Showing posts with label restaurant reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label restaurant reviews. Show all posts

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Reviewing Restaurants, Part II - Writing Your Review

This is a guest post by Cristin Hoover, Restaurant Reviewer for the Brookline Patch and blogger at thefourseasonings.com. Be sure to check out Cristin's preceding post, Part I - The Restaurant Experience! (If you'd like to write a guest post for BostonFoodBloggers.com, please email Rachel.)



Photo by Cristin Hoover
People tell us restaurant reviewers that we have the best job in the world. The truth is: it’s not that easy. We’ve all read the reviews breathlessly declaring “OMG! This place is SOOOOO good!” But a thoughtfully-crafted restaurant review is so much more than just grabbing a quick bite and deciding publicly whether you like it or not.

It can be difficult to put a sensory experience like eating into words; it can be even more difficult to convey the emotion behind the words without resorting to emoticons and exclamation points. Here I offer some tips on restaurant reviewing—in the first part, your experience at the restaurant, and secondly, the actual putting of pen to paper—that I hope will open a dialogue on this forum about reviewing, and give you a starting block for fabulous, witty reviews.


Writing the review

The Devil is in the Details. First, give us plenty of details about the atmosphere. What kind of a place is this—jeans and sandals, or coat and tie? Beware of clichés; “charming little bistro” and “hole-in-the-wall” are so tired. Give them a rest and show us instead what made it so charming to you—maybe the little pink menus and the bud vase with a single daisy on each wrought-iron table?

Secondly, give specifics about the main event: the food. If you have culinary knowledge or expertise, embrace this opportunity to show it off! Tell us about taste, texture, balance, presentation, and style. Tell us about the wine list and how it pairs with the food. If you didn’t like something, give us the specifics. Was your sauce too oily? Fish too bland? If something was exceptional, give us the details: what was it specifically about that burger that made it better than other burgers? (And while we’re on the subject, you may want to go ahead and nix the word “better” from your vocabulary entirely. As an adjective, its subjectivity and lack of actual description renders it virtually meaningless. There are, ahem, better words to use.)


That said, be concise. In my opinion, the ideal length for an in-depth review is around 500 words, or one double-spaced page. Any longer and your readers may lose interest; any shorter and the details may not be properly fleshed out. If you find yourself too loquacious, here’s a tip: unless you expected something of a much higher caliber, cut out any “average” parts of your experience. “The service was average” is not a meaningful sentence. We don’t care about average; we want to know what you recommend and what we should avoid.


Tone it Up… or Down. Robert Nadeau’s seething review of Todd English’s Bonfire, printed in the Boston Phoenix in 2002, is a great example of a review with a particular tone. In this case, it’s anger. Note the short, matter-of-fact sentences, so out of character for Mr. Nadeau, and the incredulous questions (“How has he arrived at a situation where he cannot organize a kitchen in downtown Boston to serve a proper $48 steak?”). Anger may not be the best choice for your review; in fact, it probably isn’t. But the point here is to be aware that your word choices and sentence structure will set the tone for the piece. Notice how your words work together and how the piece sounds as a whole. Read the piece out loud to yourself, or ask a friend to read it over.


The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Here’s the truth: a well-written bad review is, and should be, astronomically more difficult to compose than a well-written good review. Sure, it’s easy to harpoon a restaurant when you pay too much for mediocre food. But resist the temptation. The key here is balance—when doling out criticism, we need to strive for fairness and courtesy, and work hard to mention the good bits. If the waiter who brought you your rubbery chicken dish was attentive, be sure to let people know. Even in his review of Bonfire, Robert Nadeau did his best to point out the good parts of the meal.

I quite like this negative review of Delicatessen, written by Leo Carey for the New Yorker in 2009. The review is reader-inclusive; it appeals to all of our senses so vividly (the taste and texture of the food, the visuals of the menu, the description of the music and restaurant’s interior) that we can genuinely imagine sitting there, eating there. I actually screw up my face in disgust when I read his description of the cheeseburger spring rolls. The review is concise, just under 450 words. And notice: although the review is decidedly negative, Carey does find some small redeeming value in the cocktails, which he describes as “excellent.”

Carey also notes that “for all its faults, Delicatessen has judged its market well.” Meaning: he himself hated the place, but he is not the restaurant’s intended patron. Restaurants, like all businesses, aim to establish an image and then service one or a few market segments. Bennigan’s has its football enthusiasts and families with picky children eaters, just like L’Espalier has its businessmen and romantic couples. Even if you make your negative opinions known, there is value in a review that acknowledges that maybe it just wasn’t your scene—but other diners could enjoy eating there. Try to pinpoint the restaurant’s intended message (Irish gastropub? Upscale comfort food? Classic French?) and judge the restaurant on what it is, not what you think it should be.

