Why This Site?
I started Portland Food and Drink 2005, because I felt I couldn’t trust many of the restaurant reviews in Portland. It seemed like every restaurant received a great rating in the Portland press, even those that were considered by many in town to be lousy. There were so many positive accolades, I found myself spending evenings discussing the phenomenon with friends in the industry. It just didn’t make sense.
Fast-forward to late 2004. I had read a positive review of a Jamaican restaurant, and invited a group of friends to dinner. Once we sat down, we waited 10 minutes to get our menus. After another ten minute break, another waiter came to take our order. Twenty minutes later, the food arrived, except for one small problem. “Excuse me sir,” said the server. “We ran out of the fish you ordered tonight. Is there something else you would like?” Keep in mind, at this point everyone else at the table was eating their entrées.
The food was average at best, but the service was bad enough to qualify as a floor show. After we finish our entrées, it took 20 minutes for our server to clear the plates. We threw caution to the wind and ordered desserts, which also took considerable time to arrive. By this time most of the other tables had left, (two walked out without paying because they were so disgusted with the wait, and no one noticed them leaving). What were the servers doing? Mostly walking up and down the street outside – in clear view of all the diners – while talking on their cell phones and smoking something that, let’s just say, was not ordinary cigarettes. Every so often one would wander back in the door, and while passing a table full of dirty dishes, he would pick up a single fork or water-glass, and then disappear back into the kitchen. It all made for interesting discussion with other tables, as we debated what would happen next. Needless to say, we saved quite a bit of money on the tip.
That night I went home in a fury. How could a place with such positive reviews be this bad? I sat down and wrote my first review for my personal blog. A few weeks later, after an equally bad experience at another restaurant, I wrote about it again, and this time started getting emails asking if I would do more. Those early reviews morphed into the site you see today.
I am passionate about food, passionate about wine, and passionate about anonymity. I have a wide-range of food experience from my earliest years growing up in a food-obsessed family. During college, I worked in the restaurant industry on both sides of the house, later in the wine industry, and finally traveling/tasting my way around the world. My first few years in college were related to agriculture, so if necessary, I can prune your orchard, manage your vineyards, or back your baler through one side of a barn and out the other, without any problem. This site is a labor of love – I spend my money reviewing restaurants because I am passionate about food and want to share my experiences with others. Whether you agree or disagree, you can always count on my unbiased opinion. I don’t take free meals, and the restaurants don’t know when, or if, I am coming.
As far as the anonymity thing, let me relate a few stories. When I worked in California, we drew critics from all over the nation. Pictures of most of them were prominently posted in the kitchen, and any employee who spotted one was given a $100 bonus. When a critic came in, everything else stopped while all the attention was switched to making sure he had the perfect meal the kitchen was capable of preparing. You’d better believe we got darn good reviews.
When I started this site, I was told the same thing happens in Portland; many restaurants have posted pictures of local critics. As in other cities, when one of them is spotted, everything else stops. There are a few critics in town who call in advance to make reservations, saying they will be doing a review. Obviously, they are going to get amazing service and the best possible food, even specially selected ingredients.
What if I was to let them know I’m coming, and the restaurant, knowing who I am, acted accordingly? I would probably have a wonderful meal, fantastic service, and, based on my experience, give them a dazzling review. You, the reader, checks out my glowing review and goes to the same place, getting normal service, ingredients, cooking… and finds the experience less than memorable. Suddenly I lose my credibility. Would you come back to my site for more recommendations? Most likely not, and that is why I do my best to stay anonymous. Our reviewers follow the Association of Food Journalists Food Critics’ Guidelines
How We Review
Every restaurant gets at least three visits before it is reviewed, usually more. I try to have a wide sampling of dishes, and go on different nights of the week. Most are rated on a standard grading scale – A-F, but if they have been open less than 90 days, I usually wait before assigning a rating and go back again later.
Food is a very personal thing, born out of the experiences of your lifetime. I offer these reviews as a general guide so you’ll have an idea what to expect. Just because we like something, that doesn’t mean you will. You may not have the same experience we had. Restaurants are constantly in flux, changing with the seasons, the chef, staff, etc. It could be that we just have different tastes, so when in doubt, go for yourself.
Press agencies often invite us to attend press dinners. More often than not, I use these dinners as “rewards” for people who have contributed to the site in some way. While they may send me their notes, they are only used as an indication as to whether the restaurant is worth my time to visit, and do not influence my reviews – if a restaurant can’t pull off a good press meal, they are really in trouble! As the lead reviewer on the site, I do not attend these functions.
Everything on Portland Food and Drink is copyright by the individual authors, and may not be reproduced in whole or part without expressed written consent. Feel free to link to our site, and use small snips of articles, but please do not use our photographs without permission.
We write as many articles and reviews as we can, but your comments play a large part of the site. Feel free to comment any time, but please be aware of the general rules. The first time you comment, it will not appear on the site until it has been approved by an administrator. To prevent spamming, comments that contain links are held until they are approved.
Comments trying to reveal the identity of any writer or commenter will result in immediate ban. If you post a comment that is obviously trying to get people upset (also known as “flaming” or “trolling”), post under multiple names, or post comments that are personal attacks, they will probably be deleted. Comments should contribute constructively to the discussion. Please stay on the topic of the post. In other words, I have the right to delete any comment at anytime, edit or replace swear words, or to refuse to post a comment for whatever reason I choose, so play nice.
Though I do my best to check the site, I am not responsible for any messages posted. Just because someone posts a comment here, it does not necessarily mean it is the truth. The messages express the views of the author of the message, not necessarily the views of this site. If you feel that a posted message is objectionable, you are encouraged to contact me immediately by email.
You agree, through your use of this service, that you will not use this bulletin board to post any material which is knowingly false and/or defamatory, inaccurate, abusive, vulgar, hateful, harassing, obscene, profane, sexually oriented, threatening, invasive of a person’s privacy, or otherwise violative of any law. You agree not to post any copyrighted material unless the copyright is owned by you. By submitting a comment, you grant this site a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution. However, your real name/email will be kept confidential and only visible to site administrators.
As of late 2013, site readers fall among these demographics:
- 46% female, 54% male.
- 27.5% are 18-24 years old, 33.5% are 25-34 years old.
- Readers tend to be very sports oriented, followed by food & drinks and travel/tourism (virtual tie), and technology.
Advertisements must be related in some way to food, or travel in Oregon. Cooking schools, food retailers, cook books, local food events etc. are all fine. Advertisements from restaurants are rarely accepted, and we will not review or favor any restaurants who advertise with us.
Traffic – in 2012, the site received 1.77 million page loads and over 950K unique visitors. 2013 is continuing steady growth with a projection of over 2 million views. In September of 2009 as #32 out of the 500 top food sites in the nation. Advertisements are occasionally placed into the Rss feed, which goes out to over 7,000 readers.
Questions? Feel free to contact me for more information.