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Evaluating New Restaurants
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2011 5:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree that if you order a house salad and get nothing in it but iceberg lettuce and a couple of carrot shavings, it's a bad sign. Laughing
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2012 9:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The only way to evaluate a new restaurant is to 'bite the bullet' and dive in. In the absence of a chef that one knows from another restaurant it is always going to be a leap in the dark, but a few clues can be derived from a study of the menue. Can I do this at home in all probability better than these guys? How much actual cooking is going on to get this on to the plate (eg terrine - do they make it or buy it in, ditto bread etc). Is there evidence of inovation on the menue eg fish in red wine (it can be done!). What is the price of the dishes in relation to what you are actually getting. With a degree of experience one can get quite adept at sifting out the wheat from the chaff. Style over substance is a big risk in trying out a new place. If all the dishes are comprised of things that can be bought ready made, there is no 'flair' in the dishes and no emphasis on the fact that everything is done 'in house' from 'home made buscuits' to 'hand churned ice-cream' then there is a good chance the place is glam and not gourmet - but not always.

The safest bet is to wait a bit. Word of mouth will generally feed back to those who would hear and good places tend to be trumpeted pretty quickly (but be carefull who you listen to - most people don't know sh*t from a shovel when it comes to food). The guides are also worth listening to. You get to know what a given critic likes and if this coincides with your tasts then his/her word can be trusted. Otherwise stick to the tried and tested. Michellin star rated food is nearly always going to be good, the more stars the better (but little difference between two and three in my experience). And remember - all restaurants have good days and bad. Cooking is both Art and Science, and some days it just don't happen. If you happen to be in a place when it all goes belly up, then maybe - maybe - give it one more chance. But only one.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 7:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

yeah I know its an old there. Slow day at work today.... LOL

The very first thing in evaluating any restaurant is to go check out the bathrooms. If the bathroom isn't clean, the kitchen won't be clean... everything after that is suspect.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 03, 2015 10:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, I'll buy that. Only trouble is that, as of mushrooms and marriage, by the time you discover your mistake - it's too late!
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 03, 2015 3:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you're outside the DelMarVa area, the crab cakes are no good, so that's not a really good indicator.

For me, fine dining is all about the experience. Yes, the food's gotta be good, but there's a lot to be said about atmosphere.

If we're paying $300 for a meal, I'd better be treated like royalty and have a quiet meal. We went out to Long Island for our anniversary last year, and friends took us to a place called Rare 650. Fancy place, Ferraris in the parking lot. From cocktails to entrees to wine to cigars to desserts, the tab for the 4 of us was somewhere north of $600. The food was spectacular, the service was impeccable, the drinks were made well, and they had an impressive selection of cigars. They even held our table when we retired to the lanai for the smokes.

But it was loud. The tables in the dining room were too close together, and they insisted on pumping music into the room. Holding a conversation was nearly impossible, and it was a nightmare trying to get in and out of the room if there was waitstaff serving another table.

So to me, I don't think I'd go there again.


By the same token, there's a cajun place about 40 minutes from home that looks like it belongs just off of Canal Street in New Orleans. The food's as authentic as you'll find outside of Louisiana, and the prices are reasonable. I go there every chance I get.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 03, 2015 7:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Care to name that Cajun venue, Cail?

Every year or so, business takes me to the NoVa area for about a week, and while I seldom do meet-ups while on business travel, I am always looking for better places to eat.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 04, 2015 12:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The 'ambience' of a restaurant is indeed a huge part of the dinning experience. Loud[ish] can be done - but only in the best of circumstances. I've eaten in italian and sardinian restaurants where the 'buzz' of exitement from the waiters and kitchens is exactly appropriate to the dinning experience, but these have tended to be more 'rustic' places [still serving fine food] than top-end fine-dinning. Loud music is a no-no [and a tv has no place in any restaurant.

I believe a top-end meal is no less demanding than an operetic or theatrical performance and is equally 'aesthetic' in respect of it's merits as 'true art'. At this level of demand the slightest failing can cause the whole ediface to crumble. One of the 'golden rules' is timing. Courses coming too fast and the meal is rushed; too slow and there are difficult 'hiatuses' that spoil the flow. A key point is that you should never have nothing to do [even if it is only sipping the glass of wine the waiter keeps properly topped up in front of you]. This is akin to the thing [I have heard I hasten to add!] that in a good massage the masseur never completely breaks contact with the person undergoing the massage - at all points at least a minnimum of contact is maintained.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 04, 2015 11:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Agreed on flow of service....and when it isn't right let the floor manager know. Typically they have more than one person watching that and when it breaks down, the sooner they pick up on it the better. I had an owner come out and apologize and thank me personally AND he comp'd my meal, took my name down and says come back, make a reservation, its on me and I would like to show you that our service is normally world class.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2015 1:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Savor Dam wrote:
Care to name that Cajun venue, Cail?

Every year or so, business takes me to the NoVa area for about a week, and while I seldom do meet-ups while on business travel, I am always looking for better places to eat.
Louisiana Kitchen & Bayou Bar. Can't say enough good things about it.

Totally agree about flow.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2015 2:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you. Will definitely check it out during next IAD trip.
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