For illustration, take this review of a restaurant called Plato Loco, written by Dallas-based author Ralph Robert Moore and posted on his website. Here it is, in its entirety:
“Not a good place to go for Mexican food. Its menu is restricted to very traditional Mexican meals. The atmosphere is rushed, the tables crowded on top of each other, the help rude. The one time Mary and I ate there, our stomachs were upset afterwards.”
Please join me now for a collective “huh?” The lack of detail (and substance, really) coupled with the vague descriptors makes this review dubious at best. How exactly was the service rude? What did the interior look like? And—most importantly—what did the food actually taste like? Now, I’ve never eaten at a Plato Loco, but it seems like a menu offering “very traditional Mexican meals” could have something unique to offer. In his haste to slap the label of “poor” on poor old Plato Loco, Mr. Moore may have entirely missed the point of the restaurant, and judged it on what he wanted it to be (Taco Bell, it sounds like?). Beware of reviews like this, without any descriptors or evidence; your readers will begin to distrust and lose respect for your opinions.


The Pen is Mightier. Your review may have an effect on someone’s livelihood.

Let me say that again: your review may have an effect on someone’s livelihood. In the age of the internet, it is entirely possible that even an amateur review can reach a good deal of people, and have a substantial effect on a new restaurant or a small restaurant. Perhaps this what Noah Ellis had in mind when he ousted the LA Times critic from his establishment, a desperate move to prevent his business from suffering at the pen of a critic before it could get off the ground.

This is not a time for careless words. Write responsibly. If you write a negative review, you need to know exactly what you’re doing.


It takes a careful eye and a prepared mind to write a useful restaurant review. I’d like to hear from all of you who have thoughts on the matter—do you agree with my suggestions? Disagree? Do you do things differently when you write your own reviews, or have your own tips to share? I’m open to dialogue and, as I wrote earlier, I hope this will give you a starting block for fabulous, witty reviews.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Reviewing Restaurants, Part I - The Restaurant Experience

This is a guest post by Cristin Hoover, Restaurant Reviewer for the Brookline Patch and blogger at thefourseasonings.com. Be sure to check out the second part as well! (If you'd like to write a guest post for BostonFoodBloggers.com, please email Rachel.)



Photo by Cristin Hoover
People tell us restaurant reviewers that we have the best job in the world. The truth is: it’s not that easy. We’ve all read the reviews breathlessly declaring “OMG! This place is SOOOOO good!” But a thoughtfully-crafted restaurant review is so much more than just grabbing a quick bite and deciding publicly whether you like it or not.

It can be difficult to put a sensory experience like eating into words; it can be even more difficult to convey the emotion behind the words without resorting to emoticons and exclamation points. Here I offer some tips on restaurant reviewing—in the first part, your experience at the restaurant, and secondly, the actual putting of pen to paper—that I hope will open a dialogue on this forum about reviewing, and give you a starting block for fabulous, witty reviews.


The Restaurant Experience

Know thyself. First, define your likes and dislikes—do you gravitate towards burgers and fries, or are you a caviar and foie gras type of eater? Are you a vegetarian? Do you put emphasis on any culinary attribute (do you write, for example, a blog focusing on local or sustainable food)? Are there any foods you don’t eat (I’m looking at you, cilantro)? Now, think about your ideal restaurant—is it dim and intimate, or bright and busy, or stylish and modern? When you’re at the restaurant, examine your mood: are you tired or feeling particularly critical? Knowing your own particulars will help you define the boundaries of what you consider “a good dish” or “a good restaurant,” thereby making it easier to remain objective.


A Merry Companion. Choose your dining companions for your trust in their palate and their culinary opinions. If you’re a vegetarian, think about inviting a carnivore. If you’re going to a place famous for their oysters, but you can’t abide by those particular mollusks, bring an oyster enthusiast. If you’re going to a restaurant that boasts authentic Chinese food, bring a Chinese friend who has eaten “authentic Chinese food” her whole life. You get the idea.

Your dining companion is an important part of the restaurant review equation; he or she can notice things that you fail to notice, or put a different spin on an aspect of the evening. I nearly always bring my husband, whose palate I trust even more than my own.


Choose Your Own Adventure. Put some careful thought into what restaurant you choose to review, and make sure your blog or other medium has a good variety of cuisines and establishment types. (This doesn’t apply, of course, if your blog focuses solely on cheeseburgers or something of that ilk.)

