Upon Further Review...
My opinion may or may not be critical. But your presence in restaurants absolutely is.
A story on NPR this week talked about the effect a single mention by a reviewer had on the success of one restaurant. In my career, I’ve been praised for my recommendations, accused of trying to shut businesses down, and largely gone about my job knowing that what I write is simply my own opinion, which probably won’t affect the success (or downfall) of an establishment in the long term. But then again, it might.
I still get a thrill from seeing a review of mine posted on a restaurant wall, and I have a bookshelf full of binders with practically everything I’ve ever written. What I’m saying is that I while I’m not the most serious person you’re likely to meet, I take what I do very seriously. When I do my job as a "critic" I try to remember that the word comes from the Greek meaning "to look at closely," not “how much of a smart-ass can I be." I understand that a restaurant’s daily profit—or loss—may hinge on one family deciding to walk in the door because I liked the place, or one table staying away because I didn’t.
But again, I am one person with an educated, but still personal, opinion. What is more important is your opinion, and your patronage. Big chain restaurants will very likely survive if you and your friends drive by. Local independents won’t. If you see a new place that looks interesting, plan on going in. If you like it, go again, tell your friends, tell the owner and the chef and tell your friends again. Running your own restaurant is hard … your patronage is the real social media that can sustain them.
Dinners! There is a never-ending supply of dinners in Orlando, so one has to be pretty special to capture my attention—and here’s two!
* Dragonfly Robata Grill & Sushi will present a “Tokyo Soul” dinner on November 9. Chef de cuisine Dequane Stobbs is featuring Tokyo street foods with a touch of Southern flair, including tempura corn fritters, spare ribs cooked on the blazing hot robata coal grill, togarashi-spiced fried fish and—my favorite—udon ’n cheese (think about it). Tickets can be purchased on Eventbrite or by calling 407-370-3359. A portion of the proceeds benefits Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.
* Because she doesn't work hard enough, four-time James Beard Award nominee chef Kathleen Blake of The Rusty Spoon will be part of the James Beard Award Celebrity Chef dinner at Four Seasons Resort Orlando on December 9. Included in the lineup is Four Seasons Executive Chef Fabrizio Schenardi, Executive Pastry Chef Rabii Saber; Paula DaSilva, chef de cuisine at Burlock Coast at The Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale; Dean Max, chef/owner of DJM Restaurants; and James Boyce, chef/owner of Cotton Row in Huntsville, Alabama. Tix available here.