Ok, in my visits to Kaisho in Downtown Bellevue (where Boom Noodle used to be), everything I have had was extremely disappointing. I found it to be a confused mess of ideas where the "cleverness" of dish seemed to take precedence over the actual quality of the end product.
But then I read Providence Cicero's review today.
Not that I need every review to agree with my opinion or anything, but this one shocked me. Like, to the point where I'm judging her a little bit and almost feel like I can't trust her opinion any more.
I'll admit I haven't had a full dinner there, specifically not the kimchee chicken and waffles that she seemed to like alot, but after two lunches and a round of after work drinks with food (which included the burger), I was certain I could cross them off any list.
Anyone have thoughts on this place? Do I need to try it 1 more time?
I've been once about a month ago and was not impressed. It wasn't even good enough for me to say "maybe again". I was also shocked by the review in the Seattle Times and wondered what she was thinking.
I live nearby, so may try it again someday, but I'm still pretty skeptical.
Agree with your point of view.
Let me ask you a question:
If you didn't have to pay for your meal, would you enjoy it more, try more dishes, give it the benefit of a doubt?
I'd guess even the most "professional" reviewer is swayed by this phenomenon.
Although I like reading professional reviews, my experience certainly has differed many times.
Ma'ono Fried Chicken - everyone raves. Its good but I think Heaven Sent is far better.
Gastropod - Seattle Mag loved them but my entire experience including food was yuck!
Quadrato - some mag said good food cheap. The pizza is bready and nice, but I don't think $24 pizzas or $5 slices is cheap.
I was briefly a freelance restaurant reviewer for a city magazine back East. A new restaurant opened from the city's version of, I guess, Renee Erickson (not that this city had anything close to as good), and I went twice for my review. It was mediocre. My editor kept making me go back and eventually killed my review. Why? Because they had decided BEFORE IT OPENED to put it on the cover of the Best Restaurants issue.
I had similar issues there constantly, so I quit. I had spent my career as a reporter at a major newspaper, where nothing was puffed up for commercial reasons and critics were critical by nature.
My point is, I think that city magazines are boosterish and grade on a curve. I'd expect different from newspapers—but I haven't read the Seattle Times reviews consistently so couldn't speak to them specifically.
I don't think that's the case here, though.
I'd like to think a reputable place like the Seattle Times (more so that other places) is able to maintain a line between content and advertising.
I think your earlier question was more on point.
That is, if you're not paying for it (and additionally, if you're eating out all the time), you're more inclined to like something that's "clever" or "unusual", even if it's not actually all that great.
It becomes tougher to distinguish the line between "Oh, that's interesting" or "Oh, that's different" and "Oh, that's actually really good"
If you are eating so much restaurant food, wouldn't you have a higher bar for what's unusual and interesting? I'm not sure getting the stuff for free weighs in. I know of more tough professional food critics than easy ones.
It could just be Cicero's taste. I personally hate clever for the sake of clever, and prioritize deliciousness above all (don't get me started on WD-50 or Moto). But I can see how somebody—regardless of whether they are a critic—could take the opposite stance.
I'm not sure.
My feeling was that you'd get tired of the same braised pork belly, whole grilled fish and other traditional preparations that many, many restaurants do (no matter how good or bad), and simply be impressed by the mere idea of mooshu tacos and kimchee waffles. "Clever for the sake of clever", as you put it.
But I could see a critic having a higher bar for unusual having been exposed to more places. I don't know, I suppose it depends on the critic. (and apparently it seems Cicero is the type to be impressed with basic novelty)
Walked by one time and read through the menu, and knew right away that their focus was probably more on "what can we mix/fusion together that no one else has thought of" than the actual cooking.
Judging by their empty tables while the Cheesecake Factory just next door has what looked to be a 2-hour wait, a new restaurant will pop up there soon enough.