When it comes to reviewing a brand-new restaurant, the Association of Food Journalists’ (AFJ) guidelines for critics suggests that reviewers wait at least a month before visiting. Review a new place the day after it opens and you’re just asking for a hit-or-miss experience; wait until the dust settles for a good idea of the consistent level of service.


To Dine or Not To Dine. A sometimes hotly debated topic that has graced online forums like Chowhound is: how many times should you visit a restaurant before writing a review? Most professional reviewers at the biggest publications eat at a restaurant three times, sometimes twice, before writing it up. That’s all well and good (I’d probably go three times too, if I were earning a professional salary), but often not an option for those of us working at a more amateur level. I agree with Boston Phoenix reviewer Robert Nadeau when he wrote in this post that you visit “until you have a good sample of the menu.” A place with a short menu might require only one or two visits, depending on how many dishes you are able to sample during those visits. I’ve heard others comment that because a restaurant’s food and service should remain consistent every night, you can in good conscience review a place after eating there only once.

I’ll let you decide on this one, but I do have one opinion, which I’ll share: don’t write a strong negative review based on only one visit. It’s not fair to the restaurant or to your readers. (In fact, before writing any negative reviews, read the good, the bad, and the ugly in tomorrow’s post.)


The Order of Things. Keep your audience in mind when ordering your meal. You might be tempted by the fugu tartare with scallop-apricot foam, or the $90 porterhouse, but how many of your readers would actually order those? If you do order an unusual or exorbitantly expensive dish, tell us about some “everyman” dishes as well. I love this question that appeared recently in the New York Times dining section, answered by restaurant reviewer Sam Sifton:
When critics review restaurants, it seems they sample and report on the most exotic items on the menu (tripe, sweetbreads, octopus liver — does an octopus have a liver?) rather than on those that the average diner is most likely to eat. Is that because only adventurous diners become restaurant critics, or because reviewers get bored eating the same, common meals repeatedly, or because those are the specialties of the restaurant being reviewed?
Sam answered:
All of the above. Critics spend a lot of time eating the roast chicken, the mashed potatoes with chives, the steak frites, all the standard meat-and-taties entrees that average diners get all the time. So when a delicate little octopus liver comes along, poached in monkey blood, with a veal-and-cocoa ganache? It’s all they want to try. That’s not to say that we’re not still eating the chicken, only that we’ve fallen for the critic bait the chef put out there for us. Tripe is a terrific example. So is lung. Critics live for lung. And we’re mad for a restaurant’s “specialties,” too. Lamb face? Oh, yes.
The AFJ’s critic guidelines suggest this about ordering: “Reviewers should sample the full range of the menu, from appetizers to desserts… Order dishes that involve different cooking techniques (steamed, deep-fried, sautéed); different ingredients (one orders fish, another asks for beef); different styles (something traditional, something eclectic). Is there something the restaurant is known for doing well? Order it. In general, guests should avoid ordering the same thing.”


Notes on a Scandal. Record your entire dining experience honestly, from start to finish. Be specific with your notes, too; you don’t need to include all of your notes in your review, but they will help you remember the experience and sensations in detail. I very much like this thorough restaurant reviewer’s checklist from Michael Bauer, the Executive Food and Wine Editor and Restaurant Critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, which will give you an outline for your note-taking. One aspect of this checklist that I particularly like is how Bauer compartmentalizes the different aspects of service, atmosphere, and food. “The critic has to be able to separate the elements that go into a dining experience,” he writes, “…and then tie them all back together.”


Don’t Feel Entitled. Keep in mind that not everybody loves a reviewer. In December, a restaurant owner refused to serve the restaurant critic for the LA Times (he also took a photo of her and posted it on the internet to destroy her anonymity, but that’s another issue entirely). The LA Times reported that Noah Ellis, managing partner at the restaurant, decided to turn her away because "Irene is not the person any of us wanted reviewing our restaurant. … This was not a rash decision." It’s true that not all restaurants like being reviewed, and whether you agree with this attitude or not, please don’t go into your meal feeling like anything other than a regular diner on a regular night at a restaurant. That’s the experience that your readers want to know about, anyway.


Signed, Anonymous. I suppose with that last paragraph I’ve opened the door to the subject of anonymity, upon which I don’t have much to say. As restaurant reviewer for the Brookline Patch, I don’t maintain my anonymity because my editor didn’t feel it was necessary. As a blogger, I don’t feel it necessary either. My picture is up in both places, but I’ve never been recognized, not even with my notebook and pen at the table, and I don’t expect to be. It’s a personal choice that you (and your editor, if you have one) will need to make.

