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How to Dine Like a Restaurant Critic #hackdining

How to Dine Like a Restaurant CriticSo, let’s get this out of the way. Being a restaurant critic can be pretty hard work. You can put away the tiny violins, and let’s pause for the laughter to die down.

Yes, of course, it’s terrific fun, and you sometimes want to pinch yourself for actually getting paid to dine, but the responsibility of a restaurant critic, in fact, goes well beyond just chomping down a meal and writing something about it. The point is, a thoughtful critic is mindful of the fact that he/she is ultimately passing judgment on some else’s hard work and recognizes the impact their verdict can ultimately have. This is no small responsibility. A good review can help launch a successful restaurant; a bad one, though, can be devastating. It’s not something to take lightly.

Following are eight tips for how to dine like a restaurant critic on a review.

1. Choose wisely. Ideally, you want to pick a restaurant that takes you out of your comfort zone. Don’t go to a place you’ve already been to a million times. Try something new, so you can approach the experience with a fresh point of view. Among the options you might consider: type of cuisine, price point, location, innovative formats (e.g. Japanese-Jewish fusion? Dessert only?), as well as the presence of a celebrity chef.
Advice: Be adventurous with your restaurant reservations.

2. Do your homework. If you’re tackling a cuisine that’s new to you, a bit of research about culture, ingredients, and preparations can go a long way and make for a much richer experience. This can help you gain a better sense of what some of the must-try dishes are and provide you more confidence when ordering. Also, if there are specialties that require advance notice (e.g. Peking Duck, suckling pig), better to know before you get there.
Advice: Read up on the restaurant and the style of cooking before you go.

3. Allow the restaurant a grace period. While it’s tempting to want to evaluate a new place right away, you typically want to give the kitchen a bit of time to get its sea legs. In theory, a restaurant should be fully ready for customers from the day it opens its doors to customers. In reality, it can often take time to properly train a newly staffed kitchen, iron out wrinkles in service, and refine dishes.
Advice: Do yourself (and the restaurant) a favor, and wait three to six weeks post-opening for the dust to settle.

4. Use discretion. A critic — whether a blogger or a writer for a major publication — should function as an advocate for the “everyman.” I literally imagine myself as a stand-in for my readers. When dining for a review, you ought to receive the same treatment as anyone else in order get and to give a fair and balanced assessment of the occasion. It certainly can be nice to get VIP treatment, but that doesn’t likely mirror what the typical diner will experience.
Advice: Don’t announce that you are writing a review, and never ask for free food in exchange for a review. That pretty much disqualifies your ability to be impartial.Continue Reading

Lunch Break: Meet OpenTable Employee Brooks Hassig

Brooks Hassig headshot-medAt OpenTable, we’re always searching for ways to improve the dining experience for guests and restaurants alike. One of our biggest accomplishments in that area is OpenTable mobile payments. Brooks Hassig is part of the team that works on this feature that lets diners settle their checks with just a few taps. He hails from Seattle and Motor City, likes to drink some of his meals (in the healthful way, of course), and he’s a sucker for a simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Read on to meet OpenTable employee Brooks Hassig, learn about his picks for local food and drink, and discover what he’s digging into during his work day in today’s Lunch Break. 

Name: Brooks Hassig

Hometown: Seattle and Detroit

Job Title: Senior Experience Designer

What that means that I do at OpenTable: I help diners pay with their phones.

Years at OpenTable: 0.8  Alma mater: Western Washington University

I have not worked in a restaurant. (But I do like to eat at ’em!)

The food I can’t live without: PB+J sandwiches — I’m a simple man.

The one food I’ll never try: Hákarl — so gross!

My go-to drink or cocktail: Bundaberg Ginger Beer

The delicious dessert I refuse to share: Get your hands off my carrot cake.

My favorite thing about dining out is: Food/service/clean up

If pizza!!!!!!!! is on a restaurant’s menu, I almost always order it.

My last best restaurant meal was at: Le Sain Bol in Montreal

The restaurant I am a regular at: Samovar-Yerba Buena + Castro locationsContinue Reading

Delicious T-Shirts: 11 Tasty Tees Perfect for Foodies

A t-shirt isn’t just a piece of clothing – it’s a statement. It tells people a little bit about who you are and what you love (and, in this case, what you love to eat). That’s why choosing which ones to wear isn’t a decision you should take lightly. We’ve decided to make it easier for you to let your flavor flag fly by introducing you to our round up of delicious t-shirts with 11 tasty tees perfect for foodies. Avid diners, your wardrobe’s about to get deliciousized.

Acid Trip
You can wear this one to Coachella or the NYC Wine & Food Festival. The tongue-in-cheek tee was inspired by chef Rick Tramonto of R’evolution in New Orleans, who once quipped, “Every chef needs a good acid trip.” Totally, dude.

lemon_squeeze_mens_front_cropped_1_1024x1024

Reunited and It Feels So Good
This tee makes us smile. A mother and child together again, just like they should be. But then we start thinking we want to eat them both, which makes us smile in a more sinister way. Mmmm … doughnuts.

Doughnut and Hole

Mac ‘n’ Cheese
Warning: You may want to eat this shirt. This photorealistic tribute to one of the ultimate comfort foods looks like you could dig into it with a giant fork. Don’t. And please remember, it’s not cute if you drool on your clothing either.

Mac and Cheese

 

Wicked Chickens
We’ve always wondered where deviled eggs come from. Now we know, thanks to this clucking awesome t-shirt. Yes, we just went there.

Wicked ChickensContinue Reading

Lunch Break: Meet OpenTable Employee Jessye Strohmeyer

Jesse Strohmeyer blog copyTop-notch engineers are vital to the success of OpenTable — as is the woman who helps recruit them. Jessye Strohmeyer spends her days seeking out the best engineers and (if this one is any indication) eating healthful lunches. The northeast native adores peanut butter, would love to dine (barefoot?) with Ina Garten, and has fond memories of the all-you-can-eat steak frites at Le Relais de L’Entrecôte in the City of Lights. Read on to meet OpenTable employee Jessye Strohmeyer, discover her drinking + dining tips, and find out what she’s having for her midday meal in today’s Lunch Break.

Name: Jessye Strohmeyer

Hometown: Lexington, Massachusetts

Job Title: Recruiter

What that means that I do at OpenTable: Tell engineers how cool OpenTable is and convince them to work here.

Years at OpenTable: One  Alma mater: Boston College

I have not worked in a restaurant.

The food I can’t live without: Peanut butter

The one food I’ll never try: Dog

My go-to drink or cocktail: Margarita

The delicious dessert I refuse to share: Mike’s Pastry cannoli

My favorite thing about dining out is: trying a new spin on classics.

If huevos rancheros is on a restaurant’s menu, I almost always order it.

My last best restaurant meal was at: Starbelly

The restaurant I am a regular at: Kells (They have food, right?)Continue Reading