Grammar Police Academy 2: A Palate-full of Pain

I said I didn’t expect to do this kind of thing very often, but like James Bond, I never said never again. Besides, it’s like they’re daring me. When we last read a Gazette restaurant review, we lost our mind (if not a small piece of our soul).  Once again, this week, I can’t stop myself.  This time the subject is Babes Sports Bar of Silver Spring, and we’re off to a dicey start: there is no apostrophe in Babes; evidently a person named Babe does not (necessarily) own the Sports Bar, but rather it is a Sports Bar replete with Babes, at least that is the obvious inference one might draw — the Gazette review doesn’t go there.  The print version of the story gets it right, but the online version sneaks in a few “Babe’s” — I suppose I should be glad they don’t discuss “onion ring’s” or “calamari’s”…and we’re off.

All these features assure Babe’s attraction as a bar, especially for the fans of crowded frenetic spaces on weekend evenings, even though parking can be a chore and accessibility favors the more ambulatory.

There’s one offending apostrophe right there.  Does “more ambulatory” simply mean no wheelchair ramp?  Stairs? Sharp objects? Is admittance contingent on passing an agility test?  If you are the least ambulatory in your group, do you have to wait outside? What if you are only mostly ambulatory?

Wings are well done in a variety of mild to spicy finishes. Mozzarella sticks, although low tech, are competently made crisp on the outside and gooey on the inside.

“Well done” as in “a job well done” and presumably not “overcooked”? — and I can’t decide if I like “finishes” here, as though the wings get a nice buff and wax before delivery.  Are mozzarella sticks ever “high tech”? Like, can you use a high-tech mozza stick as a USB drive? I don’t know what “low tech” means here.  If he means you cannot access any apps on your mozzarella stick, then I guess he is right.  Either that or Babes makes one heck of a mozzarella stick.  I will now stop writing “mozzarella stick”…

Onion rings are by the book and good in a guilty way, more about a salty, slightly greasy batter than they are about the sweet caramelized band of onion they encase.

He had me at salty and greasy, but I doubt the onion is caramelized, which requires long low and slow cooking — usually onion rings are raw (or at least not fully cooked) until you fry ’em, and do not involve caramelization.

Calamari is the least impressive of the batter-fried dishes, bearing the most grease and the least flavor, of either calamari or seasoning. All come with a fairly ordinary marinara sauce and are salted in a way that exacerbates one’s thirst.

Why not just say, to paraphrase Kramer, these squid are making me thirsty? Strunk and White continue their rolling over.  Before that, I seriously doubt that the calamari bears the least calamari flavor of all the batter-fried dishes, which is what that sentence literally claims.  Mediocre though they may be, I bet they have more calamari flavor than any menu item that is not actually calamari. Maybe those onion rings are actually caramelized calamari?

Criminy, we’re only through the appetizers.

A few shreds of lettuce seemed like an accidental garnish on the platter of wings, until it became a pattern on each of the fried plates. The pinch of iceberg lettuce became an oddly recurring signature. A single sprig of crisp parsley would be more appealing to the eye, if not the pallet, than a few shreds of lettuce. Even the wings came with only two small pieces of celery.

So much to unpack here. It’s like a horror movie: the pinch of lettuce won’t go away — and it’s wearing a hockey mask!  Last time I had a conniption about the use of the term “palette” when the reviewer really meant “palate” and hey look this time he didn’t make the same mistake, this time he wrote…oh bejeebus did he really write “pallet” OH NO HE DIDN’T — yes…yes he did, as though a forklift parked outside Babes was hungrily eyeing the shreds of lettuce through the window. PALATE I am now shouting and jumping up and down at home, Mrs. Me is going to make me go on hiatus again if they keep getting this wrong. This review is providing a pallet-full of conniption-inducing material.  I think they’re just baiting me this time. What are the chances they did it on purpose just to mess with me?  Low, but non-zero.

Back to the paragraph: for some reason this one is in past tense; most of the rest of the review is in present tense.  Is the garnish really worth a paragraph in any tense?  Is a sprig of parsley really “crisp”?  I don’t think so — unless you fry it!  Caramelized fried parsley sprigs, anyone? Wait, I’m getting ideas.

Chicken tenders are on a kids menu as well as the regular bar menu, but these are not made with great attention to detail, rather they are tired and dry and tough to cut and chew. French fries are of munchable quality — not stunning, but hard to resist while sipping a beer. Pita pizza may sound pedestrian, but it was among the more satisfying plates we ate, a wide disk of pita-like bread topped with decent cheeses and tomato sauce.

That review is something else that was not made with great attention to detail. What chicken tenders are made with attention to detail?  Dollars to donuts tenders these are the same mass-produced chicken tenders sold in most bars across America. No real detail at which to direct one’s attention.  “Munchable quality” describes virtually anything “while sipping a beer.”  If it was a pita pizza, was it not in fact made with pita bread?  Why don’t they call it a flatbread pizza?  In the likely event it really is pita bread, why describe it as “pita-like”?  My head is spinning like the (not pita) pizza dough they toss in the old country.

A house specialty is Babe’s selection of stuffed hamburgers — various cheeses and chilies wrapped in what the grill proclaims to be “premium” ground beef. The beef we had was most definitely not USDA premium or even choice. It tasted bland and mealy despite plenty of seasoning, cheese and chilies.

I am not surprised that Babes’ ground beef is not “USDA premium” — because “premium” is not a real USDA grade. Premium is just a marketing term. USDA grades include prime, choice, select, standard/commercial, and utility/cutter/canner. Despite what the reviewer says, it may well have been “choice” but simply overcooked.  Then again, who knows. Also: I believe the burger tasted bland, but I doubt it tasted mealy, since the latter term describes the texture, not the taste.

Pork ribs are tender at the bone if mildly-seasoned.

Tender only at the bone? Nowhere else?  Lots of people probably prefer them mildly seasoned — the “if” implies the mildness is a negative, but it isn’t necessarily.

Dishes were delivered with fingerprints left by the same hands that were gathering used glasses from other tables by the rims.

This sentence is relatively unobjectionable, but gross.

There is an aesthetic to pub food — a coarse, yet genuine simplicity of food and service that is not designed to outshine the beverages or the bar, but at least match both for quality and enjoyment. Babe’s needs to put as much quality and attention to detail into the salads and burgers as they do into the games, the fryer and the pitcher.

The first sentence is pretentious, and the second sentence ends oddly: what pitcher?  That’s the only time the term “pitcher” appears in the article.  Baseball pitcher?  Pitcher of beer?  Does he mean “picture” instead?  I would assume maybe the editor cut out a previous reference to a pitcher, but clearly there are no editors involved.

I really don’t intend to keep doing this, and unless there is yet another homophone for “palate” I think I should be safe for a while.  It’s enough to make a person go eat raw conch salad.  Well, maybe it isn’t quite that bad.

6 responses to “Grammar Police Academy 2: A Palate-full of Pain

  1. But how were “the fried plates”? Does the plate favor come through the batter?

  2. another good question!

  3. I have to hope that the Gazette reviewer somehow keeps his job so that you can continue to write these review reviews.

  4. Hilarious! Thanks for mentioning your blog. We play tennis occaisionally in Wheaton, and, before our next match, we’ll be sure to use your blog to help us choose where to eat.

  5. For a long time I thought I was the only one who suffered Bernice August and Brian Patterson induced nightmares. Glad it isn’t just me.

  6. Pingback: Less Texas, More MoCo | Good Eatin' In Wheaton

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