Check, please!

Check, please!

Gene Mitchell

When I critique a restaurant, I take into account much more than meal quality.  Every aspect must have consideration.  Seating arrangements, for instance, and how much light enters an establishment can ruin a perfect meal. When I dine I usually go with many of my friends.  My friends and I are loud and will always enjoy ourselves.  Assuming the establishment is a nice restaurant and not a bar, we probably will ruin everyone else’s meal if we have seating in the middle of the restaurant.  Our seating should be in the corner instead. Without trying to suppress exceptionality, a food critic should understand that the entire dining experience, not just the food, goes into a critique. 

In today’s hustle and bustle lifestyle in America, establishments that provide the most for the cheapest are considered the best.  Around the world, America is known for its fast food chains like McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken.  American Chefs have much more to offer than what these processed giants give.  The Fast food business model has controlled, and dulled, food quality and the dining out experience.  For this reason, I invite readers to follow along as I seek out the truly best restaurants here in Macon.

For far too long, the quantity of food, not the quality of the dining experience, has controlled how our society determines a good restaurant.  The tide seems to be changing.  The New York Times reported in 2009 that fast food is losing stock shares to trending local eateries that provide more expensive dishes with higher quality food.  This shows promise as Americans look to fill their hunger for enjoyment, not just their hunger for food.

In this column, expect a full critique of a restaurant’s atmosphere, food selection and quality, and overall management.  These three areas will have their own ratings to provide a well rounded picture of not only the quality of the restaurant, but what type of restaurant the establishment seems to be developing towards.  Restaurants, just like people, change according to what they want to become.  Likewise, they should be judged that way.  I will not give a restaurant an overall “star” or “Bear Claw” rating, but I will give my own personal sentiment about the restaurant and whether I will return.  This way, we can focus on the critiques on the restaurants and less on arbitrary scales.

As wonderful we all think food chains are; this column will share no analysis on them.  There is no magic in their kitchens and even less in their dining areas.  They have been created for the glutton and not for those who cherish taste and relish in the idea of gathering around a good meal with friends and family.  I will base my critiques around that sentiment every time I walk into a restaurant and begin.  If I do not have a good time then no one else will, plain and simple. 

I always encourage my readers to weigh in on any topic that I write on.  I accept comments more so than ever because of how delicate this column will become.  For those reading with a weak stomach, please understand the intent of this column is not to hurt but enlighten.  This column will not seek the worst in a restaurant but how they can improve.  I take into account that this topic is not just about food but about people.  A bad restaurant will do all it can to close just as a good one will do the opposite.  I will not, however, attempt to provide a path for either establishment but attempt to recognize which way one is going.  Remember, great chefs look for criticism.  They strive for deliciousness and can only find out through the words of the eater.  Think of this column as your chance to give back to those who cook.