Locally Grown

Urban Spork Yelps Wolf, Part Deux
2012/02/08, 1:34 pm
Filed under: Local Food Commentary | Tags: , , , ,

As we were attempting to state yesterday, we here at LG are very much interested in the internetular knee jerk reactions some diners have when um…dining out…and ESPECIALLY the anonymous negative reviewers…

Let’s start off with something I like to call the “I like my restaurant, created an account to tell the world, and also to say that I don’t like the restaurant that is my closest competition” Here is a textbook example:

The best food , the best service , chef baru thank you for giving us such a good restaurant .

The person responsible for this review goes by the handle David, sort-of-ironically the same name as the chef at said restaurant.  This person registered, left one review of one restaurant, and gave a “thumbs down” to another restaurant of the same cuisine.  Now, you are probably thinking to yourself “why would someone use their own name when doing said deed” and yes, it is a common name.  Do I have any hard proof?  No.  But the body of evidence speaks loudly.  This happens more than you would think, and I have actually witnessed two different restaurant professionals perpetrate this childish act.  (disclaimer: not people I have worked for)  Watch out for these types of reviews, they are usually vague one-offs which are designed as ego-strokers.  Judging by the other glowing reviews, internet and printed, no ego stroke is needed in this case.

Next are the “Negative Nasty Nancies.”  These are people who seem to have a bad experience at every single establishment that they visit, and make it a point to leave a negative review for any minor service infraction.  I recently came across the worst of these N3’s, the “I Heart Chain Restaurants and Hate Local Business-ist,” a heinous brood dedicated to the abolition of all local food, a deviant group dedicated to places like Cheescake Factory or Legends…or worse.  They want nothing more than to be able to have the exact same dish in any town they might happen upon, and use extreme prejudice when dealing with local restaurants.  In fact, I am surprised when one of these folks even bothers eating a local spot.  I digress.  The N3’s have a mission to tell the world just how bad whatever little problem they have encountered has affected their tragic lives.  Spot on their spoon?  Bad Review.  Food took 45 minutes on a Friday night in a packed restaurant?  Bad Review.   Kitchen didn’t have ranch dressing?  Bad Review (no shit, I have actually seen this happen).  It doesn’t take much of anything to get the motor started on this group, just a rude host and a smart phone.  Thanks, US/Yelp

Another horrible group is the “Can’t Say Enough Nice Things” party.  I fall under this heading on Urban Spoon, but I have only written about places I actually like.  Sue me.  Wait!  That wasn’t a real invitation…the LG Legal Fund was drained long ago…  I don’t doubt people who leave only positive reviews, but when they are almost the same exact review for every restaurant…what exactly are they doing?  Are they helping you pick a place to eat, or just practising their superlatives?  It’s hard to tell, but beware of the Overly Positive…that’s how people get sucked into cults…

What is the point here?  The point is that I personally believe that sites like Urban Spoon and Yelp at best a list of restaurants in each city.  The reviews are shoddy and unreliable.  Yes, US has different categories for Bloggers/Pros/Diners. Nice touch, but those other groups are not always the most trustworthy. Yelp…tyrants.  Nothing more.  There was controversy when Yelp was accused numerous times of extorting small businesses.  Yelp was also named in a class action suit, which was later dropped.  This makes me believe all that I read on their site as truth, yes?

So should you trust your dining dollar to the Inderrwebular Restaurant Reviewing Illuminati?  Can you trust anonymous reviews?  Nope.  Don’t do it.

Go forth unto the local dining world and discover for yourself.  Rep Local.

the Cook.


The French Connector/A Tale Of Two Tastings
2010/05/17, 4:39 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

Last Wednesday a small group of chef-types took some time off to get out and “Get Frenched.” (Thanks for the rediculous ad campaign, Django). It’s a rare treat to enjoy a great dinner (Especially of this caliber) together with my fellow chefs rather than cook for others, so we made a real night of it.

The Targets: Bistro Montage and Baru66.

The Diners: Three Dudes with Appetites for Deconstruction.

The Goal: Get “Frenched”? (Although those ads are slightly funny, they pretty low-rent)

You are probably expecting me to give some Looooong synopsis on what went down during our outing, but I only offer this:

Cue up “New Kid In Town” by The Eagles

First stop was Baru66. The food was amazing, especially or first course and the Chef’s Amuse Buche offering for the night, Asparagus Creme Brule. The Stuffed Quail was also a standout along with both Pate’s we sampled. The atmosphere was a little cold for my taste and sorely lacking Newly-Crowned Chef Leon, but the food…oh the food. Lovely, precise, spot-on flavors, perfectly executed technique. Great Job, David, Mike, Bri, Nick, and Kelly. Pricing is as you would expect to pay for French Food of this Caliber, and if I had an expense account I would find reasons to review this place twice a month (also, if I was in fact a reviewer-type)

Second Stop, The Alpine to cleanse our palates then on to our Final French Destination:

Bistro Montage was in wind down mode, and we barely caught chef Enosh Kelley before he trotted off for the night (not to be confused with “foffing off”). Our server Ben readied a table as we talked shop with Enosh and verbally assaulted some familiar faces in the kitchen. The place was populated by a few tables of VERY happy people (always a good sign) who were swearing like baseball coaches and enjoying the evening. Enosh joined us and taught a little impromptu class on Sous Vide cooking and its benefits. The food here was also amazing. Sous Vide Pork Belly, super fresh vegetables, amazing pate’s (I was dining with a Pate Hound), great flavors and technique. We stayed a little late while finishing some bottles of wine and chatting with the staff. Overall a very warm, comforting experience that left us all as friends (our server even joined us at Carl’s for the post-game). We left as the patrons before us that night, happy, full, satisfied, and swearing quite a bit.

There has been talk of Baru Vs. Montage buzzing around the food scene since weeks before Baru’s opening and I would like to set the record straight-ish. In the words of one of my dining partners,

“The only losers in this are the people who don’t eat at both places”

Top notch job, everyone. Now go out and get…

Some beautiful french food. You deserve it.

The Cook