What does "no substitutions" mean on a slow food menu.

OK, I might go to a slow food place once a month, (except on vacation where my foodie snob sister wants to try “local” cuisine constantly). So what does “no substitutions” mean on a menu?

“We’re foodie snobs and we know better than you what is good”
“We make a bunch of this at once, and can’t be bothered to make a special plate for you”
“This is something we buy from Sysco that we throw into the microwave”

“This is the recipe. If you don’t like it, order something else.”
“We’re not McDonalds.”
“Our line cooks are just not that clever.”

All of the above.

Obligatory Five Easy Pieces diner scene

Perhaps it means we only purchase as much as we expect to sell, so if we substitute one item on an entrée, it means that we will then be one full entrée short.

Call the restaurant a couple of weeks in advance to book a slow-food substitution, and if they refuse, ask why.

“We’ve priced this meal at $x for these Y items, and if we’ll have to charge you $Z more to maintain our profit margin if want us to change it.”

Customers are not above asking for steak to be included as an ingredient in the daily hamburger special, at the same price as the original hamburger special.

We used to do substitutions, but then either: too many people took advantage of it and it slowed us down, or, there was mix-up which caused a big kerfuffle. Either way, it is not worth the hassle anymore.

I ran into that problem when I tried to order toast at a diner at lunch time. The owner refused, saying that toast could only be served at breakfast time. We had this discussion while he was standing beside the toaster, which had bread beside it.

It means “We don’t like smartasses.”

You know your sister better than I do, but I hope you’re not calling her a “foodie snob” just because she’s adventurous and enjoys trying new things.

My first guess would be that it means “We’re tired of people asking to substitute things that are more expensive (or more complicated to prepare) without paying extra for them.”

Or, “We’re not your personal chef. We’re a restaurant, and we worked hard to put this menu together. If you can’t find something you like, we’re sorry, but you can go somewhere else.”

I feel obligated to post this quote from The Big Bang Theory:

This is the first time I’ve seen the term “slow food” so I googled it.


Are there really that many restaurants that specialize in this and are they more hard ass about “no substitutions” than regular restaurants?

Funny, I had just assumed the OP was trying to say “Restaurants other than Fast Food Restaurants”. Like saying “Sit Down Restaurants”. I didn’t realize it was a thing either.

You’re probably right about what the OP actually meant.

It may just mean that certain things are made ahead of time. For example, a restaurant might make up a hundred salads (as in “soup or salad”) for the dinner rush. If you say “I’d like the salad, but could you make it a romaine salad instead of the house salad?” Now, someone as to figure out that salad, make that salad, price that salad, adjust the bill or just give it to you as a substitute and take a loss on it. Or if you go to a Mexican restaurant and ask for the “Chef’s special Enchilada and Flauta with Spanish rice, but with no corn in the enchiladas” Well, it doesn’t mean it was from Sysco and came in frozen, but they likely make up the filling in big batches ahead of time and subbing the enchilada for something else will result in it being an ala carte plate with a different price.

Another reason is that with certain plates being no subs, these chefs and cooks can make them blindfolded and very quickly. If they have to slow down to read directions (and make mistakes) it costs more.

I expect this to mean don’t ask for cottage cheese in place of the soup, and you’re not getting mashed potatoes in place of the broccoli. I do expect to be able to omit any item from coming out with my meal and still being charged the original price. It’s a dinner plate and the price is figured serving what’s listed. You order what you want as a side and pay for it.

And we wonder why most restaurants fail.

And if enough of your customers do exactly that because you are persnickety about simple requests, you won’t have to worry about the issue at all because you won’t have a viable business. Personally, I’m very quick to vote with my dollars when businesses demonstrate that petty policies come before customer satisfaction.

That’s the “snob” interpretation, in nicer wording.

That said, not my personal chef perhaps, but I am the one paying for the meal. I’m sure you did try to come up with the best combination you could devise, Chef, but it doesn’t work for me.

They may mean “we’re snobs who know what’s good for you” but to me it always comes off as “we made this six hours ago and it’s been sitting under a heat lamp.” And I am a foodie.

That’s not why most restaurants fail.