Where do you eat?
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Thread: Where do you eat?

  1. #1
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    Where do you eat?

    Been reading several threads lately about people who are complaining about food.

    As a self professed food snob, it always surprises me that most of the people complaining only seem to frequent the big chain stores.

    In reality, it doesn't take any more time to stop into the local bakery to grab a coffee and a snack than it does to stop into a McDonald's or Timmy's. Often times the food is made in store, by an actual trained baker or chef and, from my experience, is usually of much higher quality...

    For lunch or dinner, the local hole in the wall can be substantially better, and often cheaper, yet most people are too afraid to even try them...many road trips with kid's sports often have parents eating at the local version of whatever chain store is there...

    We complain about these businesses taking over, yet most do nothing but support it.

    Personally I look for the local hole in the wall shop. Sometimes it's a dud but, more often than not, I've come away pleasantly surprised at least.

    I'm not JustAGuy (without spaces), or Donald, or <insert name here>.

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    Agreed... but people, including moi, like to know in advance what to expect. Particularly if in a hurry. And a visit to a Tims or Subway is usually cheaper than a non-chain alternative.

    Given a choice, I prefer outlets which don't make any business sense. Like a Thai restaurant in a small hotel in the middle of nowhere. That usually indicates commitment to genuine quality food.

  3. #3
    Senior Member m3s's Avatar
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    A general rule of thumb in my experience is that the quality of food is inversely proportional to the flashiness of the exterior.

    Therefore it can take some adjusting to spot these hole in the wall places. My friends and colleagues typically use Urbanspoon or something

    From travelling by motorbike, I feel I've developed an eye to spot them from the street with about the same rate of success

    I've asked some people the same thing, and the response was they prefer chains for kids, wifi, bathrooms etc..
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    I'd argue the "price" aspect...it's nearly $4 for a bacon and egg mcmuffin at Mcdonalds, just the sandwich. Similar pricing, if not more, at subway and timmy's. $5 would get you a larger sandwich on fresh baking and using a real egg fresh cooked at a local bakery.

    It may take a little more time, but I haven't found price to be all that different. They are driven by the market just like the chains. And, despite the poor quality of food, I don't find the chains to be all that cheap, especially if you compare apples to apples (subway with its paper thin meat sandwiches vs. A stacked sandwich from the local deli). Have subway give you the same amount of meat and see what it would cost.
    I'm not JustAGuy (without spaces), or Donald, or <insert name here>.

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    For me, it's all about the odds of finding quality for the money. In our local area, over time, one eventually finds the local mom and pop jewels and thus we frequent the jewels where and when we can more often than some of the chains. That said, some of the small regional chains (not necessarily national or multi-national chains) can be very good. I don't find that reviews like Urbanspoon are very accurate. They seem to be a random walk based on either very different tastes the reviewer has, there have been different cooks on the day being reviewed, or the reviews have been planted (more often the case than not, even on TripAdvisor). So, very much a mix for us locally... perhaps 75% local and 25% chain (regional/national/multi-national).

    That said, when we are travelling in new areas, it would be rare for us to try an unknown 'hole in the wall' because of the 'random walk' such an establishment might be UNLESS we see that it is highy popular with lots of traffic at the location. We are rarely disappointed when we migrate to 'new' unknown places that are busy. It just is not worth the risk to have a bad experience when one is travelling and on a specific schedule.

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    Price depends on location, but as a general rule chains have a larger throughput. Those competing with them sell less so they have to set prices higher to survive. Also, Tim et al buy mass produced shit and simply warm it up. Their costs tend to be lower.

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    I'm a fan of buying our own ingredients and making it at home, whether its a barbequed filet and baked potato with cold beer and wine, pizza or soup.
    But when we do find ourselves eating out - in the west, wanting a reliable meal and good selection at a higher price point we still favour Earls.
    In the east, to go cheap and fill the stomach its Harveys. On the road its just a coffee and a muffin till dinner.
    I agree, the fast food joints ain't all that cheap. Service and food quality at the sit-down chains really seems to depend on individual management.
    Out of country we research ahead of time and also ask our accomodation host and a few locals where they favour - that has led by far to our most enjoyable and memorable meals.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OnlyMyOpinion View Post
    Out of country we research ahead of time and also ask our accomodation host and a few locals where they favour - that has led by far to our most enjoyable and memorable meals.
    We find that can be hit and miss. Accomodation front desks are pretty good in their recommendations but Concierge, Bellman, etc. in hotels are more likely to refer to their friends, or whoever provides them with a kickback, rather than a good food experience.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mordko View Post
    Also, Tim et al buy mass produced shit and simply warm it up. Their costs tend to be lower.
    So, by your own admission, you'd rather eat warm shit than food to save money...

    I remember once, years ago, me and a buddy decided to try and find the cheapest lunches possible. Each day we'd alternate and try to find something new and cheap...he final straw was his pick of KFC for toonie Tuesday. We were both so sick afterwards we decided it was the worst idea ever. Since then, I always go for quality.

    Found some amazing stuff since then...a Somali restaurant where most patrons use the back door, a peri-peri chicken at a Portuguese deli made by a Portuguese grandmother, homemade pasta and sauce, snitzel pounded thin over a platter of potatoes (you can't even see the plate under the snitzel, a Vietnamise/French bakery (makes more sense when you realize Vietnam was a French colony) where you can get a noodle bowl and a croissant...

    now I'm hungry.
    I'm not JustAGuy (without spaces), or Donald, or <insert name here>.

  11. #10
    Senior Member sags's Avatar
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    A lot of people don't even want to get out of their vehicles, let alone go into a small restaurant, wait for the waitress, order and then wait for the food.

    I think "time" is the most important for people...........right or wrong as it may be.

    We have a couple of family restaurants around town that are very busy, but most are falling apart due to lack of business.

    I have found that a lot of the success of family type restaurants depends on where the wave of retirees decide to go.

    Who else has time to sit down for an hour for breakfast or lunch on a weekday ?

    A lot of employees don't get much time for lunch anymore. My wife's place gets 20 minutes. I used to get 20 minutes.

    I have a good friend who inherited a restaurant from his parents. His family works there every day from 8 am to midnight.

    Tough way to earn a living.

    Last edited by sags; 2017-04-15 at 12:04 PM.
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