(I realize that this runs contrary to the AFJ’s guidelines for critic anonymity, but, as the AFJ states, their guidelines are suggestions, not hard-and-fast ethical rules.)

I do, however think it’s tacky to announce your presence as a reviewer or blogger in exchange for free stuff. Outright asking for free food compromises your integrity. Anyway, you’re there to write about the dining experience of a regular person, not a reviewer for which the server will comp a meal or walk on eggshells, right? If a restaurant approaches you offering payment or a free meal in exchange for a review, make your own decision—just be sure to note the payment in your review. Your readers can then decide how much weight they will give your words.


After all this careful planning and note taking, you’re finally ready to write your review!  Check out Part II, “Writing Your Review.”

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fish Tacos: Blogger Restaurant Recommendations and Recipe Round-Up!

Yesterday, a Twitter user turned to the Boston Food Bloggers community in search of advice:

BFBers swooped in quickly with many great suggestions:

Details:
  • Four votes for Dorado Tacos (Brookline).
    • On the menu:
      • Dorado ($2.59/one taco; $6.25/two tacos + black beans, Mexican rice & charred jalapeño) - beer-battered Atlantic whitefish, cabbage, salsa fresca, radishes, spicy chipotle crema
      • Ensenada ($2.59/one taco; $6.25/two tacos + black beans, Mexican rice & charred jalapeño) - beer-battered Atlantic whitefish, cabbage, salsa fresca, pickled onions, Baja crema
      • Grilled Fish (seasonal catch) ($2.99/one taco; $6.25/two tacos + black beans, Mexican rice & charred jalapeño) - grilled seasonal fish, cabbage, tomatillo and avocado salsa, Baja crema
      • Shrimp ($2.99/one taco; $6.25/two tacos + black beans, Mexican rice & charred jalapeño) - chipotle marinated & beer battered shrimp, jicama, pineapple salsa, Baja crema
      • Kids Taco ($2.59) - plain grilled fish taco on a white corn tortilla with Mexican rice and tortilla chips
    • A sampling of blogger reviews:
      • "Dave is pretty attached to the Ensenada fish tacos...He says they are the best fish tacos he has had on the East coast, and possibly anywhere. Don’t forget to squeeze fresh lime juice on top." - Free Food Boston (Read more.)
      • "...holy s**t. These fish tacos were incredible. J hit the nail on the head when he was complimenting the fish tacos - it was all about the little touches: it was how the taco was assembled, the tiny slices of radish, the just enough chipotle crema and the lightly battered fish, the two tortillas for durability. All of these things together made for a fantastic fish taco. I was glad I only had one - but could have eaten four!" - Straight Up With Olives (Read more.)
      • "Each bite [of the fish taco] was delicious and complex - soft, chewy, savory, and sour with a crunch. We ended up getting three more after wolfing down the first taco." - umommy (Read more.)
      • "Dorado’s fish tacos were far and away the best I’ve had so far in Boston...and were genuinely good on an absolute scale, including those I’ve had in Southern California...Dorado’s fish was cooked well, the breading was light and airy, and most importantly, it had some heat from the chipotle crema. Their other tacos are good as well, and I prefer them in general to Olecito’s." - The Food Monkey (Read more.)
  • Two votes for La Verdad (Fenway).
    • On the menu:
      • Pescado ($13/plate of 3) - Ensenada-style fried fish, avocado puree, cabbage, crema, salsa crudo, chipotle aioli
    • A sampling of blogger reviews:
      • "What you see [in the photo] isn't fish; it's a wedge of cabbage leaf covered in salsa and a spicy mayonnaise. Hidden below a couple of these was a small but lovely piece of flaky fried fish—could have been cod or hake, I couldn't tell—which almost made up for the extravagance of sauces." - LimeyG (Read more.)
      • "Without a doubt, the best fish tacos in Boston can be found at La Verdad on Landsdowne. I am right, people. If you beg to differ, please speak up. But I’ve had my share of fish tacos from coast to coast (actually, only on the coasts), and Ken Oringer’s are tops." - The Dainy Dot (Read more.)
  • One vote for Neptune Oyster (North End).
    • On the menu:
      • Fish tacos are the Sunday special (no price or description listed on menu)
    • I couldn't find any blog posts mentioning the fish tacos. Have you written one? Let me know.
  • One vote for Ole (Inman Square).
    • On the menu:
      • Tacos de Cangrejo ($9.40/appetizer) - crabmeat, black bean puree, mixed greens, crema fresca, roasted chile de árbol sauce
      • Tacos de Atun Asado ($21/main course) - grilled marinated rare Atlantic Ahi tuna steak, tomatillo-avocado sauce, onions, cilantro, chopped red radish, jicama slaw
      • Tacos de Camarone ($9/small plate) - beer-battered shrimp taco (Baja Mexico style), pickled cabbage, chipotle-mayonnaise, cilantro pesto
    • I couldn't find any blog posts mentioning the fish tacos. Have you written one? Let me know.
  • One vote for Papagayo (Waterfront).
    • On the menu:
      • Tacos de Atun ($9.95) - minced and spiced tuna, “wonton” tortillas, chipotle crema, cabbage slaw
      • Fish Tacos ($11.95) - pan-seared tilapia, avocado, pickled red onions, garlic mojo, cabbage slaw
    • A blogger review:
      • "We all agreed that the fish tacos are definitely the best we’ve had here in Boston." (b)log. (Read more.)
  • One vote for Picco (South End). 
    • I can't find fish tacos on the menu. A special, perhaps?
    • I couldn't find any blog posts mentioning the fish tacos. Have you written one? Let me know.

