Today, I have several worries to discuss. My sanity, for one. Also, my hearing. Plus, the strange state of restaurant names.
things first. There are a couple of restaurants in the Miami area whose
names have caught my attention recently and, frankly, horrified me. The
first, in South Beach's trendy SoFi neighborhood, is called La
Gloutonnerie. Yep, that's right, the restaurant is named Gluttony. Isn't
that a sin? Not, apparently, to the restauranteurs who opened the place
in 2012. "Go ahead. Indulge," the website invites. "Sin is in." This
is, after all, South Beach, fabled for its hedonistic tendencies, but
still, isn't there something unseemly about gluttony? Wouldn't the same
food served under a different name taste the same?
of ours had tried La Gloutonnerie and raved about it. They are bonafide
food experts and wonderful cooks themselves, so I overcame my reaction
to the name and suggested to E. that we try it. The setting was lovely
and the portions were, fittingly, large. Unfortunately, on the evening
we ate there the food didn't measure up to my expectations. Perhaps the
chef had an off night, or literally had taken the night off. Given the
high prices, I should probably be glad that my meal didn't make me long
for a return visit.
Continuing with the theme of
worrisome names, just last month a new restaurant opened in Coral
Gables. It's called Swine. Really. To be exact, the full name of the
establishment is Swine Southern Table & Bar, which doesn't, in
my view, do much to mitigate the shock value of the word swine. I
realize that in addition to meaning a contemptible person, swine is also
defined as "any of various stout-bodied short-legged omnivorous
artiodactyl mammals (family Suidae) with a thick bristly skin and a long
flexible snout." The restaurant does feature pork, but its name certainly seems intended to titillate or even offend.
So, here's where the insanity comes in. After having
already been disappointed by one restaurant with an unsavory name, and
despite the fact that I mostly eat vegetarian, I convinced E. that we
should try Swine, on the theory that with a name that bad, the food had
to be good. We decided to go for lunch and invited another couple to
After the waiter
swore that the pork was from pigs that had been humanely raised (but can
you really believe a waiter in a place called Swine?), E. and I decided
to split the pulled pork sandwich. As it turned out, the food was good,
especially the pork, which was lean, smoked, and flavorful, with a nice
mustard barbecue sauce that had just a little kick to it. The crispy
fried shoestring onions were delicate and delicious, and the red cabbage
slaw and steak fries were fine.
But the service was not. My Arnold Palmer (half iced
tea, half lemonade) was all lemonade, my friend's Diet Coke never
arrived, and the waiter didn't split our sandwich as we'd requested.
While I ate, I really began to wonder whether the poor pig I was consuming had been humanely raised.
the main issue we all had with Swine was the noise level. Through the
roof, or at least through the ceiling. The corrugated tin ceiling, that
is, which certainly accounted in part for the deafening decibels. The
design of Swine was great—lots of natural wood, that rustic tin ceiling,
cool exposed light bulbs. Casual chic. It would have been charming if
only I could have heard myself think through the blasting music and the
din of other patrons shouting to be heard over it.
Not that I'm seriously worried about my hearing.
Loud though the restaurant was, it didn't reach the level of ear damage.
But it did prevent me from having a conversation with my friends. E.
may have enjoyed the respite from my chatter, but it was hard for me to
be sitting with two good friends and unable to communicate.
is it that the trendiest eateries are so often noisy? What's the cachet
of having to shout to be heard? And why am I so frequently among the
oldest diners in such establishments? Could it be that it's not my
sanity or my hearing I should be worried about, but whether I've become
stodgy and set in my ways?
reject that conclusion. Even at age 21, I didn't like raucous
restaurants, crowded bars, or noisy cocktail parties. I simply prefer a
quiet, calm experience with a dash of style, good food, and
interesting companions who find me endlessly fascinating. Is that too
much to ask?