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Hill Country – Plate 93
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Hill Country – Plate 93

I just wrote a post full of piss and vinegar about how slighted I was by this place, but why bother? What’s done is done and I can’t waste my time stewing about how mistreated I felt at the time. So, readers, I’m sorry. There are no pictures of food, no videos, there’s no review or writeup of the restaurant, just my reflections on the 93 Plates experience as a whole.

I never knew how polarizing eating with food bloggers could be. When you get free food from restaurants and write about it, people dismiss your taste buds as null and void. I said to each restaurant owner who asked if they were going to get a positive review,

It’s not a review, it’s a recommendation. I’m doing this more for the experience of eating at some of the best places in Manhattan and to meet the popular food writers in the city. Of course, the write up will be positive. If you read one review, you’ll never feel I didn’t like the restaurant, but if you read all 93, you’ll know which ones I liked and didn’t like. You know, ‘this place had hot waitresses and a chill vibe – the portions were huge’ kinda stuff.

The owners knew what they were getting.

Just to reflect, two of my favorite meals were 15 East (link) and Danny Brown Wine Bar and Kitchen (link), and they also happen to be some of the most expensive and luxurious meals I had the pleasure of eating. My absolute favorite singular taste of the trip was Goat Marrow from Ali’s Roti in the Bronx (link). Probably my second favorite was the Jerk Chicken from Boston Jerk City (link), which I paid for out of pocket. Are these recommendations worth nothing because these restaurants paid for them? I hate to say nothing, but I would be remiss not to admit that they’re worth less than a recommendation of someone who has come in and paid for their entire meal.

I’ve since vowed not to sacrifice (what) journalistic integrity (I have left) by doing another paid recommendation. I’ve held back humor and the entire truth about things since I started this journey, and I’m a better writer without feeling like there’s a restaurant owner looking over my shoulder for approval. Not that there isn’t a place for paid recommendations in the blogosphere, I’ve just grown tired of writing them.

I say this and I’m scheduled to attend a restaurant opening on Tuesday – more for news than for a review, but what do they expect me to say? What if the tuna is bad? If the ceiling looks cheap? If the waiters are unpolished? Should I read some Eater restaurant opening coverage to get my bearings, or should I shoot from the hip? It’s a slippery slope.

So what did I get out of 93 Plates? A lot of great new friends, a fantastic rolodex, a few haters, a nice introduction to the NYC food scene, a new career, an awesome new client (link) and a month of free food at some of the best restaurants in NYC. There were parts that I handled gracefully and parts that I wished I had the bandwidth to handle more effectively.

One of the things a few people called me out on was my charity tie-in (link). On the advice of my accountant, I started a charity in September (to showcase local artisans, but partly for tax purposes) and kind of put it on the back burner as I finished editing my last project (link). I came up with the 93 Plates idea in November, and after another call with the accountant, tied the charity in to make it more attractive to restaurants (again, partly for tax purposes). I’ll admit that I haven’t done anything with the charity since, and even though there’s only so many hours in the day, there’s more to be done here. Giving back keeps the balance. Look for improvements in this site throughout the next year.

Of course, I my wildest fantasies of success with this project weren’t exactly reached, but I’m excited about the opportunities and far more importantly, the new friends that arose from it. I’m looking forward to experiencing what the city has to offer and pleased with my (albeit quite modest) standing among the NYC food-bloggelite.

Thank you, everyone! I ♥ NY!

I’m pretty sure it ♥s me back.

Hill Country
30 West 26th Street
New York, NY 10013
(212) 255-4544

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • JO March 11, 2010, 1:49 pm

    Nice wrap-up. Don't waste time with hating and the haters. Not one person wants to hear that stuff. I'm glad to have been associated with this little project and I hope you do great finding your slot in the nyc blog scene.

    • Foodie March 11, 2010, 5:34 pm

      Pleasure eating with you, as always, Jeff. May your coastline rise to see the popularity it deserves!

      • JO March 11, 2010, 6:39 pm

        Thanks. but I don't care about it's popularity. I won't judge my success by other people's permissions. I'm happy just to be hungry.

  • Dolce March 15, 2010, 9:44 am

    It was a great project indeed and I am glad to have been part of it in a tiny way too :)
    Can't wait to hear about the new restaurant opening as well…

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