Friday, November 28, 2008

From Prix Fixe to Cold Tea: A Glossary of Popular (and Obscure) Restaurant Terms

An Offbeat Glossary of Restaurant Terms
Everyone knows what a bistro is...right? And a la carte is a
term that even a fifth grader knows...well, maybe not. And
what exactly does smart casual mean? There are so many
words and terms in the English language that are taken for
granted, including those used in the restaurant industry. In a
public service to diners from Boston to Bakersfield,
Boston's Hidden
(Note: This page is part of our restaurant features section.) presents a glossary of useful, as well as totally useless, restaurant terms.
A La Carte

A term used by more upscale, expensive restaurants that
means each item is separate. If a restaurant says that
bread and water are a la carte, flee as quickly as you can.

Bar Pizza

A type of pizza served in bars (duh!) that is smaller in
diameter (usually about 10 inches) and greasier than pizzas
found in restaurants or sub shops. Bar pizza tends to taste
better with beer, and MUCH better after many beers.
If a place that calls itself a bistro does not have a wine list, it is simply known as a "small restaurant." A small restaurant, usually informal, that typically has a decent wine list.
An employee at a restaurant who supervises the waitstaff
and typically seats patrons. These people used to be called
"hosts," but for some reason, many restaurants now call
them "captains." Some restaurants include a place on the
bill for tipping captains. If you see this, flee as quickly as you
Typically, the chief cook of a restaurant staff. Don't ever
call a chef a cook; he or she will not like that and may put
some extra MSG in your food.
Cold Tea

A term used, usually late at night, that means beer. This
term is fairly common in Chinese restaurants that stay open
after the bars close. The serving of cold tea is often illegal
and unethical, and we at Boston's Hidden Restaurants do
not condone the ordering of cold tea. But our view on that
may change from weekend to weekend.
Food that conforms to Jewish dietary laws and rituals.
Pork and shellfish are never kosher, nor is meat mixed with
dairy products. If you see a restaurant named "Ralph's
Clam Shack and Rib House," chances are, it is not kosher.

Prix Fixe

Often, that set price will drive a person to drinking lots and lots of cold tea once his or her credit card bill comes in the following month. A full meal, typically with between three and seven courses that is offered at a set price.
Smart Casual
'Nuff said. George Costanza on "Seinfeld" coined this term. A dubious restaurant dress-code term, typically meaning, "no jeans and sneakers, but don't wear with a suit and tie, either." In other words, dress like you are playing 18 holes of golf (but don't wear metal spikes).
Special of the Day
Whatever didn't sell out the night before.
A restaurant, usually informal, that serves simple,
old-fashioned Italian meals. If a trattoria also has a decent
wine list, another name for the place would be bistro (see).
But a bistro cannot be a trattoria unless it serves Italian
food. However, if a bistro does serve Italian food but does
not have a decent wine list, then it is no longer a bistro. It is
a trattoria. Actually, it may be best to just forget the whole
thing. Both are restaurants. OK?
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Boston's Hidden
is a restaurant guide that
features top little-known dining spots in Boston and New


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