I love this article by food writer Josh Ozersky, which I read over at EaterNY, entitled “Attn: New York Times: How to Redeem Restaurant Criticism”:
Food writing can be tough, but it’s a breeze next to restaurant reviewing. How many ways are there to say something is delicious? And how many ways can you say a steak is tender or tough? Critics don’t want to strive over such tedious tasks; they’d rather speak to the spirit of the age, make funny asides about the crowd, and position themselves as social observers with a keen and far-seeing eye. That’s why over the past few years many have used their columns to pen wry, H.L. Mencken–esque drolleries that serve nobody but their own egos. Let’s make no mistake here: the restaurant review is a service feature. Its purpose is to tell people whether they should or should not go to a place to eat there. A broad aside about the room is fine, but food is the main product a restaurant sells; that’s what the critic should be focusing on. (Service matters too, but critics rarely get to really experience it the way civilians do.) In my opinion, having fought the urge so often myself, a restaurant critic should take no cheap shots, keep his opinion of hipsters and snobs strictly to himself and stick to talking about the food. He or she needs to order a lot of things and write about all of them. Period.
Of course it’s fun for me to call out obvious prostitutes in my review of a restaurant, and terrible service can ruin an otherwise okay dinner for me, but HELL YEAH, Josh Ozersky. I spend a lot of time describing dishes so you don’t just have to rely on my version of what’s delicious and not, and I have no idea why anyone would want to read a food critic who doesn’t.
photo by The Daily Dish
I know that Niko and Chubby don’t like super-sweet desserts, so when they say something’s too sweet, I figure it’s just about right for me. I know that Dishy doesn’t eat much salt, so when she says one of her recipes is plenty flavorful without it, I have daydreams of myself emptying a whole canister of Morton’s on the plate. You know that I don’t like tomatoes, so when I say I actually enjoyed them in a dish, you know you’d like them even more.
If we were just saying “this restaurant is good” or “this restaurant sucks” in a one-paragraph summary with one picture of the decor, you’d know that we had very little interest in the food itself. And this ain’t L.A., people; we actually go to NYC restaurants to eat. So quit sucking, sucky food critics.