Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Reductionist restaurant names

You know, like Fig, or Olive. I really don't like those restaurant names which reduce their entire offering to one ingredient. Or even two, yes, Fig + Olive I'm talking to you.

Worse still is that small chain of restaurants in West London which included Red Pepper, Green Olive and Purple Basil. They are named after not just any variety of pepper, olive or basil, but a very particular one.

An aside, I was once asked by a friend of my new-at-the-time boyfriend whether 'he's red peppered you yet'. For a moment I thought she had indiscreetly revealed some bizarre fetish, but it turns out it was just his choice of Red Pepper as a location for dates. (Yes, he had).

It's so offputting. What if I don't want to eat fig? Can I still eat at Fig? What happens when figs are out of season?  (Yes, though American supermarkets work hard to subvert this reality, fruit and veg really are seasonal).

My golden rule is to never eat in a restaurant named after a single ingredient or dish. I just don't like it. There are some exceptions to this rule:

1a. If the restaurant's name covers a whole area of the menu, not just one dish or ingredient. Especially if it is the house speciality. Like any oyster bar, steak house or burger joint that features only the name of its raison d'etre on its fascia.

There's a place near us called Burgers and Cupcakes, which strikes me as a fatally doomed attempt to capitalize on two very different target markets. Maybe it's perfect for an early date. But then, why is it always so empty in there? Anyway, I digress. I haven't tried it because it looks awful, and I can't get excited about burgers and cupcakes, but the name can stand.

1b. If the restaurant's name refers to the only thing they serve. This is different to the house speciality I mention above. Rather, this is the house mono-ality (a word I just invented). Porchetta is a good example.

2. If I tried it anyway, and I like it. Take Artichoke Basille, a pizza joint near us. It's bad enough that it seems they named themselves after two very specific ingredients, one of which I don't even like on pizza. Basille happens to be the owner's last name, which is just confusing. It looks like they mean Artichoke and Basil but cannot spell.

And yet... they serve this incredible crab pizza, with a creamy crab (possibly Krab actually) topping, for which I will forgive them anything. I think about it literally every day.

Hey, I made the rule, so surely I can break it?

No comments:

Post a Comment