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Wayside Resolutions: A glimpse of dead-before-they-started promises for the new year

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Reviewers are people; often crass and cynical people, but people nonetheless. Like everyone else, we make New Year’s resolutions that we have no intention or chance of maintaining ‘til President’s Day. In fact, we’re lucky to make it to Martin Luther King Day.


Mine are a lot like most other people’s. 
Actually, they look a lot like most people’s—just adjusted for the review-writing milieu.  They’re well-intentioned and still unlikely to last. But in the spirit of the season, here are my guaranteed-to-fail, no-hope-of-succeeding resolutions for 2015.

1. Lay Off The Fried Food

Looking over the last several months of my reviews, I see an alarming trend toward pub fare. Burgers and fries make up a high percentage of my caloric intake. Like most people, I have to be concerned about my health. So picking up a few more broiled fish and brown rice plates might be in order. Really, it’s just good sense.

Why It Ain’t Gonna Happen:

Wilmington is one of the drinkingest cities in the country. We denizens of the Port City live under the misapprehension that the town is the bastard love child of New Orleans and Boston.  Where there’s drinking, there are bars. And where there are bars, there are deep fryers.

Sure, I can pick up a salad now and again, but unless I’m reviewing a high-quality eatery like Manna or Canapé, there’s little purpose.  Lighter fare in bars is often a concession and not a focus for the kitchen. Reviewing restaurants requires at least an attempt to sample the fare in which the eatery specializes.  I wouldn’t review The Port City Chophouse without having a bite of steak after all. So expect to see the words “beer-battered” in future reviews.

2. Expand My Vocabulary

We all want to improve our minds. Learning new words is a great goal, and it makes us seem smarter and makes crossword puzzles easier. I will endeavor to find new ways to describe my dining experiences, and applying new vocabulary would be a fine method of improving the column.

Why It Ain’t Gonna Happen:

How many ways do you say, “Too much damned salt?” There are limits to foodie vocabulary, and words get overused. I read an article last year about food terminology that food writers hoped would fall by the wayside. At the top of the list was “unctuous.” I don’t know what I’d do without unctuous.

Add to my limitations an editor who frowns on overt cruelty. Here’s a favorite line from last year: “Sometimes I like to imagine the row of spices within the chef’s grasp as I taste my dinner.  At [redacted], I just imagined a dozen salt shakers lining the shelf.” I sometimes write things like that to amuse myself; however, they often wind up in the delete file for unnecessary pomposity, and with good reason.  While I applaud encore’s editorial restraint, it’s another obstacle to keeping my verbiage fresh and interesting.

3. Observe Meatless Mondays

Every year I promise myself that I’ll make a greater effort to expand my review for the benefit of Wilmington’s vegetarian and vegan populations. I follow new developments in those communities and frequently converse with friends about navigating the restaurant scene whilst remaining meat-free. So obligating myself to at least one day a week without a bite of flesh could go a long way to improving Grub and Guzzle for the veggie set.

Why It Ain’t Gonna Happen:

There are just too many limitations on review writing without adding obstacles on my own. Some restaurants just aren’t designed for vegetarians. And even the ones that cater to them only dedicate a minor portion of the menu to herbivorous dining. It is exceedingly difficult to walk into a restaurant with the intention of writing an informative review while simultaneously writing off more than 80 percent of the menu. Meatless Monday would be great for me personally, but the column would have to suffer for it.

So there it is: Three resolutions that won’t make it much further than the first tick of the clock in 2015. In fact, you can look forward to my next review of the Dead Crow Comedy Club: a fun little bar with good burgers and fries. I’ll do my best not to call the maple-bourbon bacon unctuous. It’s the least I can do ‘til February.

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