Posting my comment here, because I do not expect it to be accepted and posted with this week's review. Another commenter complained that his meal took way to long to come out, and the food was badly cooked.
Lee P.: I have not eaten at this place, but I had a similar negative experience at another "Hungry City" restaurant, in that the food--of an ethnicity with which I'm well familiar--was mediocre at best. That experience led me to a much closer reading of these write-ups. What I discovered in parsing them is that the romance of the backstory appears to play a huge role, enough to cause Ms. Mishan to gloss over what would be considered major flaws in a more mainstream place. You expected a modicum of expediency in service and quality in cooking, neither an unreasonable hope for a place that takes money to feed customers, and were disappointed on both; this review says: "Time bends here; a meal might take four hours, even when the dining room is empty. The kitchen is still finding its footing — or, perhaps, you are being asked to pause and learn a different pace of life."
I do not fault the restaurateurs promoted in the column. They surely must be doing the best they can. And they probably fuss over the dishes to be photographed in ways they may not over regular plates. My own experience elsewhere was at odds with the slide show, too. (I've been at photo shoots for other, "mainstream" restaurants, and everyone wants to make the food look especially enticing.) But I no longer make the special trip to eat at Hungry City restaurants.
ETA: they did post it.
GerryOlds (below): Of course it's not acceptable. Some would say not even for a fancy-schmancy tasting menu. And certainly not for bad food.
I figured it wouldn't be worth it to refer to Mishan as "the Jim Leff of the print world" since I suspect very few NYT readers would get the reference. But really, she is. She seems never to have let food knowledge (which I question her having) get in the way of a sob story. Remember the Dominican place in the Bronx she wrote up last November, where everything is from a steam table? The slide show may make the food look nice, even as served in aluminum foil takeout containers with plastic forks, but I doubt it is any better than the many places in that or other Dominican enclaves around the city. But aw gosh, it's a memorial to the cook's mother who died in 2001 when that plane on its way to the DR crashed, with whom she had worked a food truck. How can you not admire her pluck and love such a place? And oh look at the "salt-of-the-earth" folks who eat there (including a toddler sitting on the counter, yuck)? Such a diverse (= probably different from your average NYT reader) crowd! Let's go slumming there!
There are very few people in this world that I could say I hate. But Mishan is one, for the sins of leading people astray through horrible writing. And pandering.