Over It: Cute Food Trend Needs to Disappear

Humiliating Presentation: This poor little lamb flew all the way from New Zealand to have a stick shoved in its leg?

I hate rain-delayed baseball games. Especially those with 11:20PM starting times, torrential rain and hail, and tornado warnings. I like my sleep and I like the Rangers to win.

With a crabby demeanor, I begin today by tossing a rock at what I call “cute food.” I’m talking sliders, $5 cupcakes, cupcakes in a jar, mac and cheese in little iron skillets, cake balls (pops), lamb called lollipops, pickles on top of gourmet burgers, ad nauseum.  These are a few of my least favorite things. Oh, and I’ll add chicken wings because they have no purpose on this earth. Your turn. Go.


  • Darren

    Amen! Although I like things served in cast iron skillets.

    Lamb lollipops – lollipops are made to be licked; I’m not licking lamb.

  • JI

    I’m not feeling “crabby” today, so I’ll do the opposite and share something I ate recently that was incredible:

    Chicken & Bacon Pancakes at Park on Henderson.

    Chicken-fried chicken toped with gravy and a couple slices of bacon tucked between to perfectly light and fluffy pancakes. Syrup on the side. (brunch menu)

    Now that will get you out of your crabby demeanor.

  • TLS

    I forget the restaurant that had the “make your own” cannoli. They give you the shell, the filling, choc. chips, pistachios, etc. Ring a bell? Well, that needs to disappear.

  • jane

    Had my first cake ball the other day. Meh, whatever.
    Hate the bone marrow thing. It gives me the dry heaves, especially after studying osteocytes and caniculli in my Anatomy class recently. And for that matter, any celebration of organ meat, sweetmeats, pate, foie gras..freakin’ nasty. And I’m so over the shooters.
    Food had gotten too complicated. Can’t we just enjoy fresh food without manipulating it to high heaven? Can’t I have a cocktail without rosemary in it, which smells like cat pee? I believe the icing on the cake for me was when I was served an amuse bouche featuring a rack of baby rabbit ribs with a carrot puree :/

  • Wine and Cheese, Please

    @jane, amen.

  • Wes Mantooth

    Oversized chocolate or carmel coated apples with gaudy decorations. Was in Vegas recently and these things were all over the place, then when I got back they started appearing at Central Market. They don’t even look edible.

  • Winston

    Fried macaroni and cheese (who ever thought THAT was a good idea?) Meatballs, gourmet burgers and any protein item with a stick (that isn’t a specialty of the State Fair) should be retired.

  • MP

    I’ve got no problems with pickles on a burger. They really don’t belong many places other than atop a burger. There and as a twist on my 3 ounce shot of vodka. Talk about cute.

  • Drew

    1. Items requiring nitrogen
    2. Stick foods – they belong at cheap carnivals and the State Fair

    And everything in jane’s list. Food shouldn’t look like vomit.

  • KahunaSteve

    Agree with all but the chicken wings. Gotsta get my wing on every now and then. Cute food is for cute folks, wings are for big sweaty men who feel the need to coat their lips (and the surrounding area [lipeola?] with freakishly hot sauce, and then wash it all down with an ice cold beer. Nuttin’ cute about that…

  • Great post!
    French macarons could now qualify as an overdone cute food…Once McDonald’s in France started selling them, you knew they’d been overdone.
    A new cute food in Paris is the ‘cream puff.’ Check out the Popelini boutique…this is definitely over the top:

  • Love the vodka shot. Not cute but effective. State Fair food isn’t cute, it’s State Fair Food. Sweetbreads are not cute. Shooters are cute, they are added to the list. Sorry Kent. Next.Puddings in shot glasses.

  • Robie

    Here are my food service related pet peeves:

    10. Tip jars at walk-up counters. I get my own food. I fill my drink. I get my own napkins and condiments. You want a tip.

    9. $3 burgers that cost $7.95.

    8. Blue Bell commercials. Sappy music, grassy meadows and porch swings. Have these people even been to our cities?

    7. Waiters who don’t give a flip until tip time starts approaching- then they act like you’re their best friend.

    6. Lazy grocery baggers. I had to work my tail off as a bagger in the 80’s and I had to be friendly with the customers. Those days appear to be over.

    5. Kid’s place mats/menus that come two crayons. “Here you go kid. Create great art.”

    4. American cheese. It’s not real cheese. Can’t we name it after Canada?

    3. Soda dripping down the outside of the cup they hand me at the drive-thru.

    2. Grocery clerks who ask me to make a donation to their cause of the week. If you’ve been wondering where I am, Tom Thumb, I’m at the guilt-free store across the street.

