6) Local food is ecologically sound and culinarily superior, but that's because it comes from around here — like from the ground or the ocean. A Chelsea bagel is not locavore; a sausage made in Roxbury from Colorado beef and Iowa pork is not locavore. Tap water counts; beer counts; spuckies count and subs don't.

7) I want a new word for gastropub. The form is already diversifying, there being some gastropubs where the beer is the thing, others mainly about the cocktails, and some with no desserts. We need more hyphens, such as cocktail-gastro-pub or beer-geek-gastro-pub, but what we really need is a more palatable term for the non-pub part of the equation.

8) No desserts. What is the age group that doesn't want dessert? I'm giving up on the decaf, but I still want dessert, and stars are going to be withheld over this.

9) Chocolate lava cake — could be the next crème brûlée. I love chocolate, and if you have chocolate lava cake on the menu, people will order it. I will eat some, but what I write about it will not be what you want to hear. You would like, chefs, to be described as "a master chef," or perhaps "a creative chef," or maybe "a subtle student of fusion cuisines." Do you really want to pick up the Phoenix and read that you are yet another chef who wastes time and talent to perfect a 1950s chocolate-pudding cake, or even a 1990s fallen-chocolate cake? It's almost as bad as . . .

10) Hot cookie-dough cookies. Cookies used to be crunchy, then if you kept them in a cookie jar — you've seen these on Antiques Roadshow — they got a little softer. If you wanted them soft, you dipped them in milk. If you couldn't wait for the cookies to be baked, you got to lick the bowl with raw cookie dough. Now the sanitary code will not permit you to eat raw dough, so the restaurants have hot cookies. But when you pick one up, it has the texture of cookie dough. It doesn't even crumble; it melts off the spoon like a surrealist nightmare. With my weird friends, I'm already the only restaurant reviewer in the world who reviews well-done steaks, brownie sundaes, and decaf tea. Don't tempt my guests to screw up your restaurant review!



FAILS (10) Use the whole fish; picking the best thing instead of serving a trio of things; fewer crème brûlées/more butterscotch puddings; tagliatelle Bolognese conservation plan; confit duck with spicy; Filipino restaurants (Quincy doesn't count); roasted beet salad; lighter, smaller carrot cakes; burgers ground from primo beef; softer risotti/harder pasta.

SLIGHT IMPROVEMENTS (4) Chefs off TV; servers saying, "Are you still working on that?"; fake fireplaces; vegan restaurants without vegetables.

SMALL VICTORIES (6) Better tea service (the Journeyman); proper decaf (a few); real French onion soup (once); sweet-potato fries (twice); Iraqi restaurants (once); scenic vistas instead of talking heads or sports on television (once).

Robert Nadeau can be reached at robtnadeau@aol.com.

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