Should travelers find themselves in unfamiliar surroundings when it is time to eat, a restaurant’s signage often signals its featured cuisine. For instance, Waffle House, International House of Pancakes, California Pizza Kitchen, Steak n’ Shake, Taco Bell, and Red Lobster aren’t keeping any secrets.
Yet it is hard if not impossible to ascertain the featured fare of other eateries, especially high-end ones. A listing of the world’s 50 best restaurants includes only one, Casa do Porco in Sao Paulo, House of the Pig in Portuguese (ranked #5), that hints at its menu. Some of the top restaurants have names that seem meaningless. These include Diverxo (#4, Madrid), The Jane (#21, Antwerp), and Sorn (#39, Bangkok). When translated, others have names that have meaning, but their relationship with food is murky. Take, for instance, Pujol (Small Hill, #5, Mexico City), Septime (a position in fencing, #22, Paris), and Belcanto (A Beautiful Song, #46, Lisbon). Then there are ones that worry me. I can only hope that their names have nothing to do with what they serve. Otherwise, what might you expect to find on your plate at Geranium (#1, Copenhagen), Nobelhart and Schmutzig (#17, Berlin), or The Chairman (#24, Hong Kong)?
You are probably asking yourself, “What’s the point of this discourse in a blog supposedly focused on muscle and bone?” Well, every non-vegetarian restaurant serves muscle, but I challenge you to find one that has muscle in its name. (Bertha’s Mussels in Baltimore gets close. Even so, it recently closed.) Bones are another matter. A quick google search turned up more than 50 U.S. eateries with bones in their names, but they rarely if ever serve bones. (Maybe that’s why none are listed in the international top 50.)
Smokey Bones is a chain of about 60 establishments in 16 Eastern states, otherwise, bone-related restaurants seem to be one-offs. They are scattered widely and have names such as Shell and Bones (New Haven), Bourbon and Bones (Scottsdale), Fish Bones Grill (Lewiston), Chicken Bones (Baltimore), Dirty Bones (Dallas), and Rice and Bones (Berkeley). But really, are these establishments luring you in for a savory platter of marrow bones and a steaming cup of bone broth*? Aren’t they really saying that you should come have some meat, perhaps still on the bone? Yet nobody is straightforward and calls their eatery Meat or Flesh or Muscle. It seems that bones in the name is just thinly veiled code for we-specialize-in-serving-animal-derived-protein. Perhaps the subtlety is designed to mollify vegetarians.
After stewing over this possibility, I decided it would be safer and more palatable to sample a bones-named restaurant rather than one dishing out pujols, chairmen, or schmutzig. I chose Bones in Atlanta. It has been an institution since opening in 1979. Its website unabashedly states, “Bones has received the Best of Atlanta Steakhouse Award each year for the past sixteen years. Recently, Zagat recognized Bones as having the highest rating for food and service of any steakhouse in America.”
Their lunch menu includes Bones Lobster Bisque, Bones Burger, and BLT with Bones Bacon. I am guessing that these dishes do not have bones in them but are just some of their signature plates. The same goes for dinner. Their Bones Seafood Platter is offered along with an array of steaks, chops, and seafood. It appears, however, that the only time diners can actually have a bone brought to their table is when they order a “bone-in” filet or rib-eye.
So as a bone lover, I was disappointed about the disconnect between Bones’ name and its fare, but I was fully pleased with the ambient setting, good service, and great food. I agreed with this Zagat reviewer. “Bring a big appetite…to this ridiculously decadent power steakhouse that beats those national chains hands down.” I had scallops because they fit my cholesterol and monetary budgets better than their land-derived meat options, bone in or out. On leaving, I received a box of faux bones to gnaw on at bedtime.
To my reckoning, the only restaurant that has a legitimate claim to its osseous name is Hueso (bone in Spanish) in Guadalajara. There, 10,000 bleached bones adorn the walls. Regardless of what Hueso serves, I can’t wait to visit.
* See the previous post relating to eating bone: Bone Broth, My Quest for the Best.
Launching June 13, 2023
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An entertaining illustrated deep dive into muscle, from the discovery of human anatomy to the latest science of strength training.
Muscle tissue powers every heartbeat, blink, jog, jump, and goosebump. It is the force behind the most critical bodily functions, including digestion and childbirth, as well as extreme feats of athleticism. We can mold our muscles with exercise and observe the results.
In this lively, lucid book, orthopedic surgeon Roy A. Meals takes us on a wide-ranging journey through anatomy, biology, history, and health to unlock the mysteries of our muscles. He breaks down the three different types of muscle―smooth, skeletal, and cardiac―and explores major advancements in medicine and fitness, including cutting-edge gene-editing research and the science behind popular muscle conditioning strategies. Along the way, he offers insight into the changing aesthetic and cultural conception of muscle, from Michelangelo’s David to present-day bodybuilders, and shares fascinating examples of strange muscular maladies and their treatment. Brimming with fun facts and infectious enthusiasm, Muscle sheds light on the astonishing, essential tissue that moves us through life. 90 illustrations