Omnivore - 'I'll have the menu with the big, readable letters'

Here's a complaint: I dined at Steel last night — more about that in a later post — and encountered a problem that keeps coming up in restaurants. I couldn't read the damn menu without holding it over the candle on the table.

Yeah, I know eyesight worsens with age, but every time I complain about this in a restaurant, the server says she's heard the same thing from others. In the case of Steel, which was certainly not the worst I've encountered, I could read the takeout menu more easily than the regular menu.

If you're going to keep the lights low in your restaurant, shouldn't your menu feature type bigger than a telephone directory's? And, even if you provide decent lighting, skip the fancy typography. No bright background colors or pictures, please.

And, double-please, no red ink on the menu! Red is especially unreadable. Years ago, I handed a Linotype operator a story I'd edited in red ink and he literally threw it back at me. While your fifth-grade teacher might have used red ink to correct your spelling test, it's considered taboo in the world of editing.

I have a small flashlight I carry to restaurants now and then. I guess I will have to add super-strong reading glasses or a magnifying glass to my reviewing gear.

(Image from bnscatalog.com)

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