Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Chatter 54 Reflections on dining alone. 06/2016

Eating alone, especially in a restaurant, is a completely different experience to dining in company. It is much more an opportunity for contemplation. The food may or may not be a central issue. Usually, I imagine, on the food side the expectation is for a satisfactory meal, not a gourmet experience. For people particularly interested in food, especially in an unfamiliar city, all sorts of considerations arise. Where do the locals recommend. Do you want to try a particular style of food, what have all those I'net reviewers had to say and what is any of that worth anyway?
It's curious to see wildly different views about the same restaurant. the servers were rude, slow, hard to attract and for the same place they were courteous, professional, helpful and so on. The same thing applies to the food the same dish may be rated overcooked, dry, lacking seasoning to excellent, the best xyz I've ever eaten and on it goes. Pleasant atmosphere, unbearably noisy, left before we ordered. One should also keep in,mind that well known old saying 'One man's meat is another man's poison.
If there are a lot of reviews then the weight of opinion will tend towards the more complimentary end of the scale with a few very discontented outliers. Indeed it is a rare restaurant which, overall, is rated below average. Average, being what it is, it is impossible for over 90% of restaurants to be above average. Even Epicure almost never scores a restaurant below 12.5 out of 20. Their ratings really run from 12.5 to about 18.5, heavily weighted towards the lower end. Thus 13.5 would be close to their average. Maybe they only go to 'good' restaurants. I doubt that. Maybe, unavoidably, they often get special attention. This I can readily believe.
I think, in almost all reviews, the reviewer is basing his/her/their opinion on a single experience which may be influenced by their particular palate as a myriad of external events as well as variations on the occasion of their visit. 
Because we review a lot of restaurants on this blog this concerns me because we are not free from bias, we have our personal likes and dislikes and we are reluctant to be over critical on the basis of a single experience.
There are also potential hazards in offering forthright opinions in an era of ever more restricted freedom of speech God help us if we actually cause offence by truthfully saying what we think.

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