Photos of Bad Food

OK, this morning I had “breakfast” in a diner that got good review on both Yelp and Trip Advisor. The quotation marks are there because the food was so terrible as to disqualify itself from being considered food at all. For example, the marbled rye toast looked like wholegrain, and it was so cold and dessicated the “butter” stayed completely solid. I could go on…

Later, I realized I should have taken some photos. THEN, I realized no one ever posts photos of bad food.

Why not?

Don’t use TA, but Yelp reviews are useless.

I was interrupted and posted before it was 100% ready.

What I find remarkable is that, while there’s no shortage of shared photos of good food, pics of bad food are rare. Why is that, do ya think? Is it aversion to even tacitly admitting we wasted time and money? Or maybe bad food just kills any interest beyond escape?

Why not photos to go with bad reviews?

I’ve posted a picture or two of my own “lessons learned”, but I’m not sure what purpose bad food pictures serve.

Well, buttressing a negative restaurant review is one, in a picture-worth-1000-words way. Also, instruction about how NOT to do something, e.g., plating, combinations, overcooking, garnishes, etc.

Here’s another concrete example. I was recently served a “taco burger” that not only contained no burger, but the refried beans inside were so thin and liquid that they ran out between the “brioche” buns like the proverbial $hi+ through a goose as soon as the atrocity was handled. Photos would have conveyed better than words ever could…

Well, that would be me! But I can’t see shaming someone else. That’s me too I guess.

Here’s a picture of a keto friendly Cabbage Pad Thai I made this evening that tastes ok but isn’t all that picture worthy.


I see then on one and two star Yelp restaurant reviews, though the complaint is usually presentation, portion size, or price, and not always quality. Just saw one of a good looking grilled cheese sandwich from a local place where the complaint was it was $15 and nothing special.

My late father-in-law used to complain a lot about something like a BLT being “$10 for $1 worth of ingredients”. He obviously never owned a restaurant and would be horrified at today’s price.

You’re 'way too hard on yourself.

Shaming? How do you do a critical negative review, then? Not at all?

In this morning’s case, I was invited into a place to exchange my time and money for an alleged good breakfast. Not fancy, just standard diner fare, done passably well.

I just think a photo of cold, completely petrified toast–cold enough to keep the spread solid–would speak convincingly.

It can be a good dish but the picture doesn’t add anything.

I don’t. At least not about food and restaurants. Perhaps if it was within my scope of practice and I thought it was important to warn people I might.

Oh, I think we all review food and restaurant quality, whether or not we publish our reviews.

I haven’t named this place, and I won’t publish. That wasn’t the point of my OP. Rather, it was to ponder why published food photos are overwhelmingly put out in a positive vein when we all know bad food is quite common.

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Some people let their toast cool so the butter doesn’t soak in


Photos are definitely helpful in bad reviews. Another diner’s ‘too fatty’, ‘too small’, ‘burnt’, ‘messy’, etc might not be yours. Though the coldness of toast may be hard to convey in a photo.


This isn’t just food. People don’t take photos of ugly paintings or ugly cars or ugly houses

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I am taking pictures of thrips and spider mites in my garden for an article I am working on.

In all my time in England, I never was served toast devoid of moisture and heat–essentially rusks at room temperature with cold butter pats atop.

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Oh, I definitely take photos of ugly cars.


(post deleted by author)

That is not an ugly car.

You’re entitled to your opinion, me mine. You find the roof-mount PA speakers enhance the styling?

Here’s a picture of ugly but delicious food. It’s a take on a delicious salad I ate at a restaurant (now sadly closed).

It’s canapés with a base of puff pastry topped with goat cheese and tomato and baked. Then as soon as they come out of the oven you top them with a bit of cold tapenade and serve immediately. The combination of the hot and cold is really delicious.



Doesn’t look ugly to me. Wipe away those skidmarks and you’re ready for Bon Apetit.

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