Blogger recipe round-up:

Further reading:
  • Catch the wave by Devra First (a Boston Globe article exploring Boston's fish taco offerings)


    In other news, the first BFB newsletter went out yesterday! You can take a peek here if you missed it. Is your inbox looking for some BFB love 1-2 times a month? Sign up for the newsletter by filling out this form:




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    One new feature introduced in yesterday's newsletter is 'Homework'. I'll be posting (non-required!) assignments in each newsletter as well as featuring responses from the previous assignment. These will also be featured in a post on the website. These assignments provide blogging prompts in an effort to get you thinking outside the box, expanding your skills, and hopefully having fun!

    Here's the first assignment, due two weeks from yesterday by noon (so, Monday 3/21):

    Put the camera away; it's time to practice writing descriptively! Review a restaurant in five hundred words or less; text only! No photos! Use your words to paint the picture. Bonus points for avoiding words like tasty, delicious, and yummy. If you'd like, please include a note at the top or bottom of your post mentioning that this is a 'homework assignment' for BostonFoodBloggers.com. If you tweet about it, please use the hashtag #BFBhw.


    Send me an email if you complete the assignment so that I can include you in the newsletter and post. Have fun!

    Friday, February 18, 2011

    Restaurant Review Round-Up: Food and Wine's 2011 Best New Chef Nominees' Restaurants

    That title is quite a mouthful, isn't it? Have you seen the 2011 nominees for Food & Wine's Best New Chef award? (Voting is open until 3/1/11. More information here.)  How many of the restaurants have you been to?

    Here's a round-up of restaurant reviews by Boston food and drink bloggers about the Massachusetts restaurants whose chefs have been nominated for the award: Bistro du Midi, Clink., Coppa, Deuxave, and Sensing. Let me know if I missed your blog post about any of these restaurants; my magical Google powers only go so far.



    {Back Bay}

    On a personal note, I've been here twice for lunch (summer 2010) and had the best French onion soup I have ever had. It appears to be gone from the menu. I am devastated.

