Grub Street posted Adam Platt's take on the new Eater restaurant reviews. Some highlights:
- "I think it's a watershed moment in the development of food-writing for the web. Of course, these days everyone's writing for the web, but until recently, there's been a vague division between critics who write in print and "critics" who write only online. . . . Now, by hiring these highly credentialed critics who will be visiting restaurants repeated times, and paying for their own meals, Eater is saying, The web has grown up. Those days are over."
- "Clearly they're taking it all very seriously, and the system they've come up with — four stars, anonymous visits, no free food, no mingling with chefs — is straight out of the New York Times playbook. In fact, it's pretty clear that what they want to do is to challenge the Times directly."
- "But as far as their choice for the stars, and the critics' anonymity, I was a little surprised by how doctrinaire the system is. I mean, this is the web. This is the brave new world. Let's reinvent the wheel here. Let's do something that no one's ever seen before."
- "Star systems have a way of ensnaring their creators, however. Ryan Sutton has already declared that little Roberta's, this former tumbledown pizza collective out in Bushwick, is a three-star restaurant, which puts it on par, if you believe the Times, or Adam Platt, for that matter, with Manhattan giants like Craft and Gotham Bar and Grill. We'll see how that plays out going forward, but I can already hear the sounds of old-line Manhattan chefs and restaurateurs gnashing their teeth."
As far as I know, Platt is the only major critic who hands out stars, but says repeatedly that he hates the system. (In another interview, he said that the star system was forced on him.) When the L. A. Times dropped stars from its restaurant reviews, Pete Wells published a piece explicitly defending the current system, though he was at pains to say that the stars are not a complete substitute for reading the review. As far as doing "something that no one's ever seen before," I'm not sure what he means, and he doesn't suggest a direction.
Platt also says that he's a fan of the idea of the "living review," and at times he has wished he could go back and modify his reviews. This is the one thing Eater's doing that no publication has done, so it'll be interesting to see how that plays out.