Introducing the 140 Character Restaurant Review

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void and darkness was upon the face of the deep

The above well-known and immensely provocative quote is 140 characters in length. I am setting out to utilize the concision of language prevalent in Twitter to succinctly review the multitude of restaurants where I dine regularly and have dined on occasion. I am certain that some of my colleagues and friends will argue that any depth or subtlety in my reviews will be egregiously absent. To my detractors I present the argument that I am a professional diner and my reviews are meant for a professional audience. My reader will not glean much from my reviews if dining out is something he/she does infrequently and if the idea of dining out instills any sort of “special occasion” vibe then they should likely be reading reviews from someone else.

All my reviews are here

My reviews are for those of us that dining out is closer to addiction than passion. Not food addiction mind you, because if that was the case I wouldn’t give a rat’s about the place and it would be all about the calories. If I had a food addiction I would be 300+ and I would be seen regularly eating the Reuben sandwiches I saw two fat boys ingesting at Kenny and Ziggy’s yesterday. No, dining out addiction is much more about impulsive and rather compulsive curiosity for food, people, atmosphere, and getting the hell out of my house where I toil all day thinking about where to eat.

In essence, I am always looking for the new place that reminds me of the local trattoria in an obscure neighborhood of Rome. I want to dine somewhere there are intelligent people enjoying simply prepared food, well-priced and appropriate alcoholic beverages, and all at a price to quality ratio that I can live with while dining out 10-17 times a week. You say, this is Houston and that is not possible. I say, you likely don’t carry yourself outside of the loop frequently or you aren’t willing to take a chance. Taking the chance on the place where the word HALAL is more prominent than the name of the joint is something I do. Looking at the back of the menu for any special drink concoctions is a high priority for me. The smell of a place is huge. It can look like ass, but if it smells good I am going in for the kill. If it looks like a million bucks but smells like Pine-Sol, I am gone! Having lived in Italy I am now Italian in my need of human contact. I do not want a quiet table in a dark corner all to myself. I want to sit near people who are enjoying their meal and who are hopefully saying some really crazy shit that I can overhear.

The details I mention above are a given for my enjoyment of a restaurant and this enjoyment comes with baggage. The baggage of dining out is that not all places are equal and certainly not all human tastes. The subtleties therein are the stuff of print journalists and restaurant bloggers. I am neither of these and my rules are much broader for my reviews and therefore my spend-thrifty words are meant to give an overview of overall experiences. Here are my rules and explanations.

All reviews are based on meals I have paid for with mine or my wife’s money.

  •  If I have dined at a place only 1 time I will state in my review
  • Most reviews are based upon 3+ dining experiences and any 5* review suggests I have had at least 7 visits
  •  1* is a shithole for reasons of food, service, attitude, sanitation, or a combination of these
  • 2* is just a “fail” and I will likely not give it another chance unless someone reliable tells me I should or the restaurant goes through a paradigm shift
  •  3* means I usually like something about the place and very likely I go with some regularity even if I find something just not great. I usually will mention what I think could be better and I would say these places have a real chance to get up to speed with some subtle work or a change in attitude (kitchen, service, management)
  •  4* These are the places I eat with frequency. The food quality is exceptional usually. The service is caring and attentive, and the price to quality ratio is super.
  •  5* Means the place fucking rocks! I dine at these establishments frequently and I am rarely if ever disappointed with any components of the place. Customer care is usually the #1 priority at these places followed very closely by passion for ingredients and finished dishes. These are leaders in their fields and examples others should observe carefully when attempting to either start a business or improve a current one. If I gave you 5* it means I do not think I could cook what you served me better in my own kitchen.
  • I hate fluorescent lighting so no matter how good your food is you will never get 5* if your restaurant uses these fixtures
  • Do not say “Welcome In” “welcome to X restaurant or just Hello will be fine.
  • Being nice to people and especially me, makes a huge difference in overall experience
  • Just because I am a gringo or gweilo does not mean I don’t want to try the authentic stuff off the menu. Please show me the real stuff. I do not live in a track home or drive a Tahoe
  • Please clean your beer taps regularly and please serve wine at a proper temp
  • Throw out wine by the glass after 24 hours of being opened because oxygen sucks and Private Preserve does too
  • I am not mean, I just want shit to be killer. I just want to be excited that I get to eat in your place and what I am paying you is a better deal than doing dishes at home.

As I mention above, my reviews are not for the person looking for details about the wall color in a joint. I do pick the real highlights or low points of a place and I usually say something about them. I will also when warranted review components of a place in order to show something that is excellent while showing what needs improvement.

At the end of the day, I do not love YELP as most restauranteurs  feel that 3* reviews are terrible and likely so do most of the people who only look at the rating and not the long reviews. If I can reach a few of the readers with shorter attention spans perhaps my 140 character reviews will help my restaurant friends. To all my colleagues slaving in the insane world of dining I apologize that there is not a more accepted tool for personal reviews on the market that actually qualifies the reviewer. Perhaps once this blog has a more established base of readers I will pull my reviews from Yelp and house them all right here under my wing.  In the meantime, look for me on Yelp and enjoy the concision of my addiction.

Some more poignant phrases in 140 characters or less:

  • Will you marry me?
  • I have a dream
  • The only thing we have to fear is fear itself
  • Houston we have a problem
  • To be or not to be, that is the question
  • and one of my all time favorites – GO FUCK YOURSELF!

    Slurpin some Urchin

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