Never really read Andy Hayler’s reviews but he is from the UK and a member of Opinionated About Dining, which the top reviews are wealthy jetsetters who eat around the world at the hardest to get into places (and many of them Michelin stars), so they are scratching bucket lists faster than the normal person. OAD is founded by former music executive Steve Plotnicki who wants to build OAD to be better than the Michelin Guide for restaurants worldwide and with the pool of connections he has (along with friends who are also reviewers), it’s like a club of the elite eaters.
As to their preferences and objectivity, they are more or less the same as regular people, except with more experience. A lot of them are on other forums or social media, and some are extremely knowledgeable and likely very down to earth, but not all of them are (or appear to be). At the end of the day, great for reference points if only the pictures…but ultimately you are the true judge of your preferences. Some don’t trust Andy’s sushi reviews very much for example…especially some who have eaten around Tokyo (and Hong Kong) and look down upon say, Sushi Shikon (Yoshitake) and this one other place that Andy gave high scores to. If you ask the top Instagram sushi fiends in Japan, you’ll never see them at Yoshitake (or Shikon if in Hong Kong)…
A lot of these famous restaurants know who these people are, so it is possible to some extent they will get a better meal than the average FTC person who makes a reservation… doesn’t necessarily happen but I’d bet that is a possibility…or they make sure Sergio is cooking and presenting the dishes and that they are on the top of their game. At the end of the day it’s good for business when some key opinion leader representing influential groups has a good impression. Of course at a Michelin star establishment you would expect some uniformity (especially at the three star level where everything has to be pitch perfect as possible consistently down to the service).
For sure some scores are over inflated, and some are well deserved, but the scales are tipped towards the former a lot all over.
Anyways very interesting beverage pairing! An obscure Junmai Ginjo sake at the beginning too. I was a little excited seeing Biondi Santi 2004 though it’s a Rosso not a Brunello…never knew these could age that long, but then again it’s Biondi Santi!