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Adam Platt Restaurant Reviewing, Lesson IV: How to Pan a Restaurant with Powerful PR

Wild Salmon, by The Kalina.

Wild Salmon, the newest of Jeffrey Chodorow's restaurants is about to take a critical pounding, if Adam Platt's take on the salmon-tilted Midtowner is an early indication. But, problematically for the critics, Wild Salmon has KB Network News as their PR and, as such, many of the publications around town are going to have to find a way to pan the restaurant without really, wholeheartedly tying it to the proverbial train tracks. With Wednesday comes the one-star review play-by-play—suffice it to say that the Platt wasn't a diner made happy by "frighteningly phallic" fish. Today, may we present a lesson in review writing: Adam Platt's How to Pan a Restaurant with Powerful PR.

1) Employ question marks, so that you can feign ambivalence when your peers call you nutso. Examples: "Salmon Cured?"; "Do dishes like this reveal the tired fish in a whole new light?"

2) Provide the venue with at least something that can be used as apull-quote. Example: "I am usually averse to grandiose seafood platters, but the cheapest one at Wild Salmon (they range from the large $45 “Mt. St. Helens” to the mammoth $160 “Mt. Rainier”) contains four pleasingly massive Pacific shrimp, fresh mussels from Washington State, dainty Kumamotos (oysters will vary on the day), and fat scallops smoked to a wizened, tasty brownness in the chef’s personal smoker. Ramseyer also introduces New Yorkers to the pleasures of house-smoked king, sockeye, and coho salmon, and serves them in a way locals can appreciate, with crunchy hot latkes, topped with caviar and sour cream."

2a) Corollary to the above, pepper any potentially positive phrases with words that negate any hint of true flattery. Examples: "...it’s possible to enjoy that rare thing in the hectic Chodorow universe: a fairly good, fairly relaxed meal." "...try the apple upside-down cake, which comes with a scoop of ice cream, flavored, not disastrously, with Tillamook cheddar cheese." "This “Assorted Smoked In-House Salmon Platter” is one of fifteen appetizers offered at Wild Salmon, a surprising number of which are pretty good."

3) Be unexpectedly direct in the first sentence. Since people have come to expect a shocking twist, you can get away with hiding the truth in your first sentence. Example: "More than any dish I can think of, salmon is useless to restaurant critics."

4) Include a phrase or two that is completely and utterly ambiguous. This will pave the way for a much easier call with the PR—and allows you, the critic, to play the I-think-you've-read-this-all-wrong card. Example: "And if you still can’t taste the difference between a king salmon and a coho after a couple of visits to Wild Salmon (I couldn’t), there’s nothing about the Cheerios of restaurant food that a few hours in a smoker, and a platter of first-class latkes, won’t cure."

5) Include one extremely positive sentence that is about nothing of any import whatsoever. Example: "The name of his newest restaurant is Wild Salmon, and the venue is Chodorow’s grandest stage of all, a majestic glass-and-metal structure on Third Avenue, in midtown, which once housed an insurance company."
· Salmon Cured? [NYM]

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