    1. Food bloggers that think In-N-Out Burger is just a trend.

  • Eagles

    Thank God someone finally pointed out sliders! That trend was over when Jack in the Box started selling them a few years ago. Also sick of “cute” nachos; ahi tuna nachos, short rib nachos, etc…

  • FortWorthGuy

    Plates of nachos that are piled up 10 inches high…with all the cheese etc on the top layer…the bottom 2/3 of the plate is just plain chips. Learn to do nachos right…one layer on a plate with just a topping of cheese, chiles or whatever. If you need more, order another plate.

  • ldascha

    Went to one of those 11 course celebrity chef tasting menu places in Napa Valley a few years ago for an anniversary. No, not the one you are thinking, still love that one. This was in Healdsburg. One course of sea urchin eggs, and one course was fried bone marrow. I told my wife, they are laughing at us in the kitchen. Never again.

  • Anything too aromatic! It’s the worst, when you are talking to someone, and they have just finished something with too much garlic, or too fishy.

  • I’m with KahunaSteve on the chicken wings, except that wings are for everyone, not just big sweaty men.

  • Beda

    Amen to chicken wings. I am the youngest in a family of 8, and the chicken wing was always mine (obviously not by choice, when you’re the last to choose) when we had fried chicken. They’ve remained my favorite. Chicken House on Gaston keeps me from having to cook them for myself.

  • Loop

    Bringing your obnoxious kid(s) to a nice restaurant and letting them act like they are at chucky cheese. Please don’t seat your kid at a barstool either.

  • Liz Landry

    I guess I should be more embarrassed to admit that I like a lot of the cute foods that you mentioned. But, I don’t necessarily like them bc they are cute or based on their presentation, I like them when they are done right. I love some good lamb: put it on a stick, a plate, or between some pita and I am done. And, I like the fact that cake balls have a perfect icing/chocolate to cake ratio for my sweet tooth. But, not all cake balls are created equal, and just BC you bake cakes does not mean you will make decent balls. Again, mac ‘n cheese is one of those things that I don’t care of it comes in a paper tub or a skillet, as long as you understand that it must be great. Someone mentioned variations on nachos, and I admit that this is where I am the worst. My favorite dish is ahi tuna nachos, I could eat them every day.

    Question, how are chicken wings cute? I would think they would be the opposite.

  • Larkspur

    Wine flights. If you have to purchase three or four little tastes of wine with various little tastings of cheese, etc..just stay home until you’re ready to dine in public.

  • I agree with the cute foods and think that people can go overboard. I’m a believer in the “less is more” way of thinking. I own a bakery and we do cakeballs, but we only stripe them or garnish them with something edible to be able to see what flavor they are. As for cupcakes, we only started selling them due to the demand, but we sell other items as well. It drives me nuts to see any type of food dressed up as cute. Elegance is in the simplicity of the item.

  • Brad

    Wow! Bitter, cynical bunch today.

  • JD
  • jane

    And foam… foam on food is not cute. And egg whites in cocktails to make them foamy. Gross.

  • Andres

    I call for a motion to remove chicken wings from the list. Yes, they are little things, but as a food that pairs well with beer and is most commonly served at sports-themed pseudo restaurants/bars, I would not consider them cute.

  • Twinwillow

    Totally agree with Robie’s 10-1 list!

    I never understood, sliders.

    I also don’t understand cake balls but, love “French” macaron’s.

    @Idascha: Healdsburg is in Sonoma. Not, Napa.

  • Anon

    The level of ignorance in this topic is astounding.

    @jane. Wow…where to start. I’m not going to try and lecture you or anything, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying a wide variety of offal and other “off” cuts. There is a proud culinary tradition of eating those types of things, and America is enjoying a small resurgence of this food. It’s ok if you don’t enjoy them, but to categorize it as nasty is ignorant. Methinks you would be happiest eating at PF Changs and Chili’s. Cause, you know, their food is much less nasty than that other stuff.

    @Robie Wow, thats cool. Nobody asked. Here’s my biggest pet peeve. Blowhards who want the absolute lowest price on everything, everywhere, and still expect the businesses to come up with the money to hire people who will give great customer service. Your bag boy sucks at his job and hates his life, and doesn’t give a crap about you because he makes $7 an hour.

    @ldascha I hear Ruth’s Kris makes perfectly boring steak and potatoes. Maybe that would be more to your liking? By the way, you didn’t eat the eggs of a sea urchin, its actually the gonads (yeah, male parts). Common mistake.

