What does horror taste like? 'Carnage Asada' and bloody cocktails

There are many ways restaurant decor can say welcome: fresh flowers, linen tablecloths, dim lighting. TO Terror Tacos in Saint-Louis, ...

There are many ways restaurant decor can say welcome: fresh flowers, linen tablecloths, dim lighting.

TO Terror Tacos in Saint-Louis, the welcome is bloody – in fact, frightening red paint that covers a wall with long drops, like the macabre drapery that Satan’s gnarled hand could pull to bring the damned into hell.

Self-proclaimed horror movie brothers and geeks Bradley Roach and Brian Roash opened Terror Tacos in March. (They spell their last names differently.) As a chef, Mr. Roach concocted an all-vegan menu of tacos and burritos with his homemade “carnage asada” seitan. Mr. Roash, an artist who deals with the restaurant’s marketing, painted the spooky artwork, including the face of a screaming woman who looks like Shelley duvall in “The Shining”. The group Cradle of dirt often growls into the speakers.

The restaurant’s mix of horror, extreme metal and veganism is what attracts loyal customers, Mr. Roach said, including hardened carnivores. “They don’t necessarily come back because the food is plant-based,” he said. “They are just excited to eat in a weird place.”

Terror Tacos is one of the many gore-obsessed restaurants that have opened across the country since the last Halloween, despite the pandemic and its restrictions on catering. It is difficult to say why. Maybe horror fans are living their dreams now or never. Maybe restaurants are an antidote to the cheerfulness of corporate chains.

Or maybe they are a positive response to a world that feels broken. When reality doesn’t seem to get much darker than it is, Mr. Roash said, a visit to a restaurant like Terror Tacos isn’t as daunting as it might have been earlier. “You would never want to equate terror with your brand because people might think our tacos are terrible,” he said. “But we’ve been terrified for two years, and people can relate to a screaming face.”

These new places are coming as horror movies and TV shows have become extremely popular and profitable during the pandemic, and even helped some people better manage your anxieties, according to a study published last year in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

Coltan Scrivner, one of the study’s authors, said horror restaurants can be a sure-fire way to have fun with scary things in painful times.

“In a horror restaurant, no one is afraid,” said Dr. Scrivner, a behavior specialist at the University of Chicago. who studies morbid curiosity, or why terrifying experiences attract people. “It sends a signal that while something looks scary, it might not be that bad.”

Unlike haunted houses, horror-themed restaurants aren’t there to scare anyone – they’re more “Frankenweenie“scary that”Cannibal holocaustscary. The look is heavy on movie posters and the design is playful.

Word games are also a big part of the experience. The time of the crime, a food trailer that opened in July in Bentonville, Ark., features the Jason S’morehees inspired by “Friday the 13th”, a s’mores pie “served as cold as Jason at the bottom of the lake.” the load, a Chicago cafĂ© that will open in January, nods to David Cronenbergthe horror film of “the brood. “

At Haunted house restaurant in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, the vibe screams Saturday morning, not midnight grindhouse. The reception area is designed like a movie theater with a colorful mural depicting creatures like Frankenstein’s monster and Pennywise the clown. As the seafood pizza walks over to a table, the ominous musical chorus of “Jaws” plays over a loudspeaker.

Andre Scott, one of the four partners who opened the restaurant in July, doesn’t consider himself a horror fan. “I would watch a documentary before watching a horror movie,” he said. But when choosing a theme, the vote of the partners was unanimous.

“Horror movies bring everyone together,” Scott said. “It doesn’t matter your race or anything. I love more than anything, especially with all the hatred in the world, seeing people enjoying the concept.

The appearance of an old horror author’s dark study inspired the design of Cape & Dagger, a cocktail bar that opened a year ago just outside of downtown Cleveland. The walls are painted black and, like at Terror Tacos, the menu is vegan.

The ornate menus read like books, with gruesome mini-stories for each cocktail. One of the drinks in the spotlight is You Can Still See the Red, a blend of cask-strong Sagamore rye, Punt e Mes (a sweet vermouth), house mulled wine syrup, beetroot powder and lemon. .

“It looks like blood,” said Cory Hajde, an owner.

A vegan menu adds an anti-establishment feel that may appeal to horror lovers – a fan base that Mr Scrivner says is curious about imaginary violence but generally resistant to actual bloodshed.

“There’s this feeling that horror fans lack empathy, because how else could they appreciate horror?” Mr Scrivner said. “But a lot of horror fans are so empathetic that they don’t want to eat animals.”

Horror-themed meals have a history as long as that of a mummy. Costumed characters at Jekyll & Hyde Club in Manhattan’s West Village have been scaring people away for 30 years. Dining in Blairstown, in northwest New Jersey, became a hot spot after being featured in the original “Friday the 13th” in 1980. And Jackson Square by Muriel, a 20-year-old restaurant in the French Quarter of New Orleans, has its own ghost: Legend has it that the spirit of the building’s former owner, Pierre Antoine Lepardi Jourdan, lives in the Seance lounge on the second floor.

The living dead have reigned Zombie burger, with two branches in the Des Moines area, for 10 years. George Formaro, the chef and co-owner, said the zombie theme worked – though it was more susceptible to old-school monsters like Dracula and the Mummy – because “horror movies were a big deal in my childhood”.

“I think the burger and the horror movie are nostalgic for people,” said Mr. Formaro, who was once a semi-finalist for a James Beard award for best restaurateur in the country. He has a tattoo of Freddy Krueger’s glove and other horror villain accessories tattooed on his forearm. “Nostalgia is my favorite ingredient to work with these days. “

In May, Jared Bradley and Rebecca Vega opened the crow’s mansion, a haunted mansion-style lounge bar in Portland, Oregon. The menu includes a Black Bread Grilled Cheese of Darkness and a vegan brain-shaped meatloaf called Cerebral Matter.

A trail of blood leads to an underground lab where clients wear lab coats and create cocktails during an “elixir experiment”. The session is led by various characters, including Dr Creeps, assistant to Dr Raven, a fictional bar doctor, who kidnapped and experimented with his guests in a quest for immortality.

Mad scientists, a possessed mansion, ghostly visions: If this feels like a night with cartoon sleuths and their Great Dane, Ms. Vega doesn’t disagree. “I grew up with Scooby Doo,” she said. “It was my gateway to horror.”

For Cailee Holmes, who since August 13 – a Friday, of course – has been running a pop-up restaurant called the crypt In a test kitchen in Salem, Mass., there’s a cross between horror fans and people who work in the restaurant industry, with its night shifts and sleep-filled days. It’s like “a ‘lost boys’ kind of life,” she said, referring to the 1987 movie about idolatrous vampires.

“You have to have thick skin to work in a restaurant, to be able to take things as they come to you,” Ms. Holmes said. “People who love horror, who are so insensitive to blood and guts, they can work in restaurants because they are not disturbed.”

At Terror Tacos, Mr. Roash said business has exceeded his expectations, an achievement he attributes to the food, of course, but also that bloody-looking wall and the desire “to explore elements of my personality that I didn’t have time to do before Horror, he said, was the right choice.

“A restaurant with pastel green walls and hearts and love is a formula that can be successful,” he said. “But I’m tired of this formula. Why not be yourself?

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Newsrust - US Top News: What does horror taste like? 'Carnage Asada' and bloody cocktails
What does horror taste like? 'Carnage Asada' and bloody cocktails
Newsrust - US Top News
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