red onion

Pete Wells and Restaurant Reviews

by Anne Maxfield on December 12, 2016

  1. Accidental Locavore Restaurant Reviewer

The Accidental Locavore was reading about the restaurant reviewer for The NY Times, Pete Wells, in The New Yorker (check it out if you haven’t seen it).

According to the piece, before he writes a review he goes to a restaurant at least three times.

While it makes sense to give you a broader overview of the restaurant, does it work that way in real life?

No.

Maybe.

It depends.

Here’s why:

Pete Wells or his counterparts can be recognized.

And a chef friend told me that it’s pretty common for a restaurant that gets a good write-up from a prestigious paper to fire the chef and the team that got them the four stars since they think they can now live off that review.

“You only get one shot to make a first impression.”

Accidental Locavore Bad WaitersIf you like a place, you’ll go back even if it’s far away or a big splurge.

You’ll always tell your friends.

In glowing dish-by-dish descriptions.

You might post it on Instagram.

If the restaurant isn’t up to expectations, you’ll go once and cross it off your list forever.

You’ll always tell your friends. You’ll tell anyone who will listen.

In glowering dish-by-dish descriptions.

You won’t post it on Instagram. You might post it on Yelp.

Do any regular diners go back another two times?

Don’t think so.

Hey, our dinners aren’t being paid for by the NY Times, so we’re going to be pickier about how we spend our money.

Even when we’ve spoken to management (or they’ve seen the Yelp review) and been invited back so they can “make it up to us” we have never taken them up on the offer.

Prime example: Frank and I went to celebrate our anniversary. Friends had raved about the Red Onion in Saugerties and we decided to forgo our favorite, Les Baux.

Mistake.

Big mistake.

It started when I got out of the car and stepped in a mud puddle.

The rack of lamb (a house specialty we were told) was overcooked and under seasoned (unlike mine in the photo).

Accidental Locavore Rack of LambPeas straight out of a big plastic bag.

A mountain of mashed potatoes that could have come from a box.

Two hockey pucks that were reputed to be onions.

Even if it wasn’t a 45-minute drive (in each direction), we won’t be back.

Sometimes it’s nice to have a blog where you can vent.

What’s been your most disappointing meal?

And no, that’s not a photo of Pete Wells, but who knows?

 

 

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Accidental Locavore French Potato SaladThe Accidental Locavore loves to make this easy French potato salad with bacon and red onion. This feed about 4 and is easily doubled or triple if you’re feeding a crowd. Added bonus? Great to take on a picnic, no mayo or eggs to worry about.

  • 1 pound small potatoes
  • 3 strips bacon, cut into 1/2” strips (lardons)
  • 1 small red onion, minced
  • ½ cup olive oil (depending on how fatty your bacon is, you may not need this much oil)
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • Salt & pepper to taste

In a medium sauce pan, cook the potatoes in salted water until tender, about 12 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes. I like a lot of surface area for the potatoes, so I usually cut them in halves or quarters. Drain and put in bowl.  Add the onion to the bowl.

While the potatoes are cooking, in a small frying pan cook the bacon over medium heat, until crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan and drain on paper towels. Pour the bacon fat into a small bowl. Add the shallots, thyme, vinegar, salt, pepper and mustard and mix until well blended. Taste and add the olive oil as needed, blending to emulsify the dressing. Pour the dressing over the warm potatoes and the onions. Toss to mix. Refrigerate until cool, serve and enjoy.

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