In an effort to be just a little more like Andy Rooney (this is one New Year's resolution we're delighted to keep), let's embrace our inner cynic and roll out 2015 with some needless criticism, shall we?
"Respect your food" has always been imperative at the dinner table and we, for the most part, follow this, unlike some of our siblings who enjoyed squeeze cheese on whatever edibles were in the house.
And while respecting your food can have a variety of meanings (i.e., don't play with it or build weird sculptures; don't spit it out; don't say it's gross; be thankful for what you have, etc.), not describing your food in poor taste also falls under this category -- and the Twin Cities restaurant scene is just as guilty as Guy Fieri.
Perhaps you know what we mean. In 2012, Pete Wells of the New York Times wrote a fantastically scathing review of Guy Fieri's Times Square restaurant and the offensive language used to describe menu items. As Wells points out, a simple cheeseburger is described in the following hyper-descriptive (and what we can only imagine is an inside joke) paragraph:
"Guy's Pat LaFrieda custom blend, all-natural Creekstone Farm Black Angus beef patty, LTOP (lettuce, tomato, onion + pickle), SMC (super-melty-cheese) and a slathering of Donkey Sauce on garlic-buttered brioche." (Note that if you visit Guy's American website, the menu items offer new, slimmer word counts -- but a Guy Fieri graphic still pops up with every click, asking you "How money is that?!" and proclaiming "Love, Peace, Taco Grease.")
There'll be no peace in our homes after seeing that. (Werner Herzog voice: We in modernity have collectively summoned a world to embody everything that shames us, and it is called Flavortown.)
So what restaurants in the Twin Cities can compete with the spiky-haired goblin from Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives?
First off, we visit the Triple Rock. If you ever have brunch at the Triple Rock (which is tasty, we might add), steel yourself when the menu arrives. For a rudimentary egg-in-toast, you get this description:
"Rock Star Egg-In-A-Hole - toast + egg $7.50 If you are unfamiliar with egg-in-a-hole you are definitely not a rock star. Through a complicated scientific process, we meld egg and toast together, creating a hybrid to kick breakfast ass. We'll serve you up two egg-in-a-hole and home fries. Want the whole experience? Get it with cheese for $1.00 more."
This simply should not need the explanation it gives, and I don't necessarily agree that toast and egg is a real rock-star ass kicker since there's not even a sauce involved, but you get the idea. And the incredible thing is that each menu item has its own sassy description, when all you really want is something to curb the nausea from your blinding hangover.
Other offenders include, not surprisingly, Psycho Suzi's, a restaurant built on the foundation of kitsch. The appetizer section of the menu begins by saying that "Literally, all of our luscious and calorie free appetizers are made one at a time by the hands of fair Minnesota maidens... who sing tiki songs and repair cars and of course, cook." We imagine that all takes place in the rockabilly nirvana pocket dimension located way up the restaurant's butt instead of the regular hot loud kitchen we always get seated next to.
Hell's Kitchen also made the list, writing that their tater tots are "so popular in Minnesota, these are practically a food group" -- and while yes they are a beloved side dish and casserole ingredient, the description is lazy and borrowed from Philip Seymour Hoffman's character in Twister. (Note to self for Twister-themed restaraunt: The Chicken Fingers of God with F5 sauce. Suckzone!)
But all three of these restaurants have something in common: a penchant for bad-assery. Which is why we found it so surprising that a restaurant that has not one single ounce of rebellion in its hotel-restaurant-like-atmosphere maintains such an irritating menu. We're looking at you, Freehouse.
In Freehouse's case, it's not the description, it's the name. You'd have to pay us to utter the words "Grilled Chix Waangs" with a straight face, especially since we don't quite know how to pronounce "Waangs." Breaky (breakfast), Handhelds (sandwiches), and Greens (salads) make up a majority of the offerings, and while the menu is somewhat interesting (muesli with Fruity Pebbles?), we remain distracted and horrified by the idea of ordering a "Rustic Avo-Sando." I can't help but wonder if the menu's authors were refugees from a distant totalitarian future, and wrote the menu in their future broken Ing-soc language. At least they escaped to a freer time and named their restaraunt Freehouse in celebration.
What's the take-home here? We have to be critical about everything we read and watch, so let's try not to sully the simplicity and beauty of something as flawless as an Eggs Benedict. Let's all be a little more direct with each other. Let's call a cheeseburger a cheeseburger, not a fromage et trois moo-meat stacker stuffed between two staves of life. Besides that, if the food is good, it'll speak for itself -- no commentary needed.
And the wind cries... Moons Over My Hammy®
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