My job means that I end up eating out in London a fair bit. This in turn means I see a fair whack of different menus on my travels. The descriptions on menus have become a pet hate for me. Though there are a few restaurants who nail their menus, Big Easy in Covent Garden and Hawksmoor in general who spring to mind, there are quite a few who get it really badly wrong. As far as I can tell there are a few main categories of menu. We’ll start at the bottom.
Honesty. Low end pub grub and greasy spoon. No mention of provenance. You know full well your pie is from Brake Bros, the chips are frozen, and dropped into the fryer. On the whole, food like this is pretty depressing. I resent paying £12.50 for a frozen mystery meat pie and chips when I could make something at home a hundred percent better for about twenty percent of the cost. That said, they serve a purpose and, I’m sure many people eat at places like this all the time and enjoy it.
Secondly, the flowery, wanky description menu. Mr Restaurateur who charges a hundred quid a head for dinner somehow feels the need to blind you with descriptions of every single detail of the meal that you are just about to eat, in order to convince you that there is no possible way you could have sourced and cooked this meal at home. Triple cooked chips? Agreed, they taste fucking delicious. Do I need to know they are triple cooked? No. 21/24/28/31/1000/insert number here aged beef, sourced from Donald Brown, Ashurst Farm, third turning on the left and down a bit, off the b1264 near Lower Ashlington on Water. Do I need to know that? No. If you are going to charge me £35 for a steak I trust that you have put an effort in to source a decent bit of meat that isn’t to be a dry, grey lump of gristly sinew.
Finally, and frankly, the most heinous of all: The minimalist. Favoured by those oh so achingly trendy, tiny, no reservation restaurants of Soho. A main course might read ‘Pork, Potatoes, Hen’s Egg: 8.5. 8.5? What the fuck is that? A score that a pre-pubescent girl from an ex-Soviet state might score whilst balancing on a bit of gym equipment, that is what. Or, perhaps it is a secret way that the chefs at restaurants score their own dishes on some kind of arbitrary scale, who knows.