Trending on Recent OpenTable Restaurant Reviews: Roast Chicken

Of course, not *everyone* is excited about the increased interest in roasted chicken.

Roast chicken has become a staple of fine-dining menus, as Josh Ozersky has recently pointed out, thanks, in part, to the amazing roasted chickens being served at restaurants from the famous Zuni Cafe in San Francisco to new-ish New York hotspot The NoMad (see below).  Find out what OpenTable diners are saying about this recently elevated — yet always appreciated — dish.

* 4580, Boulder, Colorado: “OMG! What a treat! The food (every last bit from appetizers, salads, and main course) was 5 stars! SO DELICIOUS!!! I had the red flesh trout over pea puree and my husband had the roast chicken with creamy polenta….YUM!!!!!!”

* Balaboosta, New York, New York: “Great meal start to finish. Started with red sangria, carrot and goat cheese pizza, and kataifi-wrapped shrimp. Fantastic. Skirt steak and roast chicken were possibly the best ever.”

* Campanula, San Francisco, California: “The roast chicken is great. They accomodated my special request on reservation for strawberry ice cream sandwiches to celebrate my girlfriend’s birthday. I really appreciated this and will be back for this gesture alone, much less the great chicken and service.”

Farmhouse Tavern, New York, New York: “The food was fantastic. I had the roasted Amish half chicken. The meat was incredibly tender and flavorful, while the potatoes and asparagus were so fresh, you could have told me they were hand picked from a garden in the back of the restaurant.”

Los Gatos Brewing Company, Los Gatos, California: “The roasted chicken is VERY good. Spit roasted over a wood fire, probably brined before. Can’t go wrong.”

Miel at the InterContinental Hotel Boston, Boston Massachusetts: “My fiance ordered the roasted half chicken in mustard sauce — it came in a skillet and was delicate and full of flavor. He asked for the recipe — which they gave.”

Millesime, New York, New York: “Superb! The romance and excellent food as if you were in Paris. The staff was outstanding, and the roasted chicken is so delicious, it’s heartwarming.”

Mon Ami Gabi, Las Vegas, Nevada: “This is a wonderful place to eat. The kids’ menu is really good. Steak was cooked exactly as ordered. Roasted chicken was full of flavor.”

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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.