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Apr 18, 2013 08:32 PM

Your Biggest Restaurant Menu Pet Peeve

So what are the things on restaurant menus that you just don't like. Print too small, misleading dish names/descriptions, no prices listed, etc...anything. What don't you like?

One thing that comes to my mind is menus that list KOBE beef.

Before late 2012, actual Kobe beef had never been allowed into the US...yet you still saw the name proudly listed on menus. As of today there have been either 5 or 7 TOTAL Kobe beef cattle (carcases) imported since the ban was lifted in 2012. That isn't alot. LoL (I just checked my facts, and there have been 8 carcases imported into the US).

As a matter of fact, the US imports in 2012 were not only the first in the US...but it was the first time Kobe had been exported ANYWHERE in the world outside of Asia!

So...what's your "beef" with restaurant menus?

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    1. re: sandylc

      THIS!! bad spelling or typos!!! nearly everyplace prints in-house now. this is utterly inexcusable. i want to come back in my next life as a menu fairy and fix them!

      also, lack of vintages of wine lists and no prices on cocktail menus.

        1. re: hotoynoodle

          Agreed! Typos are 100% inexcusable.

          1. re: CindyJ


            Even immigrant-driven, ethnic spots?

            1. re: ipsedixit

              Okay, okay -- there are certain places where I'm more likely to tolerate typos -- not excuse them, but tolerate them. It takes but a few minutes to have someone proofread a menu; to not take that time comes across as a shrug of the shoulders and an implied attitude of "It's good enough." Truth is, maybe it is good enough... and maybe it isn't. But it's better to err on the safe side. I'm not faulting someone for having less-than-perfect English; I'm faulting them for not caring enough about the impression that typos may leave with their customers.

              1. re: CindyJ

                I hear ya on the caring enough part, but sometimes some people (because English is like their 3rd or 4th language) just don't even know they are making typos.

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  It does bug me in a place that has had menus professionally printed. I never hold it against the owners, but I do get disgusted by the lack of professionalism exhibited by the designer who laid the document out.

                  1. re: MGZ

                    Yes, if it's Per Se or Alinea, then by all means, we should throw a tissy-fit.

                    But if it's Grandma's Punjabi Kitchen down the street, eh, not so much.

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      Actually, I think Grandma deserves just as much respect (if not more) from a designer she's paying as that accorded to Mr. Keller. As I noted, I don't blame the owners, just the designers and printers.

                      1. re: MGZ

                        How can Grandma expect perfection when the Plume can't even get the spelling on the wine list printed correctly?

                        1. re: MGZ

                          I was assuming Grandma did *not* have her menus professionally designed/made, unless you consider Kinkos a "designer" ...

                        2. re: ipsedixit

                          I am with you on this.

                          Now, a typo at an ethnic restaurant might be fodder for Jay Leno, but not for me.


                        3. re: MGZ

                          When the restaurant owners are that lacking in English proficiency, chances are they are patronizing printers that are from the same recent immigrant network with the same or slightly better level of English proficiency.

                        4. re: ipsedixit

                          If English is a restaurant owner's 2nd or 3rd or 4th language, then he/she has to know that there are likely to be errors in a self-written menu. Look at it from another perspective -- if you owned a restaurant in Brazil, and if Portugese was not your first language, wouldn't you want someone who was fluent in that language to review your menu?

                          1. re: CindyJ

                            Maybe. But that's easier said than done.

                            Trust me, I've been there. It's not that easy to get a menu right when that menu is not written in your native tongue.

                            1. re: CindyJ

                              That's usually my argument. Most people know their approximate level of proficiency whether it be in another language or just with spelling of their own language. Adults take care of this by having someone who is better at it than they are take a look at it.

                              1. re: sandylc

                                What I've seen is that a non-English speaking chef/owner will get the ESL relative to do the proofreading.

                                1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                  That's like the near-sighted leading the blind.

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    Darn my Personal Policy about Rec's.

                                    If this were fB, I'd certainly Like your comment.

                                2. re: CindyJ

                                  Maybe they could hire a Madison Ave ad agency, to do the menu?


                                3. re: ipsedixit

                                  Those people should know automatically that their menu requires a proofreader with native-English ability.

                                  1. re: Tripeler

                                    Why? To satisfy spelling-obsessed chowhounds? For many immigrant owners, funding comes from within their own immigrant community, not one of the big banks. Same goes for operating advise.

