“DiningOUT” started as a regular featured column in Baltimore GayLife magazine in March of 2008. It is written by John Cullen with regular input and (sometimes alternative…) opinions from long time friend Marty Shayt.
The “DiningOUT in Baltimore” blog first appeared online in September of 2013; it has had over 13,000 “hits” since then.
The “DiningOUT in Baltimore” blog appears on the UrbanSpoon.com restaurant review site where it is ranked the #1 most read Baltimore-area blog
I’m not a “foodie” and neither is Marty (Rumor has it that Marty’s kitchen abilities are limited to making instant oatmeal in his microwave!) We regularly eat out a couple of times a week and definitely have our druthers when it comes to the restaurants that we like to patronize. In addition to Marty, I’m grateful for the opinions and feedback a group of friends – Tom, Jerry, Paul, JT and Fred – who I regularly enjoy dining out with.
The “OUT” in the name is capitalized making a point that we’re gay men (which is also why the “OUT” is in a rainbow font!) who are “out” to friends and family. My initial hypothesis was that being openly gay gave us a tad of a different perspective on the restaurants that we eat at but as Gertrude Stein might opine… “A restaurant is a restaurant is a restaurant… “
Still… Should a gay couple have to be careful about the impact that saying “Gay” out loud in their conversation or touching hands across the table might have on the restaurant staff or other patrons? Our experience is that there are still some restaurants in Maryland where that could be the cause of problems.
We give a “Thumbs Up!” when we really enjoyed our experience at a restaurant.
When we’ve had such an overall bad experience that we want to warn folks to think twice before wasting their time, we give a “Thumbs Down!”.
What are DiningOUT reviews taking into account? Basic criteria includes:
Did we enjoy our meal? Was anything so good that it stood out from the norm?
Timing? Was hot food served hot and cold food served cold? Did the kitchen/server allow sufficient (or too much!) time between courses?
Dining Room? Did it add to or take away from our enjoyment of the meal? Is the temperature of the dining room comfortable? Are tables reasonably spaced or way too tightly packed in?
Service? Did the servers enhance or detract from our enjoyment of a meal? We’ve observed that the right server can make a humongous difference in how we feel about our experience at a restaurant.
Value? Is a meal worth what it cost? (This is important regardless whether a dish cost $5 or cost $40). DiningOUT considers four levels of cost based on cost of an average entree:
Bargain Under $10
Moderate $10 to $15
Expensive $15+ to $25
Yikes! Over $25
About John Drew Cullen
John was born in 1951 and moved to Baltimore in 1981 (and he occasionally is in shock to realize that he’s lived in Baltimore area for almost half his life at this point!) He grew up in New Jersey and attended Catholic schools from kindergarten thru high school. He has lived in Washington, DC and Virginia before ending up in Maryland. He’s a geek (as well as the writer of DiningOUT, he developed the blog site and maintains a web site for a local HOA). John is a great fan of NPR radio (which he listens to while he’s working from home as a data manager for a large global company) His favorite NPR shows include Terry Gross & Fresh Air, This American Life, A Prairie Home Companion, Radio 360, & Car Talk among others. Yes, he finds time to watch some TV and favorite shows currently include Modern Family, America’s Got Talent, Antique Roadshow, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, “Sunday Morning” and more – He thanks gawd now and then for his TiVo DVR! He drives around in a Toyota Camry Hybrid.
About Marty Shayt
Marty is often taken for being 39 years old (he’s seemingly forever locked at that age on account of his youthful exuberance and “joie de vivre”… ) He is a life long Baltimore resident (except for when he was in the army, he’s never lived anywhere else!) Born and raised by a devoutly Jewish Mom, he keeps Kosher when eating out (Well, with the exception of when his almost craving for shellfish like Lobster, Shrimp, Mussels, Clams and Oysters overpowers him – which happens routinely! FYI – according to the letter of the Jewish law, shell fish like this is just every bit as un-kosher as HAM!) Since he retired after 40 years with BG&E, he has done a lot of volunteer work. He drives a cute little bright red Honda “Fit”. In case you’re interested, Marty lives by himself and is single! (He’s never married and never had a live-in relationship – Yet he still harbors hope of meeting Mr. Right!)
Contrary to some folk’s assumptions, John and Marty have never been more than just very good long time friends since they met each other back in the early 1980’s. <Wink>
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