Expectations, reality and some thoughts on food.
Food (and dining) has become a passion. That’s not a statement of my personal view, it’s more an observation of the world as it appears. Sarasota fits nicely into that world. It has a passion for food. And, most times, wears it well.
Food is a funny thing. It’s personal, very personal. Your likes and dislikes are your own. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You know what you want and shouldn’t be happy when you don’t get it (within reason). It’s true, every restaurant has an “off night”. It is a tough business. But, you shouldn’t have to settle. If something’s wrong, ask them to fix it. If they won’t or don’t, take note. If an establishment can’t handle a customer’s reasonable request, you probably shouldn’t be patronizing them. Especially, since it’s your hard earned capital that pays their bills. The customer may not always be right, but, at least they should be given the benefit of the doubt and at a minimum treated with respect.
Food now transcends sustenance, it’s more. It’s social. Not Facebook or Twitter social. But, actual, person to person social interaction. You, your dining companions and your plates. It’s rare to eat a meal and not have its quality discussed in one way or another before the meal is complete. Feel free to “Tweet” and “Like” your dishes. But, don’t pass on the opportunity to have a REAL discussion.
Food is a business. A BIG business. Many restaurants have large budgets, consultants and marketing departments dedicated to convincing you that their product trumps the competition. Other restaurants rely on YOU to tell their story. If you like what you eat, by all means share the love. Just because a restaurant doesn’t advertise, doesn’t mean they aren’t proud of their product. It also doesn’t mean that they don’t want the world to know about it. A little positive word of mouth will go a long way in keeping the doors open at your favorite restaurant.
Food has its cheerleaders. Don’t let critics and reviewers (that includes me) tell you what you like. We’re here (at least in theory) to lend some context to a crowded menu of choices, not to force feed you a slice of meatloaf you can’t stand. Some food is fancy. Some is plain. It doesn’t mean that both can’t be delicious. Remember, YOU are your own best food critic, be proud of it. After all, yours is the opinion that ultimately matters most. And, that’s the way it should be.
Finally, food has the power to educate you in ways that are unexpected. If you can’t quite manage that trip to Vietnam, there are places in town that can teach you about their culinary culture. The same is true of India, Peru, Thailand, Italy, France and other far flung food destinations. Pull up a seat at the table and explore the world that OUR SARASOTA FOOD COMMUNITY has to offer. Our city is filled with delicious and tasty lessons that shouldn’t be missed and should be enthusiastically embraced.
Every one of us is entitled to our own expectations of how our Sarasota restaurants should serve us. Now, it’s time for YOU to set your own bar and start writing your own Sarasota diners manifesto.