I was thinking about this the other night. I went to Smith & Wollensky's three years ago and hated my steak. I went to Outback the other night and loved my steak. I'm pretty sure my steak at S&W was better than Outback, but I expected something more.
Does where you go change your expectations? I try to keep an open mind. The best flautas I've ever had were at an Italian-based restaurant. The salad I've ever had was in an Irish Pub. But these were served with me having no expectations. Would I like the same flautas as much at a Mexican place? The same salad in a fancier place.
Do our expectations change our critiques? Perfect examples for me on CH are people bashing Le Bernardin or Peter Luger. We all know they don't serve a bad meal. Yet, people still bash.
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