The ability to set aside expectations and experience something the way it was meant to be experienced allows for unbiased and fresh insights.
‘Oh yeah, how hard can that be?’
The stimuli around you, the information that you obtain through personal experiences or opinions all lead to subconscious (or conscious) bias.
Numerous studies point towards the importance of pre-conceptions and first impressions. Why do we pay more attention to our appearance on an interview or first date? Why do we care less after years of familiarity?
Because first impressions are important, and people subconsciously catalogue and analyze facts about people and things around them to determine how they want to feel towards that person or thing.
We are familiar with the concept of ‘poisoning the well’, where adverse information is given, and causes the recipient to form negative pre-conceptions against something. Obviously, this is terrible for forming an impartial judgement, but we rarely think of the other side of the issue.
Giving someone a glowing recommendation for something is just as, if not, more harmful. In our society, we often exaggerate and embellish positive experiences. If you left a restaurant without any complaints, and someone asked you how it went, you’d generally say something positive.
‘Oh yeah, it was pretty good’
It’s just a product of the cautiously polite, over-coddling culture that we live in. God forbid if anything was actually good. We’ve all seen the gaggles of basic bitches shrieking accolades about their venti vanilla bean half fat half sweet soy frappuccinos.
I’ve always heard good things about Blue Plate Diner. Starting from about two years ago, it’s been mentioned in passing, or been flat out suggested to me. It’s quirky, unique, and tries to put an original spin on comfort food classics.
First impressions were mixed.
The interior of the restaurant was a bit confused. Classic diner-style tables with grooved aluminium edges were paired with simple wooden chairs and flat primary colors.
I would’ve liked to see more diner inspiration. You know, a jukebox, some retro Coke vending machines, maybe a chrome bar stool or two? With the tables being the only diner-themed decor, it seems like they either ran out of budget or just didn’t care.
The service, however, was very good. The wait staff were very fast, friendly and just a bit boisterous. It also took about 5 minutes for our food to come out (on a Friday night), which is probably the fastest at any restaurant I’ve been in.
But there’s a caveat.
The food is all pre-prepared. Now don’t get me wrong, you need to have things prepped in advance in a restaurant because there’s no way you’re putting together a meatloaf and baking it in 20 minutes. But at the same time, you lose a bit of the rustic feel you associate with diner food.
I ordered the meatloaf with dijon mashed potatoes (apparently a crowd-pleaser), while my coworker got the special of the day, a “ghoulish goulash” (their pun, not mine) and gnocchi. The goulash and gnocchi tasted OK. There was nothing offensive about it, but nothing really special either. The meat was tender, sauce was brown, and everything was piping hot. We were informed the gnocchi were not made in-house, but purchased from a supplier in the city. Once again, you can’t fault a restaurant for saving on preparation time, but you also can’t help but feel a twinge of disappointment.
The meatloaf was very filling and tasted of nothing.
But that’s just about it. No noticeable herbs or spices, no umami from the meat, just a uniform meat/breadcrumb slab. You would expect an inch and a half thick slab of ground meat and starch to be filling, so that’s nothing special. The gravy was also on the tasteless side. In hindsight, everything on the plate was just bland as fuck. There were a few grains of dijon in the mashed potatoes, but they failed to impart any of the astringency you associate with mustard. On top of that, everything that I tried was…soft. This usually isn’t a bad thing, but all the food had sort of the same texture.
Dessert was a home-made beet cake, which was surprisingly awesome. Think carrot cake, but not disgusting. The beets made the cake incredibly moist, while not really affecting the flavor profile at all. I’m also pretty sure the cake was homemade, because honestly, just look at it…
- Lightning quick service
- Friendly and attentive wait staff
- Drinks of the alcoholic variety
- Food was hot..?
- Doesn’t look like a diner
- Don’t serve diner food
- Everything I ate was bland
- Non-homemade gnocchi is a disappointment
- They don’t actually have blue plates…
The one lasting impression that Blue Plate Diner made on me was that everything they served was horribly bland.
Admittedly, I wouldn’t be as disappointed as I am now if I hadn’t heard all the rave reviews beforehand, but it’s hard to get past the fact that everything I ate was fucking tasteless.
I wouldn’t go back, but if you have difficulties with food that requires chewing, or want to cut back on sodium for health purposes, this is the place for you.