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Today I asked a man for directions to a restaurant called Jake's by saying Je cherche un restaurant qui s'appelle Jake's ?

Afterwards I immediately began to second-guess my choice of phrasing. He understood me, but was it really right? If I want to say "an [object] called [name]," can I use qui s'appelle ? Does that work in all cases? For example, are all of the following valid?

Je cherche...

  • un restaurant qui s'appelle Jake's
  • un chat qui s'appelle Jake
  • un homme qui s'appelle Jake
  • un endroit qui s'appelle Jake's Hill
  • un parc qui s'appelle Jake's Park

Is qui se nomme equally valid, or is it more formal? What about dont le nom est... ?

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The short answer is : you were right and chose the best natural-sounding one. And it fits equally well in all your listed examples, places, people or animals.

Here you could alternatively have skipped the verb part with Je recherche le restaurant "Jake's", but it's the second-best choice to me, yours is clearer.

All your three variants (qui s'appelle / qui se nomme / dont le nom est) exist and mean the same, but the levels of formalness (?) are different. "Qui se nomme" or "dont le nom est" are indeed more formal.

Last thing, se nommer is mostly used when refering to people rather than things, so it would be the only variant slightly odd here.

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