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#16 marauder

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Posted 25 January 2011 - 01:11 AM

Tommy should step down off the soap box. I've been the sous, chef de cusisine or Executive chef at many a restaurant that sent Tommy a free plate of food. Same goes for MANY of the people that post here, EGullet (stories about people from that cesspool that would make your head spin...including a few "do you know who I am" comments and chowhound. Baristanet makes no bones about who she is and neither does Rosie. To lob a rocket over Jason's bow is disingenuous at best and comically hypocritical at worst.

I've been the Sous at a start-up restaurant where Tommy knocked on the delivery door and introduced himself to us, his blog and told us he would be back for dinner the following Friday...and even in instances where he doesn't, there aren't many bloggers who go through the extreme trouble of detailing every single margarita experience they have ever had in New Jersey and then walking into your restaurant and ordering a silver margarita with a splash of cointreau and a squeeze of fresh lime juice--interrogating the bartender at every step. He is the James Bond of margarita's in New Jersey. It's not hard to "make him" even if he didn't already tell you who he was...

#17 Rail Paul

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Posted 25 January 2011 - 02:01 AM

One of the nice things about the internet, at least for me, is the democratization of criticism. Some of it is excellent, some is pure garbage, and the rest is in between. The theater world isn't dominated by Ben Brantley's opinions any longer, although they're important. By the time the play finally opens (Spider-Man, anyone?), hundreds of reviews have been posted.

Restaurants aren't much different, as far as I can tell. People are offered VIP seats or previews, and other people solicit the stuff. There are some diners whose opinions I trust completely, and many others whose writing and breadth of samples I enjoy, even if their experiences haven't matched mine in the past. For me, it's about calibration, although some times the reported experience is so awful I lack any interest in trying out the place. No different than Broadway, again. Or, book reviews, or electronics purchases, or classical music presentations, etc etc

I may take a ride over to Zinburger tomorrow. I'm intrigued enough to check it out.
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#18 marauder

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Posted 25 January 2011 - 02:28 AM

One of the nice things about the internet, at least for me, is the democratization of criticism. Some of it is excellent, some is pure garbage, and the rest is in between. The theater world isn't dominated by Ben Brantley's opinions any longer, although they're important. By the time the play finally opens (Spider-Man, anyone?), hundreds of reviews have been posted.

Restaurants aren't much different, as far as I can tell. People are offered VIP seats or previews, and other people solicit the stuff. There are some diners whose opinions I trust completely, and many others whose writing and breadth of samples I enjoy, even if their experiences haven't matched mine in the past. For me, it's about calibration, although some times the reported experience is so awful I lack any interest in trying out the place. No different than Broadway, again. Or, book reviews, or electronics purchases, or classical music presentations, etc etc

I may take a ride over to Zinburger tomorrow. I'm intrigued enough to check it out.


Perfectly well said...

#19 E.L.A.

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Posted 25 January 2011 - 05:26 PM

One of the nice things about the internet, at least for me, is the democratization of criticism. Some of it is excellent, some is pure garbage, and the rest is in between. The theater world isn't dominated by Ben Brantley's opinions any longer, although they're important. By the time the play finally opens (Spider-Man, anyone?), hundreds of reviews have been posted.

Restaurants aren't much different, as far as I can tell. People are offered VIP seats or previews, and other people solicit the stuff. There are some diners whose opinions I trust completely, and many others whose writing and breadth of samples I enjoy, even if their experiences haven't matched mine in the past. For me, it's about calibration, although some times the reported experience is so awful I lack any interest in trying out the place. No different than Broadway, again. Or, book reviews, or electronics purchases, or classical music presentations, etc etc

I may take a ride over to Zinburger tomorrow. I'm intrigued enough to check it out.


Very good points.

While I can't speak to any of the specific bloggers, reporters, critics, or otherwise, I see some of this in my own industry. I find that when I read a critics review of a restaurant there are several things at play. First, most often, I don't know the critic personally. Thus, I don't know their likes, dislikes, style, etc. I have no idea if they "are like me" so to speak. Second, for whatever reason, my mind does not automatically go to place where I am thinking "they got free food" or anything of the like. I can't explain why. That said, yes, I understand about objectivity and integrity in process. Again, I've seen that in my business. I look at the "best of" list for my industry and related industries -- allied professionals, attorneys, wealth management, etc. -- and I do see names on those lists that very much surprise me. I understand why. I get it. Are there people/firms who are advertising, and/or supporting events? Sure. Does that get one's name on a list? Maybe. Who really knows, other than in the mind and perhaps the discussion of the participants?

