Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Reviews: Should We Be More Critical

A friend has asked why I'm not more critical on restaurant reviews and other reviews.
Well, let's start with my restaurant reviews.
To begin with, I tend to gravitate toward restaurants I like or places that I think I'll like. I want to share what I think is the best with our readers. If I like it, I want to share it with you.
I like informal restaurants and classic American fare. And you all know by now that I love steak, pasta, burgers, shakes, pizza, classic Chinese food, crabcakes, lobster and martinis, among other treats.
Sometimes I'm invited to review restaurants that I haven't been to before or I'm introduced to a place by friends or others. In those cases, I see myself as a guest and I try to act and respond accordingly.
When I have criticisms I try to be helpful and offer constructive suggestions. I don't like to pile criticism on top of criticism, gripe on gripe. There's no fun in that and it's not very nice.
I'd always rather focus on aspects of the dining experience that I enjoy. So, if I focus on the ambience and service but hardly mention the food, you'll know that I wasn't bowled over by the food.
For example, I once had a not-so-memorable experience at a new Philadelphia restaurant near Rittenhouse Square. We went there for lunch and found the setting to be fresh and sleek but rather bare; the welcome near non-existent; the food forgettable, paltry and overpriced and the service cursory. I hate having to say this but right now I simply cannot recommend this restaurant. When something like this occurs, there's really not much to write about.
With respect to theatre in general and Broadway musicals in particular I try to be instructive, informative and helpful in my comments. I try to put the show in context and be as balanced and objective as possible. But, I'll admit it: I'm a Broadway musical junkie. And I'm quite easily seduced by a real Broadway show. So, I sometimes get carried away. But I'll also warn you as to the elements in the show and tell you that if you don't like a particular subject or a certain actor or a particular style of music you probably won't like the show. We can't all have the same interests, the same tastes and the same likes.
As for movies, I gravitate toward old-fashioned narratives. I'm interested in the characters and the storyline and I'm easily won-over by small, meaningful movies and independent films. So, you won't find me reviewing lots of violent or hi-tech or action or SFX movies.
Again, I want to share what I like with you. And I like movies, actors and stories that are mindful of the tradition of movie-making -- that evoke the classics, but in a new light and with new attitudes and new things to say. Not long ago, The King's Speech was that kind of film and it justifiably garnered most of the awards.
The bottom line is this: If I didn't like it I don't see much of a point in telling you about it.
And there are some things that I'm simply not likely to review because they're just not in my bailiwick: Indian restaurants, sci-fi movies, tortured drama. Not gonna happen!
I hope this explanation is helpful to you as I begin to review a whole new batch of dining experiences. movies, theatre, art, travel, etc.
And, as always I welcome your comments, suggestions and observations.

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