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March 9, 2010

Top Ten menu irritants

cheeseThe inspiration for today's Top Ten Tuesday list came from language guru John McIntyre, who suggested Top Ten Irritating Examples of Menu-Speak. 

He was good enough to provide No. 1.

He was not good enough to provide Nos. 2 through 9, which is unfair because he's unemployed and I'm busy here at work.

I branched out a bit from pure language offenses to generally offensive things on menus -- up to, but not including, the sticky film on the average plastic-coated diner carte.

The list:

No. 1: "Au jus" written as a noun

No. 2: "Fashion forward food" (Milan, Little Italy)

No. 3: Euros (Milan)

No. 4: "Adolescent Lettuces"

These greens drive too fast and ignore their parents but get along fine with the celery root and toasted cumin dressing at Woodberry Kitchen.

No. 5: "[T]he 'r' is silent."

A pronunciation guide pops up unexpectedly in the description of Golden West Cafe's Apple Blueberry Chevre Salad: "Bed of mixed greens topped with thinly sliced granny smith apples, chevre cheese (the 'r' is silent) and rum coriander pecans. in blueberry dijon vinaigrette dressing." So nice to know they're looking out for rubes who might otherwise order the "chev-ray" salad. Crisis averted.

No. 6: No substitutions (Golden West)

No. 7: No split checks (Golden West)

No. 8: EVOO

I'd like to enjoy my beets, goat cheese, mache and extra virgin olive oil at Crush without thinking about oil acronym-er Rachael Ray.

No. 9: "Wild Wolfs Beef Shack"

If this Arbutus eatery really is wild, they need to claim it with an apostrophe.

No. 10: "Ask your Hooters Girl about the soup of the day!"


Better watch how you talk about goat cheese at Golden West Cafe. Sun photo by Doug Kapustin

Posted by Laura Vozzella at 5:23 AM | | Comments (35)
Categories: Top Ten Tuesdays


Who are the rubes at Golden West Cafe who think they know French pronunciation? In the word chèvre, the "r" IS pronounced, although the following "e" is more or less silent.

ReCaptcha: than jimenez (wonder how those rubes will pronounce that...)

My top peeve is calling mesclun "mesculine" salad or some variant on that.

Spit checks? really?

Let's not turn it into a golden west bash two posts in.

Woodberry has callem them adolescent lettuces from the beginning, and I think it even used to say "broken curfew" etc.

ahhhhhh good ol' golden west. i haven't been back there in 2+ yrs. i think it's time for another chance.

captcha: greaseball hipster

Tapas in general. I'm just done with them. Possible exception: Pazo.

Re: No. 9.

Yes, somebody really should edit stuff before it gets printed, huh LV...? I mean, can you imagine how embarrassing it must be to have something appear before the public with, say, a typo in it, LV? Well, no, I'm sure you can't, since, ya know, what are the odds of that happening to you, LV? Right? I mean, imagine if there were a missing character in one of YOUR posts. Ha! Never happen, right?

Ahem... Glass houses, stones, and whatnot.

Proofreading, alas, is a dead art. I once received a wedding invitation with "hope" spelled incorrectly (hpoe). The joke has outlasted the marriage by going on 6 years, now.

11. "Fusion" denoting an otherwise standard cuisine with one odd ingredient. ie marinara sauce with bok choy is not Italian-Chinese fusion. "Signature" would be a better term.

captcha: parry potential.. warding off attention from the food to the menu is a mistake, not a potential one.


One of the restaurants down near the City Dock in Annapolis (forget which one) had on their menu a "mescaline" (as in "active psychotropic ingredient in peyote") salad. I asked the waiter how the Naval Academy folk felt about that item being on the menu, but I don't think the fellow got the humor of the incongruity even after I explained the difference between "mesclun" and "mescaline". Or maybe the staff or the chef did get the joke, and merely feigned ignorance of the significance of their little anarchic touch.

For whatever reason, that menu slip-up struck me as really funny, and I spent the whole meal giggling to myself - I simply couldn't stop. Anybody watching might have thought the salad really had contained something other than mesclun.

Captcha - "in nibbling"

typefaces that can't be read in the dim lighting.

For an out-of-town menu reference, there's at least one restaurant near Chicago that advertises "Authentic Marilyn Crab Cakes". I didn't know Ms. Monroe (or Ms. Chambers) cooked crustaceans.

this list had me cracking up...what is fashion forward food btw?

"House Made" & "House Smoked"...

Who's house?

I'd like to enjoy my beets, goat cheese, mache and extra virgin olive oil at Crush without thinking about oil acronym-er Rachael Ray.

I almost slapped a friend the other day for proclaiming something "Yum-o".

"Mescaline" salad is by far my favorite ... though a close second is when restaurants advertise their prefix menu -- a problem I've been seeing freakishly often lately.

One place had a salad of "European greens" instead of mesclun. More like American weeds. When your salad has ingredients that grow between cracks in the sidewalk in Highlandtown, no need to get all highfalutin

what hampster said. that's basic french. hell, it's basic english:

Rachel Ray-isms drive me nuts. No Yumo's no EVOO's (always followed by Extra virgin olive oil) allowed near me!

My pet peeve is the new restaurant that puts its menu on line -- but omits the prices. In these perilous times, I want to know whether my T-bone with garlic smashed potatoes will cost $15.95, $32.95 or somewhere in-between. It's not smart marketing for any restaurant -- but especially one that's trying to build a clientele -- to create an inviting website but keep the diner's potential tab a mystery.


Along those lines, I dislike when the server goes through the lengthy list of specials including how they're prepared and whether they include masculine greens, but don't reveal the price. I won't order unless I know the price and I'm not too proud to ask.

Chevre. The trouble with the "re" at the end of chevre is that the "r" while not silent is--for lack of a better word--swallowed. Better that those who haven't mastered this just don't try to work the "r" in there at all.

Or we could go with the odd solution to the pronunciation of Bret Favre's name and call it cherve?

LOL @ flaquita

Does anyone actually call the Louvre "Loo-vray"?

My biggest menu peeve: "cooked to perfection" (Shouldnt everything be???)


Oh, and hon, to go with that, "wet your appetite."

Chicken Out: Eat Good

"Freshly Prepared" and similar phrases bug me.

Does that mean its made when you order it, or that the ingredients are fresh?

dude it prob means like made whenevs

flaquita, like in Something About Mary?


I'll tell you what kind of rube I once dined with. He said "Every restaurant has it on their menu, but I ain't never tried that Soup Doojer. Is it good?"

Hungry Hippo--are you sure he wasn't pulling your leg?

Come on - bash that Golden West. Golden West = pretentiousness. No reason for that - their food is mediocre and service subpar.

I've heard stories about women who named their babies "Nosmo King" because they saw a "sign" when they were in labor. The sign was "NO Smoking"!

Oh, and btw, shill spam at 2:39 AM

Joyce - On a trip to the zoo when we were kids, mom pointed out a rare breed of birds to us, "Watch Fingers"...

Have you ever seen the price of those Highlandtown weeds at the farmers' markets? Mind boggling!

You used to be able to get delicious mescaline greens in Ojai, California in the early 70's. I wish I'd tried 'em. Now they're too expensive.

"30 dummies"

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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