Times are hard and even restaurants are penny pinching. But are these restaurant tricks valid or are they just cheating you, the customer? Ben Widdicombe told all in his Slashfood article 10 Dirty Little Restaurant Secrets:
10. Using Cabbage in Place of Seaweed
Says a former maître d' at an expensive Chinese restaurant known for its celebrity clientele: "The owner figured his customers knew nothing about Chinese food (he was right) and was a genius at saving money. A specialty supplier used to provide edible seaweed for the popular seaweed appetizer, but when that got too expensive the boss began experimenting.
"The 'seaweed' on the menu ended up becoming thin strips of cabbage leaf, deep-fried, and then rolled in equal amounts of salt and sugar. It's possible even cardboard would taste good if prepared like that, but the dish remained a bestseller."
7. Topping Pitchers of Beer with Seltzer Water
Don't think the fiddling is restricted to top-shelf liquors, either. "In sports bars that sell pitchers of beers, the thing to do is to top the pitchers off with seltzer after the table has ordered like the third one," a source says. "The drunker the guys, the more seltzer they get." [...]
4. Serving Rotten Meat
A steakhouse employee in New York says that sometimes not all the meat is as fresh as it should be. "It's an old trick to keep the steak that's past its prime and wait until somebody orders it well done or medium-well," the insider says. "The more you cook the meat, the more you disguise its flavor. When I'm eating out I never order anything higher than medium rare, because I know how the kitchen gets rid of bad meat."
Care to share your own food service experience?