6/20/2012 11:02:00 AM

Worst Meal Ever: 21 Tales of Disastrous Dinners

Mmmmmm, fish heads.....
When you frequent restaurants, it's inevitable that some meals are going to be less than stellar. In fact, some of them are downright traumatizing. A while back, we took a look at a collection of Best Meal Ever anecdotes, and now it's time to delve into the flip side of those stories. And who better to tell about meals gone wrong than food writers? The most common answer when we asked for horror stories was "I blocked that meal from my memory," but we still managed to dig up quite a collection from bloggers, editors and a few Zagat readers. Click through the slideshow below to witness some terrible meals, and let us know about yours in the comments.

29 comments :

  1. Our worst meal really never happened! Our family went to 59 Diner in Houston, TX, ordered from the attractive and varied menu. And waited. And waited some more. Like 30 minutes. We finally found "the absentee waiter" when he came to tell us that we must re-order! The reason: the kitchen had lost our order! So, that potentially horrendous meal never really happened!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Well I'll skip the one about getting a tray of a dozen Ports spilled over my head 15 minutes into our dining experience and just get to the evening at a now defunct Bend, Oregon hot-spot.
    Ordered the braised short ribs, they arrived cold, in a bucket with the word braised gently blown over. When the waiter asked if the ribs were underdone I say "Yes, they are." and he replies "Thought so" with no offer to replace. So no dinner for me.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Went this Mexican Restaurant in Concord, CA.
    We actually thought the food was decent...and we kept eating...we were STUFFED....then they served the last cups of coffee...............as they poured the coffee into the cups, we saw something~~PLOP~~PLOP....into the cups...........We told them that they had COCKROACHES.........and they had served them in the coffee............NOW nauseated, from eating toooo much, and now seeing this...The waiter said, "Shhh, be quiet..everyone will want one"...........REALLY....??? I know that is a "funny" in a movie...but, not in our food.......GROSS!!! never went back!

    ReplyDelete
  4. We inquired one night why our dinner appeared to never arrived. After some persistence we were informed that our waiter had angrily quit and stormed out, leaving us and the rest of his customers in the lurch.
    Restaurant problems are manageable but what do you do when you are served something inedible in someone's home One evening my father (who abhors chicken to start with) was served something still ready to fly. Somehow he managed to shovel the chicken under his mashed potatoes, leaving a mound of potatoes twice as high as what was served.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I certainly would not wish to dine with any of those reporting.

    ReplyDelete
  6. A boat tour with lunch in Tunisia was to consist of touring the bay, and having fresh fish cooked by the staff. When lunch time arrived they served us the fish that they had been cooking in the 'galley' (looked like a dirty engine room equipped with a cutting board)They served a tomato salad and some bread with it. The fish were sort of like smelt with heads on and I just couldn't eat it. I gave my fish to my husband and son and took both servings of their tomato salad. Well, it was ME that had horrible food poisoning for the next two days. The fish was obviously fine, but the tomatoes weren't ever heated to avoid food borne illness....and I had three servings! I have never been so sick in my life.

    On the bright side, I did loose the rest of my weight gained during pregnancy, about 15 lbs in two and a half days. I warned others that were being solicited by the same company every time I noticed them coming down the beach.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I believe the worst meal ever is always measured by the following: bad or rude service, overstating the food and delivering something else. Unfortunately we have all had the worst meals ever!
    Jim Millis

    ReplyDelete
  8. Years ago our favorite restaurant was a popular Vietnamese restaurant in Oakland, CA. Our first experience in their new, upscale location in "Old Oakland" was a disaster. We arrived for lunch famished. It was busy with a business crowd, but not so busy that we weren't seated soon. After placing our order with our waitress, we waited...and waited...and waited...and soon the hostess breezed by our table and placed the bill on our table. We thought it a bit odd to get the bill before being served, but attempted to be patient. Finally, when my starving husband could not wait any longer we asked where our food was. Apparently the kitchen and serving staff were unaware that we had never been served our food. The hostess looked mildly surprised but did not offer an apology or even a complimentary drink while we waited a second time for our lunch. This restaurant went from our favorite restaurant to being one we never again went back to. sigh...

