My Aug. 30 column, “Reviewer shares his favorite 10 restaurants in Greensboro” (available at greensboro.com; search for “John Batchelor”) drew responses from readers.
To recap: The assignment from editors was to write about the 10 places that my wife and I go to most often to eat — my personal favorites — when I am not reviewing the restaurant. I explained in the introduction that one criterion for selection was location. We are most likely to go somewhere near our home. If we lived somewhere else, the list would have been somewhat different.
I posted a companion piece on my blog (johnbatchelordiningandtravel.blogspot.com) that listed the places I would have included if location were not an issue.
In both columns, the listings are restricted to Greensboro.
Phil Black wrote, “I agree with all your choices, although I’ve not had (dinner at) Salvino. It sounds amazing. There is one restaurant I don’t know if you’ve tried. MJ’s Steak and Seafood is next to Mark’s and even if you have eaten there, I wonder if you’ve ever had their fried oysters. I highly suggest making it over there.
“The oysters may not be listed on the menu, just simply ask if you can get the fried oyster appetizer, and they will bring you out the most flavorful and lightly perfectly fried oysters that are so far ahead of whatever other oysters you may have had. Anyway, enjoy! Thanks for the article.”
So here’s the problem: if I am limited to 10, someplace has to be No. 11 or No. 12. I praised MJ’s in a review in February, and I agree with everything Phil said.
Jim Guidone remarked, “I read (your list) with interest and somewhat of a surprise. My wife, Judy, and I have been to each of the reviewed establishments with the exception of B. Christopher’s! Frankly, in my very humble opinion, none can touch Marisol for quality, service, variety and, yes, value! Marisol may very well be the best restaurant in the entire Triad, and not by just a small margin. Most of the finer restaurants locally have caught up to Marisol prices but none come close to the total excellent dining experience! My opinion! Always enjoy your take on the local restaurant scene.”
Again, no disagreement. I named Marisol on my blog as one of the top 4 in the Triad, commenting that on a given night, and depending on what you order, Marisol or one of the others could rank at the top.
Jon Maxwell complained that I had not listed Lucky 32 or one of the other Quaintance-Weaver restaurants: “Quaintance has meant so much to Greensboro.”
Agreed, again. Lucky 32, Green Valley Grill and Print Works Bistro were included in the blog post.
He also voiced support for Pho Hien Vuong: “(Their) flavors and quality have soared, and (it) is a great value, especially their lunch specials.”
This is another place I have praised in the past, but it is quite a distance away from my home, so I just have not been there lately. I need to get back.
Harold Bynum asked for an addition.
“Great article on your top-10 restaurants. What is the best Mexican restaurant in Greensboro?” he wrote. “We like taco salads in pastry bowls and fajitas. We would love to have your opinion.”
I have two current Mexican favorites: Santa Fe and La Fiesta. I started going to La Fiesta when I was spending more time in Alamance County, so I was pleased to see it open a location in Greensboro. I have posted about Santa Fe before on my blog. I especially like their shrimp dishes.
Two readers have written recently to ask for an explanation of my ratings. This is an ongoing issue that merits occasional explanation and re-explanation.
Lori Edwards specifically addressed my rating of Bella Luna in a September review: “Was curious about the rating. We have not been there yet. 2.5 out of what? Which rating system are you using?”
And Stephanie Dunn, who subtitled herself “Koshary Enthusiast,” complained, “Koshary ... is my favorite restaurant for lunch in Greensboro. You gave it a stellar review but only two stars.
“Can you explain your logic in that? I feel bad for the restaurant which is trying to survive in a very hard location due to parking issues, and I feel like a lot of people look at the stars. They deserve better. When (my friends and I) meet there for lunch, the staff knows our names and our favorites.”
The system I use is the one I made up about 35 years ago. Ratings are Not Recommended, Acceptable, and 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 stars. The definition of 2 is “good,” 3 is “very good,” 4 is “excellent” and 5 is “truly outstanding.” The newspaper prints a list of the definitions at the top of the page where my review runs.
So in both the aforementioned cases, I considered the ratings good or a little above. One other point: I write about evening meals almost exclusively. If I were comparing lunches, ratings might be a little different.
Reader remarks are always welcome. Whether you agree or disagree, it’s just nice to know somebody is reading these things.