I have to admit, in the interest of full disclosure, that I've been guilty of that which I'm about to rant in the past and have since reformed my ways. Actually, no I haven't. I've just grown up a little bit.
Also, by 'you' I mean chefs everywhere.
LET'S GET OVER THE STUPID NAMING CONVENTIONS ON MENUS. There, I've said it. Well, Andy, what do you mean 'naming conventions'. What I mean is let's call a spade a spade. About .001% of the dining public gives a shit that you're cooking your egg at 61.5 degrees C. Just call it a soft egg and be done with it. Also, nobody gives a shit that something was cooked sous vide. You don't write 'cooked in a copper pot' on your menu. Sous vide is simply a technique and the circ. is a tool, much like a copper pot or stand mixer. Can you imagine a dessert menu that said 'Carrot cake made in a stand mixer'. No, you can't and possibly don't care.
How about this gem? Calling a piece of peeled tomato flesh 'tomato sashimi'. Hello? Wouldn't simply 'tomato' suffice? AND....carrot confit? Technically, confit means cooked in its own fat and I have yet to come across a carrot that had fat, so..... If by carrot 'confit' you mean a carrot cooked in carrot juice, then say carrot cooked in carrot juice or how about this one: carrot. Here's where we get to the root of the problem. Carrot cooked in carrot juice doesn't sound nearly as sexy as carrot confit.
This last one I've been especially guilty of in the past: using quotes on the menu. OK, three things. 1) using quotes to be whimsical and show that you're not taking the literal definition of a technique was really cool when Keller did it in the 90's. It's getting lame now. 2) Using quotes on the menu isn't your license to screw up whatever you put quotes around. Oh, so you don't really know how to make a perfect Sauce Bernaise, so put quotes around it and it can be your own little 'riff'. It's not a riff. It's lame. 3) Using quotes to describe that you're 'doing a play on' something is so last week, too. The dining public isn't stupid. If you've got a concord grape sorbet and a peanut butter tart, they get the fact that it's peanut butter and jelly. Call it what it is and be done with it. If the guest doesn't 'get it', 9 times out of 10 it's not because you didn't put the name in quotes, it's because it was a horrible idea to begin with.
I'll say this again. I've been guilty of most of, if not all of the above in my career. That doesn't make it right.
All chefs have egos. We desperately want to be separated from the crowd, because let's face it, there are a ton of talented chefs out there. I think that in our striving to stand out, we're taking too many liberties when writing menus. The conventional wisdom is that if we can write a sexy, shocking menu with lots of buzz words and techniques, our restaurant will get discovered and that will lead to people beating down the doors on a tuesday night. That might be true and in the age of the internet and PR firms, menus can be viewed by anyone with an internet connection. However, I'm preferring to go the other way(are any of you frequent readers surprised that I'm a little different?) and follow a 'less is more' rule when writing menus. Sure, the technique will still be there and the same amount of ingredients will be there. Yes, I will still notate which farms our products come from because I believe that these remarkable products stand apart because of the people who raise them. It's not just a sneaker. It's a Nike sneaker and by that logic, it's not just a pig, it's a Rettland Farms pig and that matters; if it didn't matter, I'd leave it off. I want our restaurant to be judged on the merits of our food and service; not on whether or not I'm using all the current trendy buzzwords on the menu. You don't eat the menu, do you? The bottom line in all of this blabber is the question that I always come back to: 'How does it eat?'
If the answer is 'that's the best piece of food I've ever put in my mouth', then who needs a menu?