    ReplyDelete
  9. We went to a brand new French restaurant for a birthday dinner with friends. Our first hint of problems were that several menu items were mis-spelled. There was a limited number of choices. My friends ordered rack of lamb and I ordered steak frites. The preparation of the meal took more than an hour. They served the side dishes before the meal was served, so we kept ourselves busy with those. Then they brought out the lamb on a carving board. The server appeared never to have carved meat before. The lamb was under done. It was unceremoniously dumped onto three plates, no garnish, no sauce and the lamb itself did not appear to be seasoned at all. It was dreadful. When I asked about the status of my order, they acted surprised, then went to the back and they said they had run out. The offerred me something else, but my friends were almost done, so I waved them off and went without a meal. The manager apologized and went into the back to talk to someone about whether to comp our meal or not. The owner (who works at another restaurant) was not on the scene and this was the first weekend the restaurant was open. Anyway, they comp'd the meal and said they would make it up to me. I've never heard back from them. Almost funny it was so bad.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Have had a few truly bad meals. From a embryonic chicken in an omelet in Berkley, to maggots in a salad in Dakar. But the worst ever was at a road house in British Columbia. Everything had been fried in rancid bacon grease and served swimming in the stuff, even the pancakes were cooked in it. Even the toast was memorable with it's green and black spots. Needless to say we did not eat and departed without paying despite the threats of calling the RCMP.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Was looking forward to a great coney dog at a spot on Sunset Blvd. in L.A. that opened up about a year ago. After chewing the dog, the casing would not disolve.And had to be spat out. How Gross is that?On top of that I learned later that the so called coney sauce had organ meats in it as a filler.....BARF!!

    ReplyDelete
  12. This one takes the cake. Lunch at a Japanese restaurant in Vancouver B.C., had sashimi and found a pubic hair amongst the surf clams. Yuck!

    ReplyDelete
  13. One of my most unpleassant experiences was at a French restaurant in the Berkshires. After we ordered, the server brought our starters and main dishes at the same time, and told us that we had to finish in twenty minutes so that they could re-use the table. We made a point of taking our time, but didn't enjoy anything. It's the only restaurant meal in my life where I've refused to leave a tip.

    ReplyDelete
  14. We are in Rouen, our first night in Normandy. My wife orders Boeuf Tartare, one of her favorite dishes. I, being the really adventurous one who always likes to try local specialties, order Andouiette, of which I have heard by name, but of which I know nothing other than it is a traditional Norman sausage. The waiter asks my wife, "Is Madame aware the beef is raw?" "Yes, she says, but thank you for asking." The dishes come out. The Tartare is gorgeous: a beautiful mound of freshly ground, high quality beef with perfect seasoning, a pile of frites - hot and crispy outside and fluffy inside, and a salade of field greens and tomato. The Andouiette is served to me in the same way, with frites and salade. The Andouiette is a beautiful plump sausage, about 6 inches long, nicely browned. I cut into it. Long, thin, striated bits and some curly bits slide out, along with a stench like that of an unmucked barn. Being undaunted I taste it. It tastes substantially similar to the way it smells. I try the other end of the sausage - same thing. My wife tells me that I have to get the plate off of the table because she is going to retch from the odor if I don't. I ask the waiter to take the plate away. We share her Tartare, which is amazing. I go back to the hotel, get on line, and discover that Andouiette is, in fact, a sausage made from pig colon, and what I got is the way it's supposed to be. . .chopped up, not ground, and yes, it is indeed a traditional Norman dish. I reflect on the waiter asking my wife if she is aware that boef tartare is raw. Does he ask me, "Is Monsieur aware he will be eating sh*t?" Oh, no.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Andouillette is a Norman delicacy. I order it whenever I can find it on the menu. As with most dishes made from animal guts, it can "stink". An acquired taste, perhaps. One you have not yet acquired, it seems.

      Delete
    2. Dear Anonymous,
      I agree with you, and I am a bit disappointed in myself for not at least appreciating it for its intrinsic value. It doesn't happen very often - I've tried a lot of things that most folks find objectionable and really enjoyed them. Unfortuantely, Andouiette did not fall into that category. For you, Sir or Madame, bon appetite!

      Delete
  15. My worst meal was a stew of heart, liver and hazelnuts prepared by a couple of archaeology students over an open fire using flint knives and other stone age kitchen implements. I expect the liver went a little off in the heat of the July day. I only managed to choke down a few spoons, but I was still sick for 3 days.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I was in the Marines, stationed at an Army post. The chow hall food wasn't absolutely terrible, but it certainly wasn't good. Then one day they had steak and lobster (!) for dinner. I was amazed. I took a lobster, went to my table and sat down. I suspect the lobsters had all died natural deaths. They found them floating belly-up in Boston Harbor or something. After several attempts -- and I prided myself at the time for having never met something alleged to be food that I wasn't able to stomach -- I ended up throwing nearly the whole thing out. Next month they did the same thing. I got the steak, which was the worst steak I've ever had, but it beat the lobster. I found out later that they had the steak and lobster dinners the night before the official family visiting day, so when your parents asked, "What did you eat yesterday," you have to say steak or lobster.

