In the Marine Corps we had a phrase: "Remember there is always 10 percent who don't get the word." Never thought we'd apply it to a restaurant critic.
Farmstead is doing really well. We opened the outdoor bar earlier in the week and our dining patio for the first time on Friday. We have enjoyed a rousing reception from the local community.
As the weather improves the trajectory is clearly up. And, the 'buzz' has been really great. We have had numerous positive references in print, online, and on-air media. We have moved into the top 10 of "Most Booked in Wine Country" on Open Table.
Most importantly, we have been very highly rated by our guests. We strive to respond objectively and professionally to comments and criticism. So, we look hard at the facts. Consider this: over 125 diners (an ample sample size) who made their reservation through Open Table have written a review of Farmstead.
Our Overall Rating on Open Table is four stars (out of five) and fully 76 percent of the reviewers have rated Farmstead four stars or higher. Further, Farmstead is rated fours stars in all three subcategories: Food, Ambiance, and Service. Take a look. Similarly, Yelp! has consistently rated Farmstead at four and a half stars (out of five).
Farmstead has also enjoyed repeat visits by the who's who of the local culinary community (hardly a group of hicks from a backwater). We respect their opinions and have appreciated the many compliments and occasional suggestions.
So, imagine our surprise when a food critic from the San Francisco Chronicle writes a story in today's paper that paints a substantially different picture about Farmstead's food. He writes ". . .the combinations are among the strangest I've encountered. . ." Hmmm.
Of course, we will take the story seriously and will treat it as an important piece of data. But, funny how the three dishes most criticised - the hamburger, short-rib hash, and carmelized beet salad - are the three highest selling dishes. And, funny how our customers use descriptions (documented in their reviews) like "the best burger of my life" as opposed to "screwed up." (They even understand that the substitution of cauliflower dill pickles for cucumber dill pickles is an inventive seasonal twist.)
Perhaps a city-slicker thinks "locals and tourists" (his words) lack the sophistication and broad palate exposure to understand fresh, local ingredients prepared using truly authentic American farmhouse recipes. Funny, too, how a major national magazine is doing an exclusive story on Farmstead and is setting up tomorrow for a major photo shoot over the next three days. And, after extensive tasting and research, the editors have asked to feature up to six of Sheamus Feeley's recipes.
Makes you wonder.
The only explanation is that there is always 10 percent. . .