To paraphrase a comment from James May, car enthusiast and presenter on Top Gear (BBC), "Never drive the car of your childhood dreams."
This applies to food as well, as my husband and I found out this evening. Periodically throughout our marriage, I've heard my husband wax poetic about Almond Chicken from a local restaurant. Over the years I've attempted to make the dish a few times, but none so far have been the dish he recalled, or even come close. So after tossing the idea around a few times, we finally decided tonight we'd try that restaurant for dinner and see if I could get a better idea of what this dish really entailed.
Bad idea. I think I can borrow Mr. May's comment and take it one step further. My revised version is as follows: Never return to the restaurant you idolized during your childhood. It will NOT live up to the memory.
Our first hint to turn and run should have been that the sign now included "buffet." When the parking lot on a Friday night seemed to be sparsely populated, that should have been the second giant red flag waving us and our car into a different direction. Then the food... cold, salty and so loaded with MSG, it wasn't what I'd call pleasant. I've had worse experiences, but this was up pretty high on the list of bad food.
It wasn't as bad as that infamous burger in Maui. That truly was horrific, I don't think there are words to describe it. I can't recall the name of the place, but after a long ride motorcycle ride around the quite literally breathtaking Honoapiilani and Kahekili Highways from Kapalua, my husband and I were tired and ready for a place to relax and chow down. As is our usual traveling style, we were trying to go with a local restaurant, so we found one and stopped in for a sandwich. What we got were two of the most awful, grease drenched burgers I've ever had anywhere. We actually both took one gut-wrenching bite, paid for the "food" and left the restaurant. To this day I can recall how truly bad that inedible item on the plate was, described mysteriously as a burger. There are meals I like to remember and even reminisce, and then there's that experience that I won't ever be able to forget.
Take my word for it about the childhood thing though. Keep the memory untarnished. Let it remain happy there in your mind and history. In my case, I'm just thankful that Mexican restaurant I used to adore back in high school is long since gone, but not forgotten.