In this case, I don't know what people do -- asking for food, calling attention, demanding, etc. I guess it will always be the X factor for me.

#20 marauder

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Posted 25 January 2011 - 05:45 PM


One of the nice things about the internet, at least for me, is the democratization of criticism. Some of it is excellent, some is pure garbage, and the rest is in between. The theater world isn't dominated by Ben Brantley's opinions any longer, although they're important. By the time the play finally opens (Spider-Man, anyone?), hundreds of reviews have been posted.

Restaurants aren't much different, as far as I can tell. People are offered VIP seats or previews, and other people solicit the stuff. There are some diners whose opinions I trust completely, and many others whose writing and breadth of samples I enjoy, even if their experiences haven't matched mine in the past. For me, it's about calibration, although some times the reported experience is so awful I lack any interest in trying out the place. No different than Broadway, again. Or, book reviews, or electronics purchases, or classical music presentations, etc etc

I may take a ride over to Zinburger tomorrow. I'm intrigued enough to check it out.


Very good points.

While I can't speak to any of the specific bloggers, reporters, critics, or otherwise, I see some of this in my own industry. I find that when I read a critics review of a restaurant there are several things at play. First, most often, I don't know the critic personally. Thus, I don't know their likes, dislikes, style, etc. I have no idea if they "are like me" so to speak. Second, for whatever reason, my mind does not automatically go to place where I am thinking "they got free food" or anything of the like. I can't explain why. That said, yes, I understand about objectivity and integrity in process. Again, I've seen that in my business. I look at the "best of" list for my industry and related industries -- allied professionals, attorneys, wealth management, etc. -- and I do see names on those lists that very much surprise me. I understand why. I get it. Are there people/firms who are advertising, and/or supporting events? Sure. Does that get one's name on a list? Maybe. Who really knows, other than in the mind and perhaps the discussion of the participants?

In this case, I don't know what people do -- asking for food, calling attention, demanding, etc. I guess it will always be the X factor for me.



I've posted about this topic here before. Overall, the advent of food blogging and the internet, sites like this, etc., has to be viewed as a positive for the industry. The increased exposure is great, to have your restaurant be on the tip of someone's consciousness long after the review period has passed is priceless. Where I tend to get pissy about food bloggers is in two key areas.

1. Some of them run their sites/blogs as if they were professional reviewers. What many of them either don't know or fail to act on, is that professional reviewers almost always have a follow up conversation (post reviewing visits, prior to review being published) in which critical bits of information--ingredients, cooking methods, reasons for combinations, etc.) are discussed with the chef/GM/owner. To skip this step does a disservice to the person reading the "review" as well as the establishment being reviewed and in many cases skews what somebody might take away from a review. This can ultimately affect whether or not someone tries a restaurant.

2. This board especially has a very informed, refined collective "palate." This board seems to sub-consciously be hard on the places that don't excite them, in favor of places that do. As a casual observer here, I have always detected a bias against the "boring" even if well done, in favor of the "wow, that totally was unexpected and blew me away." If my restaurant is predicated on the "non inventive, but well done"--bistro, comfort, low brow (non haute) ethnic, do I deserve a 6 or 7 page thread telling the world that the food was "boring...if not properly cooked?" That has always been a pet peeve of mine here, but I admit that there is no real "solution" to that critique.

#21 menton1

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Posted 26 January 2011 - 02:45 PM

Well, also, marauder, many bloggers take themselves too seriously, and are humorless. Even a lousy dish can look great in a photo, especially if you are hungry.

Tommy's quote here was right on, IMHO. Lots of bloggers are just in it for the comped food invites and are really pawns of the resto doling out the food. How can they write an objective review of a food orgy? It also gives the bloggers a false sense of importance. I thought Tommy was absolutely right.

