This week I reviewed Poquitos, the lively Capitol Hill eatery from the folks who brought Bastille to Ballard. I really liked it, and gave the restaurant what one Tweeter characterized as a rare positive review. (For other readers keeping count, I'd put 5.33 of my nine Seattle Weekly reviews in the positive column--jamming Tom Douglas' three South Lake Union restaurants into one column accounts for the numerical weirdness.)
But the Poquitos review wasn't initially supposed to run this week. I'd planned to review Adam's Northwest Bistro in Monroe for this issue. I changed course after visiting the restaurant a few weeks ago.
Adam's Northwest Bistro has a great back story. Chef/owner Adam Hoffman spent years working in other people's kitchens, setting aside his own restaurant dreams. As Nancy Leson reported earlier this year in The Seattle Times, a friend-of-a-friend arranged for Hoffman to take over the former Sailfish Grill in Monroe. Hoffman was charmed by the small town, and plotted to bring big-city cooking techniques and local sourcing philosophies to a commercial strip where the culinary options extended from tacos to barbecue.
I liked Adam's Northwest Bistro too. Our order included a stupendously fresh wedge salad with high-quality blue cheese and an admirably well-cooked steak. Yet with every mile I traveled from Seattle, I'd mentally lifted the bar I set for Adam's. After my meal, I realized Adam's couldn't quite clear it. The restaurant is a fine addition to Monroe, but it's not worth a 45-minute car trip. (Although if you're already in the area, I strongly recommend it.)
Had I spent 1300 words reviewing my experience at Adam's, I would have had to detail the elements of my experience, which disappointed. And that struck me as pretty pointless: The place is packed with happy customers who don't need a Seattle critic picking on their favorite restaurant.
I don't shy away from writing negative reviews when warranted. But it's not playing fair to criticize a restaurant that most Weekly readers weren't planning to patronize anyhow. I take my responsibility as a consumer advocate very seriously: I want to help local eaters decide whether the new restaurant they've heard so much about, or see on their way to work, or for which they've received a promotional coupon, deserves their hard-earned dollars. If I encounter aggravating food or service issues, it's my job to report on them.
But, even better, I get to tell you about chefs' praiseworthy achievements, like the steak at Poquitos. Or the spicy shrimp. Or the queso fundido. It's such fun to write a positive review. And for those readers who think I'm stingy with them, I'd suggest checking in again next week.