                                    Jennifer 8 Lee has a good chapter in her Fortune Cookie Chronicles about a young Chinese couple trying to operate a restaurant in small town Georgia.

                                    Immigrant Advantage also delves into the immigrant communities and support systems.

                                    I suspect menu proof reading is much lower on their priority list than ours.

                                    1. re: paulj

                                      Not only is menu proofing for English accuracy low on the priority totem-pole, but many immigrant driven restaurant owners focus more on proofing the menus for their own native language, and audience.

                                      The English translation oftentimes is simply an annoyance they put up with.

                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        The point is, ipse, that, in the same way a lawyer should proof the words he puts in a paper for the benefit of his client, a designer/printer should do the same. People doin' their jobs is just that - people doin' their jobs. If a restaurant hires someone to type out, design, and/or print their menu, I find it awful that the folks doin' the work for 'em do such a sh*tty job.

                                        1. re: MGZ

                                          But you're assuming that the restaurant actually "hires someone to type out, design, and/or print their menu."

                                          Where do you get that assumption from?

                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                            I'm not making any assumptions, I'm merely sayin' that when I see a menu that has been professionally printed, I think it's a sh*t move, on behalf of the designer/printer, to not proofread. Fundamentally, the professional is taking advantage of the ignorance of the client. I say this based upon the fact that when Mrs. Z designs/lays out any text, she (and sometimes I too) check grammar, spelling, syntax, etc. Hell, if your gonna charge someone for your services, perform your services properly.

                                            1. re: MGZ

                                              I walk in to Kinkos and go to the counter and
                                              hand over a menu printed from my computer.
                                              A service printing person{SPP} comes up to me and says something.
                                              Hesitantly I nod and hand over a note that says:
                                              "My uncle wants 100 copies, each laminated"
                                              The SPP shows me 2 or 3 types of paper, I point to the one that looks the least expensive.
                                              SPP says something to me, loudly, and takes my original.
                                              Mere minutes later SPP returns with a slightly toasty stack of papers, all laminated.
                                              SPP writes numbers on a piece of paper at the register and I pay in cash, exact change.

                                              I never expect the SPP to read what I've handed over.
                                              It looks professionally printed to me.

                                              1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                "It looks professionally printed to me."

                                                Not to me.

                                        2. re: ipsedixit

                                          Yes, like the translation of the Chinese manuals for various items, that I own.

                                          I try to cut them some "slack," I mean give them "a break," and get by.


                                4. re: ipsedixit

                                  I prefer a Chinese restaurant that has typos on their menu. I'm convinced that many times they are done on purpose because it is what is expected.

                            2. re: sandylc

                              ugh. Yes. I don't know about anyone else, but my expectations take an immediate dive when I see "Ceasar" listed under the salad options.

                              1. re: sandylc

                                I saw the headline and this was the first thing that popped into my mind as well.

                                1. re: sandylc


                                  or mis-translated menus. At this noodle shop, the Japanese clearly stated "bukkake udon". Well, of course the first part was eliminated in the English translation to stifle the chuckles coming from the young uns.

                                  1. re: HungWeiLo

                                    Diver scallops and day boat scallops. There aren't enough certified divers in all of North America to cover these restaurant's demands. Who are they kidding? And the day boat scallops. Not enough commercial vessels in the sea to go out only for one day. One caveat being (I believe) is the scallops harvested on the last day of the fishing trip are marked for the 'day boat' pricing.

                                    1. re: chefdaddyo

                                      Like wild ______whatever. Mushroom, blueberry, anything except a fish.
                                      Really, did somebody go out into the woods and find them.

                                      1. re: TroyTempest

                                        In chain restaurants, yes but during that brief period on the summer when ME wild blueberries are in season I want to know. Nothing worse than assuming that is what you will be getting and they are nit, are clearly imported from somewhere else. I'll put up with "wild" when its true.

                                        1. re: foodieX2

                                          Here in Austin, TX, I kind of doubt that we get real Maine wild blueberries. ;-)

                                          1. re: TroyTempest

                                            And probably few "Fresh Diver Scallops," unless they have transplanted Scallops into the Colorado River, or Lake Austin.


                                        2. re: TroyTempest

                                          Like wild ______whatever. Mushroom, blueberry, anything except a fish.
                                          Really, did somebody go out into the woods and find them.


                                          At Snuffleupagus Restaurant in LA, they have an entire tasting menu dedicated to domesticated mushrooms, but only when in season.

