Picture menus can be hard to fathom. Much like the "serving suggestion" for supermarket goods, a disclaimer along the lines of "illustration only" can help clarify that the preparation, accompaniments, and plating of a professionally styled photo might outshine what eventually appears at the table. The photo sets the expectations; the fine print gives cover to the management in case of customer complaints.
For silhouetted photos like these, size is an issue, too. A glance at the six plates depicted on this storefront might suggest that the cányǒng (Tsan-Yohng), depicted at upper right, are outstandingly large and plump, given their proportions in relation to the fish at upper left. Only if you'd had your share in the past would you know, instinctively, that these tidbits are only just so big and that the photo must have been enlarged to fit the available space. Without that past experience, you might be disappointed to be served just a small, appetizer-sized portion of silkworm pupae. Or you might not.
Altered image: This mural, one of many draped along a construction barrier, echoes the look and feel of the bar-restaurant behind it. Perhaps to avoid a seeming endorsement by New York's Department of Transportation, however, almost all the text has been edited. The come-on "wings, burgers, ribs, salad," for example, has been transformed into "fries, shrimp, pulled pork, BBQ." Only two essential elements are unchanged: the street number, 126, and (current as of March 2014) the Department of Health letter grade, A.
As of May 2014, the construction barrier and mural have been removed, but the A grade still stands.
Mudville 9 126 Chambers St. (West Broadway-Church Sts.), Manhattan 212-964-9464 www.Mudville9.com
Former site of a five-and-dime whose lunch counter was one of many in downtown Savannah targeted by sit-ins and boycotts a half-century ago. Today this corner is occupied by a Subway. As best as I can tell, all trace of the Woolworth's lunch counter itself is long gone; only the terrazzo entryway remains.
Woolworth's Surviving signage at 131 East Broughton St. (at Abercorn St.), Savannah, Georgia
I can't pin a date on that faded sign for the erstwhile Stapleton Country Store. It's likely the sign isn't all that old; it's even more likely that the store was never all that country. More interesting is the change of name, not for what it says about the goods on the shelves but for what it suggests about the customers, and about the store owner's appreciation of their priorities. Few folks, nowadays, take the time for cracker-barrel philosophizing.
Easy Grab & Go Deli & Grocery 374 Van Duzer St. (at Beach St.), Stapleton, Staten Island 718-727-5446
The three characters in the name of this Chinese establishment (no relation to the Malaysian Taste Good of Elmhurst, Queens) can be loosely rendered as "fine food house." I haven't sampled the fare myself, but I'm charmed by the transformation of the center character, which also appears in the house-shaped logo. One of the character's diagonal strokes has been replaced by a pair of chopsticks, the other, by a spoon, reinforcing the message of homey goodness.