    Brunch
    • French brunch at Bistro du Midi (Eat, Cook, Drink) - "The burger was delicious and I liked the ability to customize the burger as I went along...The best part of the meal was the Valrhona hot chocolate - thick, rich and strong chocolate silky creamy smoothness.  Only downside is the tiny serving." [Posted 1/31/11]
    Lunch
    • Bistro du Midi - A Best Bite (BostonZest) - "For us, the relaxed, friendly service combined with a South of France inspired cuisine makes for a Best Bite!" [Posted 10/13/10]
    Dinner
    • Bistro du Midi (The Jogging Concierge) - "This is by far one of my favorite restaurants in Boston. The ambiance is modern yet rustic and the service is attentive without being overbearing. The menu has a great selection of different options whether you like pasta, steak, fish, anything! And their desserts are soooooo good. Can’t say enough good things about this place. If you’re ever in Boston, this is definitely a great special occasion kind of place." [Posted 11/5/10]
    • Bistro du Midi | A Feast For 8 (Just Add Cheese!) - "The food was beyond impressive, which can be expected seeing as Bistro Du Midi is quite pricey. All the food was stupendous (branching out with my vocabulary as you can see); there wasn’t anything I ordered that I wouldn’t immediately order again. In regards to the atmosphere at Bistro Du Midi I will be honest in saying that the place is a bit stuffy." [Posted 12/22/10]
    • Bistro du Midi Restaurant & Bar Review 1 (Fleur Irisee) - "I typically eat upstairs in the dining room, but, due to a private function, I was only able to dine downstairs ... something I've been interested in trying now that the warm weather is here and the large windows open up to Boylston Street.  I was disappointed to notice the service was just not as friendly and polite, and the menu is quite different." [Posted 5/25/10]
    • Bistro du Midi Restaurant & Bar Review 2 (Fleur Irisee) - "After my disappointing downstairs dining experience, I was back upstairs for another great dinner with attentive and polite service!" [Posted 6/12/10]
    • Bistro du Midi Restaurant & Bar Review 3 (Fleur Irisee) - "I just went to the 1st floor bar this evening and had a nice time, and the bartender was friendly, but I was not thrilled with the bar stock." [Posted 9/7/10]
    • Bistro du Midi Restaurant & Bar Review 4 (Fleur Irisee) - "The food was great, the service was just as fantastic, and I had a wonderful time.  I do wish they would create better specials; nevertheless, I am looking forward to coming here again soon." [Posted 1/15/11]
    • Dinner with Some Lovely Ladies (Travel Wine Dine) - "I once again ordered Bistro du Midi’s mussels in pastis, and they were once again perfectly cooked and delicious." [Posted 6/23/10]
    • Sunday Funday (Travel Wine Dine) - "Bistro du Midi had incredibly friendly service and a very welcoming hostess, something that is always refreshing in downtown Boston. Their downstairs dining room is entirely open to the outdoors in the good weather, so even if you don’t score a patio seat as we did, there is still tons of light and fresh air. I can not wait to return to eat all of the items on the menu we didn’t try." [Posted 5/13/10]
    • Valentine's Day Dinner at Bistro du Midi (Fun and Fearless in Beantown) - "We had an enjoyable time at Bistro du Midi.  The restaurant's attempt at bringing a traditional French dining experience is solid.  I'm not sure that the description of "bistro" fits with the menu and the decor but the service and traditional dishes help forgive these contradictions.  Bistro du Midi is a wonderful place to go for a celebration or a special occasion." [Posted 2/18/10]
    Dinner - Restaurant Week
    • Bistro du Midi - restaurant review (Healthy and Sane) - "Overall, we had a blast. Everyone really enjoyed their meals and the service was great. Bistro du Midi always focuses on local ingredients so the menu changes with the seasons. I think it’s well priced for the location and the quality of food and I can’t wait to go back there already!" [Posted 8/19/10]
    • Boston Restaurant Week in Review: Lessons for a Vegetarian (Unlikely Vegetarian) - "Overall, Bistro du Midi delivered a wonderful Restaurant Week experience. It felt like a fantastic deal on really great food at a really great restaurant, which is how it should be. I’ll be returning soon, perhaps for one last drink on the patio before the Boston winter settles in." [Posted 8/26/10]
    Unspecified Meal
    • Bistro du Midi (The Discreet Hedonist) - A minimalist review: just a haiku. I won't spoil it for you. Click the link! [Posted 10/28/10]
    • Bistro Du Midi - Croque Monsieur anyone?! (Boston Weekends) - "In the Spring and Summer seasons, the entire front of the restaurant opens to an outdoor eatery, making for a sweet and romantic experience. From the menu, we can't get over the Lobster Macaroni Gratin $23 and the Croque Monsieur $12." [Posted 6/7/10]


    {Beacon Hill}

    Brunch
    • Stuck in a Jail with My Family (Amateur Gastronomist) - "The donut holes were the heaven, light and fluffy with the perfect cinnamon, sugar coating!...Both of our breakfasts were good but not really memorable." [Posted 3/28/10]
    Lunch
    • Clink: Sweet Potato Fries (The Passionate Foodie) - "His fries were very crisp, like an excellent regular french fry, with a light, fluffy interior possessing that delicious sweet potato flavor. Lightly salted, they were thoroughly addictive, the best sweet potato fries I can remember having. Just imagine a top notch french fry, and then change it to sweet potato. I would have lunch there again, happily just devouring a large bowl of those fries. It is a simple food, but so satisfying." [Posted 3/11/10]
    Dinner
    • Clink. at the Liberty Hotel (Dish This!) - "In conclusion...Some restaurants seem designed for certain occasions, like Mother's Day brunch at Upstairs on the Square, or a birthday party at Masa. For a Girl's (Fancy) Night Out, Clink. just might be the place you've been looking for." [Posted 5/20/09]
    • The Jailhouse Rocked (Boston Food and Whine) - "I will definitely be going back to this place. I want to try a few more of the dishes and I definitely want to hit up the bar scene. This is a great new addition to both Boston’s restaurant scene and its nightlife. Well worth a visit… and possibly even an overnight!" [Posted 6/20/08]
    Dinner - Restaurant Week
    • Restaurant Week Round Up (Cave Cibum) - "All three courses at Clink wowed me, and based on all the other things on the menu that sounded tasty, I'd definitely head back." [Posted 6/12/09]
    Drinks
    • Cousins Do Beantown Part 2 (Indulge Inspire Imbibe) - "Craving #2, as previously mentioned, was satisfied and then some at Clink's extensive make-your-own bloody mary bar." [Posted 12/30/10]
    Media Event
    • Just Released: CLINK.'s Summer Menu (The Leather District Gourmet) - "This was the most ethereal, loveliest goat I have ever tasted. So often goat is curried, or jerked, roasted or grilled, all fine preparations and I have no issue with them. But this dish has spoiled me for all others. Must. Get. Recipe. (stay tuned) Really fine plate. A revelation." [Posted 7/26/10]


