Cafe Reviews

Second Helpings

English Only: Eating a bad meal puts me in an unpleasant mood. And reading a bad meal makes me almost as upset.

Maybe it's the former professor in me. But whenever I see a menu full of glaring grammatical and spelling errors, my stomach turns as if I've just been served a piece of three-day-old fish.

I haven't yet tried the fare at Genevieve's, a new French/Cajun restaurant that recently opened in the north Valley at 15414 North Seventh Street. But after going through the press release and the menu, I'm starting to feel a bit queasy.

The publicity sheet boasts that Genevieve's "offers a late night menu to compliment [sic] it's [sic] reverse happy hour drink specials." You don't need a Ph.D. in linguistics to write this sentence correctly. Compliment--Complement. It's--Its. A sixth-grade education should do.

Even scarier to contemplate is one of the entrees: "lemon petrole." I got visions in my head of a fish doused with gasoline, ignited, flamed and extinguished by several squeezes of lemon.

Of course, the kitchen is probably serving petrale, a Pacific Ocean flounder. But I'm not sure I'd risk ordering it.

Restaurant owners don't realize just how important good menu writing is. It creates diner anticipation and helps sell the dish. But if they can't spell it, a part of me worries that they can't cook it, either.

My favorite menu howler? I saw it a few years ago, at a restaurant that's no longer in business: "beef tornadoes." (It's a mangling of tournedos, the French word for filet.) I find something almost poetically magical about a menu that's illiterate in two tongues.

Hail to the Chef: Not too many years ago, a woman might be called a great cook, but she'd never be called a great chef. That's because women did the cooking at home, while men manned the restaurant kitchens.

Those days are gone. And the International Association of Women Chefs and Restaurateurs (IAWCR) is trying to make sure that they don't come back.

It's sponsoring a fund-raising event next week, 6 p.m. January 26 at RoxSand, Biltmore Fashion Park, 24th Street and Camelback. Three heavy-hitting Valley female food experts are teaming up for a cooking demonstration and meal. RoxSand Scocos, chef/owner of RoxSand; Donna Nordin, the force behind Cafe Terra Cotta; and Barbara Fenzl, owner of Les Gourmettes Cooking School, will first show you how to prepare dishes like Southwestern spring roll, pork tenderloin with cranberry chipotle sauce and Chilean sea bass with pureed plantain. Then you'll sit down and sample.

IAWCR picked the date and time with care. At 6 p.m. on January 26, the Super Bowl should be entering the third quarter. The organizers figure this event will give wives and girlfriends something else to do besides refilling the bowls with chips and bringing out another six-pack from the refrigerator.

Places need to be reserved; the cost is $100. Most of the money goes to the IAWCR scholarship fund. For more info or reservations, call RoxSand at 381-0444.

--Howard Seftel

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Howard Seftel

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