For the record, Seymour Britchky on La Grenouille
January 4th, 2011
08:30 PM ET
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As we noted in our lunchtime poll, the foodosphere is all a-froth over former New York Times food critic Mimi Sheraton's swipes at the prose stylings of the current jobholder Sam Sifton.

Sheraton told Capital's Zachary Woolfe, "It’s food writing for an audience less interested in food and more interested in the experience and the theater of it ... I don’t like it at all. I always told people what the place was like, but these long, long introductions about the scene—I usually skip the first column and a half and get to the food, because that’s what I think it’s about."

The New York Observer then served up a course-by-course sampling of both Sheraton's (1977) and Sifton's (2009) reviews of New York City's longstanding Francophile flagship La Grenouille for stylistic comparison. Topics included decor, patrons and the restaurant's signature souffle and it was entertaining, without a doubt, but we're gonna stick a Britchky in the mix.

Lunchtime poll – the shock of the new
January 4th, 2011
01:00 PM ET
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An interview with food writing legend Mimi Sheraton caused a bit of a ripple through the online food community today. She spoke with Zachary Woolfe of Capital New York about her 1975 to 1983 tenure as restaurant critic for the New York Times, and in addition to taking current reviewer Sam Sifton's pop-punched, imperative writing style to task, spent a goodly bit of time pining for the Francophile stylings of New York chefs of yore and blasting the chefs and media coverage she sees as too trend-centric.

We respect the absolute heck out of what Sheraton has contributed to the food writing profession and appreciate her experience and wealth of knowledge. Still, the one time we dined at the now-shuttered La Caravelle, a flagship for the sort of white linen, Dover sole and Grand Marnier souffle service about which she waxes rhapsodic, it was technically excellent, but felt akin to dining in a glass-walled exhibit at the Museum of Natural History.

Evolution and reverence for the past are, to us equally important but here's the thing - whose past?

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Filed under: Best in Life • Buzz • Critics • Lunchtime Poll • Restaurant News

January 2nd, 2011
07:45 PM ET
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Atlanta Journal-Constitution chief dining critic and Eatocracy pal John Kessler talks about the unauthorized outing of Los Angeles Times restaurant critic S. Irene Virbila by the owners of Red Medicine, the role of reviewers and why five-star restaurants are where you "can drink unicorn blood from a silver goblet."

Have we mentioned we love this man?

Previously – Poll: Are professional restaurant critics necessary? and A critical outing

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Filed under: Critics • Restaurant News

Lunchtime poll – room for criticism
December 30th, 2010
01:15 PM ET
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"And to tell the truth, I was bored with restaurant criticism. At times I didn't give a damn if all the restaurants in Manhattan were shoved into the East River and perished. Had they all served nightingale tongues on toast and heavenly manna and mead, there is just so much that the tongue can savor, so much that the human body (and spirit) can accept, and then it resists. Toward the end of my days as restaurant critic, I found myself increasingly indulging in drink, the better to endure another evening of dining out. I had become a desperate man with a frustrating job to perform." - from 'A Feast Made for Laughter' by Craig Claiborne, New York Times Dining editor and restaurant critic, 1982

It's a rough gig, being a restaurant critic. Sure, you're dining on the paper's dime, but plenty of the food is lousy, disgruntled restaurateurs and fleet-footed bloggers are constantly trying to unmask you and a lot of people think you could just as easily be replaced by Yelp posters.

A critical outing
December 23rd, 2010
10:30 AM ET
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In a town obsessed with celebrity and publicity, there are a few well-known residents in Los Angeles who prefer their picture is never taken - Los Angeles Times food critic S. Irene Virbila is one. That professional anonymity ended Tuesday night when she and three others arrived at Red Medicine, a new Vietnamese restaurant in Beverly Hills. Virbila had her photo snapped and her party was turned away and refused service; a bitter pill to swallow for a restaurant critic.

Red Medicine is the latest project from Umami Burger founder Adam Fleischman, Noah Ellis, previously of Michael Mina's restaurant group, and Chef Jordan Kahn, who counts stints with chefs Thomas Keller, Grant Achatz and Michael Mina on his résumé. So why would a brand new restaurant, with three high-profile partners, risk outing and angering the LA Times food critic, a fixture on the scene for the last 16 years?

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Filed under: Critics • Critiquing Criticism • Feature • Gossip • News • Newspapers • Restaurant News • Think

Lunchtime poll – online reviews
August 9th, 2010
12:15 PM ET
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Remember way back to the early to mid '90s, when if you wanted to find out about a restaurant, you had to flip through newspapers, ask friends, shell out for a Zagat Guide or - heaven forfend - just go and see for yourself?

No longer must restaurant patrons fly blindly into the abyss, for sites like Yelp, Open Table, Dine, Citysearch and others exist to allow delighted and disgruntled diners dish about their every opinion from wine service to restroom cleanliness.

Are these sites on the menu for you?

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Filed under: Buzz • Critics • Critiquing Criticism • Lunchtime Poll

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