Since we began the honor and pleasure of writing Dining with David & Myra, we have been asked pretty much the same questions by friends and strangers alike. So we thought we would take this opportunity to answer the questions we are asked most often. Here we go.
Q. Can a restaurant request a review? Can a reader suggest a restaurant for review?
A. The answer to both questions is most certainly yes. We welcome requests from restaurants, as well as recommendations from our readers. So, please feel free to reach out to us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q. Do we get paid?
A. We do not get paid, but Vermont News & Media (the parent company of the Reformer, Banner and Journal) has agreed to pay an honorarium to a charity of our choice. We have selected the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center to receive this honorarium, for which we thank VNM.
Q. Do we receive free meals?
A. No. We do not request or accept free meals from restaurants we review. We pay just like other guests.
Q. Do we really write our reviews?
A. Absolutely. Every word is ours. Our editor, Gena Mangiaratti, has only helped to make our column better, but has in no way sought to interfere with or influence the substance of our reviews.
Q. How do we decide which restaurants to review?
A. This is totally within our discretion. Our goal is to cover the geographic region reached by the Reformer, Banner and Journal. We did not realize how many really good dining venues we have available to us until we began the column.
Q. Do restaurants being reviewed know in advance?
A. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. There are occasions in which we call in advance of our visit to set up a pre-meal appointment, so we can obtain pertinent background information about the restaurant, the owner, the chef, their sources of food, their most popular dishes and so on. This is necessary to give the reader (and us) context for the review. During a meal, the chef and staff are much too busy to sit with us, so it’s easier for them and us to sit and chat at a time other than when we are dining. Sometimes this conversation is by telephone or by email, whichever is most convenient for all parties.
By the way, we truly enjoy our time spent with these talented chefs. They are a terrific group of people who enjoy what they do, and who work very long hours to make people happy. We have a renewed respect for those in our community who work in restaurants, including owners, chefs and staff, especially in these challenging times.
Q. Do the restaurants being reviewed get to read and comment on our column in advance of publication?
A. No. It’s never been requested, and we wouldn’t do it if it was. Nor have we had a complaint yet from any restaurant or other establishment that we have reviewed. We try to be accurate and fair with the goal of informing the public of available venues for dining, as well as sharing our knowledge as to food-related stores.
Q. Do restaurants go “off the menu” to prepare special foods for us?
A. No. We purposely order off the same menu as everyone else.
Q. Why do we never find fault with or criticize restaurants?
A. This is a personal and philosophical decision. We live in a small community where restaurants are already stressed, operating under difficult circumstances. With food prices skyrocketing, and staff hard to attract and keep, profit margins are down. We take our responsibility seriously and know that words can have consequences. A bad review by us could seriously hurt a restaurant by causing a loss of business and in turn, a loss of jobs. That is not something we want to do. Our column is intended to bring good restaurants and good guests together. People are smart enough to know where not to go without us having to tell them.
Q. Why is our column every other week rather than weekly?
A. Since we are writing for the readers of the Reformer, Banner and Journal, our column requires a significant expenditure of time and effort visiting restaurants and other food-related establishments in the Brattleboro, Bennington and Manchester areas. It’s a lot of ground to cover. With COVID limiting some restaurant hours of operation, our ability to visit is made even more difficult. And, of course, having to travel is time consuming, especially in winter with early darkness and sometimes difficult driving conditions. So under these circumstances, getting out a column every other week is reasonably doable and still fun for us.
Q. Will we be doing a “Best Of” column in the future?
A. Yes. In the next few months, we are hoping to share with our readers what we have found to be the best appetizers, entrees, desserts, burgers, bars, breweries, barbecue, food trucks, etc.
Q. What columns are we working on for the future?
A. In the Brattleboro area, we hope to do columns on its terrific food co-op, Whetstone Station, Duo and Top of the Hill BBQ. In the Bennington area, Allegro, 421 Craft Bar and Kitchen, and Brown’s Brewing Company. In the Manchester area, Al Ducci’s, Crooked Ram, Pearl’s and Amy’s on the Road food truck. We will be writing about general stores, romantic inns, steak houses and local cheesemongers. We will also have columns on the Berkshires, Woodstock, Saratoga and all points in-between. We’re looking forward to an exciting 2022. We take this opportunity to thank our readers and to wish you all a happy and healthy new year.