For example, I know there are people in my area who think that Red Lobster or Outback Steakhouse is fine dining.
Remarkable. I would put those two establishments no higher than Marie Callender's or Mimi's (and probably lower).
But at the same time, I would assert that strict dress codes do not make a restaurant "fine dining," and that snooty, snobbish, snot-nosed wait-staff can ruin a restaurant.
What makes a restaurant fine dining, as I see it, is good food, wait-staff that respect the customers, and kitchen staff that understand and respect the food.
Sadly, on more than one occasion, I've gone into a restaurant, ordered a plate of prime rib, medium, and received something with grill marks. That shows absolutely no understanding of the most basic thing that makes prime rib prime rib: it is a roast, not a steak.It should taste like a roast, not a steak. If I'd wanted a steak, I'd have ordered a steak.
And if I walk into a restaurant, and choose to wash down my dinner with a glass of water (no lemon), and a glass of milk (preferably arriving within a couple of minutes of when the entree arrives), rather than with wine (I'm a teetotaler), I expect my beverage order to be taken care of without any question other than maybe "whole, skim, or low-fat." I don't expect a snot-nosed snob looking at me as if I were from another planet. And if I ask for my meat "medium," it does not mean "medium rare," and it certainly doesn't mean "black-and-blue."
At any rate, though, the closest I've gotten to baking a cake from scratch is one I baked, a long time ago, from a recipe on the back of the Bisquick box. I find that decent quality mixes taste pretty good to begin with, and can work very well as a starting point for something more ambitious (e.g., my strawberry marble cake).