Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Restaurant Reviews are so 2007

When I went to NYC about a month or so ago, I had dinner with my cousins (one of whom is also a foodie) at a nondescript restaurant that isn't worth mentioning (nor was it worth talking about in my NY post). I had been eating nonstop that entire week, and although there is an infinite amount of restaurants/carts I'd still like to experience, I didn't really care that I was having a meal at one off my mental list (more than one, actually).

After filling in my cousin on where I had been eating that week, we both concluded that we're over it. Eating out at new restaurants just isn't that exciting to me anymore. Maybe eating out is just an early phase that foodies go through... restaurants equate to their initial exposure to the realm of the food industry since it's the most accessible (requires money, but no skill). I mean don't get me wrong, I still like to try new places here and there... but after a few years of doing that, it adds up financially and calorically.

My views of dining have also changed since actually working in a restaurant. Here is an excerpt of an email from my old pastry chef after I showed her my blog (slightly edited for confidentiality):

i wonder if, as a cook now, maybe u write ur blogs differently knowing that no matter how "subpar" something might seem, somebody mighta spent a lotta time on that....take the XXX for example...personally, i think that dish sux...its way too heavy and kinda gross and has no place on a table outside of a diner.....yet, i know that "Bob" takes half an hour every day peeling and slicing those by hand... ... sauce is made in three steps by three different people.....just some food for thought
She's exactly right. Part of the initial excitement of trying new restaurants, for me, was to see which ones were good (and bad), to compare them, to be able to make accurate suggestions and be able to know where to take people (these reasons are in addition to the obvious, like sharing a good meal with good company, learning more about food, witnessing creation and innovation of others, etc). However, now that I've had my fair share of what the city has to offer, "reviewing" restaurants doesn't mean the same thing. I now try not to post anything negative about a restaurant without giving them the benefit of the doubt because I know how much work it takes to make even a tiny garnish that will probably be ignored and disregarded by the diner. However, without that tiny garnish, the dish will be incomplete in texture, taste, and/or presentation. I'm getting more and more vague, but the point I'm trying to make is that... no matter how bad a restaurant may seem, it still takes a lot of work to do what they (we?) do... so I feel like judging without a complete understanding of what's going on back there is unfair.

So my illusions of touring the city's finest as amateur food critic have ended. There are still restaurants I want to try, and I will still share my experiences (more for my own records, anyway)... but they will probably be quite sparse. The end!

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