Hey OpenTable, Pete Wells is talking about you! He’s criticizing those reservation time GUESSING GAMES you make us play. End the madness and just tell us when there are available seats, OpenTable!
We always like to say that when critics disagree, the consumer wins, as diversity of opinion beats reading the same review over and over again.
No, you can’t really divine the truth about any particular restaurant (or from any individual critic) by comparing star ratings (Time Out’s is “out of five”, the rest are more or less “out of four”). But in this case, the stars are a pretty good indicator about how each of these critics feel about Harold Dieterle’s Italian-German joint. Some of them like it a lot, others, a little. (Bad Deal editor Ryan Sutton, of course, is the man behind the Bloomberg review).
Something interesting happened this week in the world of culinary journalism; New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells didn’t critique a restaurant. Instead, he used his column space to advise diners to eat downtown, penning a fine love letter to those “temporarily shuttered” by superstorm Sandy.
This critic, in turn, took a somewhat analogous course, forgoing a review to advise restaurants on what they could do to better serve diners in preparation for the next natural disaster.
One of my chief suggestions raised a few eyebrows: More good restaurants need televisions, especially when the power’s out. Conventional wisdom, of course, is just the opposite. Here’s what Sam Sifton had to say about the matter early last year when he was still the NYT food critic:
All fair points. I like to think that social contract is voided once the lights go off in half the city. I don’t go to the library, to town square, or to the local barbershop when things go dark. Rather, I go out to eat. And when the lights come back on, I go out to eat again. Restaurants, for many of us urban dwellers, are the centers of our communities. They’re our surrogate kitchens, civilized extensions of our living rooms.
So when the lights go off, I wish I could watch the latest edition of “60 Minutes” in the bar area at Empellon Cocina, Mission Chinese, The Brooklyn Star, Marea, or even Frankies 457.
We at The Bad Deal have said NICE THINGS about Savored in the past. The service requires no pre-payment by guests and the demand-based pricing makes more economic sense than a deal from Groupon or Gilt City, which can overrun your restaurant with cheapos in the prime-time hours.
ALSO: Savored diners, as far as we can tell, aren’t limited to “Restaurant Week-esque” menu restrictions, as is often the case with deal sites. For example: At Le Cirque, you can get your discounts off the regular menu or the tasting menus.
While the service is now FREE, we were still kinda sorta fans of Savored even when it was charging $10 for reservations; we like to think the pre-payment was a reasonable “cancellation fee” of sorts.
Writes David Streitfeld for The New York Times, in his reporting piece “Coupon Sites Are a Great Deal, But Not Always for Merchants.” This jives nicely with The Bad Deal’s longstanding (and not terribly original) thesis that customer loyalty is difficult in the era of daily deals, where misinformed consumers find value not necessarily in quality but rather in the degree of the discount. And a merchant can only discount so for long before it has to raise its regular non-sale prices to justify the deal.