From Cupcakes to Communal Tables: Waiters Tell Us Which Trends Should Disappear in 2010

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The dreaded bacon ice cream, but this one is not Humphry Slocombe's. Photo: Woman's Day

When it comes to the trendy ingredients and preparations of the moment, it's the job of a restaurant's waitstaff to do the selling, and to deal with complaints when new ideas go wrong. Chefs may compare notes, consult their oracles, judge the popularity of certain dishes, and write their menus accordingly, but it remains in the hands of servers (and in some cases, bartenders who serve food) to pimp their porchetta and foie gras ice cream to a sometimes hesitant audience.

We took a quick survey of some Bay Area servers to see what food trends from the aughts they'd most like to see go away this year, or at least this decade. Below, the responses.

"Communal tables—I guess I'm just not that communal a person. You've got people on one side of you eating dessert, people on the other side having entrées. As a diner, at least when I'm by myself, I guess I've been glad sometimes to get a seat right away, but I'd never sit at one of those things on a date. It's just chaos."
—Anthony Perez, server at Zuni Café

"We've been riding the goat cheese train for a long time now, and I think that the end of the tracks might be near. 2010 should be the year we give other delicious cheeses a chance to step up to the plate and get spread over crostini, tossed in an arugula salad with nuts and a fruit, baked into a tart, folded into a breakfast scramble. I totally love you goat cheese, but we can't do this forever."
—Jean Cooney, bartender/server at Nopa

"Two words: pork belly."
—A server at Bay Wolf

"The miniaturization of food. Everywhere you go, including my restaurant, they've got sliders on the menu, or miniature tacos, or mini cupcakes. Just give me one piece of food, please. I can cut it myself."
—Deven Harrison, server at Contigo

"Cocktail pairings—hate them. I know a lot of people like them, but when it comes to food, most cocktails have too high an alcohol content and it just numbs the taste buds. What's the point?"
—Thad Vogler, owner of the upcoming Bar Agricole, former bar manager of Camino

"Cupcakes that cost $4 and don't even have buttercream frosting."
—Paul Philip Buese, server for Jane Hammond Events and Savoy Events.

"Bacon in everything. Don't get me wrong, I love bacon. But I don't need a Bacon Bloody Mary (I'm looking at you, Burger Bar), and several times I've had pizza with barely cooked bacon on it. At Humphry Slocombe they were serving a pistachio-bacon ice cream with frozen strips of bacon in the middle of it, and it was seriously disgusting."
—Joe Parenti, server at Zuni Café [Ed. Note: We hope chicken skin ice cream won't be taking its place.]

"I'm going to catch some flack for this one, but I am completely over hamburgers at fine-dining restaurants. It seems cowardly to me, as if the place is saying, 'We are going to put all this energy into this food we really believe in, but if you want to play it safe, we have a burger.' I'm not knocking all hamburgers, I just wish they weren't on every menu in the city."
—Neyah White, bar manager at Nopa