By Amanda Morrissey

It seems these days that the popularity of restaurants where you create your own meal is on the rise.  You can create your own burritos or tacos, sandwiches, pizzas, stir fries – even sushi!  I have to admit that I mostly love this concept.  I like being able to choose my own ingredients and get exactly what I want, based on my tastes and my mood at the time.  In most cases, I end up loving my food.  However, I know from experience that this isn’t always the case.  Take, for example, creating your own stir fry.  Sure, I know how the various proteins, vegetables and starches all taste on their own, and I can make a fairly educated guess as to how they will taste when mixed together.  But if you asked me the difference between Kung Pao sauce and Hoisin sauce, I couldn’t even begin to describe it, nor could I guess how those would taste when combined.  Sometimes, choosing your own ingredients can be a big risk, and it can either pay off in a delightfully delicious way or completely ruin your meal.

The question, then, becomes this – whose fault is it if your meal isn’t tasty?  Is the restaurant completely void of blame if you choose the items yourself and end up not liking the finished product?  How much can you hold the restaurant accountable in a situation like this?  I am sure it takes the heat off the chefs, so to speak, to some degree.  However, are they really completely blameless?  After all, they still have to prepare the food correctly with the ingredients that were chosen.  Often, the way the restaurant handles an issue like this could mean the difference between a return customer and one who will never set foot in the establishment again.  Do they let you create another meal, free of charge?  Give you a gift card for a future visit and invite you to try again?  Comp your disappointing dinner?  Any of those options would lead me to consider returning and giving the restaurant another shot.

What do you think about this concept?  Do you avoid restaurants like this because of a disappointing experience or enjoy the freedom to choose your own ingredients?  Are you or the chefs at fault if your meal isn’t quite what you expected?



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