eating indie in indy

Everybody has one…

I’m talking about opinions. Opinions as in reviews, specifically restaurant reviews. I read quite a few reviews in the course of determining which joint Pat and I should visit. Reviews have been a part of food preparation since the first person started cooking for strangers. Back when I was in my “prime”, so to speak, reviews were common place. They just weren’t as abundant as they are now. Once only newspapers and magazines took the trouble to send someone to an eatery just to eat the food and write about it. Now with the increase of cable TV we have different food networks,complete with recipe shows and cooking competitions. That might be the reason there is such a surge in the number of new restaurants opening.

Furthermore with the advent of the PC has come Yelp and Urbanspoon. Now every one is a Restaurant Critic. Remember the old saw: “Those who can’t do, teach”? Well I amended it to “Those who can’t do,teach,and those who can’t teach critique.” That is where I am now. As a chef/cook I was also a teacher. They both go hand in hand. As a kitchen head it is your responsibility to create the menu, establish recipes and procedures and to teach everyone who works with you every thing you can. The more the individuals learn the more valuable they become and the more time you can spend on other things. Now that I no longer have a commercial kitchen I can play in I get my kicks vicariously by writing about the food.

In addition to the “like” reviews I also read the “do not like ” reviews as well. These can be just as helpful as the positive ones; maybe more. I pay close attention to the dates as well. If a joint hasn’t been written about in a while it may mean that word of mouth has out paced the reviews. Or it might just mean the “blush is off the rose” and that particular joint is not as “hip” as it used to be. People can be fickle. Another thing I pay attention to is what I call the “geology” of the restaurant. Some places that have been around for a while will have “layers” of differing opinions. At first the reviews are positive for a year or so and then they change to negative. If they stay negative I will usually avoid the place. If the joint rebounds and wins the public over again that means that whatever happened has been rectified. In which case it could be a winner. In all cases the reviews are opinions of 1 or 2 people and damn few joints can be flawless at all times. I like to consider a bunch of the positive and negative posts in order to get the feel if the joints has off days or if it just isn’t very good.

One more thing I find funny is some of the reasons given for the negative comments. The woman who complained about  having trouble figuring which door to use to enter. Or the party that came in 5 minutes before closing and griped about the food they were out of. No joint wants to run out of menu items,but sometimes demand is higher than normal on certain items. And restaurants are always adjusting pars; sometimes just too late. For the most part people are nice. But some folks really aren’t. My personal biggest gripe are the newly relocated people; usually from Chicago; who complain that Indianapolis Restaurants are not Chicago Restaurants. Really. You moved for a reason didn’t you? I am sure some big nasty old Hoosier Hillbilly didn’t drive up to Chi-Town, hog tie you and bring you back in his pick-up truck. Some one in your family or Company picked Indy for a reason. I am sure it wasn’t a conspiracy just to deny you dining pleasure.

So not only is it fun to eat out it is fun to write and read about it. I hope everyone takes advantage of both Yelp and Urbanspoon and plans a dinner date or a family night out. And I hope everyone enjoys their food.


17 responses

  1. You have to decipher, carve, whittle the good out of the bad, and the bad out of the good, Benson. Because it’s all mixed up in there, usually. With so many people writing for so many outlets in so many different ways, it’s hard to tell sometimes what’s credible and what’s not. Have fun choosing in Indy, sir.

    June 14, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    • Oh I have fun. After a while you get to be able to read “between the lines”. Hope you have a good weekend.

      June 14, 2014 at 1:20 pm

      • Thanks, Benson. You, too.

        June 14, 2014 at 9:58 pm

  2. I enjoy the reviews at Urbanspoon but prefer TripAdvisor. Oh, and I do so enjoy your reviews even though I’ve never eaten at any of the places.

    June 14, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    • Thanks. I am not that familiar with TripAdvisor. I will check it out.

      June 14, 2014 at 6:02 pm

      • I have close to 30 reviews there. Even some local joints (Indy area). I’m Greg B there

        June 14, 2014 at 6:14 pm

      • Will definitely check it out. Thanks.

        June 14, 2014 at 6:20 pm

  3. I feel the same way about restaurant reviews as hotel reviews; I want at least dozen to choose from and I want them to be recent. Sometimes it’s been years since it’s been reviewed, and it makes me leery. If I’d have reviewed our restaurant last night, I would have given one star, but I’m using restraint and mercy to not review it. I agree that you can’t walk in within a half hour of closing and expect good service. A lot of times right when it opens at 11am, they are also still working out kinks.

    June 14, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    • As usual Kerby you are right on target. I have worked in some “fine dining” joints in my time and you come in at 2 PM to get ready for a 5 PM service and things have not gone well. The same goes for “lesser dining” joints I’ve run. You never can tell. Oh wish your hubby Happy Dad’s day. And I am now the grandpa of twin boys. Born one day after my B-day and one day before D-day. I am truly blessed.

      June 14, 2014 at 6:11 pm


        June 14, 2014 at 6:21 pm

      • (and happy birthday!)

        June 14, 2014 at 6:21 pm

  4. I think one of the only ways one can gain true perspective and appreciation for something like a meal well made or a visit well remembered is to be on both sides of the service industry. Everyone should have to do a stint in service so that they can be giving their two cents worth of an opinion–if things are working well or less than well–coming from a point of real knowledge. It’s pretty eye-opening to know just how much effort (and luck) goes into making a success.
    I love your reviews, Benson, but I love the fact that you’re coming from a place of experience even more.

    June 22, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    • Thanks. I always appreciate your input. It just re affirms that you are truly a lady of discriminating taste and intellect. I am also glad you mentioned luck. Hard work and training isn’t always enough. An old guy I know always said he would rather be lucky than good. I guess I would agree with that.

      June 22, 2014 at 3:53 pm

  5. Superb, what a web site it is! This web site presents useful information to us, keep it up.

    July 21, 2014 at 4:43 am

    • Why thank you. I appreciate your comments.

      July 21, 2014 at 6:42 am

  6. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted
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    August 4, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    • Why thank you. I am glad you enjoyed it.

      August 4, 2014 at 10:50 pm

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