It is a holiday in Massachusetts so this is a food and music day for blogging. I have been doing a series on restaurant reviews by friends who live, or have lived, in different cities. Boston, which appeared the last two days, is the most recent. There are many more in the cue. I have commissioned reviews in Rome, Mumbai, Washington, Toronto, Seattle, and several other places so far and they will be appearing in the coming weeks. I also plan to write ones myself on Cambridge, Mass (my new home town) and New Orleans (where I grew up) at some point.
At the Berkman meeting last week. I was explaining what I was doing and one person pointed out that Zagat had plenty of reviews for most cities, why do this? Another, a prolific blogger, said yes but you do not know those people. Your reviews are by people you know. These are your friends who you know and trust their tastes. It is also ironic that the person who mentioned Zagat, is more into wikis than blogs and seems more concerned with authentication than personalization.
Some of these friends I have eaten many meals with. Others I have recently meet and have not yet had this experience. However, I think that even if you have not experienced a meal with someone you can still form an opinion on whether they appreciate good food and have good taste.
The Gourmet restaurant issue came out recently. I have always looked forward to this. It has been greatly reduced over the years. They used to have twenty per city and we always tried to do the top twenty in Boston with a group of friends. Now it is a separate little booklet with 4 to 6 per city. Still, I looked at their picks with great interest. I found that I have been to some.
There are some I agree with and others that I think are there by reputation. I sorted out their picks I know into three buckets, deserved, mixed, reputation only. It was about even. I will not tarnish the reputation of those in wrong columns. But I will say that, in my opinion, Hugo’s and Fore Street (Portland, ME), Uglesich (New Orleans), Salts (Cambridge), Stripped Bass (Philly), and Citronelle (Washington) are deserving of visiting, if you can get past the lines for some. Although the last two have been around for a while so they need to stay innovative to not slip into the reputation category.
Kathleen Gilroy and I were emailing about this. She pointed out that one feature of her new blog-based product offering, Ping Services, is the concept of trusted filter. For the reviews, my friends provide a better trusted filter (for me) than Zagats or the Economist. Another example is found below from a London friend Karen D'Amico who is visiting in SanFrancisco. You are free to form your own opinion.