And, as I've said before, Tommy's blog is very refreshing because there's a lot more text than photos, all comments get posted, and most importantly he doesn't take himself too seriously, so it's very refreshing.

#22 marauder

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Posted 26 January 2011 - 09:07 PM

Well, also, marauder, many bloggers take themselves too seriously, and are humorless. Even a lousy dish can look great in a photo, especially if you are hungry.

Tommy's quote here was right on, IMHO. Lots of bloggers are just in it for the comped food invites and are really pawns of the resto doling out the food. How can they write an objective review of a food orgy? It also gives the bloggers a false sense of importance. I thought Tommy was absolutely right.

And, as I've said before, Tommy's blog is very refreshing because there's a lot more text than photos, all comments get posted, and most importantly he doesn't take himself too seriously, so it's very refreshing.


Even though he personally eats at the trough? That is the part where I call bullshit. If I wanted to out myself, which in close to 4-5 years of posting here I've purposely chosen not to do, I could easily list place, relative date and situation that Tommy has eaten free food and ultimately gone to the pages of his blog and wrote positively about the experience. My point in not whether Tommy brings a refreshing style to his blog or even whether or not he is a "good" or "bad" guy. Generally, he is a GREAT guy. Generally, his blog is quite funny. Generally, his blog is incredibly refreshing and self effacing. It just crosses the line IN THIS INSTANCE, when he talks of people being influenced, directly or indirectly, because they don't "pay." Has he disclosed all comps, all the time? Does he take a personal "liking" to a restaurant or chef and give them treatment in his blog that Cheeseburger in Paradise in Wayne(as an example) doesn't get? This is an instance of pot meeting kettle. Now, it may have been a throw away line that doesn't merit him being crucified. However, I think it was somewhere in between that and a general poke in the eye of the more established/better known bloggers. Sort of a "look at me" I'm going to approach this from a "more pure" perspective, because I picked up the entire tab myself.

#23 Rail Paul

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Posted 26 January 2011 - 10:21 PM


Well, also, marauder, many bloggers take themselves too seriously, and are humorless. Even a lousy dish can look great in a photo, especially if you are hungry.

Tommy's quote here was right on, IMHO. Lots of bloggers are just in it for the comped food invites and are really pawns of the resto doling out the food. How can they write an objective review of a food orgy? It also gives the bloggers a false sense of importance. I thought Tommy was absolutely right.

And, as I've said before, Tommy's blog is very refreshing because there's a lot more text than photos, all comments get posted, and most importantly he doesn't take himself too seriously, so it's very refreshing.


Even though he personally eats at the trough? That is the part where I call bullshit. If I wanted to out myself, which in close to 4-5 years of posting here I've purposely chosen not to do, I could easily list place, relative date and situation that Tommy has eaten free food and ultimately gone to the pages of his blog and wrote positively about the experience. My point in not whether Tommy brings a refreshing style to his blog or even whether or not he is a "good" or "bad" guy. Generally, he is a GREAT guy. Generally, his blog is quite funny. Generally, his blog is incredibly refreshing and self effacing. It just crosses the line IN THIS INSTANCE, when he talks of people being influenced, directly or indirectly, because they don't "pay." Has he disclosed all comps, all the time? Does he take a personal "liking" to a restaurant or chef and give them treatment in his blog that Cheeseburger in Paradise in Wayne(as an example) doesn't get? This is an instance of pot meeting kettle. Now, it may have been a throw away line that doesn't merit him being crucified. However, I think it was somewhere in between that and a general poke in the eye of the more established/better known bloggers. Sort of a "look at me" I'm going to approach this from a "more pure" perspective, because I picked up the entire tab myself.



There's a conundrum, if ever there was one.

I generally agree with Tommy's tastes, based on 10 years of following them, all the way back to Rosie's FoodBytes circa 2000. So, based on my experience, I think I'd have to conclude that he writes honestly about places he likes (regardless of whether he was comp'd) and if he doesn't like a place, I probably won't either.

That's generally NOT been my experience with some other newspaper reviewers, bloggers, shills, and other folks. I've had great meals in places some people hated (Karla Cook is a contrarian indicator for me), and been appalled by some places people raved about.

