Life – Bohemian Mediocrity

In his brilliant book “Microserfs”, Douglas Coupland describes, at one point, the Unitape, a loop of bland jazz that plays at Microsoft’s corporate events. He speculates that the motive behind it is to comfort the upper management that they aren’t exactly like their parents…which, of course, is not true at all.

I feel the same way about most self-styled “bohemian” restaurants. Part of this is the fact that anybody who calls themselves “quirky” or “bohemian” is an incredibly boring and predictable human being, so it follows they make boring and predictable restaurants, the hippie version of TGI Friday’s.

And it really is that chain-restaurant philosophy. I know any place that calls itself a “different kind of X” is going to have craft beer on tap, something involving goat cheese, carmelized onions and sun-dried tomatoes on the menu, and most likely desserts from a “local bakery”.

There are some restaurants in my area that’ll take you by surprise, such as the best pizza in Somerville and quite possibly Boston, City Slicker. This is a place that has crust that’s both deep and crunchy, that has a profound variety of toppings, and that’s clearly run by a dedicated gourmet. This isn’t a place that calls itself gourmet, they really do things differently.

Or Christopher’s, right at Porter Square. I stepped into there recently expecting a fairly standard bar and was taken by surprise with what I found. It’s a restaurant that has a socially conscious mission that it doesn’t cram down your throat. You want a goat-cheese pizza and a fine glass of wine, you got it. But if you want a burger and a beer, you can sit down and have that, too. It’s one of the few places I’ve been to where you can genuinely take a huge group of people and not have to worry about somebody not eating.

That’s really what makes a restaurant unique; a willingness to actually reflect the tastes and style of the owner. To hell with “bohemianism”; I want a restaurant that’s comfortable just being itself.

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