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

What It Takes to Work in Hospitality; Paper-free Checks Fight Credit Card Theft + More

minibar
Fools rush in — to the hotel minibar.

Dining news from around the world and the web…

* And then there were none. The Village Voice‘s sole restaurant critic exits stage left. [NY Times]

* Nevermind the minibar. In-room dining at the hottest hotels is getting less expensive. [Business Week]

* Think thin. That doesn’t really work, but try these five tips for staying slim while dining out. [Fox News]

* C’mon, get happy! If you want to work in restaurants, you’d better enjoy pleasing people. [Metro.us]

* Paper-free checks vex thieves. A new digital payment system can reduce credit card theft at restaurants. [USA TodayContinue Reading

Restaurant Review Round-Up: Balena, Il Buco Alimentari, The Kitchen + More

Do you rely on professional restaurant reviews or do you prefer reviews from diners like you?

Recent reviews of OpenTable restaurants…

* Balena in Chicago, Illinois, by the Chicago Tribune.

* Capital Grille in Fort Worth, Texas, by Star-Telegram.

Florio in San Francisco, California, by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Il Buco Alimentari & Vinera in New York, New York, by the Insatiable Critic.

* The Jugged Hare in London, United Kingdom, by the Financial Times.

* The Kitchen in Denver, Colorado, by the Denver Post.

Villa Mayfair in Coconut Grove, Florida, by the Miami Herald.

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Dining Poll: Should Chefs Respond to a Critic After a Negative Restaurant Review?

In his entertaining list of fine-dining faux pas over the course of 2011, New York Post restaurant critic Steve Cuozzo calls out chefs and restaurateurs who, as Eater puts it, talk back to critics after receiving a bad review. Thanks to the internet and social media, it’s easier than ever to accomplish just that. But is it right? Tell us what you think in today’s poll.