Monday, April 9, 2018

Rant: Bistro 5 & Respect For Older Restaurants

Next month, Bistro 5, a superb Italian restaurant located in Medford, turns 19 years old. It came to mind recently as I once again recommended it to some friends. I first dined at Bistro 5 back in August 2008, and it was an impressive first experience. During the last ten years, I've dined multiple times at Bistro 5, including at wine dinners, chef tasting menus, during their heirloom tomato festival, during their truffle season, and more. The restaurant is consistently excellent, and that is one of the main reasons the restaurant has lasted so long. Consistency is a significant element of restaurant greatness.

Chef Vittorio Ettore, of Bistro 5, is a culinary master, creative and passionate. However, he and his restaurant don't seem to get sufficient attention from the press. On social media, they are infrequently mentioned. As I've said before, new restaurants get the lion's share of publicity from food writers, reviewers and on social media. There is often a frenzy to be one of the first to review a new restaurant, and with so many restaurants opening all the time, writers don't lack for material. However, that means they give little, if any, attention to restaurants that have been open for years. That needs to change.

I've written about this issue before, first back in 2014, and it is an issue that should be raised time and time again, to continue to bring attention to this matter, as a regular reminder to people. Many older restaurants were reviewed years ago but often haven't received an updated review in a very long time, if at all. During those years, so much can change, sometimes for the positive and sometimes for the negative. Since Bistro 5 opened, there is now a whole new generation, and many of them may never have heard of Bistro 5. Consumers shouldn't have to rely on a 10 year old review to judge a restaurant. Some of these older restaurants are worthy of a new review, to ensure people know that it remains a quality restaurant.

Last year,  Patrick Maguire, of I'm Your Server Not Your Servant, posted on Facebook, offering a Challenge to "list Boston area restaurants that have stood the test of time (15 year minimum) that you genuinely love, appreciate, respect, and to state why, devoid of any selfish motive." His post received a substantial number of responses, giving love to those older, worthy restaurants which may not often receive sufficient attention from food writers. It was fascinating to see the number of restaurants which actually have stood the test of time, lasting at least 15 years. That is a huge accomplishment in the restaurant industry.

These restaurants have survived so long for a reason and they should receive additional attention from time to time, to ensure people don't forget them. Every month, a significant number of restaurants close, indicative of the toughness of the restaurant industry. Those that can survive the test of time often deserve our respect and attention, and we need to ensure they are not forgotten. We need to write more about these older restaurants, to continue to highlight their quality. Any worthy writer can find an angle concerning these older restaurants. Don't just be dazzled by the new, restaurants that might not even survive a year. On social media, people need to talk about these older, but worthy, restaurants.

If you haven't dined at Bistro 5 yet, then get there ASAP. Go for their Tuesday evening $1 oysters or their Thursday night Burger special. Check out their A la Carte Menu, for items like Smoked Scallop Agnolotti or Veal Milanese, or be adventurous and opt for the Chef's Tasting Menu, three or five courses. In addition, keep an eye out for their special events, especially seasonal ones like Heirloom Tomatoes and Truffles. Learn why Chef Vittorio Ettore is one of the most talented chefs you might not know.


Frederick Wright said...

This is such an important topic - and one which never fails to warm my heart, fire up my nostalgia. I've got a relatively small list of places that are just as wonderful today as they were when they first opened years ago. Places like Anchovies. Intermission Tavern. No9 Park. Estragon. I do try to revisit places from time to time!

Richard Auffrey said...

Thanks Frederick! And I'm glad to see your list of treasured older restaurants.