The Tasting Panel magazine

April 2016

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8  /  the tasting panel  /  april 2016 LETTER FROM THE EDITOR IN CHIEF The cacophonous din on the internet and social media has had a huge impact on how we live our lives. Most of us don't make a move, a buying decision or plans until we check to see what others are saying online. When it comes to restaurant intelligence, one of the most visited sites is Yelp. This much-traveled source is a quick reference for such facts as phone numbers, addresses, menus and other key information. That would probably be enough, but it is also where to see what others think of a place. Ever wonder what happens to all those badly lit food photos people are always snapping when they should be eating? Look on Yelp; they are all there in their muddy, out-of-focus glory. Based on thousands of moronic critical comments and boring food pictures, Yelp has developed a rating system, and, using some mysterious algorithm (the actual nature of which is known only to a handful of operatives secreted in a windowless cubicle somewhere), they have developed a list entitled "The Top 100 Places to Eat in the U.S." To say this list is quirky would be a serious understate- ment. The top-rated place in the country can be found in Burbank, California, not normally looked upon as a hotbed of culinary excellence. The place is called Porto's Bakery and Cafe (the accent mark is omitted so as not to confuse the natives) and, judging by the more than 4,000 pictures it is represented by on the Yelp site, its specialties are potato balls, meat pies and cheese rolls. I have eaten at #4, Oklahoma Joe's Bar-B-Que in Kansas City. It's actually a great place with a long line out front. They serve killer brisket, burnt ends and Diet Coke. Oh, and it's in a gas station. And just when you thought the white tablecloth went out with the Waldorf salad, there's Gary Danko's fine San Francisco restau- rant at number six. And in case you were wondering, Napa's celebrated French Laundry rings in at number 57. How many Michelin stars does Porto's earn? It's reassuring to learn that just about everyone who eats fancies him or herself a food critic. They also don't seem daunted by the fact that 782 other diners have already submitted blurry pictures of the same lumpy, brown stew. —Anthony Dias Blue Yelp Me!

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