An Offbeat Glossary of Restaurant Terms
Everyone knows what a bistro is...right? And a la carte is a term that even a fifth grader knows...well, maybe not. And what exactly does smart casual mean? There are so many words and terms in English language that are taken for granted, including those used in restaurant industry. In a public service to diners from Boston to Bakersfield, Boston's Hidden Restaurants presents a glossary of useful, as well as totally useless, restaurant terms. (Note: This page is part of our restaurant features section.)
A La Carte A term used by more upscale, expensive restaurants that means each item is separate. If a restaurant says that bread and water are a la carte, flee as quickly as you can.
Bar Pizza A type of pizza served in bars (duh!) that is smaller in diameter (usually about 10 inches) and greasier than pizzas found in restaurants or sub shops. Bar pizza tends to taste better with beer, and MUCH better after many beers.
Bistro A small restaurant, usually informal, that typically has a decent wine list. If a place that calls itself a bistro does not have a wine list, it is simply known as a "small restaurant."
Captain An employee at a restaurant who supervises waitstaff and typically seats patrons. These people used to be called "hosts," but for some reason, many restaurants now call them "captains." Some restaurants include a place on bill for tipping captains. If you see this, flee as quickly as you can.
Chef Typically, chief cook of a restaurant staff. Don't ever call a chef a cook; he or she will not like that and may put some extra MSG in your food.
Cold Tea A term used, usually late at night, that means beer. This term is fairly common in Chinese restaurants that stay open after bars close. The serving of cold tea is often illegal and unethical, and we at Boston's Hidden Restaurants do not condone ordering of cold tea. But our view on that may change from weekend to weekend.