Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Not that I have actually managed to keep up with this blogging business...but this is officially the end anyway...Sam Sifton quitting as Restaurant critic:


Sunday, May 29, 2011

I love New York

Jay-Z wasn't wrong when he gave the shout to New York. This concrete jungle where dreams are made of...it shines at the beginning of summer like no place else on earth. I started this blog because I feel like this city deserves more from its most important restaurant critic than what Sifton has offered, but its really about my love of New York. I realized recently, as I have stalled in my updating, that there are just so many ways to point out the problems with Sam Sifton (particularly when I can't afford to eat at all the places he reviews), so from here forward I will also be writing about all the ways in which I love New York.

Summer has finally arrived and it was the perfect opportunity to go to Coney Island.  The new park is open and the rides are killer. But more importantly after snacking on the original Nathan's, we strolled down the Boardwalk to Russia. Borscht, veraniki, and beet salad....mmmmm. Wandered through true Americana, an amusement park with a domestic draft in a paper cup.  Followed by a stop off in the east vill....and late night Japanese.  What better way to end a day than with perfectly grilled squid and a glass of cold sake?

This is the city that dreams are made of, and those dreams have brought us the worlds food.  I love you New York.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Reviewing the Review of Niko

Let me start this post by telling you that I have never been to Niko.  I may go, I may not. I don't know and Sam Sifton's review did nothing to assist me in making a decision.  However, he did include in this review an honest statement and one that summarizes why I dislike him: "Still, the point of Niko is not really the food"  He gave Niko a star and made it a critics pick and titled the review "Swimming with the beautiful people."  This is the problem, this is why Sam Sifton should be fired. The point of a restaurant is always the food.  After you have mastered the food you should certainly be concerned about the atmosphere, but atmosphere and crap food is pointless. 


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Reviewing the Review of Vandaag

I snuck in a meal at Vandaag last week. It was pleasant, the food was good, but I am a sucker for anyone that will serve me a bowl of house-made pickled vegetables.  The mains were fully enjoyable, but not large.  I had a braised shortrib, my dinner partner had one of the fish specials.  The surly but competent waiter suggested we order a side of potatoes. They came glazed in some sort of syrup, with crisp bacon bits, and shallots. They were fatty, salty, sweet and addictive. And unfortunately for Vandaag, they are the only thing about the meal that I remember.

Which brings me to Sam Sifton...he gave Vandaag two stars and made it a critic's pick. While Vandaag is a totally acceptable, even pretty good restaurant, two stars is absurd. Perhaps I was not as impressed by the space as dear Sam seemed to be. The entire first page of his review is dedicated to the look of the restaurant and the cocktails.  Vandaag is a large open space with tables and benches and nothing more. I have zero concept of why this was so impressive to Sam Sifton.  Its not ugly, but its sparse, and uninteresting. The old school kitschy plates and floral pattern aprons that the servers have to wear scream "hipsters please come in."

Once again, the stars seem to mean almost nothing.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Does food matter at all?

More on this topic later, but I felt the need to share two quotes:

1.  "Design matters in restaurants as much as food. Sometimes more. "  9/22 Review of Vandaag (which I just ate at and will do a full Review of the Review soon)

2.  "Two additions to the city’s Indian fine-dining scene are a reminder that restaurants are about more than food." 4/1 - Crosstown Tour of India

At least he admits that he doesn't particularly care if the food is good. No, this doesn't make him right.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Barry O's at Red Rooster

Barry O's at Red Rooster for a $30,000 per plate fund raiser today. The stellar always reliable news source, the Metro, ran an article today discussing how people in Harlem think its too expensive and they can't go. Hmm, thanks for that Metro. But it does beg the question...was Sam Sifton on to something when he claimed that Red Rooster was perhaps the most important restaurant to open in years?  Somehow I still doubt that statement, and I know that Sifty was totally wrong about his reasons for making that claim (aka inter-racial dining). But, it does seem important that Barry chose a location in Harlem, and that there is a fine-dining option available for this sort of extravagant dinner. Its better than having it in another midtown establishment.

That being said...can someone lend me $30,000? I promise to tell Barry O that we cannot have a new war in an oil rich country with no clear plan and no exit strategy.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Reviewing the review of La Petite Maison

Here we go again...One Star rating and its a critics pick. Food, apparently a mix of boring, bad, and expensive...with the insanely expensive being the only truly reccomended option.  $55 Truffle Mac and Cheese? Not unless its 75% truffle...which somehow I doubt. Then he says this:

"The whole place can be overwhelming and, indeed, absurd, a kind of pantomime vacation on the Riviera, here in Midtown. The waiters are hustling you to order Armagnacs to accompany frigid and tasteless chestnuts and cream, or leaden apple beignets. (Listen to them. You’ve spent this much!) Women dressed as Jennifer Lopez circa the Puffy gun trial bob heads to the music. There are many questions to be asked about plastic surgery and wealth management. "

So why the Star? Why a critics pick? Like every other place Sam Sifton thinks is worth a star...hot waitresses. I think perhaps Sam Sifton needs a shrink to work through some of his issues. This new found attention from attractive women in restaurants is not due to anything other than the job you do so poorly Mr. Sifton.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Et tu NY Times?

