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COLUMN: No, the Runcible Spoon is not overrated



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The Runcible Spoon is now decorated with fall decor. The Runcible Spoon is a Bloomington restaurant located on 412 E. Sixth St. Kate Pasmore Buy Photos

I’m sure we are all familiar with at least one or two self-proclaimed food critics. Oh, you know who I’m talking about — people who could never seem to enjoy the blessed experience otherwise known as dining, and who would literally find 10 things wrong with either the meal before them or the restaurant itself. 

Recently, I’ve had the pleasure to be in the presence of a couple of such folks. In a matter of half an hour at most, they managed to find their target of the day in the form of the beloved Bloomington staple, the Runcible Spoon, calling it “overrated.” 

Sure, there may always be a huddle of people waiting by the entrance to the patio and you may be practically touching elbows with your neighbors. But crowds are the real life testimonial to a restaurant’s popularity. I don’t know about you, but I would be more concerned about walking into a diner at lunch time and finding it devoid of patrons.  

The name of the restaurant itself comes from literary origins. The nonsense word “runcible” was invented by British poet and artist Edward Lear and is most famously used in his humorous poem “The Owl and the Pussycat,” where it was first associated with the word “spoon.” A fitting name for a restaurant, “spoon” invokes the image of eating, while “runcible” added a sprinkle of whimsicality. 

To make literature nerds like yours truly let out a hearty chuckle, the likenesses of the owl and the cat are even painted on the Spoon’s entrance sign as a nod to Lear’s poem. 

After settling down, first take a good look at the drink menu, for its extensiveness is sure to impress. The coffee selection ranges from classics like Americano, café au lait and cappuccino, to interesting remixes such as maple latte, spiced coffee and the ever-popular pumpkin spiced latte, to name a few. Coffee beans have been freshly roasted on the premise since the Spoon opened in 1976. 

Tea lovers, worry not, the Spoon’s tea selection is possibly even more impressive than its coffees. Brought to the table in a small teapot, the freshly brewed, always piping hot beverage contains tea leaves from places as far as India and China. Being a mint fanatic, I highly recommend the Moroccan mint tea. Made with green tea and mint, it makes a refreshing companion to a meal. 

Daunted by the food menu? Why not try one of the Spoon’s signature buttermilk pancakes? Want something more savory? A variety of egg-based products are waiting for you to sample. The Bonne Femme omelet is a personal favorite of mine. Stuffed with bacon, onion and potatoes, this was the first dish I’ve tried at the Runcible Spoon, and I have loved it ever since.

After you order your food, look around and take in the vibe of the restaurant.  Marvel at the ornate wooden wall panels with their beautiful carvings, the cases and shelves stuffed with books, the mosaic image of a crane on the side window, the random pieces of art, and more images of the owl and cat here and there. Still not impressed? Check out the bathroom. I mean, it’s not every day you find a giant bathtub of goldfish sitting in a bathroom. 

A clever name, good drinks, delectable food and a quirky, cozy atmosphere, what more could one ask for? Long live the Spoon! 

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