As is the tradition at Eater, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, industry types, and bloggers. This year, we asked the group eight questions running the gamut from best dining neighborhood of the year to top restaurant newcomers, and we'll be rolling out their expert opinions all week long. Responses are cut, pasted, and (mostly) unedited herein. Readers, please share your survey answers in the comments.
Q: What was the biggest restaurant grievance of 2015?
Andrea Damewood, restaurant critic, Portland Mercury
Please don't open any more wood-fired pizza places. PLEAAAAASE.
Diane Morgan, James Beard Award-winning cookbook author
No reservations policies. Please set aside even four tables so one can reserve.
Michael Zusman, cookbook author, restaurant critic (and judge)
The continuing ascendancy of public relations-driven restaurant attention. I love all the local pr folks. They are nice and super-effective at their jobs. And I have no problem with new and aspiring operators hiring pr to get the word out. I guess my beef is primarily with food journalists who pay too much attention to the carefully massaged press releases, attend too many preview events and, in general, don't put in the leg work to ferret out and write about the little gems—many of which lack the capital to hire public relations firms. To be fair, it's an easy trap to fall into when you're busy and undercompensated, but we miss out on fulfilling our mission when we fail to connect excellent, underfunded operators with the dining public. Also, national writers look to the local "experts," and when we all ride the same pr-driven bandwagon, the problem compounds.
Ben Tepler, Associate Food Editor, Portland Monthly
Wood-fired cooking. There are few restaurants that opened this year—pizza or otherwise—that didn't have some sort of "wood-fired" apparatus in their battery. It's become a marketing tool rather than an actual cooking instrument. Just ask Jason French, the O.G.
Our new shitty traffic and its effect on dining choices. I live in Southwest and getting to the east side is now a 45-minute proposition on weekdays. By the time I do that, waiting is not something I want to do. The reservation policies are tough here. I wish Southwest would attract cool restaurants. (Thank you, Peter Bro.)
Gary Okazaki, professional glutton (aka Gary the Foodie)
Inconsistent cooking and seasoning still plagues some PDX kitchens.
Martin Cizmar, Arts & Culture Editor, Willamette Week
Well, it's either Renata's constantly bad pizza or the fact that the Oregonian stunted that really promising restaurant's growth, by selecting it for the top honor in their annual food issue when it'd only been officially open for two weeks. On one hand, I suppose that's a step up from the time a cartoonist-turned-critic from the other weekly reviewed a media preview dinner. On the other hand, the O should've allowed the place a normal arc, so that it stood a chance of becoming what it could be.
Kathleen Bauer, food writer and blogger, Good Stuff NW
The focus on chefs and technique versus good food made simply using the best ingredients (preferably local).