My restaurant review philosophy
I'm about to post a couple of restaurant reviews, but before I do that I thought I might as well put down my thoughts on how, and when, I do restaurant reviews.
I don't post a lot of restaurant reviews here. That's not to say I don't eat out - I do! Though I guess when I am at home, I don't really eat out that much, since I made a conscious effort to cook at home as much as possible. When I'm on the road as I am now, I do eat out a lot. I always make it a point to try at least one 'top' restaurant in whatever region I find myself in.
I'm more likely to write about very enjoyable, or at least memorable, eating experiences - which is the main reason there aren't that many restaurant reviews here. The main problem with restaurants anywhere may be that there are too many mediocre or just so-so ones around. The view of what is mediocre is very personal, and I find myself disagreeing with food critics and food surveys quite a lot. When you are not paying much this doesn't hurt, but when you pay three figures per person, it does. But...writing about mediocrity is never inspiring, and since no one is paying me to write here, I avoid writing about "meh" places.
One of the most important criteria for me for determining if a restaurant is good or not is the price-performance ratio. An inexpensive place with plain decor that serves tasty food is a big thumbs up. An expensive place that served mediocre food is a big thumbs down.
One restaurant that stands out for me as being truly mediocre and overrated is Yo! Sushi in London. This is a jazzed-up conveyor-belt sushi place that has gotten tons of good press for some reason. It's expensive and the sushi and other dishes range from mediocre to inedible. Actually, I think I'm much harder on Japanese restaurants than other types of cuisines. This is why for me, Nobu is not the amazing place that many other people make it out to be. The price-performance ratio just doesn't match. My mother makes better cod in miso than they do. Way better actually. But if you're not Japanese I guess you would love it...
Wouldn't it be interesting if food critics fully disclosed what kind of food they grew up with? An Italian-origin critic might, for example, be more critical of Italian food than Chinese food, and might think Nobu is heaven. And so it goes.