June 2005


Restaurant Reviews

Back when I lived in Bloomington, Indiana, I had a listing of restaurants that I’d eaten at in the city, along with mini-reviews of the places. When I moved to Germany, I offered the page, and a link, to anybody who wanted to maintain the site. I also promised a redirect to the new site for some period of time.

Unfortunately, while my redirect is still there, the replacement site appears to have vanished from the face of the planet, much to my disappointment.

That said, my list had been around for a long time, and when I looked at my list of top referrals, I noticed that a number of people link to my old restaurant listings. If I had to guess, I’d say my old evaluations were the number one listings for Bloomington before I moved. While looking at the referrals I ran across a site by another guy which directly linked to mine, but noted that he and I usually disagree about restaurants.

As I read through his list of restaurants, I realized that I have a fundamental difference with him and, I suspect, most Americans. Firstly, I believe in local businesses and local options. Secondly, I want to support culinary diversity in the States.

I was particularly struck by the philosophy stated in his review of Applebees:

This is a national chain, which is usually a good thing in my opinion. “If it’s not good enough to be a chain, it must not be very good” is usually my philosophy.

When I read that, I about fell over.

One of the biggest problems in the States is the Generica problem.

For Non-English Speakers, this is the term “Generic America” put together to make one word-in English, that’s cute!

In Generica, stores are identical across the country meaning that other than the natural scenery, one cannot tell if they’re in Laramie, Lubbock, or Los Angeles.

I’ve rambled about Generica before, and, I will confess, I fell victim to it during my recent trip to the states. I went to Chili’s (at the Atlanta Airport it was the only decent option to get non-greasy food) and Wendy’s. I hit a huge number of chains while in Evansville, but still stopped and enjoyed coffee at a local independent coffee shop. I was thrilled to discover that Chi Chi’s in Bloomington had closed, but dismayed to discover that another chain restaurant was going in, in its place.

Happily I can report that the meals I remember most from my recent trip to the States were those at the non-chain, or few outlet chains: Roots, the vegetarian restaurant; Greek’s Pizzeria, which has a dynamite house pizza, which I would give my left arm for right now; and the Odon Essen Haus, where I had excellent Amish food.

Here in Germany, I haven’t fallen victim to the chain food problem, save for that once every so often trip to the ultimate symbol of Generica: McDonald’s.

Funny enough, I never ate at McDonald’s while in the States last month.

5 comments to Restaurant Reviews

  • ChrisC

    For some odd reason, I seem to remember introducing you to the term, Generica. 🙂

    Today I spent some time in a piece of Generica headquarted in North Carolina. Damn the need for a nice french door to replace the slider in the kitchen!

    Isn’t it odd that you go to something that is a garish display of Generica to find something called French?

  • MT

    Ah … but you buy your clothes at chain stores. Isn’t that rather Generica?

  • I completely agree with your dismissal of Generica, chain restuarants, and the like :).

    At O’Hare, we ended up eating at Chili’s for the first time (that I can remember) in our 6 years together because there was no other realistic option- the only other ‘sit down’ restuarant was another chain, Wolfgang Puck, and we thought that US$16 for pasta marinara (with a dab of sliced chicken) was a bit steep :).

  • Looks like your eat site was hijacked. When i clicked it it takes you to http://www.eatbloomington.com but then you go there and it is nothing…hmmmmm.

  • Anonymous

    i know the guy who wrote those restaurant reviews (my old high school teacher) and he is EXTREMELY obese (i believe he complains about not being able to fit into one of the seats in on of the reviews) so that’s probably why he loves chians.