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May 19, 2011 10:06 AM

Words that Annoy You in Restaurant Reviews

Lately certain words have begun to annoy me, in reviews, articles etc. For instance, whenever I see the word "gem" in a restaurant review, such as in yelp, menupages, etc. I immediately think it's a planted phony review. I also cringe if someone writes yummi"ness", good"ness", gooey"ness" etc. Anyone else feel the same way or have other words they find bothersome in food writing? "Foodie", is also another annoying word, but we've covered that one here pretty thoroughly before.

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  1. Unctuous - I know it's a good descriptive word, but it's just overused.

    And if anyone uses "yummy" in a review, I just think they're an idiot.

    "Cooked to perfection" is a phrase that always makes me think "well, YEAH, I'm paying for damn well better be cooked to perfection!"

    14 Replies
    1. re: LindaWhit

      Unctuous annoys me, too. And I don't know why, but I hate the word mouthfeel.

      1. re: dmjordan

        Yes, I have to force myself to continue any review with "mouthfeel." And if I read it a second time, I'm done.

        1. re: gaffk

          And what would you suggest as a substitute?

          1. re: Jase

            They could just describe the texture?

            1. re: gaffk

              texture and mouthfeel are not exactly the same ting

              1. re: thew

                I was thinking the same thing, texture doesn't cover creaminess or other factors that you do after all feel in your mouth.

                1. re: buttertart

                  For me, creaminess definitely describes texture. Mouthfeel is superfluous. It means texture. Besides, mouthfeel makes me think of fungus growing in a mouth--that's just me.

            2. re: Jase

              The title of the post is just asking for words that annoy you, not necessarily asking you for a substitute for the annoying word.

              1. re: dmjordan

                But if a reviewer wants to describe a particular sensory perception, s/he needs a word to do that. It's useful information to know whether a restaurant is well-lit; if you don't like that word, then "bright" or "lambent" might work, even though the connotations are different for each.

                It seems there are only two ways a reviewer can avoid annoying you by use of the word "mouthfeel" - to come up with synonyms, or to avoid all discussion about how food feels in the mouth. Given that mouthfeel is an important part of the dining experience, the latter seems like a bad idea. So if you can't suggest an alternative, what's the point of being annoyed?

                1. re: alanbarnes

                  I don't think one can decide to be annoyed or not. A lot of words that people said annoyed them are perfectly good words, as is mouthfeel. But it just annoys me. And I don't think any reviewer out there is making an effort not to annoy me so I don't have to come up with an alternative.

                2. re: dmjordan

                  A local food reviewer used the word "pocked" when he tried to say something was studded with something (or other phrase). Really gross. Sounds like someone pocked with a bad complexion, or chicken pox.

              2. re: gaffk

                I use that word to describe more than the texture of the food.

            3. re: LindaWhit

              Lol - NYT Sam Sifton uses “unctuous” today in his review of the Dutch. Before you mentioning the word I never noticed it.

              1. re: LindaWhit

                Yes, (fill in the blank) "to perfection" is what I really am tired of reading & hearing.

              2. Years ago our local food writer used to always say the food was "piping hot". That got to be pretty boring.

                1. "Affordable prices": the reviewers must earn a lot more than I do.

                    1. re: Mr Taster

                      I hadn't thought much about it until I read the thread about "What Does Authentic Mean?" and came to the conclusion that authentic really doesn't mean that much except in the eye of the beholder, or in very general terms, as in "enchiladas made with flour tortillas and canned condensed soup are not authentic".

                    2. Any dollar word where a dime word will do ("I perused the offerings" versus "the menu had"). Plus, I will go postal if they keep throwing out "eponymous" to show they know the word. Some of this stuff reads like the food equivalent of a Conquest Letter in a skin magazine.

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: hazelhurst

                        I completely agree. The dollar word that gets under my skin most is "redolent". Say "it had garlic in it" instead of "it was redolent of garlic."

                        1. re: agoodbite

                          If you're served a dish chock full of garlic that does not smell like garlic, then that dish is not redolent of garlic, although it has garlic in it. I'm not advocating the overuse of the word "redolent," but it does mean something other than "present."

                          My choice for please-stop-using-that-term-please-I'm-begging-you is "haute barnyard," which Adam Platt of New York Magazine invented (I think) and then used to extreme excess in an effort to make it a catch phrase, or something.

                          1. re: small h

                            "haute barnyard" - LOL! Is that like cows wearing dinner jackets?

                            1. re: small h

                              WTH does "hauté barnyard" even MEAN?

                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                Sometimes it refers to the food: "The duck breast (sliced and served with Brussels sprouts on a bed of wheat berries) and country chicken (drizzled with brown butter and lemons) are competent renditions of these standard haute-barnyard dishes."

                                Sometimes it refers to the decor: "The windowless dining space in the back is much bigger than that of the original restaurant, and decorated in a style that might be described as Haute Barnyard, with a long, communal farm table in the middle of the room, dimly lit booths in the back, and artsy depictions of painted sheep, oversize chicken bones, and giant, sculptural tangerine peels scattered over the brick walls."

                                It's the intersection of rustic and precious. Like micro-kale.

                                1. re: small h

                                  I hope you made the artsy depictions up, "oversize chicken bones" , very funny!

                                  1. re: michele cindy

                                    I wish I could take credit, but those are direct quotes from Platt's reviews. And I don't think he was trying to be funny.

                                2. re: LindaWhit

                                  @LindaWhit: Wow, and adding a nonexistent accent mark -- even better.