So yesterday, having been in town all of about twenty-four hours and not yet having much of note worth saying, I decided to burn a little digital ink by introducing myself to all you fine folks.
And that was all well and good. I said hello. A few of you said hello back, and offered your heartfelt welcomes (which I appreciate, by the way--and no, I'm not just saying that). It was a successful virtual handshake, if I do say. All except for one thing.
See, I am more than happy to answer any questions you good people might have for me. As we go forward, I might even have some useful answers to offer--about food, primarily, and the people who cook it, those who serve it and where to get it. But right off that bat, SeattleDee hit me with the one question that I can't answer.
Welcome, Jason... SeattleDee wrote. Can't wait to check out your style as you check out ours. So, how DO you decide where to start?
That's been the big question I've been asking myself for the past couple weeks, the one that plagued me during the (few) quiet moments I had on the road, the one that's hung over me like a small but persistent cloud for every step I've taken in my new home. I've got an entire city laid out in front of me. Thousands of restaurants. Thousands of cooks and chefs, crazy bakers, frantic owners, blooded grillmen and bent sauciers. There are a million plates out there just waiting for me. So which one do I get my face into first?
In prison, they tell you that the best way to earn the respect of your fellow inmates is to find the biggest, meanest, ugliest motherfucker on the block and beat him with a chair. First day of grade school? Being small and rather nerdly, my mother always told me just to keep my head down and not do anything to call undue attention to myself. Among restaurant critics, there is this notion that the best way for one to make a name for himself in a new town is to pick some old, creaking, beloved battleship of a place and lay into it like the owner had said something nasty about your sister. Either that, or pick a place that the former critic had loved and hate it, loudly and publicly, just on general principle.
None of those methods really work for me, though. I'm just not a motherfucker-beating, reflex-hating kind of guy. Neither am I the meek and pointy-haired mama's boy I was at 12 or 13. In past gigs, I haven't had the luxury of taking time to choose my first
victim target review. I've been dropped in to a new town with the next restaurant already set up on the block for me, just waiting for me to pass judgment.
Things here are a little bit different, though. Thanks to the good works and forethought of my predecessor (the inimitable Jonathan Kauffman, one of my favorite food writers working today), I've got a little breathing room. And so, Seattle, I turn SeattleDee's question back to you: since I'm not really sure where I ought to start, where do all of you think your new restaurant critic should eat first?
So show me what you've got, folks. All suggestions/thoughts/warnings welcome. Use the comment button below, or if you're feeling shy, just drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Fair warning: All good ideas will be ruthlessly stolen and eventually passed off as my own. All bad ones will be viciously and openly mocked. But don't let that scare you off. I mean, we're all in this together now, right?