Looking back, I used to go out primarily for entertainment value. I enjoyed being in a fancy space, developing a rapport with the wait staff, people watching, and dressing up for the occasion.
I hate that. It has a very low entertainment/annoyance ratio to me (I hate getting dressed up, for one thing).
I don’t go out to eat, generally, unless there is some compelling reason, because I don’t intrinsically enjoy it. I think that restaurants are intrinsically overpriced (not relative to their costs of doing business, but relative to their value to me compared to cooking at home), I don’t know for sure what’s in the food, and can’t get it exactly the way I like it, the portions are too large, particularly on the carbs (again, for economic reasons), and I really don’t enjoy other people serving or waiting on me, particularly when a tip is expected. I really prefer to do it myself (I have the same annoyance with luggage in hotels).
To me the only reasons to go out to eat are a) to eat something that I couldn’t make myself due to lack of time or ingredients (which is why I almost never go to a steak house), b) as a social occasion with others or c) I’m travelling away from home and have no other choice. But it’s not something about which I ever think, “Boy, I’d sure like to go out to eat in some fancy restaurant.”
[Update a few minutes later]
The very first commenter over at Al Dente has another big reason I don’t like going out:
Too many restaurant owners think that noise = fun, and they actively try to keep the noise level over 90 db. I hate big chain restaurants with concrete walls and floors that have conversations bouncing and echoing off them until they turn into a cacophonous din. I have gotten up with my wife and left restaurants before ordering because the noise was too oppressive. And just for the record, some music enhances the meal (Frank & Dino at an Italian place, etc.), and some music ruins it (I don’t want to have to shout to my dining companions to be heard over the latest blaring hip hop hit). The nadir had to be when I took my wife to a little bar/restaurant in Dallas for an after theater drink, and we were seated beneath a speaker that was blaring some rap song that sounded like a Tourette’s patient giving X-rated how-to instructions to an apprentice rapist.
Particularly when I’m out with friends, trying to have a conversation, I like to be able to hear them and talk to them without shouting. Planet Hollywood? Please. There is absolutely nothing about a place like that to appeal to me, and if I’m with other people who want to go, I do my best to dissuade.
I guess this gets into a broader issue. I am not a “party” person. Which is not to say that I’m not social, or that I don’t enjoy the company of others. I enjoy nothing better than getting together with a bunch of interesting people, but the point of getting together is to discuss interesting things, not to be pummelled with mindless noise shoulder-to-shoulder with a throng. This was true for me even in college. I’ve always hated that. But I have enough problems with going out to eat without having to be assaulted with noise. I don’t understand the attitude that “more volume” equals “more fun.” But apparently for many people, it is, or the places wouldn’t inflict on them what is to me a punishment.