The cell biologist’s guide to fine dining

Like Comment
Artwork by Oliver Hoeller

What would the publishing landscape be like, if journals were restaurants instead of publications? TIR offers its own, definitely not Michelin-starred, guide…

bioRxiv – Raw bar at the harbour that serves shellfish straight off the boats. Undoubtedly the freshest you’ll get, although the uncooked nature of the food means that quality can be a bit of a lottery. Restaurant owners are paying closer and closer attention to the catches and looking to snatch up popular shipments.

Cell – Sleek and sophisticated upmarket Italian place that’s openly run by the Mafia. The quality of the food is very good on the whole and the menu has kept up with the times, but it’s a bit of a guilty pleasure because you know you’re lining the pockets of seriously dubious owners. Franchise affiliates (Molecular Cell, Developmental Cell, Cancer Cell, Cell Stem Cell) trade on the name, and carry the same caveats.

Current Biology – Hipster coffee shop that has a few scrumptious home-cooked dishes but also serves a lot of frothy drinks.

eLife – Super-trendy new place with an organic menu, pride themselves on their ethical policy. Backed from on high by some very successful restauranteurs and beginning to be a victim of its own success – prices are rising fast and tables are becoming harder to come by.

EMBO Journal – Crumbling old institution that has seen better days; a former market leader, now on hard times and most of its old clientele has deserted it. Appointed a visionary new head chef, but winning back its former regulars is taking time.

Journal of Biological Chemistry – Family-owned buffet restaurant that’s been around forever and has a huge sentimental pull. Absolutely enormous menu that makes finding dishes a bit difficult, but there are still a few gems hiding in there (just don’t touch the prawns!).

Journal of Cell Biology – Classy bespoke joint that’s the first choice for the real cognoscenti. Very high-quality food, have a bit of a thing for gimmicky molecular gastronomy dishes, but undoubtedly high standards and a forward-thinking management.

Journal of Cell Science – Mid-table gastropub that’s been trying hard to move upmarket and attract a higher calibre of diner in recent years.

Molecular Biology of the Cell – Owned by a bunch of knowledgeable gourmets who have ensured it’s kept up with the times. Made some sure-footed moves in recent years, and maintains a high quality menu.

Nature/Science/PNAS – Old World sophistication with menus that haven’t changed in decades. The proprietors refuse to change anything, complacent in their past glory and content in the knowledge that people will keep coming. It’s almost impossible to get a table, the portions are tiny, and people don’t generally enjoy the experience – but they do brag about it afterwards. PNAS has a back door for members-only dining, although it’s considered a bit naff to use it.

Plant Cell – Fair Trade affiliate with a meat-free menu which funnels its proceeds back to the growers, who usually struggle to get the same kind of subsidies as cattle ranchers. Run by a vegetarian collective, who are all active farmers themselves. Proud of its large portions, and cheerfully opposed to both gluten-free and GM-free movements (GM dishes are actually a speciality).

PLoS ONE – Fast food burger chain that’s practically everywhere. “The food doesn’t have to taste good, it just has to be edible!” is their slogan. Phenomenally popular, and a great port of call when you’re feeling a bit run-down and can’t get a meal anywhere else.

PLoS Pathogens/Biology etc – Eco-friendly chain with deceptively high prices. It’s very hip to be seen there, but there are rumours that their business model isn’t sustainable. Everyone wants them to succeed though.

[predatory online journals] – Roadside drive-thru joints with shockingly low standards that tend to give their customers a bad dose of indigestion. Rumoured to sell absolutely anything they can buy, including dogmeat. Will hire anybody as chef, and in fact some of their chefs aren’t even aware they work there. Usually in a running battle with the hygiene inspectors. Avoid at all costs.

Brooke Morriswood

junior group leader, University of Würzburg