After this weekend I will never visit a fancy restaurant again!
Last weekend I went to a smart restaurant for dinner. I eagerly scanned the menu, only to recoil in horror and confusion. The menu was all in foreign! There were some words I understood, like fried and with, but the dish descriptions were alien to me. The waiter sneered as I pretended to study the menu. He knew I had no clue, the bastard. Panicking, I picked the cheapest dish and hoped it didn’t have tentacles.
If you are intending to visit a fancy restaurant this weekend, here’s a few translations you need to know. Unless you like dining dangerously.
Starters is not called Starters any more. It’s First Dish, Amuse-Bouche or whatever the pretentious phrase is this week. Soup is no longer soup, it’s bisque. It isn’t cream of mushroom, it’s organic shiitake bisque with crème fraiche emulsion . If you are unfamiliar with those ingredients, who knows what could arrive on your plate? A shit biscuit covered in cream paint?
How about panko encrusted scallops with tamarind drizzle ? Anything with a panko encrustation should be examined by a doctor. I don’t know what a tamarind is, or that it causes drizzle (or indeed any sort of damp weather).
The next danger dish is carpaccio. The description sounds innocent enough – warmed winter salad with organic carpaccio . Carpaccio must be like some kind of goats’ cheese, right? No.
Carpaccio is RAW MEAT. Just-dead. No flame has touched its bloody mass.
You end up with raw beef and cooked salad. The chef must have some serious issues.
Perhaps stick with the bread rolls for now.
Now for the main course, sorry, Dish Principal, Fourth Course or whatever the hell we’re up to by now. Attempting to impress your fellow diners, you order boneless grain-fed Cornish Rock with a compliment of seared potato shards and a blemish of spiced Peruvian tomato reduction . Your friends are not impressed when waiter serves you chicken and chips with a dollop of ketchup.
Those dastardly chefs can’t even leave simple Italian food alone. For years I avoided pizza topped with pomodoro, assuming it was some kind of chewy squid. Pomodoro means tomato. Why don’t they just say tomato? And calamaretti is not like spaghetti; it’s some kind of chewy squid.
Sometimes you recognize all the ingredients – except one. Roast (ok) pork (ok) with apple sauce (ok) and seared Ulluco. Uh-oh. Ulluco sounds like it may still have eyes attached. Pan-seared halibut sounds familiar, but unfortunately that psychotic chef has coated it in rocambole jus . Some poor rocambole (which I imagine is some sort of shrew) has been squeezed all over a nice bit of fish. Time for another bread roll.
Thank goodness for dessert! You won’t find any raw cow or crusty crustations in that. Probably.
Although you are reasonably safe ordering anything from the dessert menu, don’t expect your expectations to match what is plonked in front of you.
Four things are guaranteed:
– Your dessert will be six times smaller than expected.
– There will be a single strawberry and two blueberries somewhere on the plate.
– The plate will be coated with a squiggle of unidentifiable brown sauce (probably chocolate and rocambole jus).
– Your dessert will cost six times more than expected.
If you are invited to a fancy restaurant this weekend, be prepared. Be prepared to face three courses of embarrassment, indigestible food and disappointment. Or tell your host you refuse to eat there as you contracted food poisoning after your last visit. Their carpaccio was suspiciously warm.