Peels Review: Peels ice cream and a new kind of resto listing

Peels Review: Peels ice cream and a new kind of resto listing

I think there are two holy grails in the world of food recipe review, and restaurant reviews. The first is a recipe that either a robot or another person knows you will love. Obviously this is not a recipe blog therefore I’m more interested in the other holy grail, which is how to best recommend restaurants to people. Yes, I know, some of this exists in the interwebs. They suck balls. Sorry, but that’s true. If there’s one good one, then everyone would use it. Let’s look at the demographic breakdowns… you have folks who read food blogs nearly daily (like those of you who follow Food in Mouth), and ya’ll can figure out what you want on your own. Then there’s people who hear things from friends randomly or specifically from a “foodie friend”. Then you’ll have folks who go out rarely and want to find the best possibly place for their situation/budget. In any of those situations, you have one serious problem which is that the cost of being a shitty recommendator is very high. Think about it, if I suggest this Peels ice cream cone to you, and I will in a minute, it’ll cost you a few dollars. If instead I’m recommending a whole restaurant experience to you, the cost of that is different. Personally I like NYTimes reviews, however I’ve heard personally from other bloggers, whose opinions I trust, that they think Sifton isn’t always on point. The truth is I don’t eat at enough pricey places to know if Sifton is right all the time, although I heartily agreed with him on M. Wells. Back to the point, when the cost of an experience goes past a certain threshold, let’s say $20+, then you can’t be wrong too often. And then when that threshold goes up, you can’t ever be wrong. Suggest a wrong direction to someone for a $100 dinner for two? Off with your head!

A few weeks ago, Peels had this “Ice Cream Social,” from 1 PM to 10 PM or to put it another way, Ice Cream Happy Hour for take-out. The ice cream was $1.50 per scoop (pre-tax). Since it was such a deal, it was imperative to try this thing even though it was a one day event. Milk chocolate caramel twig was the flavor and it was delicious. With ice cream this good, you don’t need innovative flavor combinations to win my heart. Just throw chocolate with caramel and I’m smitten. The crunchy bits in the ice cream was a nice touch too. And again, at $1.50, this was super awesome. See? I can write about ice cream and not use a controversial word.

See, I can recommend this to you because even if Peels never has another ice cream social, the ice cream they have is still baller and under $5 bucks. It’s easy to recommend anything under $5. Back to the issue of current systems of recommending things to readers of food blogs. The most well known is Yelp. Although you look at the stats and an overwhelming majority of all restaurants on Yelp get between 3.5 and 4.5 stars. So much for a recommendation that sticks out. Sure there’s user reviews… do you know any of the users unless you frequent Yelp? And if you frequent Yelp, how much do you really need it except for meta information like address and subway stops? I know one other system is made up of lists that your friends create and you can read. The problem is of course your ‘friends’ have to read your list. And I bet the number of ‘real’ friends on those lists is small if not zero and you trust people even more if you know them in person. There’s a lesser known recommendation system out there that reads your credit card entries to see what you like. The downfall to that is cash-only restaurants and cheaper ethnic eats. There’s even another one that does it based on how often a restaurant gets in the news. And then there’s another that aggregates blogger’s reviews if the bloggers agree to have a badge on that review page. Oh and then there’s Google places. They even throw parties in NY to get people to use their shitty ass service. What’s the point of saying all that? If there was one dominant service, everyone would use it.

Let’s look at the restaurant Peels for example. NYTimes gave it 1 star out of 4. NYMag also gave it 1 star but out of 5. Did you know Village Voice also reviewed it? Sorry, they don’t take stars. Serious Eats gave it a B on a A, B, C scale, but honestly B sounds as ok as B- or B+. Usability sometimes is an issue. If you read the title on the serious eats review, you know Peels has problems salting properly, but look at the url of their review and there is no title in the url… instead it’s: review-peels-bowery-southern-comfort-food. Yup, for search engines. Did you know you taste with search engines? You do now. Adam Kuban, who is not at SE anymore, once told me on twitter that going for SEO is just good practices. What else is good practice? Web usability.

Speaking of usability… I’m thinking what’s useful is this… you need a page with basic info about a restaurant. You need address, phone numbers, website if they have one, twitter if they have one, and facebook if they have one. Some other useful thing is the hours of operation because some restaurants have one day a week that they close. A quick word about what type of restaurant is useful too. You need a map. Then you need reviews. You can’t steal it obviously, so maybe you can quote some big time players out there like the Times or NYMag. What if you mix in some notable blogger reviews as well? Like Serious Eats. I made a page like this for Peels restaurant. Check it out. Let me know if it’s useful and if I’m on the right track here. I’ve got other ideas like maybe adding subway directions but I know Food in Mouth is not for the casual reader in NYC, so if you read this, you can probably find your way around town. No need to let it clutter up the page. I’ve thought of adding an Open Table link just to save readers an extra click and some typing in Google. So yea, if you like this kind of thing, I’ll work on it more. If not, fuck it. I rather enjoy my summer than spend it aggregating data that no one sees or comes up on search results.

Peels325 Bowery.New York, NY 10003646-602-7015

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