With Pho King, Pho Kim and Crapitto's closed, what restaurants are there left in Houston to ridicule?
Plenty, it turns out.
The conversation at a recent media dinner turned to bad restaurant names when we started discussing the current contender for worst moniker: TABLE. Only a few of us had been and reported the food to be pretty good, but...that name. We pictured the chefs, owners and marketing team sitting in the restaurant hurriedly trying to come up with a designation to replace Philippe now that Philippe Schmidt was no longer a part of the restaurant.
Then, we imagine, one of them looked down at the platform around which they were seated.
"Knife? No, that sounds violent. Napkin? No, too close to the Britishism for diaper. I've got it! TABLE. But in all caps. It looks fancier that way. It tells diners nothing about the food or concept, but it lets them know that this is definitely a restaurant. Or a furniture store. Whatever, let's just call the damn thing TABLE."
OK, so there was probably a little more thought in it than that. And just to be clear, the fact that we think the name is, well, dumb, does not reflect in any way our opinions of the food or the restaurant itself. That's true of all the restaurants on this list. They try hard and are quality establishments.
But damn, some of these names are bad.
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Nonsense Names We'd like to think that a restaurant name tells you something about the food. The name Mr. Peeples tells you absolutely nothing, except that maybe someone can't spell. Similarly, we're pretty sure 60 Degrees Mastercrafted is so named just to confuse people. I've heard that the name has something to do with cooking steak, but it's not explained anywhere on the website. Also, even the restaurant itself seems to think the name is too long. The folks involved alternate between calling it "60 Degrees," "60 DMC" "60 Mastercrafted" and just "Mastercrafted" on the Facebook page. For the love of food, pick one.
Utentsil Names In the same vein as TABLE, we have the culinary-inspired Dish Society. The goal of Dish Society is to serve fast casual farm-to-table cuisine. It is not, in fact, a cult of ceramicists. Then we have Brick & Spoon. One is something you build a house with. The other you use to eat soup. The building does not appear to be composed of bricks, and there is only one soup on the menu. Fish & the Knife does have a lot of fish on the menu, but we're a little confused by the use of only one article in the name. Why not THE Fish & the Knife? Or just Fish & Knife? Actually, could we stop putting ampersands in the names of restaurants altogether?
Overuse of Ampersands It seems like once The Pass & Provisions (excusable because it's two restaurants) opened, everyone started jumping on the trend of choosing a restaurant name based on the formula Noun + & + Noun (possibly with an article thrown in for good measure). There's the newly opened Lillo & Ella, which, like some of the other names listed, could be any sort of business based on all the information the name provides. The owner, Kevin Naderi, explained that Lillo was the nickname of the previous owner of the space and Ella is the street where the restaurant is located. Still, are we the only ones who keep calling it Lilo & Stitch? And then there's the soon-to-open Hugs & Donuts, which the co-owner, Jason Hill, has admitted is a dumb name. He told CultureMap, "We're known for terrible names."
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Overly Obvious Names Local Foods makes a great effort to serve--you guessed it--local foods. There's nothing too terribly wrong with the obvious name, but the owners could have been a little more creative, no? The new bar Beer Market Co. is both a market and a company, and the place serves beer. When you can't decide exactly what you want to be, might as well encompass everything.
Questionable Acronyms I didn't know this until recently, but apparently the BRC in BRC Gastropub stands for "Big Red Cock." The name is, of course, in reference to the rooster outside, but there is no way I am ever going to see that acronym again and think of fowl. Federal American Grill seems harmless enough (if a bit patriotic) until you note that the abbreviation is FAG. No longer just a bundle of sticks, it's now a fairly offensive term. This last one might have been intentional, though we can't for the life of us figure out why. Bradley's Fine Diner goes by BFD. Big Fucking Deal.
Inappropriate Names We acknowledge that foreign names can often mean one thing in one language and something very different in English, like Pho King, which the owners probably chose to designate it as the best pho in town. Unfortunately, try though we might not to giggle, we can't help it. Especially when we see names like Galway Hooker, the recently re-branded (yes, that name is new) soccer bar on Washington. Galway, is, of course, a city in Ireland, while Hooker is a position in rugby league football. Dumb Texans don't know that, though. Hooker means something very different in this neck of the woods. As, unfortunately, does Hung Dong Meat Market, a small chain of supermarkets throughout Houston. The name on the outside actually reads "Hung Dong Supermarket," but when you Google it, you get results for Hung Dong Meat Market. Either someone with Google Maps has a strange sense of humor, or that is a really, really unfortunate name.
Again, we'd just like to point out that this is all in good fun, and poor name choices do not reflect at all the quality of the restaurant. And look at our name: Houston Press. You'd think a place full of writers could have come up with something more creative than that.