I have noticed, from reading numerous online restaurant reviews and blogs from around the world, that most restaurant critics have their favorite chefs who can do no wrong. I have worked in and eaten at restaurants with chefs of both considerable skill and those of very little skill, and all could hit or miss occasionally. Sometimes chefs of some renown or skill try for something and it doesn't quite work, and sometimes chefs who don't know their romaine from their radicchio nail a flavor that will make the toughest critics sigh with delight. But food critics seem to be unable to seperate a previous experience from their favorite chefs. Below is a rant full of suggestions for critics and more casual foodies to get the most subjective view of each dining experience.
All critics should go into every dining experience with an eye toward consistency and keep their previous experiences with the restaurant or the individual chef for the post meal synthesis. If a chef rocked your socks at his old restaurant don't go into the new place automatically believing that meal is the best you've had in (insert whatever ridiculous timeframe exaggeration happy critics use).
Mindset goes a long way in the enjoyment of a meal. So, if you go in excited just to be in the building with the chef in question you will probably think it a great meal. Conversely, if the chef happens to be on your naughty list, and you can't temper those feelings, you will probably not enjoy his offerings no matter what he throws at you.
Eat alone. If, for some reason, you dine with someone you don't like, your meal will seem inferior to the chefs talents. And, when you go with a lover or spouse (these are mutually exclusive mind you) or maybe even a best friend who makes you happy all the time, you will have an experience which far surpasses that of everyone else in the room.
Finally, for those critics who fall in love with a chef: Kindly remove your lips from their ass so you can better taste what is on your plate. I have tasted things alongside critics who had fallen for a chef, and had them declare his offering at a tasting best in show while I scratched my head as to what was wrong with his palate. This is a disservice to anyone who puts any stock into your opinion of food.
I know that some of these suggestions make dining into work rather than an enjoyable endeavor, but, just as with all critics opinions, take my rant with a grain of sea salt and maybe some horseradish because, if you do want to be as subjective about a meal as possible, this will help you.
Brian William Waddell is a foodie, beer geek, and author. His numerous blog posts range from food to politics. He also has a book of poetry, Fractured Prose, available here, and is ready to publish his second poetic endeavor.