It's really important to me, upon trying a new restaurant, to hear the 'house' favorite - whether it be the proprietor of a mom & pop spot or a server at a finer dining establishment. Obviously all tastes are different and I may not like what you like, but it's important to me to have a personal assessment of dishes from somebody in-house. When I detect a genuine enthusiasm for a dish that I may not have otherwise ordered, I'm more than willing to give it a shot - and more often than not, it's good.
That said, many servers - and in some cases, owners - default to "the most popular dish/item is. . ." and without fail, said dish is drab, staid & uninteresting. Prodded even further, they say things such as "well people really like the. . ." even when I specifically ask what "YOU like the best."
I understand the mentality, I think, in the sense that a server doesn't want to take a 'risk' in recommending something I 'might not like' and thusly take my frustrations out on the tip; or an owner worried I may be scared off from the restaurant if I don't get the 'grilled chicken sandwich' (eg). That said, it's really important - and a mark of an establishment whose employees have pride - for me to get an 'insider scoop,' even if it is the 'lemon cured spinach wrapped crab roll' (eg).
Anybody else ever see this 'popular' being confused for preference, and is it even a concern of yours?