Critic's Notebook

How to Name a Restaurant

In Seattle these days, it couldn’t be easier. Check our handy formula!

By Kathryn Robinson August 11, 2014

It's all about the "and," people.

Image: Facebook

This month I reviewed Brimmer and Heeltap, the pride of Ballard and exemplar of the latest restaurant naming convention to sweep certain West Coast cities.

Call it the “X and Y”: Connecting two variously actual words with “and,” thereby creating a phrase evoking a theme or a general law-firmy gravitas.

In the former category think Sitka and Spruce, for the trees under which wild mushrooms often grow; Anchovies and Olives, for predominant menu items; Staple and Fancy for the sort of mercantile the space once dispensed; Walrus and Carpenter (actually, the Walrus and The Carpenter) as a winking reference to that crazy book about oysters; Bourbon and Bones for an admirable dedication to brown booze and barbecue.

Brimmer and Heeltap feels like the law-firm category, but it’s actually owner Jen Doak’s nod to two British drinking terms—the brimming glass and the last stubborn drops, respectively. The name is her fond tribute to the sweet experience that lies between.

So what about Brunswick and Hunt, the new dinnerhouse recently opened at the other end of Ballard (and inevitable contender for mixups with Brimmer)? The bar was built by Brunswick Balke Collander, a bar and billiard table maker from the late 19th century; the landscape painting centerpiece is called “The Hunt.” Or Cone and Steiner, the general store on North Capitol Hill? Its name honors the original Cone and Steiner store in SoDo, run by co-owner Dani Cone’s great-grandfather. Bell and Whete, the latest from the Local 360 Café people, occupies the corner of Bell Street and honors the old English spelling of “wheat.” Bottle and Bull, a gastropub destined soon for Kirkland, pays tribute to the two primary passions of Ernest Hemingway.

Name of billiard table maker? Old English spelling of wheat? Seems to us people are liking this naming convention so much, meaning is taking a very willing back seat. Perhaps you are now inspired to open a pretty-darn-random X and Y joint of your own! If so, click on our current favorite X and Y namer site and get going!

Note: We have dibs on Noodle and Bird.


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