Five Questions for... Ben and Erin of We Got Served
We Got Served ranks among the Twin Cities' most prolific food blogs while remaining among its most humble and approachable; the Jane and John Doe approach of site writers Erin and Ben Reichelt puts an emphasis on the sheer joy of dining out and discovering new eats.
We started our blog on February 19, 2008, so we have only been doing this for eight months. We live in St. Paul; I am from Apple Valley and Ben is from Lakeville. Ben works as a software developer at MinuteClinic and I work in administration at Capella University.
It's a little unusual to see a collaborative blog like yours how did you guys initially come up with the idea to team up and write about food...? And how would you describe your mission?
ERIN: Well, the idea to "team up" probably first occurred to both of us when we met and started dating 8 years ago! In terms of the idea of writing about food, we had a huge list of restaurants we wanted to try in the area, and the blog seemed like a great way to keep us accountable. We had the habit of just returning to the same restaurants over and over again, and we knew we were really missing out on some great places. I love lists of any form, and I also love taking photos. We both have horrible memories, so another reason was for us to remember how we liked each place, what we ordered, and the little stories that make each experience unique. I knew that our family and friends would probably enjoy reading about our experiences at new restaurants, so that is how the blog came to be. Neither of us expected anyone other than our immediate circle to ever take an interest.
When you set out to review a restaurant, what are some of the make-or-break details that tend to determine whether you give a positive- or negative-leaning review?
BEN: I don't have a checklist or anything, I'm most likely to be down on a place if the interactions with the people there are negative. Even if the food isn't good, I feel like a good server who is attentive but not overbearing can still make it a pleasant experience. But if the food is great and the service is bad, that can leave a sour taste in your mouth.
ERIN: One thing that makes a place stand apart is the service. If a server is friendly and prompt, that really influences the way I think about the experience as a whole. If the service is great and the food is so-so, I'll obviously write about both, but I may not be as harsh as if the service was horrible. We don't really have an abundance of negative leaning reviews if a place is on our list it is because it is supposed to be good, and it usually is. If we don't like a place it is usually because of our personal preferences, not because the place is horrible.
Since starting the blog, what's your favorite food-related discovery? That could be a particular restaurant or even a specific item of food.
BEN: I'd only tried Vietnamese food a couple times, but after going to Ngon and Quang I love it. I'm also surprised at how many restaurants there are to go to in the Twin Cities. It's going to take us years to go to all the places because our list keeps growing.
ERIN: I had absolutely no idea before starting our blog the depths of dining options available in the Twin Cities. We started out with a list of 70 places, and now we are up to 144.
In your blog's "About Us" section, you specifically say that you aren't foodies. What defines a "foodie," and why don't you guys qualify?
ERIN: To me, a foodie is someone who is very knowledgeable about food, and has a pretty discriminating palate. Usually foodies know what ingredients are in each dish and can tell right away just by tasting. By doing this blog, taking part in a CSA (community supported agriculture), cooking more, and just becoming more interested in food and food literature, we are slowly getting to be more knowledgeable, but our palates haven't yet caught up. We are both pretty easily pleased when it comes to food. The reason we have that statement in our "About Us" section is to let anyone who is reading our blog know that we are not experts our blog is about our personal experiences eating out, and is not to be taken as a guide to Twin Cities restaurants.
What's your number one, fail-safe, "go to" restaurant in the Twin Cities, and why?
BEN: If we just want to go hang out and get some food, I'm partial to Maxwell's. They just reopened after a fire earlier this year, so it's a feel-good pick. They've got good drink specials and the food is a good, clean fill. It's a pretty low key place and we see cops eating there all the time, so it's a safe place as well. :) However, I wish they would bring back the $3-$4-$5 tiered beer special they used to have on Friday night and I didn't see Bell's Two Hearted on tap anymore, which makes me sad.
ERIN: This is a very hard question to answer, as we haven't even been to most of the Twin Cities' renowned restaurants yet. The ones we have been to, it has only been once. That being said, my pick for a go to restaurant in the Twin Cities is The Muddy Pig. While it is nothing fancy, the food is consistently good, the beer list is extensive and can please beer connoisseurs as well as Miller Lite lovers like myself. The servers are friendly and helpful, and most importantly, it is affordable enough for us to go back to more than once.
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