Samuel Muston: What's in a name? If you're christening a restaurant, then quite a lot

 

Naming a restaurant is like naming a child. Because as with the boy called Jago sent to the toughest comp in mid-Wales, a name can affect the direction of one's formative years. So I have only the deepest sympathy for the staff of Eggslut, a foodtruck-turned-restaurant that opened a few months ago in LA. If that was the best name that they could wrench from their imagination, I wouldn't like to be stuck next to them at a dinner party, even if I was eating their doubtlessly delicious "coddled egg on smooth potato purée in a glass jar" signature dish.

There is, of course, no road map to success when it comes to names, but I would suggest that the collision of the word "egg" and "slut" doesn't exactly encourage the appetite which, along with being memorable and snappy, is the only real goal of restaurant naming.

Eggslut falls into that dubious category known as "quirky", a group in which the egregious Scoff & Banter belongs. This UK-wide chain, which offers "food with heart that feeds the soul", has presumably been so named to suggest a rolled sleeve, let's-get-down-to-business informality. In fact, it makes the place sound like a Leeds University student society.

Less clear cut in the name game is the eponym. If you are Marcus Wareing it is just about permissible to call your redesigned restaurant MARCUS, even if it does sound a little Ceasarish, because some people will be visiting his establishment with the sole purpose of eating food touched by the hand of the great man himself. However, despite its name, I don't think anyone visiting the newly opened Ask for Janice will be doing as its name suggests. Similarly, Lyle's in London's Shoreditch may be very fine indeed, but as I have no idea who Lyle is (he isn't the chef, who is called James) and what he is about, I am not terribly moved to visit: in fact, it puts me off, raising in me as it does the suspicion that someone is trying to sell me a pup.

Another phenomenon of nomenclature has been sparked almost in its entirety by Rene Redzepi's world-beating restaurant Noma. The trend for using words which have absolutely no resonance in English, are possibly gibberish, but absolutely must end in an "-a" is so entrenched that several have opened in England in the past 12 months alone, including Fera (which translates as wild), Canela (cinnamon in Portuguese) and Linnea (which is a popular girls' name in Sweden). Perhaps they think that having a mysterious name will help with bookings, and perhaps they will be proved right, but it seems unlikely to help much when people are trying to search for its address on Google.

What are the alternatives? Well, as a declaration of intent, you can't get much better than L'Escargot.Immediately you know that it is going to be French, probably quite posh and with snails somewhere on the menu. It does the job adroitly. And equally so with Burger and Lobster, a place which, quite literally, lets its food do the talking.

These recent outbreaks of lexical fatuity serve only to obscure. If I was to pass over the threshold of Eggslut, I may find a place peopled by broadly-smiling staff and egg-based dishes of almost unknowable beauty. But, the problem is, with a name like that, I am just never going to pick up the phone.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Ashdown Group: Print Designer - High Wycombe - Permanent £28K

    £25000 - £28000 per annum + 24 days holiday, bonus, etc.: Ashdown Group: Print...

    Recruitment Genius: Business Travel Consultant

    £20000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in London, Manches...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer and Brand Manager

    £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer and Brand Manager required for ...

    Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator

    £25000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator A...

    Day In a Page

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
    Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

    Iran is opening up again to tourists

    After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

    Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

    Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent