Dish Trip ATL: 48 Hours + 13 Restaurants with Mary Bigham + Amy Strauss, Part I

Dish Trippers Mary Bigham and Amy Strauss are about to eat and drink their way through the ATL!

Our friends Mary Bigham and Amy Strauss from Dish Trip took another whirlwind foodcation, this time to Atlanta, and shared all the delicious deets with us. Mary says, “With so little time to spend in a city, The Dish Trip team is on a mission to ensure that every bite is a quality bite.  With the help of local food writers and OpenTable, we are able to visit 13 restaurants in 48 hours. Here is our a bite-by-bite of our journey. Try not to be jealous.”


3PM: Arrived on the very first Southwest flight EVER to land in Atlanta.  Yay! Welcomed with so much fanfare at the airport that we feel a bit like celebrities.

3:20PM: Grabbing a taxi to the Glenn Hotel, a charming boutique hotel in Atlanta’s downtown district. For the record, HOTlanta is definitely not HOT this weekend – colder in Atlanta than Philly (temperature is 29 degrees!). We must have brought the cold from the North with us!

4PM: Loving how stylized our downtown hotel is – their intimate bar is designed as a living room speakeasy and endless amounts of quirky characteristics accent the hallways (they’re lined with little containers of grass)!

4:05PM: Added bonus: a rum punch upon check in! The welcome we are receiving at the Glenn is out-of-this-world.

6PM: Luckie Marietta District! Southwest Airlines hand-picked this four-restaurant-deep complex surrounding Centennial Olympic Park to host their “Atlanta At Last” Block Party. Game plan: Weaving our way through all four concepts to dive deep into their signature “Southwest Airlines-inspired” eats in just a few hours. Wish us luck!

6:15PM: Max’s Coal Oven Pizzeria. This tangy Southwest chicken pizza constructed on authentic New York-style crust is a staple at Max’s Coal Oven Pizzeria – and for good reason. Paired with local SweetWater Brewing Company’s SweetWater Blue, a light-bodied ale accented with a hint of blueberries, and 420 Extra Pale Ale, a West Coast-style ale with a crisp, hopped finish. Great start!Continue Reading

Dining Dispatch: Live from the Louisiana Seafood Food Blog Masters in New Orleans

Food blogger Amanda Bottoms picks up a camera before she picks up a fork.

Greetings and salutations from the Big Easy, diners! For the next several days, I’ll be reporting from Louisiana as part of the Louisiana Seafood Food Blog Masters. Attendees include Daniel Delaney, Amanda Bottoms, Nathan Lippy, Marla Meredith, Adam Roberts and Craig Johnson, Maggy Keet, Matt Armendariz and Adam Pearson, Brooke Burton, Gaby Dalkin, Amy Sherman, Emma Christensen, Chichi Wang, and Jenny Flake.

We’ll be dining out and diving in, literally and figuratively, to the seafood scene in the Bayou State, visiting top restaurants and talking to the people who are the backbone of New Orleans cuisine, from crabbers and oyster farmers to chefs and restaurateurs.

Tonight, we kicked things off with dinner at Bistro Maison de Ville, where we feasted on everything from catfish and crawfish to frog legs (!) and oysters, courtesy of chef Greg Picolo, a New Orleans native! Okay, I only picked at the frogs legs, but everyone else feasted on them.

You can check out more pictures over at Flickr. And, check back for coverage of the Louisiana Seafood Festival, and much more, from NOLA.

Critical Question: Do You Rely on Professional Restaurant Reviews?

Do-You-Rely-on-Professional-Restaurant-ReviewsThere’s been a lot of talk lately about the relevance of restaurant critics. The Wall Street Journal recently eliminated their restaurant reviews, putting Raymond Sokolov out of a job. TIME and Josh Ozersky have come to his defense and that of his fading profession, opining that even though the critics of reviewing’s heyday lacked influence, they had perspective — something today’s bloated corps of food writers and bloggers do not possess.

Personally, I enjoy and trust professional restaurant critics (who seem to constantly have to defend not just their jobs but also their opinions). I believe they write more holistically and less fetish-y about restaurants and the dining experience than your average food blogger. Also, most professional critics must visit restaurants more than once, with a rotating cast of dining companions, so their assessments of a restaurant are not based on what might be the odd off night at a normally wonderful restaurant. Rather, they have dined multiple times, come into contact with many staffers, sampled several specials and numerous regular menu items, and seen how the restaurant operates on different days of the week. If so great a number of amateur reviewers or bloggers will condemn a restaurant based on a single unsatisfactory experience, can you really trust these negative reviews? Sure, OpenTable offers up ratings and reviews, but they can only be submitted by diners who have been confirmed to have dined at a restaurant. The vast majority of review sites will let anyone post a review — even a scathing one — without knowing whether that individual ever even walked through the establishment’s door.

We reached out to OpenTable diners on Facebook and Twitter, and a lot of people trusted their fellow diners’ opinions far more than that of professional critics. Michele Stanley says, “Actually I tend to take amateur reviews more to heart.” Mike Fahrenkrog concurs, stating, “For me nothing beats word of mouth, i.e. amateur reviewers in my social network.” Some folks do depend on the pros, though. Cheryl Davis Holman says, “My husband and I read the professional reviews all the time and we have found some diamonds in the rough just by reading them. Places you never would have thought you would like or prices that were too off the charts. They do a service for a lot of people and find places you never thought you would want or could go to. Yeah for the pros!!” George Anthony Harvey, also a fan of professional critics, points out, “There’s no accounting for public tastes. I give much more weight to a TRUSTED pro’s opinion.” Felicia Berke commented on a previous post on this topic, writing, “I question whether first-person reviews are written by the owners of the restaurant or a marketing agent instead of by actual customers. So, yes, restaurant critics (professional ones) are still important. Presumably they have qualifications as well. For all I know, ‘taysTmama’ has never ventured beyond the drive-thru for cuisine.”

Are you sad when newspapers shed their restaurant criticism? Do you rely on professional reviews or are amateur opinions what influence your dining decisions? Join the conversation here or on Facebook.