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The Restaurant Muddle

You don’t have to be a foodie to have come across words like bistro, or brasserie! In the recent past, there was been an exponential surge in the usage of these terms, with almost every restaurant going for a pretty standard naming convention of adopting fancy foreign words. But what do these terms mean and do the restaurants named with these terms actually match their original description? Here we are, to spoon-feed you the information :D

Restaurants can be catalogued into several types, depending on the food they serve, how they serve the food, what kind of food they serve, the ambience, and so on. However, broadly, restaurants can be put into the brackets of:

1. Fine Dining

2. Casual Dining

3. Fast Food

A fine dining restaurant is your fancy, heavy on the pocket, date-worthy place, where you’d probably have to wear your most expensive cologne to. They generally have a dress code (or be prepared to receive disapproving glances at your shorts, in the rare event that you’re allowed inside, with shorts on) and might require prior reservation. You need to make sure your wallet is stuffed, because it sure is bound to thin itself out once as you start stuffing in! The overtone of fine dining is formal, sophisticated and elegant. The food options presented will be diverse, having everything from soup to nuts, dished up by renowned chefs, with immense expertise. The food presentation, the style of serving, the lighting and the ambience fuse together to concoct the experience that fine dining is!

Now it’s a no brainer what casual dining would be! Casual dining provides more affordably priced food in a free and easy environment. Unless it’s a buffet, you’d be waited on by a server. Some famous brands that might ring a bell – like Olive Garden, Paradise Food Court are popular names in the casual dining industry.

Fast Food, of course needs no introduction, body or conclusion. Light on the pocket, heavy on the body owing to its whopping sodium and calories content, strategically designed food to cater to a large crowd in almost no time pretty much sums up fast food. Popular names in this industry include McDonalds, KFC and we are going to leave the task of adding more examples to the list to you!

Now that we have got the basics cleared, let’s move to the more sophisticated names that we come across while in pursuit of a good place to fill the tummy.

1. Bistro

Of late, every other eatery in town seems to have a bistro appended to its name. What does this mean?

Bistro, in its original French essence is a cozy, unpretentious restaurant, that serves modestly priced food, often along with alcohol. Legend has it that the word bistro has been derived from the Russian word ‘bystro’, which means fast. Bistro are known for their simple meals, consisting of traditional French delicacies like casseroles, brioches, salads and simple desserts like tarts and soufflés, that can be dished up quickly. Their menu varies according to the time of the day. Going to a bistro in the morning might fetch you a nice hot cup of steaming coffee and some time to browse through the newspaper. In the afternoon, simple French lunch along with some beer/wine could be a standard. And for dinner, some legumes and ‘poulet’ should cut the deal. Another major highlight of a bistro would be its relaxed atmosphere, where you can probably even spend an entire afternoon.

Typical Parisian Bistro with outdoor seating

2. Brasserie

Again, a French name, Brasserie is large establishment that has a fixed menu and serves the same food all day long. This is a major distinguishing factor between a brasserie and bistro, which changes its menu according to the time of the day. The term ‘Brasserie’ is French for brewery and brasseries are supposed to be fermenting their own beer. They have a swankier demeanor, a more professional set up, and hence are a tad bit pricier than a bistro.

Compared to a bistro, a brasserie has more of a restaurant set up.

3. Patisserie

French for a shop that sells pastries and cakes, a patisserie in France is typically bound to have croissants, macarons, eclairs (long thing pastries filled with cream) and gateaux (cakes). Often, patisseries are run by a pâtissier, a pastry chef, who needs to have passed a written examination and completed an apprenticeship to open a patisserie of their own.

4. Osteria

Let’s move to the next European nation well revered for its delectable cuisine – Italy. In the land of pizzas and pastas, osteria is a plain, small, economically priced eatery serving simple food and wine. In simple terms, present day osteria can be regarded as the Italian cousin of a bistro. However, a trip down the memory lane shows that an osteria initially was just a shared place that served wine and customers had to bring in their own food.

5. Dhaba

Dhabas originally are low priced road-side eateries that are open all round the clock. This word has been derived from the Hindi word ‘dabba’, which is a box used to carry food. Traditionally from Punjab, dhabas are renowned for their palatable, rich, ghee-soaked parathas, lassi and chaas (buttermilk). The food served in dhabas is zesty and wholesome and often, the dhabas are a quite a happening place, with their loud music and bustling crowd.

And this summarizes the meat and potatoes of dining and eateries! Now you know if the restaurants that call themselves with these names actually stand by it. Let us know in the comments if there are any other names that you have come across!


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