Saturday, August 4, 2007

Who Should Read These Reviews (or is it whom)

When I am searching for reviews, whether it be a hotel, restaurant or attraction, I am looking for a reviewer with similar tastes. Makes sense, right? Generic reviews with stars and dollar signs don't help me much and internet sites that promote restaurants for a commission aren't reliable either. If a site has many reviews of the same place I look for consensus, and if there is an email attached to a review I liked, I email the person with particular questions. Everyone likes to share experiences of restaurants discovered. And they are most often answered. But always remember that the reviewer may and probably does place importance on different features. For instance, in hotels: I prefer a hotel with windows that open and is a little off the main thoroughfares. Why? Hotel air is often stale, and I prefer quiet over the sounds of engines racing by. (Westin, La Cantera, San Antonio, is perfect on both counts) If it's quiet, I can put up with a lot of other things. I don't do room service, not just because it's expensive but mostly because it's bad. I rarely eat in the hotel restaurant, unless it caters to outside clientèle as well. And I could do without half the furniture in a room. Now, you are different, you may want a location that is convenient and a room with apple-butter soap, and that is the frustration hotels have to deal with, but when I look for a review I try to find someone with similar tastes. Same with restaurants, my interest is in the meal, obviously, but also, the noise level inside and whether there is a place to walk afterwards. And I like simple, uncluttered tastes, I'm not big on lots of spices. And I dislike the trends in plate presentation. I also prefer locally owned establishments over the massive chains, most of the time. But that's me.
You will find these reviews of interest if you like:
1. Fruits and vegetables in season.
2. Meat that is juicy and not overcooked.
3. Friendly hosts, but not too friendly.
4. Someone that cares whether the food is prepared properly.
5. Spices, marinades that enhance flavor not take over flavor
5. Places not too hip, you pay extra to be on the front end of style.
6. Places with a repeat, local business.
7. Substance over style.
To that final item, I remember driving through Baja California, Mexico and stopping at a little taqueria for tacos. The cook was hand-making the corn tortillas when she noticed some dust on the window sill. She brushed off the dust with the back of her hand a couple of times, seemed satisfied that the establishment was now clean and went straight back to hand slapping the tortillas. I figured a little dust was probably good for me and ate the tacos heartily. They were delicious. That's extreme but you get the point.

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