Throughout the week, veteran restaurant world writers and critics will offer accounts of the worst shitshows they've ever encountered, starting today with former $25 and Under columnist and current Momofuku scribe Peter Meehan. Want to submit your own story of shitshowdom? The tipline is open.
I ate at many, many truly awful places when I was writing about restaurants. A particular Mongolian barbecue place comes to mind. I was alone on Staten Island, and I think I almost cried that night on the way back to the ferry. But, then again, who expects mall-style "Mongolian" food to be good?
The greatest shitshow I ever got ringside seats to was when I went with Frank Bruni on his last visit to Ninja. I knew the food would be horrible and pretentious and mind bogglingly expensive and that there would be ninjas doing magic tricks. I couldn't wait.
Then I messed up on the reservation time. Frank waited in the subterranean cocktail bar at Ninja for a full hour, with only ninjas for company. He was such a sport about it, but I felt terrible. We mustered all the good cheer we could, but the food was ghastly. The check was ridiculous. The magic was intrusive and underwhelming. There was no visceral thrill to being there—it was a downer. His review says it all.
Looking back, I realize the good humor he mustered in his review of that place was an unheralded act of charity. That place was the worst...and, now, Googling, I see it's still open. Amazing.
· All Coverage of Shitshow Week 2011 [~ENY~]
· Shitshows: Ninja [~ENY~]