                                          There's also some fabulous specials made with night train scallops. Sweet, bursting with flavor.

                                          1. re: TroyTempest

                                            There are morel mushroom hunters in Minnesota who do actually go out and pick wild morels and sell them to high end restaurants. It is only for a few weeks in May, but this year went into June because we had a late, wet spring. I think they are paid about $50/pound.

                                        3. re: HungWeiLo

                                          In light of that ..I love your handle!

                                        4. re: sandylc

                                          I agree, and also poor grammar and punctuation. There is no reason whatsoever that a restaurant should not have their menus proofed and corrected before printing. IMO, it is part of the first impression a place makes and also conveys an attention to detail (or lack thereof) that may carry over to their food and service.

                                          If daily specials are written on a white board or chalk board, I can understand how something might slip by....and also with a daily special printed page. I still don't like it though.

                                          1. re: jlhinwa

                                            I've seen the words "Terry Yaki" printed in a giant banner in a mall food court some years ago.

                                            This was in Portland, OR - so teriyaki is not "exotic".

                                            It was owned by barely-speaking-English Koreans, so it wasn't someone trying to be "ironic".

                                            1. re: HungWeiLo

                                              Terry Yaki could have been running for City Council.

                                          2. re: sandylc

                                            I tried to skim through the replies before I replied. I really can't stand it when menus describe items as "cooked to perfection."

                                            1. re: mn_praline

                                              That's the worst description I can't stand. Usually to describe steak. At the bottom of the menu in any kind of restaurant they list a requisite steak (usually for the patrons that are very "picky" and just want a plain steak), so the description is "cooked to perfection". It works for them, not so much for me, who almost never orders a steak. And I still can't figure out what "cooked to perfection" means!

                                              1. re: Gastronomos

                                                I agree, and try my best to communicate MY "level of perfection," then hope for the best.


                                              2. re: mn_praline

                                                The people who use expressions like that must be using Random Cliché Generator software.

                                                1. re: mn_praline

                                                  What would a sushi restaurant put, maybe "uncooked to perfection"?

                                                  1. re: TroyTempest

                                                    Probably something like 'perfectly fresh' or prepared to perfection'.

                                                1. re: tardigrade

                                                  Or infinite detail of where the food originated, such as the farm where the animal was raised or the bay where the fish was caught. Whatever next - GPS coordinates?

                                                  1. re: PhilipS

                                                    Could you exclude oysters and clams from >>the bay where the fish was caught<<.

                                                    My take is, shellfish get most of their flavor from the habitat they're harvested.

                                                    1. re: RedTop

                                                      For seafood, i agree with you Red. I think for all fish, it would be nice to know. It is often assumed that, especially if on the coast that the fish is local. Of course as i say that i realize that if it's not local they are less likely to tell you where it is from.

                                                      1. re: RedTop

                                                        "My take is, shellfish get most of their flavor from the habitat they're harvested."

                                                        So, would you call that "MER-oir"?

                                                        1. re: CindyJ

                                                          CJ, you sent me straight to Google.

                                                          Evidently, the word IS "merroir."

                                                          1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                            NO WAY!!! I thought I was being clever!

                                                            1. re: CindyJ

                                                              Serendipity rears its ugly head again!

                                                    2. Menu descriptions. It's hit and miss for me when I order.When the food comes,I'm really liking this. Or I ordered the wrong thing. Not a big deal. It comes with the territory.

                                                      1. everything you mentioned in your first paragraph.
                                                        (since i don't eat beef, i don't really care what they call the stuff.)

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. Make that outside of Japan and Macau, the latter being the only place outside Japan where it's exported.

                                                          The Kobe one is particularly egregious, because real Kobe beef is a very specific ingredient and insanely expensive, even in Kobe. So by calling in Kobe and justifying it based on the fact that it came from a related breed of cow raised in the US, they can quadruple the prices, easily, without having to shell out for actual Kobe beef.

                                                          In general, my biggest beef would be with menus that don't list prices.

                                                          Mis-spellings don't bother me - after eight years in Asia, if an English menu is good enough to figure out what is being served, I'm happy.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                                            Kobe is being exported to Macau, Hong Kong, and the US...with the most going to Macau.

                                                            1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                                              "Mis-spellings don't bother me - after eight years in Asia, if an English menu is good enough to figure out what is being served, I'm happy."


                                                              Ten years in Asia for me. If I can figure out what it is, I'm pretty happy. :)