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The Unconsidered

January 18, 2018

Besides the deep and bitter cold, there’s another thing that’s synonymous with January in the Capital Region. Yep. I’m talking about the Times Union’s Best of the Capital Region readers’ choice poll.

It’s now live.

When the FLB started many many years ago, I had a plan to try and influence the poll by asking readers to vote as a block. Some suggested that my move was anti democratic, but I still contend that lobbying and asking like minded citizens to vote a certain way, is exactly how democracy functions.

Regardless, the days of the FUSSYlittleBALLOT are over. And while the effort did seem to have an effect around the edges, I found I was able to influence the poll in other ways. Namely, reaching out to the TU and suggesting the ways the poll itself was insufficient.

Subsequently it has changed for the better. Sure, they have gotten rid of the Best Local Blog category which is a bummer. But now we have rid ourselves both of the “Chinese/Japanese/Korean” and “Indonesian/Thai/Vietnamese” categories. Plus the Best of the Capital Region results no longer include Subway or Pizza Hut among our best sandwiches or pizzas.

That’s a reason to feel optimistic. However, there was another important change made to the survey which is having unfortunate consequences.

To make the poll easier to fill out, and make sure people were aware of the broad variety of local restaurants in each category, the Times Union moved away from open ended questions, to including some guided responses.

If you look at the poll, you’ll see a laundry list of restaurants that opened up in the past year. And that’s helpful. I could never remember which openings would make the official cutoff. Especially if a place may have had a soft opening before it officially opened. Opening dates can be complicated.

The other place guided responses can be helpful are in categories that deserve more attention. For example, people may never have known that Anker’s Fish House in Schenectady was still open. And new residents to the area who are looking at this poll, might come away learning that Fish Fry is a thing.

love how the Best Japanese category isn’t explicitly “Best Sushi” but unfortunately, I have a feeling that’s how it will be interpreted by readers of the paper.

But what I get concerned about are the categories where there is a great local business that does not get included in the radio-button choices. For example, if you love Parivar you will have to submit it as a write-in vote. And the likelihood that any write in vote might crack the top three is very small indeed. Schenectady’s Memphis King is sadly not on the list again under the Best Barbecue category.

Then there is the weirdness of where all our great Italian Delis are competing with the Asian markets and European specialty shops in the Ethnic Market category. Last year Roma won, but Italian delis don’t feel very ethnic in this part of the world. Maybe it’s me, but certainly in food, Italian feels like the dominant cultural of the region.

Looking back at the history of this poll, these are relatively minor nits.

More than anything else, I would love to see 20 North Broadway get recognized for its excellent wings. Last year neither kru coffee, Stacks, nor Superior Merchandise cracked the top three for Best Coffee. Really, they should take all three spots, but if one of them shows up it would be a huge win.

My wish list is much much longer. But that’s why I have my own 518 Recos at the top of the blog. I’ll make you a deal. I won’t push the FUSSYlittleBALLOT again, but I’ll have those recommendations updated by Monday just in case you want to reference them for filling out this year’s poll.

Sounds like a compromise to me. And that’s not a bad thing at all.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 19, 2018 11:26 am

    Minor quibble, but I believe important, there is a big difference between Italian-American food and Italian food which is so diverse from Venice to Sicily.


  1. 7 and 7 on Saturday, January 20, 2018 – Chuck The Writer

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