12 Lousy Tricks Of Bad Restaurants And Takeaways

Anyone who eats out should know these 12 tricks from restaurants and takeaways. It’s not appetizing – but it’s worth knowing!

If you want to survive in gastronomy, you have to calculate well. Restaurants often save on the preparation of popular dishes – to the dismay of customers. Not all chefs and restaurateurs are scammers. But some cheat their way through with nasty tricks to save a few euros.

Top up butter instead of replacing it

Some restaurants serve guests a basket of bread or rolls before the meal – and add butter or herb butter. There is often some left over from the butter, the bowl is cleared away by the waiter.

In fraudulent restaurants, the leftover butter is not thrown away, the bowl is only refilled. As a guest, you can tell by the fact that the butter in the bowl has different layers (the older and the fresh butter).

Incidentally, this “recycling” can also be carried out with the rolls in the basket. Who probably already had their fingers on it?

More rolls than meat in the meatball

Really good meatballs are made from fresh minced meat. The restaurant fraudsters cannot save on freshness – salmonella would settle in much too quickly and poison guests. So what can be done to produce meatballs more cheaply?

The composition makes the difference. In meatballs, a lot more breadcrumbs or soaked rolls are processed than actually thought. So they look big and plump – but contain relatively little minced meat. Mean!

Poor quality well cooked steak

If you order your steak medium or rare, you’re in luck: the quality of the meat has to be good – the guest could easily taste and see everything else. But who gets the less good cuts of meat? Those guests who like their steak well done. Visually you can no longer see the difference, the difference in taste is less. Then good luck!

Pork schnitzel instead of veal

The beloved Wiener Schnitzel consists of breaded veal. It’s just stupid that veal is more expensive than pork. True to the motto “guests don’t notice anyway”, dishonest restaurateurs sometimes change the veal: the guests’ schnitzel sometimes consists of pork…

A wine blend instead of rosé

Rosé wine is not often ordered. Because of this, most restaurants only have a small supply of the pink wine. What happens if a guest orders rosé, but he’s gone? Then the wine seller quickly becomes a cocktail mixer: Take some white wine and some red wine, mix them together and bang – the mixture is pink…umm…rosé, of course! Well then: you’re welcome!

Cheap liquor in branded bottles

Even many laypeople can tell the difference between delicious wine and less delicious wine. But hard liquor? This is more difficult – and is therefore the perfect opportunity to cheat a little. One or the other restaurateur grabs an empty branded bottle of the respective type of schnapps – and fills it with cheap booze. The price for the guest can be tenfold – how practical for the host!

This is often done with e.g. fruit brandy, aquavit, whiskey, or cognac – fie!

Fresh fish – from the freezer

Buying “fresh” fish in advance is difficult – after all, fish is perishable. Estimating the correct daily amount in advance is also not child’s play. How nice that the freezer was invented, where you can store fish for a longer period of time!

In principle, there is nothing wrong with this storage. However, selling the fish as “fresh” is still consumer deception. In addition, “fresh fish” often costs more than simple “fish” – rip-off!

Cheap fish instead of sole

Sole is expensive because it is rare. Even so, it feels good for the restaurateur to have it on the menu. Good only – for the restaurateur – that not many guests are familiar with fish. You can sell them a cheap red or Atlantic tongue as sole – of course at the same price as sole!

According to a DNA study carried out by the Max Rubner Federal Research Institute in 2016 in 24 big city restaurants (Hamburg, Bremen, Berlin, Frankfurt), in 50 percent of the cases the dishes were prepared with different types of fish than specified – shameful!

Frozen shrimp instead of scampi

Scampi are also known as emperor lobsters. No wonder, because the decapod looks similar to the lobster – and is correspondingly expensive. Shrimp, on the other hand, are more common and cheaper.

To the delight of fraudulent restaurateurs, prawns and scampi look very similar – hardly distinguishable for amateur guests. A very popular trick in cheat restaurants…

Shepherd’s cheese (cow) instead of feta cheese (sheep)

Herder’s cheese made from cow’s milk looks very similar to feta cheese made from sheep’s cheese, and sometimes goat’s cheese. Feta cheese matures in brine and has an intense taste – the production is more complex than that of herder’s cheese. In addition, sheep’s and goat’s milk are more expensive than cow’s milk, which is produced in much larger quantities.

Clever restaurateurs sometimes swap out the more valuable feta for herder’s cheese – optically it hardly makes a difference (especially when a dressing is poured over it). Fraud!

Analogue cheese instead of real cheese

Cheese isn’t always cheese – even if it looks like it. So-called analog cheese (artificial cheese) consists of water, protein, fat, flavorings and colorings. So it is not a natural milk product, but an artificial laboratory product. And of course: the fake is cheaper than the original!

However, the German government has put a stop to this cheating – too many restaurateurs have used this trick. So if a restaurateur uses analogue cheese, he has had to label it accordingly on the menu for some time now (as a guest, please read the small print!).

The same applies to so-called “cooked ham.” It’s only 60 percent meat. The remaining 40 percent is water, starch and thickener. This “cooked ham” must also be declared as such on the restaurant or snack menu.

Finished product instead of “homemade”

Anyone who thinks they are getting a freshly prepared dish with a “homemade fried egg”, a “house style goulash” or a “homemade pudding” can also be deceived. Numerous restaurants resort to so-called convenience food. These are industrially prefabricated foods – or in other words: discounter finished products.

That means: The restaurant probably got the goulash in a plastic bag and only has to warm it up. The fried egg was chilled and just needs to be reheated. And the pudding in the beautiful jar was sent to the restaurateur in large quantities ready-to-eat. Workload for the restaurateur? Equals zero!

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Written by Allison Turner

I am a Registered Dietitian with 7+ years of experience in supporting many facets of nutrition, including but not limited to nutrition communications, nutrition marketing, content creation, corporate wellness, clinical nutrition, food service, community nutrition, and food and beverage development. I provide relevant, on-trend, and science-based expertise on a wide range of nutrition topics such as nutrition content development, recipe development and analysis, new product launch execution, food and nutrition media relations, and serve as a nutrition expert on behalf of a brand.

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