Point-and-Click Gourmet

It’s a brave new world out there for diners, with foodie-specific websites to cater to every epicurean whim. It’s all here, from soup to nuts.

Chowhound.com More bulletin board than e-magazine, this site features scores of specific topics and local boards at which foodies can post queries, write mini-reviews, and even engage in exhaustive debates. Westchester’s board, which it shares with Long Island, Connecticut, and New Jersey, is Chowhound’s “tri-state region.” Great aspects? Chowhound is freewheeling and up-to-the-minute, with many informed local food enthusiasts engaging in the fun. Bad news? The “Chowhound Team” aggressively polices the boards (despite frequent complaints of “fascism”), while interested persons (i.e., restaurant owners) sometimes post falsely positive reviews. Plus, as any open forum, there’s no accounting for taste—and some enthusiastic participants are neither experienced nor discriminating diners.

eGullet.com Started by a disaffected group of Chowhounders, the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts and Letters promises a higher level of culinary discourse with a less intrusive editorial presence. Its success in those areas is debatable, but eGullet does offer intriguing interviews and articles by food-world luminaries—often about the nuts and bolts of the restaurant world.

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Roadfood.com Jan and Michael Stern’s monthly Gourmet Magazine column explores vanishing roadside restaurants serving American regional specialties. The Sterns have collected their wide-ranging reviews in a handy searchable database arranged by restaurant type, food item, and location. A visit to Roadfood.com is an absolute necessity before any long car trip, but the best news is for us here in Westchester. The Sterns are eastern Connecticut residents, and so our own highways and byways are exhaustively covered.

OpenTable.com This 10-year-old site has changed the process of booking tables as we knew it. Instead of enduring busy signals, endless hold music, or snooty reservationists, diners can snag a table in real time with just a few clicks. Plus, Open Table offers helpful services—including online menus, and info on pricing, parking, and dress codes.

Epicurious.com A site especially for cooks, Epicurious.com provides an exhaustive recipe archive (that includes cocktails), and both food and wine encyclopedias. It’s a handy site if you have cloudberries (or a dead squirrel) and want to know how to cook them.

StainedApron.com An often chilling, usually hilarious venting spot for those working in the front lines of the service industry. Look for venomous posts about poor celebrity tippers, plus morality tales of shocking diner behavior—”corrected” by sinister revenge.

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