'food critics' on Serious Eats

Sam Sifton Too Good for 'The City's Best Pizza'

The brussels sprouts and pancetta pizza is, according to Sam Sifton, "Like something from a magic act, a dog speaking BBC English. It is great and unsettling, far better than imagination would dictate." Translation: "Good." [Photograph: Robyn Lee] What do those New York Times stars mean? What distinguishes a "good" restaurant from a great one, a three-star from a four? It's a question often debated, never resolved, and hardly furthered by Sam Sifton's review this week of Motorino. My problem is not that he is so audacious as to name the city's best pizza. (We can't fault him for... More

Video: What's in 'Washington Post' Dining Critic Tom Sietsema's Fridge

When you eat 12 to 14 meals a week out in a restaurant, your fridge gets a little ignored. For dining critic Tom Sietsema the few contents include: peanut butter, bottles of bubbly, M&Ms souvenirs from the White House, and oatmeal with flax seed. (Wait, oats need to be refrigerated?) He also keeps a stash of his top-secret pseudonym credit cards in a fridge drawer. Hint to Washington D.C. restaurants: Sietsema is the one paying with cold cards! Sadly we never get to see his face in the video. The camera crew does a pretty impressive job zeroing in on his hands and black jacket sleeve only. Take a fridge tour after the jump.... More

Critic-Turned-Cook Reflects on Past Reviews

Critic Turned Cook follows former Seattle Post-Intelligencer food critic Leslie Kelly on her journey away from the keyboard and into the kitchen. Take it away, Leslie! ©iStockphoto.com/joanek At a recent family cookout, my Uncle Hugh asked how work in the kitchen was going. "It's hard—exhausting, really," I said. "I have a new understanding for what goes in to feeding a bunch of demanding diners." "Well, maybe you owe some of those restaurants you reviewed an apology," he teased. Uncle Hugh loved yanking my chain, but weeks later, I was still thinking about what he said. From the other side of the counter, I can certainly see how a critic would drive a cook crazy. Myself, I wasn't the kind of... More

Ambiance Is Not a Topping

"It sometimes seems as if he's living in an alternate pizza universe—one where Papa John is Chris Bianco and ambiance should be a topping that you can order like fennel sausage." Mic check 1, 2, 1, 2. Bubbles B in the place to be. Comin' outta retirement to work ya like a fireman. What's good, sliceheads? I know it's been a minute, but I have to break you off with a little something. I made a move to the Upper East Side (it's not all bad—Central Park, Museum Mile, D'Ag hags) and can't say much for the pizza thus far,... More

Jonathan Gold, OG: LA Food Critic Digs Gangsta Rap

Pulitzer Prize–winning LA food critic Jonathan Gold (LA Weekly, Gourmet) reveals a love of gangsta rap during a guest DJ session on KCRW. Host Garth Trinidad asks Gold about the time he spent in the studio with Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre while they recorded Doggystyle. ... LA hip-hop had all been like very fast. Like pop, pop, pop, pop. Stuff for the girl in the disco, and he was the guy who like slowed it down and made it gangsta. Chronic, I think, was the total breakthrough album. It crossed over to the bouncing cars to hanging out barbecuing in the park. It was less about bang, bang, bang, and it was more about "this is a neighborhood you... More

Controversy: Did Chicago Food Critic Pat Bruno Unmask Himself on 'Throwdown'?

MenuPages Chicago: "Could it be that the head restaurant reviewer for a major metropolitan newspaper decided to blow his anonymity out of the water by appearing on a highly rated, nationally aired television show featuring the signature dish of his hometown, with his cover being only the inversion of his highly recognizable name?" MP also notes Bobby Flay's praise: "'You guys are the best judges we've ever had... You guys should do this for a living.'"... More

How to Become a Restaurant Reviewer

It's a popular question for San Francisco Chronicle food critic Michael Bauer, who says people should "follow their passion and write, whether on a blog or on established websites. The unique, interesting and trusted voices will rise to the top.” Or you could just join Yelp.... More

Food Critics and Anonymity: Does It Impact Reviews?

The San Francisco Chronicle's Michael Bauer wrote last week in his column on how having a blog gives him the ability to have an open dialogue with both diners and restaurateurs, and as a result, also helps him be more informed as a critic. Given such direct correspondence with the owners, wouldn't it impact his ability to give an objective review? He doesn't think so: Call me dense, but I don't see how corresponding by e-mail with restaurateurs and chefs makes me any less anonymous. This type of interaction only helps to inform my coverage. It has no bearing on whether I'm recognized when I go to a restaurant.Before the Internet, I often would call a chef after the visits... More

Gordon Ramsay Hates the Big Mac and Frank Bruni

Gordon Ramsay is the kind of man that has the words "temper" and "outburst" used in nearly every last thing written about him. The Independent's Jonathan Thompson interviewed Ramsay yesterday to get his reaction on the interviews his former mentor and now long-time nemesis Marco Pierre White's been doing in support of his new book, and of course both "temper" and "outburst" appeared in the piece's very first paragraph. White said "there is a time and a place for McDonald's" and naturally, Ramsay feels quite the opposite: "Strip a Big Mac back of everything it's filled up with and you've got two bland basics: fat and fodder. When you think of how exciting it is to make a hamburger... More

Anthony Bourdain on Chodorow VS Bruni

Just one week after restauranteur Jeffrey Chodorow bought a pricey full-page ad in the New York Times declaring war on food critic Frank Bruni for dissing his new steakhouse with a starless review the week before, Bruni visits Robert's Steakhouse, the restaurant of the Penthouse stripclub in Midtown and gives it a very positive one star review. Anthony Bourdain weighs in: "Maybe I'm being cynical here but the Message seems to be: "Even a freakin' strip club--where you get lap dances offered between courses is better than your soulless, overpriced meat-emporium. I'd rather spend time in a hot tub with Bob Guiccione than you!" Subtext? "Don't Fuck With Me!" Previously: Mimi Sheraton on Chodorow VS Bruni, You Win Some, You...... More

Mimi Sheraton on Chodorow VS Bruni

We mentioned last week that restauranteur Jeffrey Chodorow declared war on the New York Times food section after their food critic Frank Bruni panned Chodorow's new steakhouse Kobe Club and gave it a starless review; former NYT and Time Magazine food critic Mimi Sheraton recently weighed in on the debacle for Slate: Chodorow, of course, was an idiot to have run such an ad. For one thing, it does worlds of good for the critic, indicating he or she has a strong following, and that his or her words can make or break a dining place—in itself a measure of proven dependability. Chodorow questions Bruni's credentials, but one might also ask: What qualifies Chodorow to be a restaurateur? Simply having... More

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