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To not expect to be served a ready-meal when I eat out?

(301 Posts)
WeBuiltThisBuffetOnSausageRoll Sat 08-Dec-18 16:20:17

We bought some gift vouchers for family members for a big chain 'restaurant' place named after two Italian gentlemen that they love and go to frequently. All fine.

But it got me thinking as we personally can't stand that place. When we went there with them once, the food was terrible - chewy, tasteless and thoroughly unappetising, the same as it was when we went some time ago - I suppose we were hoping it might have changed in the meantime, but it was actually worse. It wasn't cheap either.

We've experienced this at a number of other places too. Looking online, it appears that it's become the norm at a lot of restaurants to have dishes prepared centrally (often from a generic third-party wholesaler) that they then keep in the freezer and just heat up - often in a microwave - when they're ordered.

We don't have ready meals at home unless it's a real emergency - in such cases, we'd rather have something simple and basic like beans on toast or a sandwich than a microwave meal, which we invariably regret immediately afterwards anyway.

We're not snobbish in any way - we've had many a satisfying meal at greasy spoon/transport cafes and pubs where they've had a chef who actually cooks rather than just microwaving. We don't like and couldn't afford and would probably be turned away at first glance from 'gourmet' restaurants owned by a celebrity chef and with a waiting list, but we're happy to pay a fair price for a good meal.

The worst ones are carveries, where 80% of customers are eating pretty much the same thing all day, with a steady stream of demand, and yet some still use frozen roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings.

It seems like a lot of people don't mind it, and some obviously enjoy it, which is great if you do - maybe the atmosphere and theme/surroundings is what matters most to some folk - but I really wish there was some clear way of knowing in advance whether a cafe/pub/restaurant serves food prepared and cooked on the premises or just shoves an unpleasant ready-meal in the microwave for you. Maybe something like CAMRA accreditation but for food rather than just beer?

LEELULUMPKIN Sat 08-Dec-18 16:22:23

YANBU and I love your username.

howabout Sat 08-Dec-18 16:24:02


Don't frequent such "restaurants" for this reason. At a push I reckon might as well go to McD's and be done if I need to eat when out and about.

user1494066152 Sat 08-Dec-18 16:26:53

Totally agree and we eat loads of rubbish food and takeaways 🙈 however Frankie and Bennys is the most expensive load of crap I've ever known! At least my local kebabery is cheap and cheerful!

I hate eating out and getting cling and ding...

Lovesgood Sat 08-Dec-18 16:28:47

How do you tell though? I mean with some things its pretty obvious but Im not sure Im always able to tell the difference. Wow that does not say good things about my taste buds.

Sugarformyhoney Sat 08-Dec-18 16:29:59

Yanbu. It’s been this way for years.. £12-15 for a ready meal with a garnish. We tend to go for a curry or to a gourmet burger place instead- or even Pizza Hut!

misskatamari Sat 08-Dec-18 16:30:10

I'm happy to eat most places, but the few times (i think three?) that i've been to Frankie and Benny's the food has been rank. So obviously frozen and heated up, and just generally horrid. YANBU

Poodles1980 Sat 08-Dec-18 16:30:25

Thankfully we don’t have too many wetherspoons in Ireland it the one time I had to eat in one it was vile. They heat all their food up frozen or from a central kitchen. It’s foul

Sethis Sat 08-Dec-18 16:30:30

Frankie and Bennies were always a bit "meh" for me. Then they served me a lukewarm hamburger. Never been back since.

YANBU and the best option IMO is to go for family owned restaurants. Fairly cheap and normally handmade.

Laiste Sat 08-Dec-18 16:31:53

Frankie and Benny's is overpriced, but does anyone really go to one of these big identikit chain restaurants thinking they're getting anything other than mass produced food?

When it comes to carveries - again it's mass produced cheap food but with unlimited veg, so frozen roast potatoes ect are exactly what i'd expect. Tasty enough for what you're paying tbh.

JudasPrudy Sat 08-Dec-18 16:32:23

I've never been and won't be going now. The only time I've ever been served a frozen meal was when I went to Wetherspoons on a curry night as a student. Could have gone to Iceland and had the exact same meal (although I suppose I'd be missing the ambient atmosphere fgrin)

Thunderpunt Sat 08-Dec-18 16:32:49

Many chain restaurants do centrally produce their food, and their 'chefs' basically are microwave operators (DH was a regional chef/auditor many years ago for a large restaurant group and left for this reason) In addition lots of pubs buy in ready prepped stuff from Brake Bros/3663/etc so while they have autonomy over what the serve - again its is often pre-packed, pre-cooked stuff that needs reheating or minimal preparation doing.
If you want to avoid that support your local independent eateries. Not all of them will prep from fresh but many will and will be very proud of the fact that they do. DH makes all of his sauces fresh several times a week, his fish, seafood and meat is always cooked to order, and our desserts ok with the exception of ice cream are home made. Our menu states that clearly as does most of our marketing material as we know it is what sets us apart from the big companies who have the finance behind them to invest in large city Centre premises

confusedandemployed Sat 08-Dec-18 16:34:34

I hate F&Bs, it's always been horrible and overpriced. I had a beautiful meal in Bella Italia last night though.

