Dishing it out
Occasionally, Pasatiempo likes to examine its restaurant review policy and reviewer guidelines and share that information with our readers. It’s a helpful exercise for both writers and reviewers to get reacquainted with the methods and reasoning behind our critical approach and restaurant-rating system. As Santa Fe moves into a busy tourist season, we think it’s important to assure visitors and readers alike that we take the review of restaurants very seriously. We are not in the business of putting eateries out of business — but our critics aren’t in the business of restaurant promotion, either. Most important, Pasatiempo holds itself accountable for delivering a clear snapshot of a particular restaurant’s graces and flaws each week.
Regardless of whether a restaurant is a downtown white-linen purveyor of haute cuisine or a carnitas cart off the beaten path, the same rating system applies. The content of a review is specific to each establishment rather than formulaic; whatever stands out most about each visit helps dictate the form and tone of the writing.
Each restaurant is visited a minimum of two times by a reviewer and at least one guest at Pasatiempo’s expense, and the reviewer must not identify himself/herself as a restaurant critic at any time. If a reviewer is discovered, the meal is cut short, the writer is reimbursed for the food and beverages consumed (including tax and tip), and the review is reassigned. Our reviewers do not accept “comped,” or free, food and/or drink. If a two-visit restaurant experience is disappointing, a different editorial staff member visits the restaurant a third time to ensure that a poor rating is absolutely justified.
We understand that a hot-dog stand shouldn’t receive a lower food-quality rating because it’s a hot-dog stand. Its rating is determined by weighing it against hot-dog stands that have come before it — and of course, with a certain degree of subjectivity from the reviewer, who knows that a great $3 hot dog deserves just as much attention and praise as a perfectly cooked $30 prime rib-eye steak.
Our chile-rating system represents an overall tally of an establishment’s food, service, atmosphere, and value, with four chiles being the best possible rating, and an onion — or multiple onions — signifying an absolute bomb. (In the past 6½ years, there has only been one four-chile rating and one total stinker.)
Guns N’ Rosé Many New Mexicans know — but visitors may not be aware — that on July 1, a new state law went into effect permitting sober non-drinking patrons with a valid conceal-and-carry handgun license to pack heat — loaded or unloaded — at establishments that serve beer and wine (no hard stuff) and that derive at least 60 percent of annual gross receipts from the sale of food consumed on the premises. However, restaurant owners have the option to forbid guns by posting conspicuous signage stating that firearms are not allowed inside their establishments, and they may also verbally inform patrons that guns are banned — with the exception of certified law-enforcement officers following department policy and business owners, lessees, and tenants protected by law (like licensed and bonded security personnel).
So — when applicable, Pasatiempo will insert a small icon within the “Details” section letting readers know whether or not an establishment that serves beer and wine is gun-friendly. Lock and lunch.