Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Education of Restaurant Reviews.

Attention Restaurant Owners:  Please do NOT attempt to put a link to your restaurant via the Comments box.  If I have not reviewed the establishment, then I cannot recommend it.  Thank you.

When I first started to do restaurant reviews, the main reason was that no one else in the area was doing it. When I would ask about a particular restaurant folks went to or avoided, the information was based upon their relationship with the owner and the local gossip. I couldn’t get much information about the food or service, but I sure did learn a lot about who was sleeping with whom or who had which addiction. Seriously, I don’t care.

Local newspapers and dining guides didn’t do reviews either; too afraid that a friend or family member would get angry at them; or an advertisement would be lost. Seriously, if a restaurant is downright bad, why would you want to advertise it?

I had to rely on internet reviews; most of them consisted of “food is good, waitress is nice, go there” or “food bad, lousy service, won’t go back”. Sorry, but I need more detail to decide if what is stated truly describes the dining experience. My reviews give details on atmosphere, appearance, management (if present), wait staff and most especially…the food. I don’t go dining alone as I want to hear what others I’m with also are experiencing; what their opinions are. We discuss each aspect, the pros and cons, and 9 times out of 10 the reviews I give equal their own. If it doesn’t, I state that too, so the review is not always just about me. I always go to a restaurant, fast food place or a pub with an open mind; no prejudging.

If a restaurant owner doesn’t like my review, don’t attack me for it, but ask “Why? Why was this diner given a bad experience?” The atmosphere, appearance, service and food should be consistent, so all diners come away with a positive experience. If this doesn’t occur, what happened and what can you do to make sure it doesn’t happen again? Please don’t contact me and blame me by saying, “well, you obviously weren’t open minded, a local, or being friendly with the locals”. Excuse me?!? How can you read my mind? Besides being polite, smiling and chatting; how friendly are we talking? What does my being a “local” have to do with the quality of the restaurant experience? If the establishment is only open to locals, then a sign should state such at the main doorway.

Then there are reviewers on various internet review sites such as ”Yelp.com” or “Urbanspoon.com” who feel that dissing or threatening other reviewers, who do not agree with them, is the mature thing to do. Wake up call; everyone is entitled to their own opinion and the posting of such on these sites. If you have a different experience than I do, good for you; but that doesn’t negate my experience, and I will not remove my review due to a threat or insult.

Lastly there is the issue of those with the intelligence of a two year old; they try and post derogatory, insulting, threatening or obscene comments on my blog posts.  The same individuals try to do this under the name of "Anonymous", so they don't even have the gumballs to let me know who they are.  Seriously, do they actually believe I will let those comments be approved for viewing?  Get a clue.....NO!!!  If you don't like what I wrote, then please, create your own food blog, write restaurant reviews and show me how it's supposed to be done. No? I didn't think so.

So, here is the link to my Restaurant Review page: http://marycokenour.blogspot.com/p/restaurant-reviews.html . You’ll be able to read for yourself that they are based upon the experience itself, and nothing else, especially unfriendly bias.
Happy Dining!!!

Mary Cokenour

Pepperhead is hot stuff!!!

44 West Main Street
Cortez, CO, 81321

(970) 565-3303
Hours: Mon thur Sat – 11am to 8:30pm

Pepperhead is an open, airy restaurant with beautiful paintings and rugs adorning the walls.  The tables are along the walls, leaving the main walking area free, but spaced apart so diners have a sense of privacy.  The feel of a Mexican cantina, but with a quiet and calming atmosphere.  Tess, the co-owner, and the wait staff is very friendly; and answer questions with a smile.  Her father, Pete, is the other co-owner, but we did not meet him the day we were there.  The menu is small, but enables Pepperhead to concentrate on serving quality, not just quantity; and the meals are large.

Chimichanga — Large tortilla is filled with a choice of chicken, beef or pork and cheese, rolled and fried, and then smothered in red or green chile sauce.  Roy had the shredded beef with the red chile sauce; the Chimichanga is no light weight, so good thing he was hungry.   First we each tried a bite with just the red chile sauce, and it made the mouth explode; the beef tender and flavorful.  A bit hotter than I like, so I tried a bite with a little sour cream, and the difference was huge.  First you get the heat, but then the sour cream eases the heat down to a feel good experience.

Tampequeña -- Lightly seasoned thin-cut steak, cheese enchilada and a carne seca taco; served with rice and beans, sour cream, guacamole and tortillas. The steak comes folded, so you get more than you see at first; the seasoning was hot for me, but with a dollop of beans and sour cream, wrapped in one of the small, warm corn tortillas....heavenly. The carne seca taco opened my eyes; the grill taste of the meat was surprisingly awesome. They use white Monterey cheese, imported from Mexico, in the enchilada; it is mild, gooey and a plaything for the mouth. The rice is lightly seasoned and moister than most rice you get on a Mexican menu; the beans are the best refried beans I've ever had...not dry and very yummy.

We made sure to leave a little room for dessert and ordered one of our favorites.
Sopapilla – A hot, puffy flour tortilla with just a hint of crispness to the outside.  Tearing it open, steam is released; the interior is bread soft and begging for a good dose of honey.  We each had one of our own; it was the perfect dessert and contrast to the spiciness of the meals we enjoyed.
Salsa and Guacamole are made fresh on the premises.
The Salsa, if just looking at it, looks unimpressive; basically tomatoes, but it holds a secret surprise.  Put some on a tortilla chip, eat it and then….wait for it…wait for it…oh, a nice slow burn that eases down the back of the throat, and the Salsa becomes alive.
I’m not a big fan of Guacamole, but the one at Pepperhead happens to go great as a condiment, or as a chip dip.  It is slightly chunky, garlicky with a hint of sweetness, and a fine accessory to any of their dishes.
Not a fan of large, chainlike Mexican restaurants; then Pepperhead is the place you want to sit, relax and eat in.

Mary Cokenour

Pepperhead on Urbanspoon