I guess that I am an amateur “foodie” and “wine geek.” The two go together so well and when you throw them into a mix with friends or sometimes just a great date night, it is almost nirvana. What does this have to do with a magazine you may wonder? I subscribe to Wine Spectator and once a year they have their “Restaurant Awards” issue and this is an issue that I keep right at my desk. I have used it as an amateur concierge for some of my customers through out the years, but basically I use it as a guide for when my Bride and I wish to go out for dinner to try something new, or when we are planning a vacation.
There is a caveat in the issue where they state “our awards program evaluates wine list, not restaurants as a whole.” This is fine, and I look at the recommendations as a guide. When we are going somewhere new, I automatically subtract any chains that are located near us, or that we have already been to, as most while they may be wonderful are cookie-cutter establishments, and if they are successful, why change? I look at the wine selection of a restaurant, as in the number of wines that they offer, then I look at the type of food offered and then I look at the price range of the menu that they submit to the editors. My philosophy has been that the finer the wine selection, and if the menu prices are in the proper ration, I will take a chance on the restaurant. As far as I am concerned, if a restaurant has a large cellar, they would only do it to enhance the food that they are preparing. In all of the years that I have followed this concept, I have only had one bad experience, and it was not about the wine or the food, but the monotony of the plates encountered in a “Chef’s Tasting” as there was not enough variety, and the total indifference of the wait staff and administration. Of course I have never bothered writing about that evening, and it may have been the most expensive dinner we ever had.
I also look at some of the past years of this issue, as I have tried to maintain most of them. I get a chance to look at some of the restaurants that are no longer in business and I lament that. I also think of some of the famous restaurants that I will never have a chance to go to, either that my Bride went to, before we met, or vice-versa. I also think of some of the great dishes that I have enjoyed, and less I forget to mention, some great wines that I have had over the years as well. After all, what does a raconteur have besides memories to talk about?