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French Restaurant Spotting Guide (humor)

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  • Burke and Wells Oct 5, 2001 02:36 AM
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French restaurants fall into one of three groups: "formal," "homey" and "hipster." Here's how you can tell which one you are in.

Located in St. Helena, Union Square, Palo Alto or Saratoga: Hipster
Location in Los Altos, Atherton, or on Nob Hill: Formal
Location in Mountain View, San Carlos, or Cupertino: Homey

Façade is a sheet of glass and aluminum: Hipster
Façade is brick, with two small windowpanes and a wooden door: Homey
Façade is hidden in a garden and it's very hard to spot the entrance: Formal

Exposed gridwork on the ceiling: Hipster
18th century wall coverings: Formal
Faux rooftops around the tops of the walls for an "indoor-outdoor" feeling: Homey

Fixtures of wrought iron: Homey
Fixtures of gold and silver: Formal
Fixtures of hammered and polished copper: Hipster

Recessed, unobstrusive lights: Formal
Faux gaslamps: Homey
Halogen pin spots hanging on bare wires: Hipster

Original Impressionist art and Miro prints on the wall: Formal
Large 1920s French advertising posters placed there last year: Hipster
Large 1970s French advertising posters placed there in the 1970s: Homey

Wait staff is attractive twentysomethings: Hipster
Wait staff is older and European: Homey
Wait staff is actually French: Formal

Menu is printed on cardstock: Homey
Menu is printed in leatherbound book: Formal
Menu is written in white marker on a sheet of glass that is in an ornate gilded picture frame: Hipster

Waiter acts as sommelier: Homey
Sommelier is older than your dad: Formal
Sommelier looks like he's not old enough to drink: Hipster

Chateau d'Yquem is served by the glass: Formal
More than one French wine is served by the glass: Homey
Only California wines are served by the glass: Hipster

Signature dish involves heirloom tomatoes: Hipster
Signature dish involves duck: Formal
Signature dish is a stew: Homey

Meal is generous and filling: Homey
Meal is delicious and there's just enough: Formal
Meal is gigantic but nobody eats much of it: Hipster

Profiteroles feature prominently on the dessert menu: Homey
Exotic, bland-tasting sculptures of chocolate and spun sugar are the featured dessert: Hipster
The dessert wine list is longer than the dessert list: Formal

The bill is moderate and a good deal: Homey
The bill is pricey but worth it: Formal
The bill is outrageous for the slow service and average food quality: Hipster

by Gary Burke

a Burke and Wells essay
wells@emusic.com

Link: http://www.burkeandwells.com

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  1. Enjoyed these distinctions. Fun to read, thanks.