'critics' on Serious Eats

'Am I Obsolete?' Asks 'San Francisco Chronicle' Food Critic Michael Bauer

Image from Between Meals On his blog Between Meals, longtime San Francisco Chronicle food editor and restaurant critic Michael Bauer recounts discussion from a recent forum concerning the changing face of food journalism. Panelists were asked about the rise of Yelp, reviews on OpenTable, and the profusion of food bloggers on the Internet. At one point, Bauer said, “It used to be that newspapers were the only local voices; now we're one among many.” In reflecting on the panel, Bauer asks his readers, “Am I obsolete?” It’s a question that crops up more and more, as user-driven review sites and food-centric blogs take off. Ruth Reichl recently suggested at a Columbia Journalism School lecture that the days of the critic's... More

Zagat vs. Yelp: A Restaurant Review 2.0 Showdown?

Randall Stross compared Yelp and Zagat in the New York Times on Sunday. While he correctly noted that Yelp now covers more restaurants than Zagat, and uses this as a launching pad to compare and contrast the two companies, he leaves out the most relevant points. Most notably, he completely whiffs on recent business goings-on in the world of user-generated restaurant reviews. My first question is what do serious eaters think about both Zagat and Yelp? And while you ponder that, here's what Stross should have pointed out in his comparison.... More

'$25 and Under' Critic Peter Meehan's Parting Words

Peter Meehan gives an "exit interview" to Eater regarding his departure as the New York Times's "$25 and Under" columnist. I think this passage sums up food-critic wankery perfectly: "But if I've learned anything doing this gig, it's that unless I'm across the table from Frank, bitching about the minor indignities of restaurant reviewing is pretty boring to everybody except the person doing the complaining." Meehan also recommends former Village Voice food blogger Nina Lalli as a replacement.... More

Michelin, Yelp, Zagat: Who Can We Believe?

The Wall Street Journal runs an article questioning the validity of online restaurant reviews by writers who are comped their meals. Two days later, Michelin releases its 2008 New York restaurant guide. These two events provide a perfect opportunity to discuss the relative merits of reviews and judgments rendered every which way, from on high (Michelin and the New York Times) to online (Yelp, Zagat, and food blogs). More

In Order That You May Furnish an Account of All These Places

Via blogger Jason Kottke, a snip from the first restaurant review in the New York Times: Very well," replied the editor-in-chief. "Dine somewhere else to-day and somewhere else to-morrow. I wish you to dine everywhere, -- from the Astor House Restaurant to the smallest description of dining saloon in the City, in order that you may furnish an account of all these places. The cashier will pay your expenses." It dates to New Year's Day 1859, and was unearthed by the blogger shortly after the Times opened up access to the site for free. Here's the full PDF.... More

Restaurant Girl Eats 'Aroused Scallops'

The nation's first food blogger-turned-restaurant critic, Danyelle Freeman, comes out swinging in her debut column in the New York Daily News. Freeman, who wants to be our "restaurant concierge," clearly wants to be taken seriously as an arbiter of taste.... More

Man Bites Dog: Serious Critic Reviews a Chain Restaurant

Photographs by Robyn Lee Craig LaBan, restaurant critic at the Philadelphia Inquirer, recently reviewed the first Legal Sea Foods restaurant to open in Philadelphia. He liked much of the food he ate there (the raw bar, chowder, fried clams, fish and chips) but was left cold by other dishes (the "leaden" stuffed shrimp, desserts, "odd" "everything" tuna). What's interesting is that he decided to review it at all. Serious restaurant critics in cities with vibrant independent restaurant scenes like Philly typically thumb their noses at chain restaurants and don't deign to review them. But places like Legal Sea Foods, Houston's, and The Cheesecake Factory, to name three, are in fact decent restaurants that should be taken seriously. I have... More

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