two episodes of food poisoning sound like.

One time I was so dehydrated, I had to have them hook me up to an IV for about half a bag before they could even pull a blood sample to test my blood.  It took two and a half IV's before I was able to use the restroom and I then spent three days in bed hardly able to move.  It was the worst.  


May 20th, 2017 at 6:11 PM ^

Went to Budhapest out of high school for a track meet. About a week into the trip we ate T a local restaurant and everything was ordered for us so to this day I have no idea what it was. Best description Incan give was a balled scoop of green glop with orange and yelllow chunks and what may have been raisins or dates or possibly some form of animal shit...most of us sampled it and couldn't swallow it down. One guy from Texas who was with us just watched, picked up the scoop with his fingers and gulped it down...he turned as green as the glop about ten minutes later. The rest of it wasn't much better.
We flew out of Germany and had breakfast at a BNB. Farm style...milk was warm and freshly collected and what looked like a nice slice of cheese turned out to be a stiffened slab of butter. I couldn't get back to the US fast enough

Ben v2

May 20th, 2017 at 7:18 PM ^

Dorm food at West Quad...  I had the "Freshman 15" in reverse...  survived 2nd semester on a combination of Cup of Noodles and Campbell chicken noodle soups.


May 22nd, 2017 at 1:07 PM ^

I see your West Quad and raise you (lower you?) Mary Markley.  Circa 1990-1991, that was a disaster.  I survived off the salad bar ... but just barely.


The food may very well have been the same, but the calorie count required for walking to class on Central Campus from essentially the Medical Center made it worse.


When I saw friends back home that first Christmas, I was so emaciated they thought I had contracted a disease.