When a restaurant critic retires, do her opinions retire as well? Absolutely not. This blog is for all those friends of mine who want to know whether I’ve been to the latest Seattle hot spot and what I think of it.
I’m Sumi Hahn, AKA S.M. Hahn (former restaurant critic for the Times-Picayune and Seattle Weekly). I now freelance on food for various publications (like Edible Seattle & Seattle Magazine) and write on classical music for the Seattle Times.
Professional Standards: Professional habits die hard, but I’m not able to visit every restaurant at least three times on my own dime. (At the Times-Picayune, I used to visit a restaurant at least 4 times over a 3-month spread. I also had a clothing budget, a taxi budget, and a credit card with a fake name. How times have changed!) I can promise, however, that my judgment will not be affected by alcohol (wine can improve the taste of almost every meal) and that I never socialize with restaurateurs or advertise my identity in any way.
If a restaurant merits a repeat visit, I’ll let you know with a “Yes,” “Maybe” or “No.” The number of times I’ve visited each restaurant will also be noted. Example: Canlis: Repeatable: Yes. Visits: 11. Watch those punctuation marks: They’re meant to inflect the opinion.
Restaurant Standards: I eat out about half a dozen times a week, but I don’t write about every place I visit. To be worthy of a post, the restaurant in question has to provide a significant dining experience on some level. Maybe the chef is an unsung genius. Maybe it’s the new place everyone’s buzzing about. Maybe the restaurant is a dive–with one amazing, unforgettable dish. Maybe it’s just one of those neighborhood hangouts you’ll find yourself repeating–not because it’s great, but because it’s good enough.
As a general rule of thumb, diners should know that new restaurants can be unpredictable in their first year of operation, so I will never review a restaurant less than three month’s old. That’s just unfair–and will result in an inaccurate experience. Like puppies, a restaurant isn’t really “settled” until it reaches the 2-year mark. At this point, many shut their doors forever, while a few entrench themselves in the local dining scene. A restaurant in business for more than 2 years isn’t necessarily a good one, but it is definitely a lucky one.
Freshness Matters: Every effort will be made to ensure that my reviews are fresh and timely, so keep an eye on post dates. I usually write within 24 hours of my most recent visit to a restaurant and publish the post within 48 hours. I will NEVER post on a place I visited several months ago. Change happens quickly in the restaurant world. Every review on this site will be no more than a year old. After that time, they’ll be subject to an update, a “close to expiration date” notice, or a deletion.
Review Requests: Want to know my opinion of a particular restaurant, but don’t see it on the list of reviews? Here’s the list of restaurants I’ve eaten at recently. Some of these restaurants will get a review when I eat there again; these are marked “review pending.” The rest will never get a review, simply because they don’t inspire me enough to write about them. If you want my two cents on a place, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.