Venkatesh Rao coined the phrase "premium mediocre" and wrote about it on Ribbonfarm. The term came to him when dining at Veggie Grill. He describes that particular restaurant as in the same class as Chipotle which, of course, is inarguable premium mediocre. Below are some other things that Rao has identified as premium mediocre. Please list others in the comments! From Ribbonfarm:
Premium mediocre is the finest bottle of wine at Olive Garden. Premium mediocre is cupcakes and froyo. Premium mediocre is “truffle” oil on anything (no actual truffles are harmed in the making of “truffle” oil), and extra-leg-room seats in Economy. Premium mediocre is cruise ships, artisan pizza, Game of Thrones, and The Bellagio.
Premium mediocre is food that Instagrams better than it tastes.
Premium mediocre is Starbucks’ Italian names for drink sizes, and its original pumpkin spice lattes featuring a staggering absence of pumpkin in the preparation. Actually all the coffee at Starbucks is premium mediocre. I like it anyway.
Premium mediocre is Cost Plus World Market, one of my favorite stores, purveyor of fine imported potato chips in weird flavors and interesting cheap candy from convenience stores around the world.