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Why do I review some restaurants immediately & wait to eat at others? Good question. There are places such as the original Spring in the 9th and the new one in the 1st, or La Regalade St Honoré, or Frenchie that I want to try immediately. I’ve either received advance notice from one of my friendly informants or read something. Or I know the chef—say, Bruno Doucet or Inaki Aizpitarte—is opening a new place. And, I trust the chef and/or my spies.
Then there are places such as Tico or Konfidential or 39 V, which I’ve walked by numerous times, scoped the menu and continued on until something new happens or someone I trust vets them. This can take weeks or months. One critic whom I respect likes to wait almost a year before testing a place.
One reason the Internet sites devoted to food are so widely consulted is because they fill the time and judgment gaps. Between Figaroscope, A Nous Paris, Le Fooding and l’Express’s reviews of openings and their reification in the yearly Lebey’s, G/M’s, Pudlo’s and Michelin’s. Also, many internautes trust each other more than the “big boys.” Just look at the L’Internaute-Restaurant site itself, where in nine months a place such as the Brasserie du Louvre has had seven comments/reviews.
There have been heated discussions on the web about mainline critics and bloggers rushing to places to be the first to print/post about them, sometimes boasting “I was Number 1.” If you believe one of my critic-friends, the first night some places opened this year were packed with critics. On the other hand, some chefs and I have learned to identify the “Michelin men” who eat after places have settled in.
What’s the right timing? I have no idea. But until I do, I’ll muddle on, going the first week sometimes, the first month more often and the first year occasionally.
These thoughts were crystallized after eating at:
131 Ave. Parmentier in the 11th, (Metro: Goncourt)
Lunch menu 27 €, dinner tapas running one 5-14 € each
Closed Saturday lunch, Sundays and Mondays.
To order one of our favorite cookbooks: Amanda Hesser of the New York Times makes gourmet (almost) easy.
By John Talbott
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