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.


  1. your server was "surly but competent." care to qualify that?

    after reading your stuff, it would seem that your desire to trash Sam Sifton undermines your objectivity, and therefore your credibility. and going through some of other reviews made by peers of Mr. Sifton, it looks like he's far from the only person who liked the place. whatver, though; at the end of the day, the type of person who would run a website whose sole purpose is to vituperate restaurants, can't have a healthy worldview, and can't be relied on as an authority on much of anything.

  2. So what does this say about the person who would spend the time to comment about the "type of person who would run a website whose sole purpose is to vituperate restaurants?" Yeah you made me look up "vituperate" you pompous ass.

  3. Dear asdf:

    Surly: –adjective, -li·er, -li·est.
    1. churlishly rude or bad-tempered: a surly waiter.

    Competent: –adjective
    1. having suitable or sufficient skill, knowledge, experience, etc., for some purpose; properly qualified: He is perfectly competent to manage the bank branch.

    Now some things that you seem to have missed:

    1. I never claimed to be an authority on anything.
    2. I also liked Vandaag, "Vandaag is a totally acceptable, even pretty good restaurant"
    3. The purpose of this blog, as set forth in the initial post entitled "Why fire Sam Sifton?," is to discuss what I see as shortcomings in Sam Sifton's reviewing style. Indeed, I believe this site is necessary because I love restaurants and believe that the NYC restaurant world deserves a critic that is knowledgeable about food.