Food News

What's With All These Duplicate Reviews, Anyway?

In the comments of my recent review of SNACK, Torchness asks:

Can you please explain why the Observer reviews every week are almost always the same restaurant as the Dallas Morning News Reviews (or, vice versa)? I find this obnoxious. Why can't there be different reviews week to week? Personally I'd rather hear about a restaurant that's different than what the Morning News does. There's so many restaurants out there, that this can't be a coincidence.

Fat Guy: It's not a coincidence. Most critics wait a predetermined amount of time before reviewing a restaurant. I wait six weeks after an establishment opens before I make a first visit, and I'm pretty sure Leslie waits about the same time. Since we follow the same rules, similar reviews are often posted the same week or within a few weeks of each other. And I think that's actually a good thing...

Sometimes we have very similar opinions about our dining experiences and others we disagree. Driftwood is one recent example where the DMN awarded four stars and I think the cooking leaves a lot to be desired. Zio Cecio was a restaurant Leslie admitted to being spotted during her meal, and claimed the glowing service she got personally from the chef was showered equally amongst all the tables in the dining room. But I was in that same dining room during the same weeks, and can attest that the attentive service, (namely a perfectly presented salt-crusted fish presented by the chef himself) was not present at my table.

Sometimes I'll wait longer to review a restaurant just to see how the the service and food evolves over time. Oak is one restaurant I waited months to review, and I still had the same opinion as Leslie. (Eat there immediately.)

Private Social is another restaurant I waited an extended period of time to review. The DMN awarded Tiffany Derry's Uptown restaurant four stars based on meals Leslie had relatively close to the opening. Later, I found a menu that was so overpriced for the level of execution I experienced that I thought diners were completely wasting their money there. A little over a month after my review, D Magazine agreed with me.

Restaurant criticism is rooted deeply in journalism, but relies significantly on opinion. And as much as we try to be impartial, those opinions are always at least somewhat rooted in personal preference. Having access to multiple takes on the same dining experience should be welcomed. And there are plenty of times we don't overlap. Reviews like Tto Tto Wa, My Lan, Omi, Dalat, Cafe Maya, Chicken Scratch, 303 Bar and Grill, Rhost and more remain for the most part uncovered at the DMN.

I'm sure there are scores of undiscovered restaurants in the DFW area that deserve more coverage and I spend a lot of time scouring the Internet and wandering around dazed and confused in this heat and watching my gut grow while I try to find them. I'm always open to suggestions and new finds, though. Have a recommendation? Email me.

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Scott Reitz
Contact: Scott Reitz