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Meet our newest dining critic, Anne Chovey

June 19, 2010|By ANNE CHOVEY / Special to The Herald-Mail

Editor's note: The following is an introduction from our newest restaurant critic. Reviews will run biweekly, with the first review appearing on this page in the Sunday, July 4, edition.

Hello, readers. My name is Anne Chovey and I am the new restaurant critic for The Herald-Mail. You probably guessed that is my pen name, which I will use to guarantee that I do not receive special treatment at the restaurants I review.

I am very excited for this assignment because I love to cook and I love to eat. Everything about food interests me. When we go to a new city, I enjoy strolling around the grocery store, just to see what is there. So when the paper asked me if I would review local restaurants for it, I said, "Yes!"

Here is what I think is important in a restaurant:

o The food. Of course, it is first on the list. To me, it does not have to be exotic or expensive (although, I love getting a really spectacular meal where the food is displayed like a work of art and tastes as good as it looks.) But it must be well-prepared with the diner in mind. If a sandwich is constructed with delicious ingredients, what is the point of building it too tall to fit into the average person's mouth?

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o The service. Being wait staff is challenging work with little pay other than tips. But great service enhances a meal like nothing else. I don't want to become friends with the wait staff, nor do I want to be interrupted when I am having a really good conversation with my dining companion. That said, I want my waiter to come by right after the meal is delivered just in case something is missing. And please bring me my check promptly. Unless I am lingering over coffee, I probably have somewhere to go.

o The atmosphere. Whether the restaurant is fine dining or a sandwich shop, the ambiance should match the food. If I am going to a "nice" restaurant, I don't want to watch television. That's fine if the menu is beer and wings. I recently ate at a "make your own burrito" place in a college town. The food was great and inexpensive, but the music was so loud, my friends and I had to shout at one another. It ruined a fun time.

o Clean bathrooms. Enough said.

o Accessibility. One of my dining companions, Kay Sedea, has mobility issues. So in my reviews, I will be checking to see that diners with disabilities are well-served.

o Vegetarian selections. One of my family members is a vegetarian so knowing if there are options for him is important to me.

Some other things that might be of interest are:

o Parking, either at the restaurant or nearby.

o The average cost of a meal at the restaurant.

o Are reservations recommended?

o Does the restaurant have a website? I always enjoy looking at the menu online and it is a plus if I can make reservations online, as well.

Are there other things important to you? I welcome any comments and suggestions and look forward to sharing experiences with you in the coming months. Please contact interim Lifestyle editor Crystal Schelle at 301-791-7136 or crystal.schelle@herald-mail.com with your suggestions.

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