Quick question before you head out the door for a weekend of eating:
How much attention do you pay to culinary awards, magazine lists of best restaurants, and recommendations from expert and citizen critics to check out an eatery?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot of late because:
2. My local paper, the San Francisco Chronicle published its yearly list of Top 100 Bay Area restaurants last month.
3. Every review I read or recommendation I receive these days usually includes the phrase, “you must try the chef’s signature dish…”
4. Eating out is a passion of mine and even so I’ve barely skimmed the surface of the so-called best chow houses in my own backyard.
5. Some of my favorite places to have a meal never seem to get the kind of kudos I think they deserve.
6. I recently suggested someone try a “signature dish” at a new joint and the entree in question included cardoons and I had no idea what these were. My bad. Why did I do that?
A few examples, which will make sense to locals or those who nosh in the Bay Area, everyone else, substitute places you know:
- Re (#2) above: Why is Contigo not on this list? I’m not on my own on this one. No less a local food authority than Chez Pim asked the very same question via Twitter.
- Re (#3 above): Vegan charcuterie at Gather: Check. Tea Leaf Salad at Burma Superstar: Check. Hand-made handkerchief pasta with basil pesto at Farina: Check. If someone says eat it, I usually do. Am I a sheep or making smart choices?
- Re (#5 above): A Thai place in my neighborhood, Anchalee Thai, serves fresh, simple, and appetizing dishes. Plus it has a nice ambiance and owners. Still, I doubt you’ll ever see it on someone’s must-eat-at list. But I could happily eat there frequently — and do.
So do tell dear readers:
- How influenced are you by awards, reviews, and word-of-mouth recommendations?
- Are you often disappointed or disagree with others’ suggestions?
- How often do you throw caution to the wind and let your own instincts — and taste buds — dictate what’s for dinner and where you go?
- And have you had any disastrous dining out experiences as a result?
- What’s your m.o. for picking and choosing what and where to eat?
Happy eating out peeps. I look forward to hearing from you.