    @Nancy Please keep in mind that not everyone who goes out to eat is a food critic. Not everyone is paid to enjoy fine food. While I’m sure that your job has some downsides, the upsides certainly must outweigh them. You may get bored seeing the same kind of lamb lollipops, mac and cheese in cast iron pots, etc, etc, and other similar menu items at every fine dining or pseudo-fine dining place you visit. I’m sure when you attend your 9th or 10th gala opening for the celebrity chef fine dining restaurant of the year, and you roll your eyes (maybe only on the inside) because someone serves you a lamp lollipop or tuna tartar (for the 8th time this year) maybe just remember that, I would guess, the vast majority of people who go to these places only get to go a few times a year, so the experience is relatively fresh for them.

  • @Elizabeth “Once McDonald’s in France started selling them, you knew they’d been overdone” Oh really? LOL Nice try. Laduree needs more than McDo’s crap to be considered selling has-been macarons. So tell me, has salad also become “overdone” since McDo has been selling them??

  • @Anon, Finally, the dreaded “jaded food critic” poke. I remember hearing a favorite critic complaining about having to go eat at The Mansion. Speaking of which I’m bitchin’ cause I have to drive across town and taste $80 Cabernet at 8:30 in the morning…

  • jane

    @anon- my husband is a well known chef here in Dallas. I may not know alot of things, but I know food. I have had some of the most exqusite food from all over the world and NY, Chicago, Napa Valley, Portland, New Orleans, Atlanta, and Denver in restaurants of chefs who have paved the way for New American cuisine. I have also eaten at little dives such as a cafe owned by a half Navaho, half Spanish grandmother, who taught my husband a thing or two about green chile. I was also raised on a farm that ran 4 miles along the Rio Grande river in Colorado, hunted and dressed elk, muledeer rabbit and turkey. I grew up eating trout for breakfast. I did not eat my first store bought meat until I was 8. I had my first hamburger from A and W Rootbeer when I was 12 years old. I have eaten enough organ meat to last a lifetime but no, I have never eaten at a Chili’s or a PF Chang’s.

    I am also entitled to my opinion and the last time I checked, this was an open forum to state an opinion. I have a historically based reason for not enjoying ‘offal’. I’m not going to eat something that people HAD to eat because they had to utilize the WHOLE carcass for economics sake from another era. I am also not going to eat the throwaway parts from an animal and have some snotty little chef charge $75, pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining, when he paid $1.40 for it from the purveyor.

    So…there! 😛

  • senor sopo

    Street tacos! What’s up with that? Maybe next we can have street hot dogs.

    If I wanted a street taco, I would make them at home because there I can be lazy enough not to cut up lettuce, tomato, or grate cheese, rather than just sprinkle some onion and cilantro on it with a side of lime. Bleh!

  • senor sopo

    Oh and truck food or whatever they are calling it, where someone has rigged out a roach coach and selling their food on the street. And we just can’t wait to get to be like Austin and finally have our own. Why can’t we be just like Dallas and just say no? I would love to see anyone decide that Dallas deserves its own personality rather than try our best to be Austin.

  • Twinwillow

    Go Jane. Great “comeback”! Just why is it so damn difficult to express an opinion here without having some people feel the need to chop your head off?

  • Hospitality Instructor

    Nancy…and the rest of fine citizens,

    I dig your blog and your posts a LOT. And I AGREE with your annoyance at cute, or what I call “gimick”, food movement. But who is really to blame? Everyone knows why sliders are on menus….because so many Dallas-diner-rubes are ordering them and three two ounce sliders costs less to make than one 8 ounce burger and you can charge the same price. Better Cost + Same Sales = Good Business.

    VOTE WITH YOUR $$$. Although most of Robie’s post made me want to vomit my Kefir, he/she really nailed it when they mentioned shopping across from Tom Thumb to avoid the BS donation pressure. If something is crap, blame the retards who are out making it profitable for businesses to put on the menu, not the businessmen and women who are trying to make a buck and survive in this all-too-fickle of games we call the Dallas Restaurant Market.

    Just my 2c.

  • Loopy

    What about those huge grocery cart cars to put your kids in while shopping. The carts are way too big

  • Zach

    I get where you all are coming from. But i think what you need to realize is that in a market oversaturated by restaurants, such as dallas, its important to try and do something different. While some people take it overboard many do not. Sliders are fine, sometimes its fun to have 3 different burgers instead of one big sloppy mess. And how dare you talk ill of the lobster shooters. Regardless of their “cuteness”, they continue to be one of the better apps in town. Let Chefs create, let them do what they love to do, and judge them on flavor and creativity, but don’t just generalize about all food that isn’t straightforward because you think they need to stay within some bland guidelines that you decided were socially acceptable.

    If you decide you can’t help yourself, lets at least make a distinction between failure and success in this arena. That is a much more productive conversation.

  • EKadd

    I like all the minis, especially the sliders and cakeballs because it’s major portion control for me. I love junk food and as a former personal trainer and athlete, “tapas” and such give me many flavors and the ability to keep myself in check!

    $5 cupcakes are ridiculous