When you eat out, you are served food that is many times more expensive than the food you eat at home. So why do you do it? Where is the value in that? Well, there’s the ‘treat’ or ‘celebration’ aspect, and there’s the ‘I’m not even going to try making that at home’ aspect, and the ‘I’ll be damned if I’m going to cook tonight’ aspect, but once there, you may start noticing the prices on the menu, and that’s when you need some words to make the financial medicine go down easier. And for that, you probably need another decoder, one that will ‘pair’ with your Holiday Accommodations Decoder (see previous column).
Restaurant Menu Decoder
This is the restaurant equivalent to ‘nestled’. Pretty much all food is now required to be called ‘fresh’, ie “Fresh-from-the-garden beets” instead of “beets found in the bin under a bunch of other stuff that had gone a bit off”. Are you going to eat at a restaurant that claims its food is ‘maybe fresh, maybe not, depends on the mood of the chef’? I might be wrong, but I don’t think so.
At times this is something special, othertimes it’s the ‘what the hell was the chef thinking?’ dish. Its state of health is failing fast after a few days of nobody ordering it, so it has been renamed ‘Today’s Special’. On its last legs, it is either going to be turfed at the end of the day or eaten by you.
‘Pan-seared’ is the new ‘Sautéed’ which was once the new ‘Fried’. Fried is cheap, unhealthy and for red-necks. Pan-seared is expensive, healthy and for when you’re all dressed up. Sautéed can go either way. For your ordering convenience, all three are exactly the same.
‘Heaped with’ usually refers to a sauce, ie ‘heaped with our special sauce to hide the fact that our meat is two days past its prime’, or french fries ‘here’s your fish, yes it is in there, you just have to dig around a bit, it is hard to find because . . . it has been ‘heaped with’ french fries’.
The hand goes into the Shake-N-Bake, removes a handful and batters the meat up one side and down the other.
Sure. The chef rushes home, prepares the dish at home, then rushes it back to the restaurant.
This means ‘made at the restaurant’, and you’re wondering, ‘isn’t all food made at the restaurant?’ Yes and no. A good deal of restaurant food comes in great big vats from food supply places. The chef can toss some random new ingredient into the vat food and voila, it becomes ‘house-made’.
Will break teeth.
If your food is ‘served with’ vegetables. prepare to pay a normal price. If the same food is ‘complemented by’, prepare to pay more.
You will die if you eat this.
‘Served hot’ means your food will be served hot. Served ‘piping-hot’ means you’re in for a real treat because . . . well, your food will be served hot.
Mouth-watering vs Palate-pleasing
‘Mouth-watering’ is the default term and refers to food for regular folk. If you dress up and pay more, the food automatically upgrades to ‘palate-pleasing’.
A much prettier way of describing ‘That tiny spot on your plate? Yep, that’s it, sucker’.
Refers to the water served with your meal.
Ice will do that.
Wear stretchy pants when ordering anything hardy.
Has no discernible flavour
A word that sets everybody’s teeth on edge yet is still widely used. Nobody knows why.
When you want to pretend you’re three again.
If a restaurant threatens to ‘pair’ wine to your food, you are definitely about to do the fine-dining thing. Prepare yourself for French words and high prices. But if you’re cheap, like me, just grab yourself a box of rotgut red and ‘pair’ that puppy to some peanut butter sandwiches and serve it ‘al fresco’ at ‘la maison’.
Lay’s sac de plastique