Our much-loved, some might even say “legendary”, Urban Carnivore section demands that we eat out a lot. There we are, perspiring and hunched, sending that last spoonful of brisket carpaccio down the hatch. And while most experiences are terrific, there are restaurant foibles that we wouldn’t mind throwing headfirst out of the window.
Like the bizarre behaviour of waiting staff. Crouching down to speak to “you guys” like you’re all weeping infants with grazed knees. Plus that giggly conspiratorial whisper, “you’ve gotta try the mango ‘slaw – I just love it”. Then there’s the insistence on “just taking a minute to explain the menu”. Oh, I’m sure I can work it out, thanks. And dicing with death by not using a notepad to remember an order. Ugh.
Also let’s put the kibosh on prices being shown to one decimal place. Writing that your chips cost “2.7” looks like a misguided clutch at edgy nonchalance, the equivalent of pluralising your name with a “z” rather than an “s”. Maybe it’s a ploy to make the price of dishes look softer, but they just resemble the answer to a Year 9 maths question about “rounding up to two significant figures”. Whatever the reason, it should stop.
You may have also noticed that restaurants, particularly street-food places, seem intent on turning us into disgusting sauce-faced messy boys. A teetering, sludgy, punily bunned burger? You won’t be needing any napkins, senor! Wearing a white shirt? Not for long you ain’t! Please, less sauce. And if you’re having to spear a huge samurai cleaver through my burger to keep it together, you’ve overdone the fillings.
If your “executive chef” hasn’t been crowned Super King Of The Universe, we don’t need to know his life story. We don’t need a smouldering black-and-white headshot and a bio on your website. “He once made the world’s crunchiest toast!” Wow, great. The rise of the celebrity chef has led to restaurants clamouring to create their own, when most of the time it isn’t needed. It’s enough for them to just be able to steam a good ham.
This one’s been flagged up a lot on Twitter, but still it persists: where are the plates? Just give us a plate. We don’t go home and eat off grey bricks. We’ll be alright if our triple-cooked frites don’t sit in a Thermos flask. Even with the persistent moaning about this, it doesn’t stop.
And foam. Why are things reduced to foam? Foam is for baths.
And supper clubs. They’re no better than a normal night at the restaurant.
And workshops. We’re not training to be carpenters.
And menus inspired by abstract, meaningless things. “The gay abandon of 1930s Slough” doesn’t get us salivating.
But yeah, most of the time we really enjoy ourselves.
Did we miss anything? Are we spectacularly wrong? Let us know on Twitter!
Words: Josh Williams
An international festival of light
Dinner in a decommissioned 1967 underground carriage
Half-price brunch and a HUGE fried chicken burger