Menu Jargon Confounds Diners: Top Misunderstood Menu Terms Decoded

Top Misunderstood Menu Terms

Can’t tell shiso from yuzu? Don’t know a gougère from gochujang? You’re not alone. As culinary trends evolve (or stage a comeback), the terms diners are finding on menus can be confusing and impact how they order at a restaurant. A recent online survey conducted by Harris Poll revealed many diners believe some restaurant menus are more confusing than they need to be (29%), are concerned that ordering a menu item made with an unfamiliar ingredient will ruin their dining experience (56%), or feel they will be wasting their money if they don’t enjoy their meal (74%).

The survey findings also revealed several menu terms that more than half of diners do not know the meaning of, and inspired the OpenTable design team to work with illustrators to create a visual Menu Jargon Decoder to demystify the visualization, meaning, and pronunciation of confusing menu terms, including okonomiyaki, bibimbap, piri piri.

The survey, which was conducted online by Harris Poll in March 2016 on behalf of OpenTable, found that an overwhelming majority of diners (91%) say they are more likely to order a dish they are not familiar with if it has additional menu features. Diners also indicated that the future for digital menus may be bright with more than half saying photos of the menu items (53%) or a glossary of menu terminology (30%) would make them more likely to order a dish they are not familiar with.

Additional findings include that nearly 2 in 5 (37%) of diners choose a restaurant based on how familiar they are with the items listed on a menu. When diners encounter a term they didn’t understand on a menu, most (67%) have asked the waiter to explain what it is, but some (42%) have asked fellow diners at their table if they are familiar with the term. Nearly 1 in 5 (18%) ordered a dish with an unfamiliar ingredient or term as a challenge to experience something new. Men were more likely than women to do so (21% vs. 14%, respectively).

According to the survey, at least half of diners say they do not understand the following menu terms in ranking order:Continue Reading

2016 James Beard Award Finalists: Chefs + Restaurants

The picks are in for the final nominees for the 2016 James Beard Foundation Awards. Even though not every chef or restaurant listed here will go home with the award, trust us when we say that you will have a sublime dining experience with any of them. We’ll be cheering them all on in Chicago on May 2nd at the awards ceremony; you can purchase a ticket, too, in case you didn’t know. Congratulations to all the 2016 James Beard Award finalists!

James Beard Awards 2016 Finalists

Finalists include:

Best New Restaurant
Death & Taxes, Raleigh, North Carolina
Launderette, Austin, Texas
Shaya, New Orleans, Louisiana
Staplehouse, Atlanta, Georgia
Wildair, New York, New York

Outstanding Restaurant
Frasca Food and Wine, Boulder, Colorado
Highlands Bar & Grill, Birmingham, Alabama
The Spotted Pig, New York, New York

Outstanding Service
Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Pocantico Hills, New York
Eleven Madison Park, New York, New York
North Pond, Chicago, Illinois
Quince, San Francisco, California
Topolobampo, Chicago, Illinois

Outstanding Wine Program
Canlis, Seattle, Washington
FIG, Charleston, South Carolina
Sepia, Chicago, Illinois

Outstanding Chef
Sean Brock, McCrady’s, Charleston, South Carolina
Suzanne Goin, Lucques, West Hollywood, California
Donald Link, Herbsaint, New Orleans, Louisiana
Michael Solomonov, Zahav, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Michael Tusk, Quince, San Francisco, California

Rising Star of the Year
Alex Bois, High Street on Market, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Grae Nonas, Olamaie, Austin, Texas
Daniela Soto-Innes, Cosme, New York, New York
Alan Sternberg, Cerulean, Indianapolis, Indiana
Edward Sura, Perennial Virant, Chicago, Illinois

Outstanding Pastry Chef
Meg Galus, Boka, Chicago, Illinois
Maura Kilpatrick, Oleana, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Dolester Miles, Highlands Bar and Grill, Birmingham, Alabama
Dahlia Narvarez, Osteria Mozza, Los Angeles, California
Ghaya Oliveira, Daniel, New York, New York
Jennifer Yee, Lafayette, New York, New YorkContinue Reading

Waiter, I Can’t Hear My Food: Survival Tips for Noisy Restaurants #hackdining

restaurant, food, dining

So, you recently enjoyed a tasty meal at a noisy, hip restaurant only when you were headed home you noticed your ears and head were throbbing leaving you wondering if you had just dined at an industrial construction site? Don’t worry, you haven’t suddenly morphed into your grandparents (unless you’re also dining at 4:30PM), and you probably aren’t imagining things either. You’ve just entered the increasingly common, ear-splitting world of high-volume modern fine dining.

