In this Sunday's forthcoming New York Times Magazine—which has been magically sent backward in time, from the future, to the internet of today—I have a short piece on how dynamic, demand-based pricing is probably going to become a staple of supremely popular restaurants as logistics-driven startups, of a piece with Uber and Airbnb, begin looking to disrupt (lol) woefully inefficient restaurant seating systems. In summary: Hope you like eating out on Tuesdays at 9PM. Unless you are rich, then why are you worrying about this, or anything at all? It'll be just fine. You'll be just fine. Everything's fine.
Feast is a restaurant in New York that has been described to me as "cute" and "so-and-so's favorite place." It looks nice and people seem to like it. But Feast has made a mistake. EV Grieve has the story: Toward the end of last month, Feast said that they had a customer arrive as a walk-in for brunch. She was wearing Google Glass. A few months previously, they had another diner wearing a pair and the restaurant received several comments about privacy from other guests. Restaurant staff asked the person to remove them, and he quickly consented.
So when the other diner came in wearing Google Glass, [...]
Rich people, mostly, actually. Heh.
Here is the latest series of arguments—yeah, here we go again!—against tipping. It's discriminatory (when white and black servers are compared, diners tip blacks far less well) (PDF), it's unfair to restaurant staff, it's unfair to diners, and apparently it's unfair to Ayn Rand. Oh sure, everyone loves Kickstarter and "tip your blogger" payments, but someone brings you food and to hell with them.
Two statements heard on the KQED Forum show's "Restaurant Roundup" segment, just now, that might trigger a response from you, the restaurant diner:
- "San Francisco starts the restaurant trends, and New York grows them."
- "New York has twice* the population, but San Francisco has the better restaurants."
* Yes we know that's not at all true; the NYC metropolitan area has 19 million people; the Bay Area has 4.5 million people.
Photo by Orbakhopper.
— Silvia Killingsworth (@silviakillings) November 14, 2012
Last night, or in "today's paper" if that is how you roll, Times restaurant critic Pete Wells bombed Guy Fieri's new garbage hut in Times Square with a zero-star review and the Internet kind of exploded over it with glee.
This food shack does in fact sound truly terrible! I fortunately already knew that I would not need to eat there, long before the Times saw fit to inform me. Which, then, I have questions: is [...]
Remember back in early 2011, when we warned you that Hakkasan was coming to New York City and that it would be crazy-expensive and full of the snootiest weirdos and serve very good food in general but less so in the specific? It's always gratifying being right: "Nothing I tasted at Hakkasan was unpleasant, but when the check easily surpassed $100 a person, it was hard not to feel cheated," writes the Times restaurant critic. Boom, one star.
"Claiborne observed everything when he was reviewing, but ultimately he judged restaurants by what came out of the kitchen. As this idea caught on, it became harder to confuse the country’s best restaurants with the ones that were merely favored by the aristocracy. A different hierarchy in dining, ordered by creativity and excellence in cuisine, was slowly taking shape under the guidance of a new aristocracy: an aristocracy of taste. Today, we call members of this aristocracy 'foodies.'” —I wish we didn't, as that word only makes me think of children's pajamas, which are distinctly unappetizing, and which I am sad to learn that they also make for adults. [...]
In 2003, a furious reader left this comment on Lockhart Steele's brief review ("one special place") of Wylie Dufresne's new Lower East Side restaurant, wd~50:
Enough with this place.
I've lived around the corner from Clinton Street since 1997 and the restaurant-row infusion has done little for me. The only place I've *ever* eaten at on the entire block is the Clinton Bakery Company. The rest of those places are for uptowners. It's always comical to walk by Clinton Fresh Food and see all the WASPs and preppies stuffing their faces in there. How they even find Clinton street on a map is beyond me.
Beyond the fact [...]
Customer: Are you 'gay-friendly'?Bro, we're so gay-friendly that you could practically adopt our 4 year old Kazakh waiter for £3 an hour.
— Mangal 2 Restaurant (@Mangal2) April 5, 2013
Now the most delightful restaurant in the English-speaking world is in… Shacklewell? At the top of Hackney? No, sorry, ugh, London, technically they're at the top of Dalston, which is just up from Shoreditch? If that helps? "Across the street from the Istanbul Restaurant on Stoke Newington Road?" Yeah, me neither. Thanks to exceptional and prolonged tweet work, the London restaurant that most of us have never been to is now the most alluring place imaginable.