Note, I'm not addressing the hypocrisy angle. If you're soliciting / getting free meals or free courses etc I feel you should mention them. Regardless of whether you think you're above being influenced. That's pretty basic, as I see it.
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#24 DHL

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Posted 26 January 2011 - 10:36 PM



Well, also, marauder, many bloggers take themselves too seriously, and are humorless. Even a lousy dish can look great in a photo, especially if you are hungry.

Tommy's quote here was right on, IMHO. Lots of bloggers are just in it for the comped food invites and are really pawns of the resto doling out the food. How can they write an objective review of a food orgy? It also gives the bloggers a false sense of importance. I thought Tommy was absolutely right.

And, as I've said before, Tommy's blog is very refreshing because there's a lot more text than photos, all comments get posted, and most importantly he doesn't take himself too seriously, so it's very refreshing.


Even though he personally eats at the trough? That is the part where I call bullshit. If I wanted to out myself, which in close to 4-5 years of posting here I've purposely chosen not to do, I could easily list place, relative date and situation that Tommy has eaten free food and ultimately gone to the pages of his blog and wrote positively about the experience. My point in not whether Tommy brings a refreshing style to his blog or even whether or not he is a "good" or "bad" guy. Generally, he is a GREAT guy. Generally, his blog is quite funny. Generally, his blog is incredibly refreshing and self effacing. It just crosses the line IN THIS INSTANCE, when he talks of people being influenced, directly or indirectly, because they don't "pay." Has he disclosed all comps, all the time? Does he take a personal "liking" to a restaurant or chef and give them treatment in his blog that Cheeseburger in Paradise in Wayne(as an example) doesn't get? This is an instance of pot meeting kettle. Now, it may have been a throw away line that doesn't merit him being crucified. However, I think it was somewhere in between that and a general poke in the eye of the more established/better known bloggers. Sort of a "look at me" I'm going to approach this from a "more pure" perspective, because I picked up the entire tab myself.



There's a conundrum, if ever there was one.

I generally agree with Tommy's tastes, based on 10 years of following them, all the way back to Rosie's FoodBytes circa 2000. So, based on my experience, I think I'd have to conclude that he writes honestly about places he likes (regardless of whether he was comp'd) and if he doesn't like a place, I probably won't either.

That's generally NOT been my experience with some other newspaper reviewers, bloggers, shills, and other folks. I've had great meals in places some people hated (Karla Cook is a contrarian indicator for me), and been appalled by some places people raved about.

Note, I'm not addressing the hypocrisy angle. If you're soliciting / getting free meals or free courses etc I feel you should mention them. Regardless of whether you think you're above being influenced. That's pretty basic, as I see it.


I agree with Rail Paul about the quality of tommy:eats restaurant comments. I started reading the blog probably soon after it went live, although that was the first time I read anything he wrote. My three + years of experience has shown me that his blog is the most accurate predictor of quality in a restaurant among all of the local blogs.

As for the ad hominem remarks by a few other commenters here? I think that those comments are inappropriate, can't be verified, and strongly suggest ulterior motives.

#25 Lex

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Posted 26 January 2011 - 10:44 PM

I trust Marauder implicitly.

During the time he's written Off the Broiler Jason has built a reputation for integrity. I have some quibbles with him now and then but overall, I trust him too.
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#26 Rail Paul

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Posted 26 January 2011 - 10:53 PM

I trust Marauder implicitly.

During the time he's written Off the Broiler Jason has built a reputation for integrity. I have some quibbles with him now and then but overall, I trust him too.


Yes.
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#27 Sneakeater

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Posted 26 January 2011 - 11:06 PM

1. Some of them run their sites/blogs as if they were professional reviewers. What many of them either don't know or fail to act on, is that professional reviewers almost always have a follow up conversation (post reviewing visits, prior to review being published) in which critical bits of information--ingredients, cooking methods, reasons for combinations, etc.) are discussed with the chef/GM/owner. To skip this step does a disservice to the person reading the "review" as well as the establishment being reviewed and in many cases skews what somebody might take away from a review. This can ultimately affect whether or not someone tries a restaurant.