    The only meal I've ever had that was worse was when I was finally stationed on a Marine base and got a hamburger. I don't know what that meat was, but it certainly wasn't beef or any other dead animal I'd ever eaten before.

    ReplyDelete
  17. We were a party of four in one of the "divier" Indian restaurants on Sixth Street in Manhattan. Being all about the food, nobody minded the scruffy decor- the dim lights almost obscured the fact that the silverware was badly spotted and the sari on the banquette pretty darn grimy. But halfway through my BYO beer, I felt something flapping against my sandle-clad foot under the table. Turns out it was a sticky mouse trap, and peering under the table you could see several of them. I have low standards, but not no standards... so we left!

    ReplyDelete
  18. These are all interesting stories but are useless as a warning since not even the specific cities,let alone the names of the restaurants are given!!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Years ago when my son was 3, my friend and I took him to eat at Shoney's. I ordered a burger and fries. I lifted the bun and saw that the tomato slice had a large bite taken out of it! I could see teeth marks--my friend was also horrified. Just then the mgr arrived to ask us how things were, and I showed her. She stammered that she'd replace the food, and I told her that there was no way we were staying. My son said, "But Mommy, I'm hungry." I told him that we were going next door to Arby's, which made his 3-yr-old self very happy. That Shoney's is no longer there, and I will never go to any other one--no way.

    ReplyDelete
  20. We were driving from Michigan to Florida, when we stopped by a drive-in BBQ place somewhere in the Carolinas. My husband ordered a BBQ beef sandwich, and I ordered the BBQ chicken sandwich. When we got back out on the highway, I handed him his sandwich. It looked and smelled delicious, just what you'd expect...juicy meat, oozy sauce, toasty bun. Mine? A whole 1/2 chicken breast WITH BONES between 2 slices of white bread.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Every christmas I cook a beautiful turkey with all the trimmings but one year decided I was tired of doing xmas dinner,so we went to a very nice hotel dining room in Winnipeg,which advertised a wonderful christmas dinner.I was very happy that someone else would be doing the cooking that year.The dining room looked lovely and everything sparkled.After a very long wait,when we were wondering if they had forgotten us our dinner came.The turkey was luke warm and bloody,mashed potatoes lumpy and the gravy obviously came out of a can and wasn't heated enough.The salad was limp and tasted like it had been sitting around for two days and we could hardly see the cranberry sauce,it almost wasn't there.When we left I asked my husband why he tipped so generously.He said "Well,we did eat some of it,and it's Christmas.We never had christmas dinner in a restaurant again.I cook it every year and always wish someone else was but afraid to risk another terrible christmas dinner.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Interesting stories but not very helpful without the name of the horrible "restaurants". You should have named them.

    ReplyDelete
  23. This was in Brooklyn at a little fusion Asian place. I forget what I ordered, some kind of noodle dish in an iron pot. It tasted sort of ok and I was hungry so doing a number on it when suddenly my stomach started to heave. I was literally starting to retch when I noticed dots of mouse droppings along the side of the iron pot. Off the charts, GROSSSSSSS.......

    ReplyDelete
  24. At a well known restaurant in New Orleans, I ordered a glass of wine. It tasted awful and I told the waiter. He picked it up, tasted it, said it tasted fine, and gave it back to me. Next, I was served corn chowder. It tasted like it came out of a can. I asked who the chef was, assuming it was a well-known and well-respected chef that we had heard was one of the best. We learned that that chef had left two weeks before. We didn't stay to try any other culinary delights.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Years ago I went to a restaurant (that is no more) with 3 friends for coffee and dessert on a cold night. I ordered decaf and it arrived stone-cold. When the waiter came over and I told him, I guess he didn't believe me as he stuck his finger in the cup to confirm it was cold. Needless to say we left, eating nothing and leaving no tip, which was tough since 2 of us had been waitresses.

    ReplyDelete
  26. This is a nice web site. Good fresh interface and nice informative articles. I will be coming back soon, thanks for the great article.

    Online Food Ordering

    ReplyDelete