Months ago, I let a rich guy with an expensive haircut persuade me to let him cut open my abdomen in four places. Sure, this was for legitimate "medical reasons" that made me vastly safer in the long term, but agreeing to schedule this event the week before Thanksgiving was… dumb. Walking around with enough stitches to cosplay as an NFL football sucks under any circumstance, but it's especially shortsighted just before American citizens play Build-a-Blimp with their belly areas.
Since I couldn't heave big baking pans or screw around with the barbecue pit without agony, this led the family members who came down to visit me to take me [...]
When Prince William and Kate Middleton were married last year, reporters fawned over menu items like quails eggs and Scottish langoustine canapés. The summer before, anticipation about Chelsea Clinton and Mark Mezvinsky's customized $5-million reception hit a fever pitch: would it be vegan? (Answer: no. Beef short ribs were served alongside risotto.)
But at the Zuckerberg–Chan wedding the other weekend, reporters could only note, as did the LA Times, that the food at the reception came from “budget friendly” restaurants like Fuki Sushi and Palo Alto Sol. Well, at least he wasn’t wearing that damn hoodie.
Depending on how you look at it, the Facebook IPO [...]
"It clears my mind and gives me a blank canvas to work from. That helps me create. When it gets too hectic and overwhelming, I just turn on a tune. And I focus.” —It's funny that chef Jesse Schenker listens to '90s metal band Tool while he's cooking food at his restaurant, Recette, since what that music mostly conjures for me is the creepy, nauseating imagery that always accompanied it in the videos. (The other bands he likes, too—Nine Inch Nails, Metallica, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains. Good or bad, all sort of pukey!)
A certain kind of cooking, brought to New York City by Eastern European Jews, typified by bagels, pickled vegetables, gefilte and smoked fish, is having a genuine moment, the pinnacle of which is, perhaps, the opening of the long-awaited, full-fledged Russ & Daughters Cafe. While the Times, not incorrectly, characterizes this moment as a "sudden and strong movement among young cooks, mostly Jewish-Americans, to embrace and redeem the foods of their forebears" in order to "embrac[e] the quickly disappearing foods of their grandparents," the trend also conveniently fits quite neatly into the current milieu of all fermented everything, which is why it probably seems so palatable to a [...]
It turns out that making a neon sign isn't so different from slicing fish: The people who how to do it properly are staring into the abyss of their own grave. (Good morning!)
"Darden Restaurants (DRI) has been struggling to make its brands relevant again as diners increasingly head to chains like Chipotle and Panera, where they feel they're getting restaurant-quality food without paying as much. As it looks for ways to catch up to shifting trends, Red Lobster this week started testing a 'pay-at-the-counter' concept at two locations near its headquarters." —The great divide between people who like to occasionally eat at a restaurant with table service and the food-obsessed coastal elite snobs grew a little wider this week, as mall chain stalwart Red Lobster began selling its Krab Dinners at the counter, McDonaldland-style.
Photo by Daniel Oines.
I waited on Frank Bruni and three others on his second-to-last visit to Graydon Carter’s Monkey Bar back in 2009, and unwittingly provided him with the kicker to his one-star review (the restaurant had been aiming for two)…. This, to me, is one of the stranger outcomes of restaurant reviews: that waiters are sometimes treated like they work in the public interest, or something. But as people argue over whether the New York Times is being classist in its scathing review of Guy Fieri’s restaurant, I’d like to point out the quieter classism that is inherent to the restaurant review: that very dispensable service employees are outed for [...]
"As I kept dunking, my perspective underwent a Copernican shift. The sausage had seemed to be the center of the universe, but it turned out that it, and everything else on the plate, revolved around that mesmerizing naam phrik nuum. Though this sausage, a favorite in the Thai city of Chiang Mai, needed nothing more than a cold beer, I began dunking it into that chile paste. And then I’d dunk the Frito-size curls of fried pork rinds, and wedges of steamed kabocha squash, and long beans tied into knots. The paste, called naam phrik nuum, was hot but not chokingly so, and had some of the grassy sweetness [...]
THIS JUST IN, NEW YORK TIMES WEB FRONT PAGER: the bread at Le Bernardin could be better! As the new food critic reaffirms Le Bernardin's four stars, we must note that this is the first time that a complaint about the bread has been made. What a long trip it's been for the little fish shack on 51st street and its ever-present four stars. Let's look back!
Here is the 2007 four-star review; here is Ruth Reichl in 1995. Here is the 1989 revisiting. Here is the March, 1986 original review, when the restaurant was three months old. (Fun fact: Le Bernardin was mentioned in [...]