Here’s a list of phrases that the Chicago Tribune believes should be banned from menus.
For the most part I agree. At school we were instructed to simply list the what the dish is composed of as well as the cooking technique (roasted chicken with root vegetables and chicken jus, for example). Shit, places like Alinea just give you the ingredients, and only the main ones at that (lilac, scallop, shellfish honeydew is one on their menu online. This dish could be anything).
Phrases such as “grilled to perfection” ought to be left off, because that should go without saying.
Instead of saying something is “homemade”, the wording should be “house made”, because it is worthwhile and important to distinguish when the restaurant makes things from scratch versus buying everything from Sysco.
What’s funny is that the place I worked at last fall (and hated so much), had a menu filled with a long list of menu “crimes”. Here’s just a sampling, and really, I’m not making this up:
- Wild caught delicious scallops
- fresh home made croutons
- A flavorful salad
- We use the richest wine, the earthiest meat stock and the best quality onions melted in butter. We top this old classic with imported Gruyère cheese to offer the perfect “gratiné”
- A beautiful skewer of basil vinaigrette marinated shrimp and fresh vegetables cooked on the grill until firm and juicy
I think you get the idea, and that just gets us through the appetizers on the dinner menu.
I think the french onion soup description is the best of all of them because it’s just so over the top. The richest wine? We used boxed burgundy. The earthiest veal stock? Sure, we made our own veal stock, but as for being the earthiest? It’s not like we tossed black truffles into it. The best quality onions? Yeah, just like every other restaurant in the country who get 50 pound bags of onions from U.S. Foods or Sysco. And “we top this old classic”, who the fuck talks like that?
Based on my own experience when I see a menu filled with superlatives and promises of deliciousness I tend to keep walking, because the best quality ingredients and best preparations don’t need to be shouted from the hilltop, they can be tasted in the dining room.