Friday, November 04, 2005

Can We Run A Spellcheck, Please???

Since my first visit to Holy Land Central as a teenager, the general mangling of the English language on menus, printed billboards, shop signs, press releases, you name it, has provided plentiful occasion for comic relief. Clearly not a private joke, other Anglos have devoted blog space and entire website pages to the subject.

Follow me, won't you?

I stopped into my restaurateur friend Dita's place today after a hiatus of several years. When we first met in the 90's via my social-butterfly, ex-husband Shlomo (great guy, by the way), Dita co-owned the oppressively dark, Beivar pub/restaurant on Ben Yehuda with her single, over-forty, bitter sister Edna. Back then, Dita spent hours in the hot kitchen, cigarette dangling, hovering over ovens and burners emerging with heaping plates of tasty bits prepared with love and sweat for the branja (gang). She always had time to sit, smoke another cigarette, chastise Shlomo, listen to gossip and yell at a server or bartender for some minor infraction.

Since, she has changed locale half a dozen times, upgraded gradually and shed the scowling Edna. Regardless of her up-the-ladder ascent, however, Dita has maintained a down-to-earth, rebelliousness which is part fiery woman from hell, part Jewish mother with ample bosom and bulging waistline scrutinizing every bite lest a morsel be left on the plate un-eaten.

Her current place is gorgeous. Taking up prime, real-estate turf next to Max Brenner's Chocolatier on Rothschild Boulevard, Dita has definitely moved on up to the East Side - she's listed in Fodor's for Criminy's sake!

The decor is still dark but tasteful. The menu retains her signature entrees of Entrecote in creamed pepper sauce, plum basted spare ribs, schnitzel in creamy Dijon and Roquefort hamburger despite today's global trend towards macro-biotics and sashimi. Dita still hangs out in the kitchen with a cigarette hanging from her mouth, the staff still quakes when she barks and she's still saucy as ever: Give her the coffee AFTER you bring my grapefruit juice; I'm first she curtly demands of the server attending to our table.

The notable differences lie in a sizeable, Bistro style kitchen commandeered by milling-about chefs in whites and toques, a 120-capacity dining room, a kind doorman who bids good day upon departure and an expanded menu.

Can I look at a menu?
I ask the server upon Dita's retreat to the kitchen. And here's where I have to ask all of entrepreneurs here and the world-over the same question:

You invested hundreds of thousands into your place. Crystal chandeliers, culinary school trained chefs, re-upholstered antiques, exclusive wines, stained glass windows, marble sconces. Why not go that extra mile and pay someone $50 MAXIMUM to proofread the ferkakte menu/marquee/billboard so that diners don't have to puzzle over Sole with torture sauce, Digeustifves (is this a Czech delicacy?) or Intreecote?

And could someone please get Jesus on the phone? The Gentile Shoe Shop in Tel Aviv is holding a 1/2 price, sandal sale.

Dita, I love you. Next time hire a copee-edeetore


ontheface said...

Ah Dita, one of my favourite Tel Aviv institutions. ;)

This is a hilarious post. Keep 'em coming, girl.

shai said...

Which reminds me that I haven't eaten at Dita's in years....

I have come to regard the inevitable spelling mistakes that you find on almost every Israeli menu written in English like the flaws that are intentionally woven into a Navajo rug; they give it its unique character.

Also, it makes for a fun game while you're waiting for your waitress to come.

Savtadotty said...

I don't think I've ever seen an English menu in Israel without mistakes. As long as people keep eating, they're not going to change. As Shai said, good for laughs.

Stephanie said...

It is amusing and yes, it bides the time. Ha ha ha...