You sure do eat out a lot. Don’t you ever eat at home?
We probably eat out less often than most people, usually three or four times a week. Some of my colleagues at work eat out every workday. The difference is they might eat at the same restaurant two or three times a week; we rarely visit the same restaurant more than once a month.
My Kim is a fabulous cook and I can handle myself in a kitchen very well, too, though we can’t cook together. My idea of cooking is experimenting with every disparate ingredient there is. There’s no such thing as “leaving well enough alone.” As a consequence, I’ve invented the greatest macaroni and cheese ever made, but haven’t been able to replicate it because I didn’t write down what the ingredients were. That’s fine, too, because it leads to more experimentation.
So what do you really have against chain restaurants?
Chain restaurants have their place in the world though not in mine. To me, chain restaurants scream of homogeneity, the boring sameness some call the Wal-Martization of America. Some people are comforted by that predictability.
Call me the Mike Roberts of local mom and pop restaurants, an unabashed supporter and cheerleader for the many great local dining establishments. I love the fact that locally owned and operated restaurants can be unpredictable, that they prepare food to order instead of thawing something out which was shipped from corporate headquarters hundreds of miles away, that you can get to know the great families who own them, that those families have very personal investments and take immense pride in their products.
I have a friend and colleague I often refer to as the “Bizarro Gil.” He’s my complete antithesis when it comes to eating out. He practically drools at the first note of the Chili’s jingle and celebrates all family special events at places like the Outback Steakhouse and the Olive Garden. I’ve come to the conclusion that his patronage of the chains has dulled his taste buds to the point at which he’s lost the capacity to recognize good food. There are a lot of people like that.
Now, I will admit to being a captive of chains which fill a niche. If mom and pop restaurateurs, for example, offered fried chicken or salad buffets, there’s be no reason to frequent chains which do.
What’s the best….? What’s your favorite…?
When it comes to food, I find it impossible to be monogamous. I have several favorites, maybe hundreds of them, but I also have no favorites whatsoever. That might sound paradoxical, but I subscribe to the Mounds approach–sometimes you feel like a (your favorite food here), sometimes you don’t.
Why was my experience at a restaurant so different from yours?
Any restaurant review is a “snapshot in time”–my experiences at the time of a particular visit. A myriad of changes may account for differences of opinion— not ordering the same menu items, different chef or line cook, different menu, service degradation, things changing over time, etc. Ultimately, readers should take a caveat emptor approach to any restaurant review, written by any critic. What matters most is your opinion.
Do you get paid to write reviews?
Not at all. In fact, I won’t even accept advertising on my site. That allows me to remain completely independent.
Why don’t you provide wine pairings with the restaurant meals you review?
It’s well established that New Mexico has a very serious drunk driving problem and I won’t contribute to that in any way. We won’t even have a glass of wine if we’re driving. At my age I need every bit of clarity I can muster and so does everyone who hits New Mexico’s roads.