Twitter+Real-Time Restaurant Reviews
New restaurants almost inevitably have kinks to work out when they first open. That’s why the guidelines for professional restaurant critics say to wait at least a few weeks before visiting. The experience diners have that first week is probably not the same one they’ll have later.
But people want to eat at new restaurants regardless in those exciting first days. A few years ago, curious food-lovers would rely on writeups on forums like eGullet andMouthfulsFood a day or so after those dinners, and get an early look at what was working and what was not. And now, for better or worse, those first glances are being broadcast to a larger, viral audience, able to follow these meals even as they’re happening. Like anything else involving social media, it’s a work in progress.
Last night, for instance, was the eagerly-awaited opening of Bastille, a restaurant I haven’t stopped thinking about since a recent tour. Backed by an all-star cast, the Ballard restaurant has the most impressive interior I’ve seen in a Seattle restaurant in years. There are endless careful details — a 45-foot zinc bar, a Parisian metro clock — a lovely rooftop garden designed by Seattle Urban Farm, and a menu from chef Shannon Galusha that fits a big niche of dinnertime cravings, from a French rotisserie (with chickens specially raised for Bastille by an Eastside farm) to a takeout window for felafel.
I wanted to storm the place on opening night — even knowing that neither the food nor the service were likely to be as good as they would be in weeks to come — but when I (anonymously, not that I necessarily have to be these days) called, I was told the place was too packed. So we indulged in Chicky Pub for our date night, but saw a stream of updates through my Twitter feed from people who had scored Bastille tables. And the results? A mix of ups and downs, from various visitors who know the city’s restaurant scene well. A few edited excerpts: “one hour later, no food yet.” “Lamb burger and mussels best at bastille. Fries barely browned.” “French 75 at Bastille out on the patio, v. tasty.” “It was a so-so experience.” “Agree w/you re: chicken (dry) and frites (undercooked/has potential). Peanut butter ice cream was good” ”Loved @bastilleseattle’s octopus salad so far.”
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