OA Blog/Site Stuff
Welcome to the new Opinionated About Dining website
After a developmental period that has taken us the better part of the summer and well into autumn, I am happy to welcome you to our new site. Please remember we are still beta testing the software, so there are bound to be aspects of the site that don’t work properly. In the event that you happen upon something that needs to be fixed or corrected, or if you have a suggestion as to how to improve the site, please click on the “Contact Us" link at the top of the page and send us your suggestions by email. It might take us a while to get back to you but, we will do our best to incorporate the changes you have suggested if they make sense.
What makes this site unique is that it combines the review and article driven content that has been published at the oad.typepad.com address since 2004, with the OA dining guide that was located at www.opinionatedabout.com. Over the next few weeks we will begin the process of moving the content from the old blog to this one (hooray for interns) and my personal restaurant reviews and commentary on dining will now be published on this site. In addition, there are plans to expand the content to include articles by guest bloggers, chef’s giving cooking tips, and there are even plans to offer video streams of chef’s preparing some of their most interesting dishes.
On the dining guide side of the equation, the new site software has allowed us to publish the ratings of over 700 restaurants across North America and Europe, while also including select comments from our community of reviewers. Currently the number of participant comments is limited to 15 per restaurant, but given that some restaurants have been rated in excess of 100 times, we are already working on modifying the software in order to increase the number of comments we can publish. Current entries are limited to restaurants that have qualified for a numerical rating, but we will soon be adding comments on another 1,500 restaurants which haven’t been rated often enough to qualify for a numerical rating. Reviews based on the ratings and comments we collected for each restaurant will be added at the rate of two per week, with a goal of getting to five per week after the first of the year. Given that this is the Internet and length isn’t an issue, the reviews will be substantially longer than the ones we have published in the past. And if that isn’t enough for you, each restaurant will have its own photo library and users will have the ability to upload photos to the database.
I have long held that in order to do a proper job of assessing the dining experience, dining enthusiasts have to agree on a shared upon standard. This point was recently emphasized by Ed Behr who said the following in his introduction to the June 2008 issue of The Art of Eating;
“…Mainstream publications have far more resources to pursue what you might call Mimi Sheraton-style reviewing. Besides, since her time, most of the best contemporary cuisine has become highly innovative and diverse; it’s largely untested and sometimes confused. When chefs pursued a more classical-cuisine, there were agreed-upon standards for judging it. The standards now, as our sometime reviewer Bénedict Beaugé has written, are almost unique to each critic: how do we know what their judgments mean? For at least one issue, we are putting aside our restaurant coverage, while we decide what, beyond the usual, A of E, can contribute."
I couldn’t have done a better job of describing the current environment of restaurant reviewing myself. Nor could I have done a better job outlining our mission at OAD – use the combined efforts of the people who participate in our dining guide to help create a new standard for evaluating restaurants. As Ed states, the current crop of professional reviewers are currently all over the map. While one can speculate as to various reasons why this is the case, my own personal feeling is that the lack of proper standards stems from the fact that many reviewers who write for major dailies and periodicals have never visited the top restaurants in the world. In fact I would make a small wager that there are few working critics today who have visited 50% of the top 20 highest rated restaurants on the OA survey, while there are a number of people who contribute to the OA Dining Guide who can make that claim, including yours truly who has actually visited 18 of 20 on the list.
So enjoy yourself. Getting this site up and running has been a fascinating undertaking and I hope you find it a new and useful addition to your dining endeavors. There are plans to expand the Opinionated About brand and I am currently working on launching an Opinionated About Wine site, and I am hoping to launch the wine survey software sometime this spring.
Eat well and eat often,
PS - By the way if you came to directly to this site and you would like to read the content on the old site before it has been moved over, Click Here
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