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Happy Groundhog Day! Now let's stop repeating these things on menus

Stop it. Seriously.
Stop it. Seriously.

Groundhog Day may be officially devoted to celebrating a rodent that allegedly has some sort of ability to predict the onset of spring (and we think he's wrong, because despite Phil not seeing his shadow this morning, it's negative degrees outside and very much still winter). But unofficially, it's a celebration of Bill Murray, who made the holiday important by starring in an awesomely hilarious film in which he was doomed to repeat February 2 over and over and over again.

In honor of Murray's character's plight, we've pulled out five items that keep mercilessly repeating themselves on menus -- and need to go. Now.

1. Sliders Small things are cute and all, but we've about reached our limit with tiny burgers, which are looking really tired on starters lists. Especially because the whole gourmet burger trend is also commanding plenty of (occasionally annoying) attention. At this point, we don't ever want to see a tiny sandwich again unless it's gracing a lovely silver platter at an English high tea.

2. Truffle oil With all the flak truffle oil has gotten from the restaurant community at large, we're shocked that it's still around. But we keep finding dishes that reek of the sickly, pungent stuff -- sometimes reek so badly of the stuff that we've had to abandon a dish after two bites.If you must use truffle oil -- and sometimes you must, we suppose -- remember that a very little goes a long, long way.

3. Butternut squash soup We love butternut squash soup in the winter. It's warming. It's delicious. It's also on practically every menu in town, from the Wolfgang Puck's at the airport to high-end dining establishments downtown. And unfortunately, almost all of these are the same standard, butternut squash soup. So while we love butternut squash soup, after eating the same dish for two months, we're ready to pour it down the nearest prairie-dog hole.

4. The poached egg garnish Yes, a poached egg can add something magical to a dish. But that doesn't mean it should be used promiscuously, spilling yolk on everything from parsnips to pancetta to polenta. We're tired of glancing down a menu, only to say, "Oh, yep, there's the poached egg dish, of course." So we propose a moratorium, temporarily sidelining this ingredient for a while unless it's topping an English muffin for a proper eggs Benedict. Then, when it's really magic time, we'll bring it back.

5. The beet-goat cheese-hazelnut combo Okay, we get it. Beets, goat cheese and hazelnuts go together. Really go together. They're a classic combo, like peanut butter and jelly, chips and salsa, wine and cheese, beer and, uh, more beer. The ingredients are harmonious, and seem made for each other. A couple of years ago, that was a revelation. Now we just feel like we're getting beaten over the head -- by beet-goat cheese-hazelnut combos.

Bonus Groundhog Day complaint: Can we all agree that it's time to ditch the 18 percent auto-gratuity for parties over six that's so carefully scripted at the bottom of many menus in town? We know from our days of waiting tables that nine times out of ten, those policies just screw the server out of an extra 2 percent, since most large parties default to 20 percent on their own. And whether we'd rather over-tip or send a message by leaving less, not being given the privilege of making our own assessment of the service is just annoying.

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