I can’t always remember what happened yesterday, but will recall meals from long-gone restaurants: A side of German spaetzle (egg noodles) in bone-marrow roux at the Golden Mushroom. The Harlequin Cafe’s escargot with Danish bleu cheese or its Tandoori Cornish Hen. Opus One’s bacon-wrapped scallops appetizer …
Which leads to the main course: Our 2017 Restaurant of the Year.
Such awards raise the question about the subjective nature of food reviews. In a 2010 Columbia Journalism Review article called “Everyone Eats, But That Doesn’t Make You a Restaurant Critic,” Robert Sietsema, then at the Village Voice, cited several “rules” we at Hour Detroit try to adhere to. A full review should come after more than one visit. The publication pays for meals. If possible, reviewers should remain anonymous.
The goal is to “represent the interests of the typical restaurant diner…”
Sietsema also discussed the internet’s impact, where the rush to publish the “first” review doesn’t leave room for a new restaurant work out any startup kinks. Multiple visits offer a more fair and complete picture.
Then there’s our changing attitudes. “Eating in restaurants has gone from being an infrequent occurrence to being a primary form of entertainment,” he wrote. The danger lies in the idea that “…many consider being the first to reach a new place a preferment. This behavior is creating a boom-and-bust cycle, in which novelty and buzz is valued above excellence.”
We agree “buzz” is not the only selection criteria — it’s a total package of food, service, and ambience. That doesn’t mean we don’t love new places. It’s why we’re honoring our Restaurant of the Year and listing five favorite newcomers — places we’ll certainly visit again searching for consistent excellence and lasting memories.
Happily, this year’s Restaurant of the Year already evokes plenty of memories — even one that involves bone marrow!