Until Frank Bruni started writing about such phone calls openly, I always assumed that food critics just KNEW all that stuff (re ingredients, techniques, etc.). I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but this new knowledge made me feel much less inferior.

(I had the same experience years and years sitting next to a critic at a dance performance. She had a set of press materials that explained all the abstruse cultural references in the work. I always thought critics just KNEW all that stuff.)

2. This board especially has a very informed, refined collective "palate." This board seems to sub-consciously be hard on the places that don't excite them, in favor of places that do. As a casual observer here, I have always detected a bias against the "boring" even if well done, in favor of the "wow, that totally was unexpected and blew me away." If my restaurant is predicated on the "non inventive, but well done"--bistro, comfort, low brow (non haute) ethnic, do I deserve a 6 or 7 page thread telling the world that the food was "boring...if not properly cooked?" That has always been a pet peeve of mine here, but I admit that there is no real "solution" to that critique.


If there isn't already a thread about this on the General food board here, there ought to be.
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#28 OTB

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Posted 27 January 2011 - 12:53 AM


1. Some of them run their sites/blogs as if they were professional reviewers. What many of them either don't know or fail to act on, is that professional reviewers almost always have a follow up conversation (post reviewing visits, prior to review being published) in which critical bits of information--ingredients, cooking methods, reasons for combinations, etc.) are discussed with the chef/GM/owner. To skip this step does a disservice to the person reading the "review" as well as the establishment being reviewed and in many cases skews what somebody might take away from a review. This can ultimately affect whether or not someone tries a restaurant.


Until Frank Bruni started writing about such phone calls openly, I always assumed that food critics just KNEW all that stuff (re ingredients, techniques, etc.). I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but this new knowledge made me feel much less inferior.

(I had the same experience years and years sitting next to a critic at a dance performance. She had a set of press materials that explained all the abstruse cultural references in the work. I always thought critics just KNEW all that stuff.)


I always try to do plenty of research about the place I am writing about, and the specific dishes I try. However, anyone can have gaps in their knowledge about something, even in subjects/area they know a great deal about. I'll never profess to be an expert in any cuisine or even cooking techniques themselves. I'm not sure anyone can be.
Jason Perlow
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#29 OTB

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Posted 27 January 2011 - 12:56 AM

I trust Marauder implicitly.

During the time he's written Off the Broiler Jason has built a reputation for integrity. I have some quibbles with him now and then but overall, I trust him too.


It is also within your right to comment on my blog if you feel I've made an error or a questionable or unfair judgement. I've also with reader feedback corrected mistakes and have pointed them out. I do this on Off The Broiler as well as on my tech blog at ZDNet. That's sort of the whole point of this New Media/Blogging thing, to have reader interaction.
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Sr. Technology Editor, ZDNet / CBS Interactive
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#30 marauder

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Posted 27 January 2011 - 04:27 AM

I'm not sure how I should react to not "being trusted" by a person who has one post. lol. As I've said, I could easily post under my real name--a name that certainly Rail Paul, Jason, Rosey and many other NJ centric posters would know--which would conceivably give my restaurant a bump. I've purposely NOT done that as I feel it allows me to give a "behind the scenes" view of the business that the board didn't have. Also, it allows me to post opinions of friends or colleagues places in a more direct manner without fear of awkward looks at the next charity function.

While I certainly respect the hell out of Nick Gati and Dave Santos for being open about who they are, I choose to go about it another way.

That being said, I haven't written anything about Tommy that a) I HAVEN'T already told him in person and b)nothing that he really needs to be ashamed or embarrassed about. As far as blogs go, I enjoy his because of the comedic value and the "every man" approach he takes to his writing. And I will clarify that he does go out of his way to pay his own way. He is not one of these people who come into your restaurant wanting to eat for free. In the situation I am talking about is the case where both blogger and restaurant are responsible for creating a slightly awkward situation. "Here, try this...from the kitchen." "No, put it on my bill." "No, it's something we're working on and blah blah blah." All I'm saying is that Tommy has commented on places where he has eaten free food. I'm not making room for him at Gitmo, but I thought it necessary to come to Jason's defense (not that he needed it) in this instance. I felt Tommy took a cheap shot over something he has done in the past.