Steve Plotnicki's Opinionated About Dining Survey hasn't even been out a week and folks in Chicago have let him know in no uncertain terms how they feel about it and him.
First, Chicago Reader's Julia Thiel calls into question Plotnicki's insistence on revealing his presence to the chef because he (Plotnicki) wants to get the chef's best shot. She correctly points out that Plotnicki's policy simply guarantees that he will not get the same treatment an anonymous critic or average diner would. Plotnicki's recent blog post about Momofuku Ko speaks volumes about this issue.
Then Serious Eats' Chicago correspondent, Michael Nagrant, ratchets up his colleague's criticism more than a few notches on his site, Hungrymag. He calls Plotnicki a shill because of similar objections.
At Serious Eats we haven't had time to read the entirety of Plotnicki's guide, but based on what I have read, I don't think Plotnicki is necessarily a shill. He may be a food snob and a bit of a wannabe trying to earn a place for himself in food journalism by a) recklessly and baselessly criticizing critics like the New York Times' Frank Bruni, and by b) his insistence that his survey methodology (a weighted average of ratings based on the diner's experience) will result in the most accurate, trustworthy survey ever. There doesn't seem to be much to support that assertion.
Now maybe the Chicagoans are feeling bent out of shape because Plotnicki's survey doesn't give Chicago dining its props. Only Alinea cracked his top ten list in North America. But it's more likely that Plotnicki's guide and methodology in fact raises many more significant questions than it answers.
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