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The Sam Sifton thread


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Four years after declaring stars irrelevant, the Post's Steve Cuozzo has brought them back from the dead, awarding three stars to the new Oceana. That's fairly complimentary, but the old place had four—the last to receive that honor in the Post.

 

Cue Rich to go into mourning. When Cuozzo dropped the stars, I recall he had dearly hoped it would be a sign of things to come. Instead, more news organizations and blogs (ahem) have added them, which apparently was why the Post thought it should rejoin the party.

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I think OTT comes much more easily to Sam than it does to Frank. So hold on to your hats, everybody.

I disagree.

You don't think Sifton, when writing about food, is much less forced than Bruni and more, um, facile, when attempting to be clever? Because then you're right, we disagree.

 

This is facile and unforced? Or only by comparison? To me it's showing off that he knows the history of less-than-stellar dining in NYC while using fairly stylized (that is, convoluted and impenetrable) language. But then, I don't understand why Cowgirl Seahorse is even being written about (other than politics, I suppose). Yes, I have eaten there (it's very close to my house); it's okay, but nothing to write home about, so to speak. Besides, he missed mentioning the tacos, which are quite good in a highly inauthentic way. :P

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Four years after declaring stars irrelevant, the Post's Steve Cuozzo has brought them back from the dead, awarding three stars to the new Oceana. That's fairly complimentary, but the old place had four—the last to receive that honor in the Post.

 

Cuozzo's reasoning:

 

What pushed me was that there are no "anonymous" reviewers any more. When I dropped star-giving four years ago, one reason was that I was recognized in too many restaurants after years of making the rounds. Not every other critic was. Now they're all recognized. Every new restaurant has a squad at the front to spot them. I know from my sources when X or Y was at a certain place last night -- some times, what they ate and drank.

 

So, the recognition-playing field is level again.

 

quoted on Eater

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I saw an on line piece recently where a group of chefs were interviewed about spotting Bruni. Out of a group of 8, 7 claimed he was spotted in their restaurant. I'll be damned if I can find the article now. You'll have to trust me. :)

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Cuozzo's reasoning:

 

What pushed me was that there are no "anonymous" reviewers any more. When I dropped star-giving four years ago, one reason was that I was recognized in too many restaurants after years of making the rounds. Not every other critic was. Now they're all recognized. Every new restaurant has a squad at the front to spot them. I know from my sources when X or Y was at a certain place last night -- some times, what they ate and drank.

Naturally, anything that appears in the Post is something of an exaggeration. Cuozzo is also revising history.

 

I can't find an online copy of the column where he announced he was dropping the stars. But as I recall, he didn't say, "I'm dropping them because everyone recognizes me." He said that he didn't think they were useful any more, because the ratings quickly become obsolete. You give three stars to V Steakhouse (which Cuozzo did), and then JGV never sets foot in the place again.

 

And of course, the fact that critics are often recognized isn't exactly a new development.

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I saw an on line piece recently where a group of chefs were interviewed about spotting Bruni. Out of a group of 8, 7 claimed he was spotted in their restaurant. I'll be damned if I can find the article now. You'll have to trust me. :)

metromix, i think. and the one that didn't spot him wasn't at the restaurant during the review process

 

old school used to be little (or no) talking about spotting critics but it's definitely changed. just a few days ago marea's chef said this to eater:

 

Sifton has only had a small part of the menu, he’s got a while to go to get through a decent portion of it in order to do a review.

 

not exactly in the same vein as ripert directly addressing the critic at the restaurant but definitely telling sifton he'd been made.

 

and they know what he ate :lol:

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metromix, i think. and the one that didn't spot him wasn't at the restaurant during the review process

Thanks. After searching unsuccessfully for 10 minutes I was beginning to think the article was part of my recurring dream which features Wilf and Oakie locked in eternal combat.

 

Here's a little gasoline for the fire.

 

ETA - Thanks to Taion as well.

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I have to wonder, though; are there any newspapers or other regional publications that use an anonymous reviewer, akin to the Michelin inspectors? You'd think that if they just got rid of the byline on the reviews, it'd at least make things somewhat more difficult for the restaurants.

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Cuozzo's reasoning:

 

What pushed me was that there are no "anonymous" reviewers any more. When I dropped star-giving four years ago, one reason was that I was recognized in too many restaurants after years of making the rounds. Not every other critic was. Now they're all recognized. Every new restaurant has a squad at the front to spot them. I know from my sources when X or Y was at a certain place last night -- some times, what they ate and drank.

Naturally, anything that appears in the Post is something of an exaggeration. Cuozzo is also revising history.

 

I can't find an online copy of the column where he announced he was dropping the stars. But as I recall, he didn't say, "I'm dropping them because everyone recognizes me." He said that he didn't think they were useful any more, because the ratings quickly become obsolete. You give three stars to V Steakhouse (which Cuozzo did), and then JGV never sets foot in the place again.

 

And of course, the fact that critics are often recognized isn't exactly a new development.

yup, i was just thinking about that article and the ratings part he did not mention. frankly, he was never particularly concerned with anonymity then, not only hanging out with restaurateurs and chefs at parties but also being personal friends.

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