Early this afternoon the first ever full-fledged restaurant reviews will debut on Eater. Bill Addison, Eater's roving Restaurant Editor, will share his thoughts on the white hot Los Angeles restaurant Republique. Ryan Sutton will compare Roberta's in Bushwick, Brooklyn to a jack of all trades 24-hour diner. And Robert Sietsema will encourage readers to traipse out to Murray Hill, Queens to indulge in some excellent Korean barbecue at a little known place called Mapo.
But first, a little background on how reviews run here, what the goals are, who is doing what and when and how, and what these reviews will look like a little further down the road.
The Aim of Eater Reviews:
First and foremost, Eater critics are writing consumer journalism. Eater readers spend a considerable portion of their disposable income on restaurants, and the critics will advise them on where they should and shouldn't be spending their money and time. Eater's New York critics and roving Restaurant Editor will focus on what's new and relevant, but they will also uncover surprises. They will suss out the truly great from the overhyped. They will not chase the string of other critics.
They are not cheerleaders for the industry; food writing without commentary or criticism is a press release. But neither are they out for blood. Negative reviews will come when warranted, but Eater critics are aiming to find food they will enjoy.
Who is Doing What:
Bill Addison is Eater's Restaurant Editor. Throughout the year he will rove the country with the aim of chronicling the state of American dining while honing his list of the essential 38 restaurants in the nation. Think of his dispatches—called "The Road to the 38"—as a behind the scenes look at the creation of that list, a travelogue of snapshots, assessments, and longer critiques. He'll focus on single restaurants but will also write about trends, evolutions, regions. Because most of his writing will be based on single visits, his assessments of restaurants will not carry stars or ratings.
Ryan Sutton will review one restaurant per week. He will focus on newer, buzzier restaurants as well as established restaurants and the high-end of the spectrum. Expect him to occasionally travel outside of New York to get a sense of what's happening on the national scene. He will file one-off assessments when fitting but for the most part will write formal reviews based on multiple visits to a certain restaurant.
Robert Sietsema will write one formal review every other week and will divide the rest of his time among First Glimpse posts and his other columns. He will do what he does best—suss out the best, unexpected finds across the five boroughs. This often means unheralded, low-cost, ethnic eateries, but he will stretch outside of the "cheap eats" territory when restaurants catch his fancy. Like Sutton, Sietsema will occasionally travel outside of New York to file on the road reports.
Ryan Sutton's and Robert Sietsema's reviews will be rated on two separate four star spectrums. Restaurants can receive zero, one, two, three, or four stars from either critic. The genre of restaurants that Robert covers is different enough from the genre of restaurants that Ryan covers that a separate system provides a framework for fairly assessing the diverse New York restaurant world.
In certain cases, the NY critics may feel just one visit is necessary—for example checking in on a tasting menu that one has tried repeatedly in the past—but for the most part, starred reviews will be based on at least three visits, all paid for by Eater.
· Eater critics do not accept free dishes or meals from restaurants or their representatives unless they are items given to other patrons or regulars
· If a conflict exists between a critic and a chef or restaurateur (be it friendly or otherwise) the critic will recuse himself from reviewing that restaurant or very clearly disclose the conflict
· Eater critics will not attend media dinners, press previews, or friends and family meals
· Eater critics will strive for anonymity when reviewing restaurants, meaning they will make reservations under assumed names, avoid posting photos of themselves publicly, and refrain from revealing their identities when introduced to chefs and restaurateurs
· Eater critics will not abuse their title to obtain favors, including reservations and choice tables
Why These Reviews are in "Beta"
Later this year, Eater will undergo a significant relaunch. A major part of that relaunch will involve reimagining how reviews are conducted and presented to the public. Eater's eventual reviews will be living, breathing, dynamic, evolving critiques. Three visits in the spring of 2014 won't define a restaurant for the next five years. Oh, and they'll look great too.
Until then, please check out Eater's first iteration of reviews and send all feedback and commentary to firstname.lastname@example.org.
· Sutton, Sietsema, Addison IN as Eater Restaurant Critics [~E~]