Adventures in Dining

Just another weblog

What Separates the Good from the Bad, Part I June 9, 2007

Filed under: Philosophy,What makes a good Restaurant — hpandaw @ 10:50 pm


Sometimes when the seas are calm and the winds stiff enough where we can set down our oars for a spell, the Argonauts and I strike up a lively banter on a topic du jour. Usually we end up discussing the meaning the Golden Fleece, will we ever find it, could it ever become a cryptic logo for an anachronistic clothier, etc. The second most popular topic is food and restaurants, which is what leads me to the long-winded diatribe below.


I believe a successful sit-down-keep-elbows-off-the-table-does-this-shirt-look-OK restaurant has to hit the mark in four distinct, yet interconnected, areas. Kind of like the human heart with its 4 ventricles, or the four horsemen of the apocalypse. Or The Beatles, although we all know that Richard “Ringo Starr” Starkey actually carried the others. Here’s a drawing of the four key areas:


the restaurant performance house


The androgynous figure in the upper left represents service- how am I greeted, how am I served, how are questions and problems handled.

The place setting stands for the food- a restaurant without it would really just be lots of confused hungry people sitting in a room until they got bored enough to leave. Not unlike the Republican National Convention.

The dollar sign is the cost- how much am I going to pay, how much time is going to be spent, how far in advance will I have to book.

And, although it goes without saying, the Pinaceae Pseudotsuga menziesii in the southwest square represent the restaurant environment- the neighborhood, the décor, the ambiance, the restrooms, and so on.

The smoke from the chimney means nothing, it’s just an aesthetic effect, in the same way that some restaurants put “from our wood burning oven” in front of a menu entry. I do think it makes the house come together, though.


Consider the establishment and your dining experience in light of these four areas, and you get a good picture “good” or “bad”, to use the relevant terms. One isn’t more important than any other, but they can balance each other out. Like women who will forgive a man his past dalliances if he keeps his nails clean and doesn’t forget to use a hamper.


Incidentally, MBA-types call this a balanced scorecard, and Harvard’s Kaplan & Norton would charge you an ugly penny for just the previous paragraph alone. You get it free from me, but I don’t have the credentials or the winning smiles of those gentlemen.


Kaplan and Norton

Next post will flesh out these 4 areas…


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