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Monday, June 6, 2011

Why Are All You Guys Reviewing the Same Place at Once?

Posted By on Mon, Jun 6, 2011 at 4:06 PM

Did all you critics need to gush over Nojo's tempura this week? - KIMBERLY SANDIE
  • Kimberly Sandie
  • Did all you critics need to gush over Nojo's tempura this week?

Today's question comes from B.T.:

Why did you, Michael Bauer, and Patricia Unterman review Nojo in the same week? Did you all go to the restaurant together?
In the days when I read restaurant reviews rather than writing them, weeks like this used to infuriate me. Now that I'm part of the problem, it just makes me sigh. In fact, I suspected Nojo might have a three-review week.

High-profile restaurants are likely to get reviewed as soon as they become eligible -- for most regular restaurant critics in town, open season begins 30 days after opening day. Most of us go several times to the restaurant, spread out over two to four weeks. It takes another two weeks to file the story, follow it through the editing process, and have the photographer visit. Minimum wait time for a review to appear after a restaurant opens: six weeks. (Nojo opened March 30, so it earned itself a couple of extra weeks.)

In fact, if you're of a mathematical bent, you might be able to calculate the probability of a triple-review week yourself. 

It's kind of like this.
  • It's kind of like this.

Measure the restaurant's buzz quotient by the number of pre-opening

posts filed by food blogs like Eater, Grub Street, and SFoodie. Factor in the number of high-profile competitors opening at the same time -- this summer, for

example, we had a glut of high-profile restaurants (so duplication rarely happened, let alone triplication), while that number

has slowed way down this winter. I'll leave it up to you to calculate

the other intangibles, like the Chronicle's coverage of cities the Guardian and SF Weekly don't visit, or the likelihood that one of us will file a random, out-of-the-blue review just to keep it interesting.

Why

do I observe the 30-day schedule? Don't I wish I could give restaurants

six months to get settled before writing about them? I do. But I also

want to file a review of a new place when people are asking me about it, and

sometimes, I admit, I'd rather not be the last newspaper critic to

speak up about a spot. (Other times, I don't care -- after all, Yelpers have been weighing in since the friends and family dinners.)

For the record, I still

haven't seen any critics I recognize while I'm out at work.

Though, given the size of this city, I can predict it will happen ... soon.

Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodie, and like us on Facebook.
Follow me at @JonKauffman.

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Jonathan Kauffman

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