There are crazy people and then there are the people who frequent the gastro message boards. These people are not crazy per se, but often like us to believe they are. Ostensibly, this is so that the lay person will be scared off and leave the boarders to talk amongst themselves. Take today, for example, which is the perfect storm for message board hysteria. The biggest critic in the land files an extremely positive review of a remotely located venue that is considered by many to be a culinary mecca. Observe:
1) First, the pre-review nervous jitters set in at Mouthfuls, when word comes that Spicy & Tasty will be getting the Bruni Treatment: "Fuck. And fuck again. It's been tricky to get a table ever since they moved to the Prince St. location. The place is already completely booked from 7:00 to 10:00. It's the Chinese Babbo."
2) 'It's the Chinese Babbo' is nutty, sure, but not insane. That's where eGullet comes in. There, the discussion is not on the review itself, but on the larger idea of how to mitigate the wide variation on the meaning of a two star review. See if you can make sense of this:
Whereas the star system used to be a way of tiering, or stratafying (is that a word?) restaurants, the restaurant scene in NYC has become so complex, multi-layered and broad in scope, that perhaps there is a need to break the field down and only apply the star system to one - the highest tier. Or, perhaps to apply the star system to each of the three (or however many) tiers, but with the understanding that the stars have different significance at each level."To review, more star systems with different parameters equals newfound simplicity.
Ahead, let's see what the Chowhounders are up to.
3) Of course, the Chowhounders will not be left out of the party:
"Im sorry but is its SO hard to jump on the LIRR or the 7 train and sit there reading a book while it goes to the last stop? You would think theese Manhatto-centric reviewers are talking about walking to Antarctica in mud and hail storms. I don't buy the "not easy to get to" argument. For instance from midtown, its as fast to get to Flushing on the LIRR or 7 Express at dinner time than to take the F train to Bergen or Carroll street."And,
"I smiled while reading the review. I'm glad he liked the place, and it deserves the two stars he gave it. I hope that his repeated emphasis on spiciness is enough to put off non-Chinese visitors who would want them to tone down their cuisine. If so, I can stand the increased competition for seats."Click through for much much more. But be warned: opting to 'post a reply' is a bad idea.
· NY Times Awards Spicy & Tasty Two Stars [Chowhound]
· Bruni and Beyond: NYC Reviewing 2006 [eGullet]
· The Bruni Thread [Mouthfuls]