It happens to all of us at one time or another. You see a place you haven't noticed before, go try it, and... it just doesn't do a damn thing for you. As Diana Rigg's character, Lady Holiday, in The Great Muppet Caper said, "Tight where it should be loose, loose where it should be tight, like the feathers on a turkey's neck" sums it up perfectly. It may be your doing, in which case you apologize to your friends, and then go out for Angel Sweet (at least if you're in the East Valley like me). Or you could be like my friend Lance, who suggested we go to Garduño's and ended up apologizing every time we saw each other for the next three weeks. The point is, bad food happens to good people. Here's some of the places I've been recently that I really wish I had skipped:
Voodoo Daddy's Magic Kitchen (Tempe, Warner and McClintock; other locations exist). It's one of my classic Chowhound rules of thumb... anytime a restaurant uses a superlative adjective, its opposite is closer to the truth. Voodoo Daddy's doesn't cast much of a spell over anything. Their Hurricanes (a classic New Orleans cocktail that involves a variety of juices and an awful lot of rum) are obviously from a mix (we're talking syrupy sweet with citric acid tang), and nothing coming out of the kitchen shows any particular care. Fried green tomatoes could use a little more seasoning, the bread for po'boys rivals only the finest supermarket baguettes, red beans and rice are a soupy mess (does rice really cost that much, guys?), the kitchen has an unnatural fixation on alligator meat (light flavor, slightly rubbery, with little pockets of fat all over the place), and cloyingly sweet pecan pie in an even more cloyingly sweet chocolate bourbon sauce that manages to get everywhere (my friend Daniel is still trying to figure out how it got on the *back* of his pants while he was seated) with the same goddamn flavorless storebought pie crust that everyone uses. My slice hadn't had enough of a chance to cool off from the oven, so it resembled a plate full of pecan soup. Any word on good Cajun restaurants in the valley? I've heard a couple of people say something about Baby Kay's Cajun Kitchen over at the Town & Country shopping centre, but don't remember just *what* they said.
Atlanta Bread Company (Frank Lloyd Wright and Scottsdale; other locations exist): It's pathetic when you'd rather go to Arby's than come back to a place that's supposed to be good. I was in the mood for a chicken salad sammitch, and opted to get it on a croissant instead of the house sourdough bread. Nothing was worth coming back for. The chicken salad was scrawny bits of chicken so small you could almost call them crumbs, covered in mayo, and nothing more. A little celery would have been nice, some grapes or dried fruit would have been welcome; hell, even a dab of lemon juice or dash of pepper could have been thrown in to great improvement. Alas, it was not to be. The croissant was yet more bread that suffered from delusions of adequacy, with a plasticky mouthfeel and hardly flaky at all. The chips that came with it were mass-produced house brand bag chips that weren't even as good as Lay's, and a soggy pickle on the side. All this for seven bucks. At least at Arby's they throw in a drink for that much.