Chefs Reveal The Appetisers They’ll Never Order At A Restaurant

It's bad news for mozzarella stick fans.

If it were up to me, my entire restaurant order would be composed of appetisers. And it often is, because you only live once.

From dumplings and edamame to raw oysters and Brussels sprouts with bacon, there’s something just so, well, appetising about those little dishes you order before your main meal arrives. And don’t even get me started on a really good meat and cheese board, especially if it comes with olives and cornichons.

But with so many great appetiser options available, which ones are actually worth it, and which ones should you skip so you can save a little cash for dessert? To find out, we talked with chefs — below, they share the appetizers they never order at restaurants, and why.

Cheese And Cracker Platters

I know I just sang my praises for meat and cheese boards, but according to chef Nik Fields, you should probably steer clear of the ones that are on the simpler side.

“I would refrain from ordering common simple cheese and cracker platters, as these are dishes are easy for me to prepare on my own,” Fields told HuffPost. “It’s more interesting to make your own board and choose the things you like instead of going with what’s already there.”

Plus, she said, the cheese may not be fresh or the kind you like. “Instead, I often prefer to explore more elaborate, chef-crafted offerings on a restaurant’s menu to experience unique flavours and techniques.”

Fried Mozzarella Sticks

Crispy Mozzarella Sticks with a Marinara Dipping Sauce -Photographed on Hasselblad H3D-39mb Camera
LauriPatterson via Getty Images
Crispy Mozzarella Sticks with a Marinara Dipping Sauce -Photographed on Hasselblad H3D-39mb Camera

In other cheese-related appetiser news, chef Mary Kiernan, professor of food studies at Syracuse University’s Falk College, says she skips the fried cheese sticks. “The quantity never seems to match the price you pay,” she said. “For me, it’s also a nutrition-based decision. I can be satisfied with one but will still eat them all.”

However, she said, if a restaurant is doing something creative like using artisanal cheese or making their own sticks, “I would give it a go as long as there are people at the table to share it with.”

Brussels Sprouts

Apparently, unless it’s fall or winter, you’re better off skipping the Brussels sprouts appetiser. “Brussels sprouts are a fall/winter vegetable and best served during those seasons,” Randall Braud, executive chef at Metropolitan Cafe in Dallas, Texas, said. “Most places run them year-round and they’re fried 99% of the time.”

Braud will order Brussels sprouts in the fall and winter, but only if they’re prepared in a certain way. “In the fall and winter, give me a Brussels sprouts gratin or even a galette with balsamic braised shallots and shaved Brussels sprouts,” he said.

Fried Calamari

Do chefs order what is arguably one of the most popular restaurant appetisers? For Braud, the answer is no. “Fried calamari is the same. It’s always fried and the biggest difference from one place to the other is the dipping sauce,” he said.

Kiernan, however, is Team Calamari, as long as the restaurant prepares it to her liking. “I quite often pass on things I know I can make, which ends up being a lot of things,” she said. “I tend to order items the other way — those I would not make at home. Fried calamari falls into that category. I will order it once to see if the restaurant knows how to prepare it properly, and if they do, I tend to order it over other choices.”


Have you ever felt pressured to try something like escargot just for the cool factor?
Yarmolovich Anastasy via Getty Images
Have you ever felt pressured to try something like escargot just for the cool factor?

While most of us aren’t crazy about the idea of eating snails, escargot has long been considered a delicacy. Kiernan, however, said it’s definitely not her thing. “I had them in culinary school and would order them occasionally after,” she said. “After a while, and after learning more about snails, I just decided I didn’t have to eat something that I only sort of liked.”

Sweetbreads And Foie Gras

And while we’re talking about fancy apps, Kiernan said she wouldn’t order sweetbreads or foie gras, either. “Sweetbreads and foie gras fall into that category as well. I’ve seen chefs gorge on those things and it appalls me,” she said. “A taste or two is sufficient.”

Perhaps the best news out of all of this is the fact that we officially have a chef’s permission to skip the escargot, sweetbread and foie gras. Plus, it’s nice to have a few choices taken off your plate in a sea of delicious appetiser options, right? I certainly think so.