eating out on the road

On a recent trip to Portland, we overnighted in Astoria, Oregon. Thinking to treat me to something new, my wife took me to a Thai restaurant. The food was horrible! And when informed that our dinners were inedible, the manager insisted that we must still pay for them because we had "tasted" them. How else were we to know they were as bad as they were? And what is the best recourse for travellers in this situation? Any suggestions? (We tried to put the "meal" on Amex so we could contest the bill, but they were having none of it).

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