Yet another reason for this blog...

I have tried to comment on Sifton's reviews, in an appropriate non-abusive and relevant manner, and the NY Times refuses to post them.  Apparently the NY Times is not interested in everyones comments, they are only interested in those that further their agenda.  It is appalling to me that they invite comments (Diner's Journal) and then filter them to their liking.  I certainly did not use inappropriate language and I certainly did not say anything that could not have been published, so I am certain that I was censored purely for the content of my comment.

I expect this from the Daily News, but et tu NY Times?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Reviewing the Review of Red Rooster

Here's the thing about Sam Sifton, this particular review is a perfect example of all that I hate about him.  Red Rooster is an excellent restaurant. The food is varied, well executed, and quite frankly delicious...more on that later. However, it takes Sam Sifton until the second page of his review before he bothers to insert a throw away paragraph about the food.  This is the problem with Sam Sifton - his obsession with the other diners. His review of Red Rooster highlights it in the worst way. He is OBSESSED with the diversity of the crowd, going so far as to claim that Red Rooster "will surely be counted as among the most important" restaurants to be opened this year. Why? Not because the food is amazing, or ground breaking, but because two black women in hats sat next to white men and some mixed race couples. And even more shocking....gays! Lions, and tigers, and bears oh my!!Sam Sifton has apparently not been outside of midtown or the UES in several years.  The crowd at Red Rooster is no different than it is at Native, or the new Beer Garden, or any of the other restaurants in Harlem. Leave your little world a bit more often Mr. Sifton and you might not be so surprised to learn that blacks, whites, and everyone in between (regardless of sex or sexual orientation) has learned to get along and appreciate food.

As to the food, and the service, and the other things that restaurant critics (and customers) typically care about...Red Rooster delivers.  We had the corn tacos...more like ceviche in a tiny hard taco shell...and they were superb. Crispy, fresh, and the perfect way to begin a meal.  The cornbread served with honey butter and tomato jam is the perfect pairing of crunchy, sweet, and a hint of salt.  For entrees we had the blackened catfish which is served over a bed of slow cooked greens with black eyed peas, and topped with a "slaw" of celery root. The fish was perfectly cooked with an interesting spice that was just a shade different than your average blackened...substituting a vaguely Ethiopian flavor for classic cayenne.  We also had his famous Swedish meatballs...they are famous for a reason and try not to think Ikea and be prejudiced.

Dessert...simple perfect flavors.

And that is a review of a review. Sam Sifton, I hate you, get fired. Red Rooster...job well done...but sorry one star not 2.

The review that started the hatred

This is the review that started my hatred of Sam Sifton:


Now in fairness, I have never eaten an Peels, but you cannot give a restaurant a star and make these comments about the food:

"The menu at Peels is vaguely Southern — fried chicken appears, along with shrimp and grits — but the South the restaurant invokes is really the one below Route 27 in Suffolk County, where identity is a matter of bank balance and there is no effective difference between artifice and fact."

"The entrees, however, are a mess, and have been cycling in and out of favor, most egregiously as a “crispy pulled pork” dish, gone now, that put the lie to both adjectives."

"But fried chicken has a dull, monochromatic taste, a crispness free of salt, an interior free of sweet. (“It’s fresh-killed,” reported a waitress, as if to explain.) It comes with boiled corn reminiscent of the Coney Island boardwalk, and a whopping big slice of watermelon that tastes, in contrast, as if fashioned by magic.
Braised lamb shank with mescal and mole, meanwhile, offers slow-cooker shank meat in a tame mole sauce that works best as a bath for its accompanying beans. The mescal may be in there somewhere, a hint of funk, but what is present collapses beneath the weight of the meat, and in the dry chalkiness of some charred onions strewn across the top of the dish."


"Waffles are cloying, too soda-rich to be anything more than a nod to childhood appetites. (Good luck getting an actual child to eat one, even after a good long pour from the beautiful glass log cabin bottles the restaurant uses for maple syrup.)"

So, dear Sam, if you hate the food oh so much, what can possibly be the reason for provding this establishment with a star?  His love of the crowd, the attractiveness of the servers, and because in his own words "the effortless beauty of a young woman in a Heaney poem glides around pouring refills."


Why Fire Sam Sifton?

I love NYC.  There are a million reasons that this city is the best in the world.  However, among all of the great reasons, one of the very top reasons is its restaurants. Whether we city dwellers like it or not the NY Times Restaurant Review is a powerful force in the restaurant world.  A review can literally make or break a new restaurant. In years past the restaurant critic has understood that power and wielded it admirably. But since the departure of Frank Bruni (who had in fairness become an overwhelming negatron) we have been under the thumb of Sam Sifton.  This is a man who clearly knows nothing about food and doesn't care to learn.  His reviews are all about atmosphere and the relative attractiveness of the crowd he manages to ogle.  This page will soon be filled with well-reasoned and cogent arguments for why the NY Times should fire Sam Sifton. If you care about restaurants in this city, follow this blog, and help free NYC of the tyranny of this man.

Fire Sam Sifton

The campaign to end the tyranny of Sam Sifton over the NYC restaurant world has begun.