Blast from the Past – How (not) to name a restaurant

Update for 12 October 2009


I sometimes wonder what logic is used to name specialty restaurants. Some conventions use an obscure spice name to add to the exotica so names like cinnamon, tamarind give a sense of what to expect in the restaurants, but at times can lead to disappointment if you find the cinnamon sticks only as mere coffee stirrers or the only tamarind you can sample is the shade of the tree under which the restaurant sprawls. To give an even more exotic feel to the eating house, some foreign and not so easily available ingredients find their names on the name board – like blue ginger, olive – although these places will also serve you other spices and condiments. Of course I know some such places where the only blue ginger is actually a red flower arrangement at the reception desk while regular ginger is used in the food; and the olives are the bottled ones that you get at corner grocery stores! The slightly adventurous try their hand at getting more exotic like naming their restaurants after games people play in exotic nations – like mahjong representing perhaps Chinese food; or dominoes representing maybe Italian food (though I don’t see the connection between the cuisine and the game!); or shatranj with Mughlai food. Whether these food conjurers live upto the ingredients or culinary traditions of the country – at least there is an attempt to “connect” the name with the cuisine. But the ones that I find extremely odd are when these places are named after odd colours conjugated with even odder animals. Like have you eaten at a place called Blue Fox (try and tell me what they will serve here – small rodents and birds which one would have to chase to catch before being eaten raw!!); Peter Cat – now I have heard of a tomcat – but I would never go to this place if it were serving mice or rats or bandicoots; blue frog – now is this some drinking hole pond where people croak before sticking their tongues out to catch the flies? Or take this place where I ate at on the weekend – Green Grasshopper (GG)– now would I have to chirp – hide in the grass and feed on the weed leaves and then all of a sudden, just jump up into the air in search of better greens?


I am not sure if our D Boyz did some restaurant hopping on the weekend, but I think I spotted some at the place I visited – the GG place! They must have enjoyed their outing with their near and dear ones because they chirped quite well in the morning atD Streetand nibbled at all the greens they could find. The SENSEX had to be green for them to chirp, right? Then all of a sudden, they got so much energy that they just jumped up into the air and pulled the SENSEX with them to dizzying heights. So if the morning hovered at 80 – 100 points above previous close, the sudden jump at 1:30 pm took it to the 380-400 levels before ending the day at 17026 points – 384 points up! I am not sure if it was the dry days’ status nearD Street, or the purported olive branch status of the warring Mumbai South Brothers; or the likely change in state government after tomorrow’s polls, or the Diwali goodies being cooked at home.


Now imagine going out to eat to a place called Machan – a Hindi speaking person would expect to be seated atop a tree and wait for a tiger’s roar, while a Tamilian would think that he was being treated by his Brother in Law! Bad names for eating houses; right?




p.s. For those inMaharashtra– don’t forget to vote tomorrow!


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