The Making of a Restaurant

Wednesday, January 09, 2002

Yet Another Pet Peeve: "grilled to perfection."

Maybe if your restaurant's signature skill is mastery of the grill. And maybe if you've had the accolade thrust upon you by your customers or critics, who don't hand out perfect grilling scores lightly. Excepting those circumstances, if I never see another menu boast about a product being grilled to perfection, it'll be too soon.

We will never use such language on our menus, unless we can back it up with reliable and noteworthy sources. Superlatives, they are for suckers.
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Monday, January 07, 2002

This week's Reader profiled Chicago's newest restaurant, the Magnolia "$27 entrees in Uptown?!?" Cafe. The owner, Kas Medhat, commented on culinary school vs. the real world: "At school they would say, 'Today we're going to make mayonnaise,' and at work it was like, 'Just do it!' Culinary school alone just doesn't cut it. Young chefs have to get their asses kicked, spend tons of hours in a working kitchen, and the pay sucks ... You have to have the passion."
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Sunday, January 06, 2002

Today's New York Times had an amusing essay on how to find a good restaurant in a foreign city: "You should ask someone who looks like you, or a slightly better-fed version of yourself, maybe someone just a little paunchier than you are and a year or two older ... You're looking for the person you'll be in a couple of years, the one who really knows where to go and what to order, not the person you are now. For as much as you love yourself at the moment, it goes without saying that in the future you expect to be someone you'll love even more, someone you'll absolutely worship, a person you'd spend every waking moment with if you weren't that person already."

This is timely advice. In February I leave for a trip through Europe, which gives me a month to learn the following phrase in four languages: "Hello. I am but a poor Canadian student. Can you recommend an affordable, quirky restaurant that shows off the charm and flavor of your fine burg?"

I expect to spend time in Rome, Munich and a few undetermined points between. Any suggestions?

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