London’s Worst Ever Restaurant Names
Words: Chris Pople
What’s in a restaurant name? It shouldn’t technically matter, should it, what’s on the badge over the door as long as the service and food on your plate are up to muster, and indeed nine times out of ten it doesn’t. Whether the name was chosen because the URL was available and marketing have decided it’s meaningless enough to work through the rollout (Byron), reflects an awkward series of investors and competing egos (Ametsa with Arzak Instruction) or is willfully and surreally bonkers for no discernible reason (Bob Bob Ricard), most of the time even an unusual restaurant name is of supreme unimportance at any time other than the few seconds it takes to tap it into CityMapper.
There’s rarely such a thing as a terrible restaurant name, just one that you feel a bit silly saying over the phone. No, for a truly, memorably godawful name you need to make an extra effort. Not mere stupidity or awkwardness but genuine ignorance and offence. Not simple un-pronouncability but gleeful misuse of punctuation or wildly inappropriate trampling upon cultural norms. The names on this list aren’t just embarrassing but leave you wanting to wash your eyes and ears out with bleach because the knowledge you share a planet with the people who came up with them is too much to bear. These are the worst of the worst that London has ever known.
Flavour Bastard, Soho
I always think there’s not enough open aggression in the world of restaurant names. How much more refreshing would it be, for example, if Starbucks changed their name to ‘Have A F*cking Coffee’, or Subway became ‘You Came In For The Veggie Delite But We Know You’re Going To Leave With A Meatball Footlong, You Greedy %*&?’. We don’t know what inspired the name Flavour Bastard, but we very much look forward to future openings Food T*at and Tasty Shit.
Phat Phuc, Chelsea
Look, we’re sure ‘Phat Phuc’ really does translate, as they claim, to ‘Happy Buddha’. We don’t speak Vietnamese ourselves, so on that point, we’ll have to take their word for it.
But we’re also just as sure that Phat Phuc was an ‘amusing’ (in the way that all those funny foreigners are amusing) name in search of a translation to justify it, and that the cultural context of the name is completely lost to the vast majority of the Chelsea residents that guffaw at it every day.
Sophie’s Choice, Sidcup
I know, not really London but we thought it was worth including anyway. If you have ever made it through a bleak drama about Holocaust survival, adultery and suicide and your first thought was ‘this would make a great title for a restaurant’ then we need to have words.
Nobody in their right mind will want to eat in a restaurant called Sophie’s Choice, and I can’t imagine any number of ‘Grilled Cajun Spiced Chicken Kebabs with Tzatziki’ (it seems confusion what constitutes a good restaurant name is just as much of a mystery to Sidcup as what constitutes a good plate of food) will put things right.
OK, not a terrifying title in and of itself, but if you’re going to name yourself a homophone with the human derriere, you’d be well advised to make sure your product is up to scratch and based on the – shall we say – ‘mixed’ reception to Tom Sellers’ show-offy-‘slebby place on the Brompton Road, they have dropped the ball on this one.
Arse – sorry, Ours – is, however, surprisingly popular, which says more about Kensington than it does about arses.
[Edit: we’re informed Sellers has severed his association with Ours].
Scoff and Banter, various locations around London
You know exactly the kind of person who came up with this one. Him, yes him, with his red trousers and jumper tied over his shoulders, sat in the window at Costa shouting into his Bluetooth kit that he’s found the ‘perfect’ name for the chain of wipe-clean ground-floor hotel bistros he’s talked some clueless investor type into ponying up the cash for.
It’s excruciating not just because of the so-bad-it-goes-all-the-way-from-bad-to-good-and-then-back-again-to-bad self-conscious mateyness but because you know for a fact it will be full of the kind of hideous, braying imbeciles that came up with the name in the first place.
Squat and Gobble, Charlotte St, now closed
If there’s one golden rule of restaurant names, it’s that the business of eating, and any even mild allusion to a sex act should be kept as far apart as possible.
The awkward onomatopoeia of the title would be unpleasant enough in and of itself but turkeys, hardly the most attractive or glamorous (or less face it, flavoursome) animals, are never going to carry the branding requirements of a modern, sophisticated restaurant. Add in the image of someone on their haunches under a table strewn with discarded turkey bones going full Gigli, and you have yourself the formula for something truly horrific.
Pussey Liquor, Lordship Lane, East Dulwich, now renamed
But if Squat and Gobble was horrific, Pussey Liquor is an entire season of Walking Dead. The idea that this name got past a drunken conversation in the pub, onto a signwriter’s job sheet and hoisted onto the front a modern European restaurant in East Dulwich without anyone at any stage objecting is a searing indictment of our moral standing as a country and this particular corner of South London in particular.
Even now, years after the sign quietly came down and they started calling themselves something less apocalyptically offensive, we still can hardly believe it happened. East Dulwich, with its happy little coffee shops and families out shopping – East Dulwich had, for a short time, a restaurant called Pussey Liquor.