    {South End}

    Lunch
    • A Food-a-Licious Day 'N' Night (Semi-Sweet) - "The crostini are superlative, and the pizzas are scrumptious, but you’ve gotta try the pastas and the meatballs, too.  Lunch was a lot less crowded, so if you’re in the ‘hood (or desire a field trip), you should definitely give it a whirl.  Note also that the patio is now open – too cold for us to eat there last week, but it’s in full sun at noontime and would make for a truly spectacular lunch or dinner experience when it warms up." [Posted 4/21/10]
    • Friday Lunch at Coppa, an Italian Seduction (BostonZest) - "A lunch meant to begin an afternoon of leisure, became the main course of an afternoon of pure pleasure. I love it when that happens." [Posted 5/21/10]
    Dinner
    • 3 Restaurant Reviews in 1: Coppa & Woodward & Finz (Food to Run For) - "It felt good to walk out of a restaurant not filled to the rims but at the price we paid, we probably should have been full.  It's definitely worth checking out but I'm still not completely sold on the "small plate" and "small dish" trend.  What can I say, I like to eat!" [Posted 10/5/10]
    • Coppa (Peteypumpkin!) - "I am eager to go back and partake in yet another tantalizing meal at Coppa when my travels take me to the South End!" [Posted 11/5/10] 
    • Coppa, 253 Shawmut Ave. Boston (Belly Love) - "I think Coppa will get better with time, and given Oringer’s success with his other restaurants I will be returning frequently to double-check." [Posted 1/6/10]
    • Coppa - A First Look (BostonZest) - "Your menu becomes your placemat. That keeps it handy for ordering the next plate and lets you fold it up and take it home– stains and all. Dishes run between $5 and $15. These are small plates- perfect for sharing. And, they were served that way. Despite the waiting crowd, we were not rushed and our meal was well paced." [Posted 12/12/09]
    • Coppa, Boston (Chomp Chow Chew) - "Oh my goodness- I went to Coppa and fell head over heels." [Posted 9/29/10] 
    • Coppa does not runneth over (BellyGlad) - "Next time, I'd go to Coppa for a glass of wine and a bite of wood-fired pizza before a movie, or a snack of salumi and a chat at the end of a night. For a full Italian meal, go elsewhere." [Posted 12/10/09]
    • Coppa Enoteca | South End Trifecta | Part 1 (Just Add Cheese!) - "At the end of our meal the three of us left stuffed, buzzed and waddling down Shawmut after spending just $80 total. With tip! How? I don’t know. This was after 5 dishes, one round of drinks and a seriously good dessert. It made me wonder why can’t eating out always be this fun/convenient/inexpensive/perfect all the time?!?" [Posted 11/22/10]
    • Coppa II (Chomp Chow Chew) - "I love everything about their atmosphere and everything I've eaten has just been a perfect experience for the senses." [Posted 12/12/10]
    • Coppa in Boston's South End (Eat Boutique) - "Believe the hype. It was one of the best dining experiences I have had in years.  I can’t wait to go back and try more of their menu. I woke up the next day thinking about all of the different tastes that I experienced at Coppa and started scheming about the recipes I could take from their menu." [Posted 4/14/10]
    • Coppa Is Worth The Wait (Semi-Sweet) - "These small plates of luscious Italian treats will be a highlight of your visit, for sure.  And even better, you’re encouraged by the very friendly staff to linger as long as you like – you can place an order for a few plates and drinks, then order more as you go along." [Posted 3/5/10]
    • Coppa (JP Review) (Sweet and Sour in Boston) - "Overall, a very positive experience at Coppa. I definitely will be back because there is so much more on the menu I want to try, including the pig's ear which was not available to us that night. I give Coppa a 4 out of 5." [Posted 7/29/10]
    • Coppa Restaurant Review (Fleur Irisee) - "The serving sizes are small and the price tag is high, but the food almost makes it worth it!" [Posted 8/1/10] 
    • Coppa, South End, Boston (A Boston Food Diary) - "Coppa was by far an incredible spot. The food, as Ive described was beyond words. Well executed, well delivered, well spiced, every item was spot on. What shone, though, even more than the food was the outstanding service. Each person who spoke with us, and helped us along the way was welcoming, gracious and knowledgeable. Each treated us as friends, and we felt the difference." [Posted 12/23/09]
    • Coppa: Worth the Wait? (The Passionate Foodie) - "The food at Coppa is very strong, and I understand why there are large crowds on the weekends. It is food that is worth the wait, though I recommend going on weeknights to avoid much of the wait. I like the small plates concept, always have, and think it works well here." [Posted 3/5/10]
    • Dining Out: Coppa (Pop.Bop.Shop.) - "While there were a few bumps in the road at Coppa, the food is fresh, seasoned perfectly, and offers some exciting flavor combinations. The New York vibe is a nice change from the typical Boston restaurant scene, and the menu is expansive enough you can keep coming back and trying new things." [Posted 2/24/10]
    • From the Fois to the Tail: The Joys of Coppa Enoteca (FoodieMommy) - "Each seemingly simplistic dish was so layered, and reflected the best ingredients and a sophisticated understanding of food. Yet, Coppa never feels pretentious or unreachable. Instead, it is a place that I will return again and again." [Posted 1/16/10]


