The Instinct, Part II


Last week, while thinking about nuclear-powered tacos, I started deconstructing my eater's instinct into its component rules. So, in this ongoing project, I'll offer you questionable advice and possibly even move closer to enlightenment myself. This week: a few prejudices regarding restaurant names.

If a restaurant has a number in the name that refers to some part of its address, it will suck 75% of the time. If it has the word "lounge" in the name, it will suck 100% of the time. Thus: if you go somewhere called something like "Lounge 47," it will suck 175% of the time, which means that not only will your meal be bad, but the experience of it will continue to ruin three of your next four meals. I, in fact, went to a place with that very name, and tasted beans that tickled my lips with the unmistakable tingle of fermentation. The Champagne of beans, if you will, which had an impressive resonance with the unappealing "Champagne" they used in their mimosas. Catty griping aside, what can you tell by a name? A lot, I think. Restaurateurs are not expected to be poets, so I'm not looking to be moved by the beautiful language of a restaurant's name. But you can get a sense of sincerity, of creativity. "Lounge" is an affectation, trying to evoke a certain posh languidness, only no place called a "lounge" in 2007 is ever really that cool, what with everything and everyone inside trying so hard to look cool. And you'll be hard pressed to find good, honest food in a place of pretension. So what's wrong with calling it a "bar"? Address numbers are dull, uninspired, overly pragmatic, even lifeless. Make 'em remember how to get to you? Why not just make 'em remember you? (wd~50, which I adore, is the most insistent rebuttal to this point, and the sole reason I keep an open mind about number-named restaurants.) And while I did say that I'm not looking for poetry, at least show some respect for language. There's a hot new place in New York City named, unforgivably, "The Inn LW12." Daniel Boulud is involved in the place, so I will be compelled to go there—and will probably love the food. But who on God's green earth thinks that's an appropriate name for anything? The "LW12" refers to "Little West 12th Street," so it's already in dangerous territory. More importantly, though, it's a miserable mouthful. Seven syllables! Nothing should have seven syllables in its name unless it's for medical use.

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