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Giving new restaurants a chance

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Giving new restaurants a chance

rworange | Feb 5, 2006 12:57 AM

A terrific new restaurant opened in my area that got a thumbs down on opening day. For various reasons … the primary one is that it sells two of my most favorite foods in the world … I decided to try it out anyway.

It is hands down one of the best places around these parts. From my understanding opening day was a horror and they have been working out the kinks and fine tuning the menu according to customer feedback.

I guess my only point is that new places are in flux.

Two places I visited last year that were rave-worthy on my visit in their opening days did a quick dive afterward. I was embarrassed I recommended them on the board.

On the other hand, some places improve once the … and I shouldn’t use this with a restaurant .. once the bugs are worked out.

For most new restaurants, I usually wait a while after the first board reports.

If people adore it, it seems there is some sort of frenzy where everyone is just can’t stop raving about the food. Almost to the day, two months later the first negative posts start trickling in. There is only one restaurant in all the years I’ve been reading Chowhound that hasn’t had that inevitable bad post following the raves.

The sad thing is that a bad first post usually will keep everyone away. I don’t remember too many bad first posts where there were follow-ups later to see if there was any improvement. So I was really grateful to be able to have the opportunity to do a follow up post and hopefully get others to decide for themselves. I’m sure not everyone will agree with my tastes, but from all that I’ve seen, this place gets better on every visit.

The owners are also open to customer feedback. Some places are and some places aren’t.

Not everyplace improves from a bad beginning. A place I wrote a scathing post about, slightly improved, but on a number of follow-up visits just managed, so far, to reach average.

If I were doing any future posts, I don’t think I’d ever do scathing again. Bad food can be described without being insulting. I’ve seen some restaurants called ‘holes’ on the board. I’m too guilty of using the word ‘swill’ on the board. I had a one on one with the owner whose food I described that way. It wasn’t so funny when you have to deal with someone who puts their soul into something and hears it publicly described that way.

We have a local reviewer, Jonathan Kauffman, whose amusing and informative columns I treasure. He has a talent for letting readers know that maybe a dish or place isn’t so great without being demeaning to the restaurant.

Flip and dismissive comments are easy. I’m not the owner doing all the work for what is supposed to be the customers’ enjoyment.

I do think even in this small pond, that constructive critisism is important. It alerts readers on what to avoid so they can try something else.

One thing, to me, that seems to be an indication of if a place might improve is the interest the owner shows in the food. I really like talking about quality food. When I talk to these people they just are so into working with the suppliers to get the best quality food to the customer. There’s real love and thought going into the end product.

The two places that dived actually had warning bells. The owners were distracted … and come to think of it were more interested in taking about the décor than the food.

I guess I’m just say that every place has its good and bad dishes. Sometimes some new worthy little place might just have served the wrong dish at the wrong time. Some places deserve a second or third look.

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