ButtMuncher Sat 08-Dec-18 16:34:40

My theory with restaurants is the higher the number of available dishes, the lower the quality of food - and will always order something id consider made to order if pushed into it (pizza, steak, burger). If a restaurant has a high number of dishes there is a huge likelihood a number of them are frozen or ready meals.


NotAllIndividuals Sat 08-Dec-18 16:34:48

It's really eaay to tell, just look at the length of the menu. If there are more than 10 options for each course then the food is probably not cooked fresh. Think about how hatd that would be to do and the range of ingredients. Any place that basically doesn't change its menu, in that it's printed centrally by the pubco or whoever then there instead going to be much prepared in house. If you see a brake brothers lorry pull up then you know it's ready prepped.

In fairness almost all restaurants will have some cheaty stuff but the biggest tell tale is too long a list of choices, it just can't be done.

WeBuiltThisBuffetOnSausageRoll Sat 08-Dec-18 16:35:37

cling and ding

I love that - never heard of it before!

Yep, kebab shops, chip shops, most takeaways - decent-standard, properly-cooked fare for a nice quick treat for not too much money.

So if they can do it for the prices they charge, why ever do the chain restaurants feel justified in charging so much more for rubbery reheated rubbish? And, more to the point, why do people let them get away with it instead of voting with out feet and just staying away?

adaline Sat 08-Dec-18 16:36:59

Isn't the point of big chains that you get exactly the same thing, every time no matter what the location?

I always assumed that was kind of the point - that you're paying to go there because you know exactly what you're going to get each time.

ManicUnicorn Sat 08-Dec-18 16:37:21

YANBU. Frankie and Benny's is only one step up from McDonalds IMO. In fact, I'd say McDonalds is better. At least what you get from Maccy Ds is usually served piping hot and not burned to a crisp. I don't think Ive ever had a decent meal in F&Bs in all honesty, it's not even good quality shit is it? Kids love it, and I get why people go there but it irks me when they make out it's fine dining when it blatantly isn't.

I'm not a food snob either. I love Ciquittos and could happily live on Nando's but F&B is overpriced shite.

viques Sat 08-Dec-18 16:39:44

Didn't Gordon Ramsay get his wrist slapped a few years ago for serving up stuff that had been produced in centralised kitchens?

WeBuiltThisBuffetOnSausageRoll Sat 08-Dec-18 16:43:20

I love Ciquittos and could happily live on Nando's but F&B is overpriced shite.

Weird, as I think Chiquitto's is a sister chain to F&B's and owned by the same company - they often have a branch of one next door to a branch of the other one. I went to one years ago and wasn't overly impressed but, as I remember, it was better than F&B's. Maybe Mexican-style food freezes and/or reheats better?! It's a bit random, isn't it?

TheQueef Sat 08-Dec-18 16:44:08

My ex and his family loved a meal out at Witherspoon it irritated me.

It would be at least 8 adults often more. The bill would creep up to £250 ish with drinks. The meals are barely edible, reminds me of Iceland meals. The service is crap they always make errors or don't have stock.

We could hire a private chef for what the bill was and actually eat the food.

Lovemusic33 Sat 08-Dec-18 16:46:03

We have had several bad expereanced with the same chain, been made to wait over a hour for food only for it be rubbish. I guess you get what you pay for in there? It’s pretty cheap and they often have offers on (kids eat free etc..). I would rather eat McDonald’s than f&b’s.

WeBuiltThisBuffetOnSausageRoll Sat 08-Dec-18 16:46:36

I'd say McDonalds is better. At least what you get from Maccy Ds is usually served piping hot and not burned to a crisp.

I'm not a fan of McD's, but at least it is a consistent standard, quick, cheap and - I think most importantly - doesn't ever pretend to be anything other than fast food. At least they don't wait half an hour before putting the microwave on for 2 minutes to give the illusion of home-cooked from scratch.

Only problems are the food going stone cold within a minute and the hangover you get after eating it.

WeBuiltThisBuffetOnSausageRoll Sat 08-Dec-18 16:48:31

I always assumed that was kind of the point - that you're paying to go there because you know exactly what you're going to get each time.

Now, that should be a positive thing, but when the standard is so low anyway, wouldn't people sometimes want to try elsewhere and take the 'risk' of getting something half decent?!"

theWarOnPeace Sat 08-Dec-18 16:49:04

About 18-20 years ago in Pizza Express I ordered a lasagne that I started eating only to find a long sliver of plastic film. Sent it back and while complaining and saying where on earth could a bit of plastic have come from, they showed me the plastic filmed pots they come in. Must have ripped and gone in. You can tell they add some extra Passata and finish in the oven, but that was when I started to think properly about what was being served. I only eat in restaurants now if we’re away and even then, thanks to google, I find places with sustainable and home made food. Even the thought of eggs and chicken in restaurants - they’re more than likely to be from battery hens unless otherwise stated. Gross and cruel.

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