Posts tagged “diner”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Denny's is trying to restake its claim as a nocturnal hot spot for young adults. – The restaurant chain has been trying to set a different scene for night owls. Between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. it pipes in rock and country music and it is scheduling after-concert parties for up-and-coming bands. It has added late-night menu items fashioned by well-known musicians including Rascal Flatts and Good Charlotte. On Tuesday, singer Jewel is slated to concoct a new Denny's menu item at a New York test kitchen.

    Denny's last year created the "Allnighter" program, which includes adopting emerging musicians and offering a "rockstar" menu for night patrons. It gives adoptees $1,000 in Denny's gift cards so they can eat while touring. Then, Denny's uses Twitter and MySpace to inform its target market of 18- to 24-year-olds when and where the adopted bands' after-parties will be held and when new menu items are added.

    The program itself hasn't been as big of a hit, though. The chain of more than 1,500 restaurants said late-night traffic has increased just 5%.

Would you like a bed of Gilory garlic pomme frites with that?

The Seattle Times defines some of the fancy-shmancy words that we’re encountering more frequently in restaurants, including:

Beluga lentils
Day-boat scallops/Diver’s scallops
Hanger steak
Kurobuta pork
Mache (aka lamb’s lettuce, field salad, corn salad)
Marcona almonds
Paddlefish caviar
Panna cotta
Squid ink
Wagyu beef

The article is well-intentioned, but futile, isn’t it? I look at that list and haven’t encountered too many of ’em, but can think of other terms that eventually prompt each person around the table to glance up and mutter “What the hell is Ponzu sauce?”

Menus are my favorite thing to good-naturedly gripe about (note that most of my other gripes are not good-natured). It’s increasingly difficult to make the leap from the menu text to its basic concept, then to a visualization the visual, and then the taste – in order to decide if this is something one would want to eat.

I always cite the (since redesigned) Denny’s menu as a great example – it showed an overhead view of a plate with the actual item on it. Denny’s obviously doesn’t want to add the descriptors, it’s outside their brand…while other restaurants revel in the preparation verbs such as hand-picked, slow-churned, drizzled (and the occasional confusing-as-hell newfangled term, causing us all to look up and mutter “What the hell is ‘flash-embrizzled?’ “).

Next, stir in the geographical adjectives. Tuscan morels, Curincherria oysters, St. Endouille-upton-Styme pickles.

I am occasionally fortunate to go to some restaurant where even if I can strip away the adjectives (okay, that would be chicken breast with mashed potatoes and veggies) what ends up arriving is something that looks nothing like this:
Instead it’s some …creation…something amazing and invented as well as delicious. That’s a rare occurrence, of course.


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