Like all writers, Buffalo News Food Editor Andrew Z. Galarneau knows that his words can have an impact. But he is especially mindful of the effect his restaurant reviews can have. So he agonizes over what to say, how to say it and how restaurants should be rated on a 10-plate scale.
In the nearly three years he has been on the beat, he has given only three 10-plate reviews: Tabree on Main Street in Snyder; Ristorante Lombardo on Hertel Avenue in North Buffalo; and the since-closed Mike A's at the Lafayette.
Because this score happens so infrequently, I asked him to explain how he decides to give the rare 10:
The plate score indicates how happy I was as I walked out. To earn a 10, the food has to be as perfect as you can find in Western New York. Not just delicious, but engaging the senses, pleasing to the eye, well-proportioned and above all precise. The things that should have been crispy were crispy, the things that should have been warm were warm, et cetera.
A 10 is a meal where nothing significant stops me to say, 'that’s not the way it should be,' a meal without regrets. Which is extremely rare. Regrets, I’ve had a few, in almost every meal I could mention.
The room has to be just right, too. No digging for flashlights to read the menu or getting elbow-brushed by servers because the manager decided to squeeze in another table. Our server has to not only get us what we ask for without error, and with dispatch, but anticipate our needs and show up with the right things in their hands, like extra sharing plates or more water, as we are thinking about asking for them.
A 10 is a restaurant that got all the parts of an extremely complex mechanism to click on the night I visited. When it happens, it feels a little like magic.
To read those magical reviews, click on the links below.
And check out this photo gallery of all four restaurants.