Adam Platt on Reviewing Restaurants

It's about the experience, Platt says.
  • Transcript

TRANSCRIPT

Question: What do you look for when you review a restaurant?

Adam Platt: Well, you’re just going to experience it so you- one of the- usually in any kind of reporting or journalism you really have only one crack at this situation. You go in, you look at- look around, you look at people, you do some interviews and experience the situation, and then you write it up. When you’re writing a review you have the luxury of going two or three times so basically when you first arrive you look around, you order the food, you do what anybody does. You really don’t do anything different and you’ll probably get initial impressions when you first walk in the door and then you’ll have different ones the next time you’re there. One of the things about writing about restaurants is that it’s incredibly subjective. The cooks change. They can have a cold one night. You can be sitting next to a caterwauling infant another night. The drinks-- The bartender could be drunk another night. So everything’s changing all the time and when you go back again and again you can sort of- you try and get a sense of sort of the normality of the place although you’re always writing basically from a sense of opinion and it’s really your opinion because your- it’s your experience.

Question: What is the most underemphasized aspect of a restaurant?

Adam Platt: Well, in New York it's a different- there are different kinds of restaurants obviously. In New York in the restaurants that I write about-- in New York eating out is practically a theatrical event. It also actually sort of-- It is a theatrical event and so in New York in restaurants--and this is true of most of the artistic disciplines in New York--ambitious people come here from around the world to show off what they're doing, and so in New York you have-- you don't really have a lot of sort of generic New York food. Well, in New York it's a different- there are different kinds of restaurants obviously. In New York in the restaurants that I write about-- in New York eating out is practically a theatrical event. It also actually sort of-- It is a theatrical event and so in New York in restaurants--and this is true of most of the artistic disciplines in New York--ambitious people come here from around the world to show off what they're doing, and so in New York you have-- you don't really have a lot of sort of generic New York food. In fact, you don't really have any generic New York food except for maybe the porterhouse steak but you have a lot of different kinds of restaurants and everything's a show and I think in New York people tend to-- you emphasize that and people want to read about that. So you basically-- The first thing you look for when you sit down is you look around. What does it look like? There are certain things that-- I think there are certain tip-offs as to how the meal's going to go but you sort of-- you look around. You sort of take in the scene and you start eating.

 

Recorded: 4/22/08