The New Restaurant Lingo
Congratulations are in order for Lockhart Smokehouse in Plano, which recently received a gushing review from the Dallas Morning News. Critic Leslie Brenner risked exposure to a tornado in order to "moan and snortle" over the tender brisket being served at this spin-off of the original branch in Bishop Arts.
"Nearly everything sold at the Plano Lockhart is delicious," reads the review, which exhibited Brenner's trademark disinterest in qualifying her judgments. Her reviews are thoughtful; they don't bog down the reader with tedious, mundane details of how the food actually tastes.
Instead they offer simple, to-the-point pronouncements, such as "the prime rib special had good flavor" or "the smoked chicken is excellent." Good, excellent, that's all you need to know.
But the review had a casual reference to one curious dish:
They’d run out of burned ends, but the gentleman slicing the meats generously tossed in a gorgeous crusty knob on the end of the brisket that delivered the same kind of chewy, barky, caramelized happiness.
For now we'll skip past the twee ambiguity of calling any dish "happiness" and go straight to "burned ends." It doesn't sound appetizing; surely no one wants anything that's burned?
Could she possibly be referring to the famous dish called "burnt ends," which Wikipedia describes as "the flavorful pieces of meat cut from the point half of a smoked brisket" that are a "traditional part of Kansas City barbecue"?
"Burned ends? No, it's burnt ends, that's b-u-r-n-t," spells out Juan Richardson at LC's Bar-B-Q, the Kansas City, Missouri restaurant cited most often as having the best example of this famous barbecue offering.
We already know that barbecue is not her forte. And everyone makes mistakes. Which this definitely is. A mistake, that is.
Or maybe not? On April 17, barbecue blogger Cody Neathery tweeted a response to her review:
@DFWBBQ Yes, so important to copy everyone else's lingo! :-)— Leslie Brenner (@lesbren) April 17, 2014
Huh. So the 47,000-plus citations of "burnt ends" on Google are all just "lingo"? Because two weeks after the review came out, it still reads "burned ends."
This staunch individualism, this bold stance in the face of overwhelming consensus, inspired us. It is like Linda Ronstadt, traveling to the beat of a different drum. To that end, we've devised a list of some common food "lingo" and our suggested variations that Les-Bren can use in the future:
The way many people order steak. When you think about it, though, it's not really rare. Lots of people order their steak that way. LB suggestion: "Medium unusual."
It's the classic American dessert. But is it brainy enough? LB suggestion: "Apple 3.14."
Potatoes are shredded and fried until golden. But nobody likes the word brown. LB suggestion: "Hash beiges."
Fancy dessert has an ice cream cake in the center, covered with a shell of meringue. But who died and made Alaska king? LB suggestion: "Baked Pinata." Burnt, burned, Alaska, pinata.
Popular white fish with a repetitive name. LB suggestion: "That's Mr. Mahi to you, buster."
Bacon and eggs
Classic breakfast combination. But the name's so pedestrian, so "done." LB suggestion: "Bacon and Uggs." They're still fashionable!
Made with Texas peaches, it's a favorite dessert with a local provenance. But "cobbler" sounds blue collar. LB suggestion: "Peach Manolo."
Chicken and waffles
One of the hottest menu items pairing savory fried chicken atop a sweet, crisp waffle. That said, isn't the name a bit "obvious"? LB suggestion: "Chicken and walrus."
Surf and turf
Popular at steakhouses (or as LB might call them, "steak abodes"), surf and turf takes one animal from the sea and one from the land — often steak and lobster. But surf and turf is so matchy-matchy. LB suggestion: "Surf and xeriscaping."
Pigs in a blanket
A tubesteak of some kind is wrapped in dough and baked so that its edges peek out on each side. But is the blanket warm enough? LB suggestion: "Pigs in a wind-proof, breathable, wicking Gore-Tex parka."