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Industry Experts on Their 2014 Restaurant Grievances

As we put a cap on 2014, Eater surveyed a group of critics, writers, and all around experts for their take on the past year. We asked them eight questions: from Top Standbys to Top Newcomers, from Best Meals to Restaurants Broken Up With. All answers will be revealed—cut, pasted, unedited and unadulterated—by the time we pop the cork on 2015.

Closings of Michelin-starred restaurants such as Senza was a common grievance
Closings of Michelin-starred restaurants such as Senza was a common grievance

Q: What was the biggest restaurant grievance of 2014?

Chris LaMorte, UrbanDaddy: Though nothing new, terms like share plates, small plates, tapas-style — or some word a restaurant creatively coins ("nom noms!") — have become a real mess. First, I've always been perplexed that small plates were for sharing. Seems like family-style platters would be for sharing. But, fine. Okay. But second, if they are for sharing, the kitchen should ensure that portions are correct for the table — dividing three watermelon radishes five ways can make one just want to cry. Finally, you can never tell how much to order. Having a server say "it depends on how hungry you are" or demonstrating portion size by approximating it via various hand gestures, gesticulations, pantomimes, or shadow puppets is no substitute for the simple word "entree."

Sarah Freeman, Zagat: I'm worried about the future of fine dining in Chicago. The news of Senza, L2O and Takashi closing was upsetting. It makes me wonder if Chicago cannot sustain high-end restaurants or if we are on the precipice of a national trend.

Chandra Ram, Plate: Ease up, people! So many chefs are making their food really heavy. Not everything needs to be chicken-fried, topped with foie, or wrapped in bacon.

Penny Pollack, Chicago Magazine: "Your food will be served as it's ready."

Mike Gebert, Reader: Tanta Chicago was not only disappointing for kind of sloppy food that didn't live up to the hype, and obnoxious attempts at upselling, but they treated me like an imposition. I won't impose.

Amy Cavanaugh, Time Out Chicago: Quirky/cute/stupid menu categories. What's a "snack" versus a "small plate"? How big are "things in jars"? I hate not knowing how many dishes to order, so just tell me how big things are, and don't make me try to decipher what the menu is saying. Also, if you make me order all my small plates at once, please don't send them to me all at the same time. Thanks.

Michael Nagrant, RedEye: Closures of places that should never close: Edzo's, Hot Doug's, Takashi, L20.

Melissa McEwen, ChicagoistCicchetti closing.