Would you please define “best”

Pray tell, what is your methodology in establishing the list of “Best of WNC 07,” which appears in the [Oct. 17] issue of Mountain Xpress? And are the establishments listed actually the best by any realistic measures, or do they just turn out—through some fairly uncontrolled approach—to be the most popular?

I’m just curious—it’s certainly not an explosive issue. The value this annual piece has for the establishments giving paid-for-ad thanks for being voted the “best” seems clear. But I really wonder if readers benefit. Viewing the eateries section alone, for example, the results seem a tad absurd. I can imagine that your food reviewer might agree.

[In my opinion,] the Stoney Knob Restaurant fare rises to near-gourmet standards, far above that of the acceptable-but-ordinary peers that bested it in the Greek category. The Sunday-brunch winners do not approach the brunch-food quality provided at the Southside Café, which is unlisted. And the pairing of the savvy New York-style Well-Bred Bakery and Café with the tasteful-but-ordinary products at the other bakeries in its category seems similarly odd.

So, what goes? Is it a popularity contest, a quality-of-product (or service) competition, or just a joyful exercise in mutual support that has little meaning in terms of guiding consumers?

— Edward E. Loewe
Asheville

Editor’s note: Mountain Xpress readers voted for their favorites. The winners were those who got the highest votes.

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6 thoughts on “Would you please define “best”

  1. Dionysis

    I appreciate the question posed by Mr. Loewe and the answer. I’ve not been clear on what criteria is used. So essentially, the rankings have less to do with which is actually ‘best’, but rather simply a matter of total votes. That explains why some chain restaurants are listed as among the ‘best’, even though from any objective standpoint, they may not offer the best cuisine. Would it not be more accurate to describe the rankings as ‘most popular’ instead of ‘best’?

  2. Dionysis

    “Are we really debating this?”

    Not unless you actually have something to do with this annual recognition.

  3. tooslow

    Wow!. I am just astounded and outraged to discover that this “Best of” contest is not actually a “best of” but just a “most popular”!
    And all this time, I though that we were voting so that the Mountainx could tally our votes, and then run them through a special computer program that would account for all kinds of subjective factors that would then alloy them to determine, without any bias, what the “Best” is.
    This is totally unfair and highly misleading and i demand that the MX change the title of this to “Most popular of WNC”
    Perhaps i should sue for emotional damages.
    You WILL be hearing from my lawyer.

  4. So let me get this straight.
    It is an annual “readers vote on the best’ issue, the editors ask you to vote on what you think is the ‘best’, in your opinion, in particular categories. You fill in your votes, and send them in. What part of this exercise do you not understand?
    I cant believe this, but even Jason Bugg can see the idiocy in this confusion. This is the purpose he serves us here. To call a taco a taco.
    Are you truly debating this?
    I can not imagine that there is someone out there who believe that this is not a subjective, readers favorites’ contest.

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