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"E" is for Epitome

E, with a scant 16 restaurants, displays Madison in a microcosm.  It featured pricey restaurants with wildly varying quality (Esquire Club, Eldorado Grill, Essen Haus, Eno Vino, Edo Japanese Restaurant), too many coffee shops (Einstein Bros. Bagels, EVP, Escape Java Joint, Espresso Royale, Electric Earth) and kitschy Madison-only type restaurants with wildly varying gemütlichkeit (Ella's Deli, ESBMA, Echo Tap & Grill, Edo Sushi Bar & Buffet, Emian's). And the East Towne Mall Food Court, which must represent something.

Our grades thus far:
A 68
B 66
C 25
D 2

Our favorite Es:
Breakfast: EVP Coffee
Lunch: Emian's European Bakery
Dinner: Ella's Deli


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I know you have your formula set, and you are deeply committed to alphabetical order as a higher principle. But, just look at the L's and then tell me if you don't think that would be the ideal next letter to tackle. The L's are so awesome. Please, consider it. : )

I don't think the alphabet formula should be 'e'schewed (sorry), but I do have to confess: I really was hoping that Isthmus would list L'Etoile under E rather than L. When I checked the list, I was sorely disappointed. I'm eager to hear the review of a normal human, as opposed to someone who makes a living (and therefore has to be a little biased) rating food.

My biggest disappointment with Isthmus' dining list is their handling of initial articles, and the L's is when my real grousing will begin, circa 2008.

Is it a librarian thing?

Must be. ; )

Just to play devil's advocate here, I think a case could be made that L'Etoile should be filed under "L" rather than "E." L'Etoile, as with many non-English-named restaurants in Madison, is not a foreign chain or a foreign restaurant transplanted to the U.S., but an American (French-themed) restaurant founded by an American.

Therefore, to call the restaurant "L'Etoile" instead of "The Star" is merely an affectation, a branding gesture to indicate the French influence of its cuisine and bolster its cachet as a fine-dining mecca elevated from your more common sort of feed trough. In this specific context, "L'Etoile" has no intrinsic meaning. It is a brand only. You may as well call the place "Le Chat Malade" for all the difference it would make. Like the Toyota "Camry," it's not a signifier of anything but itself. And since the "Frenchness" is the point of the brand name, the "L'" in the name has no practical grammatical value. It has ceased entirely even to be an article. So you may as well file it under "L" along with La Bamba and other pseudo-foreign-named restaurants.

A hypothetical example just occurred to me. What if you had a restaurant here in town called "Da Shizzle"? If you insisted that it be listed as "Shizzle, Da," that would be ridiculous, even though "Da" is ostensibly an initial article. The only reason anyone would be calling it "Da Shizzle" is because that phrase, as a single unbroken block, has a unique significance apart from its Standard English definition. I think the same principle applies to L'Etoile and most other restaurants with foreign names.

Woof, I didn't come to this site to get schooled on Baudrillard and Simulacra and Simulation. Let's talk about food for crying out loud!

: )

You're right, Kyle. Never mind my earlier gaseous comment -- let's eat!

(Every time JM and Nichole get to a new letter, I wonder what the odds are that Zuzu Cafe will still be around by the time they get to the Zs. Will there still be food then, or will we get all our nutrition from pills like those superadvanced aliens on Star Trek?)

Damn good point, B. I can see the affectation/branding angle there (and I s'pose this is all moot since JM won't let us alter the list [except to spell out numerals like "24 Carrot Cafe"]).

The "Da Shizzle" example is a bit different. "Da" is more than an article here - it actually changes the meaning. Cf.

Anyway, yeah, lunchtime!

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