Following of the trend that accompanied the California cuisine wave of the 80’s and 90’s, more and more fine dining places have broken with tradition and are jettisoning stuffy settings and dress codes while focusing their energy on exceptional food. Now you can eat like a VIP but still wear jeans. The casual vibe has moved from décors to DJs.

As chef-proprietors have become the norm, they also bring their sensibility from the kitchen to the front of the house. The thinking is if their Spotify playlist is good enough for the back, it is good enough for the dining room. And the volumes can be ear shattering. While it’s nice to no longer have to wear a tie to dinner, I might like to hear from my date before paying the check.

Part of this trend is economics: an environment of loud music creates a party-like atmosphere and, it turns out, is a proven method to boost alcohol sales. More booze, more profits. A collateral effect is that it also tends to drive customers out faster… tables turn quicker, more profit.

So, what to do about noisy restaurants? Unless you’re regularly packing ear plugs, here are some more practical tips that might help:

1. Do some homework. If you’re unsure about your destination’s atmosphere and you need a place with a quiet vibe, do some research on what kind of acoustic environment to expect; reading through recent reviews on OpenTable is a good place to start. You may not mind a full-on raucous hoopla on a casual night out with some friends. But if you are taking out your future in-laws for the first time, you’d be well advised to head someplace you can savor their every

2. Share your beef. If you find yourself sitting inside a human snare drum, don’t be afraid to ask the management to adjust the volume. Just know that they may well resist. One critically-acclaimed, but infamously cacophonous Italian eatery has been known to inform their customers that neither the music selection nor the decibel level are negotiable and have gone so far to nudge their diners to head elsewhere if it’s not to their liking. Other, less rigid restaurants, however, typically strive to keep their customers happy and may bend to accommodate your polite request.Continue Reading

2016 James Beard Award Semifinalists: Chefs + Restaurants

JBF

It’s awards season once again, and we couldn’t be more excited for the upcoming 2016 James Beard Foundation Awards. The list of semifinalists for nominations was recently released and it reads like a who’s who of American cooking (you can click here for a full list of nominated chefs, restaurants, and restaurateurs, including the extensive regional nominations). The nominees will be revealed on March 15th. Winners will be announced on May 2nd at the awards ceremony, which will be held in Chicago. Cheers to all the 2016 James Beard Award semifinalists — we hope you make the final list of nominees!

Semifinalists include:

Best New Restaurant
Alter, Miami, Florida
Bardot Brasserie-Aria, Las Vegas, Nevada
The Blanchard, Chicago, Illinois
Bracero Cocina, San Diego, California
Cassia, Santa Monica, California
Coquine, Portland, Oregon
The Dabney, Washington, D.C.
Eloisa, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Girin Steakhouse & Ssam Bar, Seattle, Washington
Helen Greek Food and Wine, Houston, Texas
INTRO, Chicago, Illinois
Kinship, Washington, D.C.
Morcilla, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Público, St. Louis, Missouri
Shaya, New Orleans, Louisiana
Shepard, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Outstanding Restaurant
A.O.C., Los Angeles, California
Acquerello, San Francisco, California
Bluestem, Kansas City, Missouri
Craft, New York, New York
Fore Street, Portland, Maine
Foreign Cinema, San Francisco, California
Fork, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Frasca Food and Wine, Boulder, Colorado
Highlands Bar & Grill, Birmingham, Alabama
Jaleo, Washington, D.C.
Lark, Seattle, Washington
Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix, Arizona
Providence, Los Angeles, California
Rasika, Washington, D.C.
The Spotted Pig, New York, New York

Outstanding Service
Aubergine at L’Auberge Carmel, Carmel, California
Bacchanalia, Atlanta, Georgia
Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Pocantico Hills, New York
Café Juanita, Kirkland, Washington
Charleston Grill, Charleston, South Carolina
Eleven Madison Park, New York, New York
L’Espalier, Boston Massachusetts
Marcel’s by Robert Wiedmaier, Washington, D.C.
North Pond, Chicago, Illinois
The Pass, Houston, Texas
Quince, San Francisco, California
Restaurant August, New Orleans, Louisiana
Saam at the Bazaar by José Andrés, Beverly Hills, California
Saison, San Francisco, California
Topolobampo, Chicago, Illinois
Zahav, Philadelphia, PennsylvaniaContinue Reading