    {Back Bay}

    Dinner
    • Deuxave (A Little Bit About a Lot of Things) - "The service was better the second visit, our waiter was knowledgeable and gave great suggestions. The first visit our water glasses stood empty for the majority of the meal and there were times when the waiter was no where to be found. Overall, we really liked Deuxave (obviously…since I was there twice in two weeks)." [Posted 1/4/11]
    • Deuxave, Back Bay, Boston (A Boston Food Diary) - "Chef Coombs, as expected, is putting out not only delicious food at Deuxave, he is putting out incredibly inventive offerings, jazzing up the classics with new twists, while paying homage to their history and culture. I look forward to visiting Deuxave many more times in the future to see what Chef Coombs does with each of the upcoming seasons." [Posted 9/28/10]
    • Deuxave Delicious (Travel Wine Dine) - "Deuxave gets 2 thumbs up, 5 stars, whatever your top rating would be for ambience, service, knowledge, thought, food, and wine. Simply fabulous." [Posted 9/17/10]


    Sensing (which is apparently closing) - Gerard Barbin
    {Battery Wharf}

    Brunch
    • Blissful Brunching (Indulge Inspire Imbibe) - "After a superb dinner earlier this month, my expectations were high. Sensing exceeded even those with a most elegant plate of Eggs Benedict and superior service to match." [Posted 2/7/11]
    • Brunch at Sensing (Travel Wine Dine) - "Sensing’s outdoor patio has a great view of the harbor, and we were gratefully seated in the shade so that we were able to enjoy the beautiful day without baking in the sun. The restaurant manager seated us and served us for most of the meal; the service was absolute perfection." [Posted 8/31/10]
    Lunch - Restaurant Week
    • Sensing Restaurant, Battery Wharf, Boston (A Boston Food Diary) - "Aside from timing, I have not a complaint about Sensing. Their dishes were creative, and really well thought out, using imaginative ingredients and flavor combinations." [Posted 8/14/09]
    Dinner
    • Awakening the Senses (Indulge Inspire Imbibe) - "Sensing most certainly lived up to their motto as a culinary journey for the mind, body and spirt. The dishes showed pure creativity and precise technique." [Posted 1/19/11]
    • Sensing, Fairmont Hotel @ Battery Wharf, Boston (Belly Love) - "I highly recommend Sensing to anyone who likes a healthy dose of the absurd. From the seating by the hostess to the dessert menus, the extremely friendly (but extremely poorly trained) waitstaff and the long-on-promise, short-on-delivery kitchen at Sensing never miss an opportunity to violate every expectation you might have for dining in an establishment that is a recent recipient of AAA’s Four-Diamond rating." [Posted 6/23/09]
    • Sensing restaurant, Boston: Guy Martin didn't bring the stars (Limey G) - "Sensing is not a bad restaurant. It isn't Mercer Kitchen bad. But neither does it come across as scion-of-Michelin-star-genius good. At best, it's a reasonable hotel-chain restaurant." [Posted 1/18/09]