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Grievances: Lighting, Conant, Platt, Food Fests, and More

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2014_shitshow_week1.222jpgAs a Shitshow Week special, Eater asked some of New York's best food writers to anonymously share their gripes and frustrations about the restaurant world. We heard the first 20 gripes earlier this week, and now it's time for 10 more. What follows is a list of complaints, with no names or affiliations attached:

21) ​House-made, house-cured, house-squeezed, house-fisted — unless the line cook who produces the components actually receives his or her mail at the restaurant, or maintains a small smokehouse on their fire escape, we're cool with just knowing that you made it in the kitchen there.

22) Ever notice how, as dinner service proceeds at many restaurants, the lights go gradually down by increments until it's impossible to see your food? But forget about seeing what you're eating for a minute — the decrease in light is annoying in itself, like suffering from cataracts and going gradually blind. Look over at the light switch and you won't see anyone doing it, either. It's kinda creepy. And it means this is something totally intentional, not a kid fooling with the switch as his parents ignore him.

Could it be that the restaurants think dim light is romantic? Not at all. I asked a restaurant consultant why this step-by-step light dimming occurs, and his reply shocked me: It's intended to mimic the setting of the sun. You'll notice that in restaurants obsessed with this detail, the sky gets darker outside the restaurant in perfect parallel to the darkening of the fixtures inside.

According to the theory behind it, the purpose is to lull the diner into some sort of prehistoric quietude, make him docile and a little sleepy in the same way a caveman might look outside the cave and start yawning and stretching, and think about lighting a fire. It's a species of mood manipulation, the same as if they'd put a 'lude into your drinking water to make you more pliable.

But it simply annoys me. Every time the lights flicker and go slightly dimmer I feel like I've had a slight stroke, and sometimes it's done so subtly, I wonder if the lights in the restaurant have dimmed at all. What's next, little motors to make your chair go higher and higher until you feel like the king of the world and order another drink? Leave the lights alone, restaurateurs, and concentrate on improving the food instead!

23) Scott Conant Instagramming screen shots of his Twitter feed.

24) I hate that some restaurants treat you differently if you don't order booze. Like, they want to turn and burn your table ASAP to fill it with someone that's going to spend some real money. I had a 50 minute three-course meal at Narcissa on an early weekday evening, and I still think they rushed me through the meal because I just had a Diet Coke with my $130 worth of food.

25) I really don't give a fuck what Adam Platt's kids think about dinner.

26) Have you dined with us before? The chef recommends you order 2-3 plates from the left side of the menu, 1-2 from the center to share, 3.5 drinks per person, and he would also like the PIN for your bank card. Theeeeeeeenks.

27) Perhaps a testament to the bullish cookbook publishing market (big money for multi-tasting, world-traveling, distracted chefs) or people not cooking from cookbooks (to alert publishers that there is a problem) but the recipes in restaurant cookbooks only work like 20 percent of the time. And 5 percent if it's the I Love New York Cookbook from the EMP guys.

28) Food festivals in general. Useless, self-congratulatory nonsense. We're all really going to smile and nod while chefs are flown private to Aspen the same week TIME publishing starts trading as an independent company? We're dancing on the decks of the Titanic, people.

29) I resent the way we seem to decide that certain chefs / restaurants / restaurateurs / writers / food personalities, etc. can do no wrong and are simply beyond criticism. Chumminess is a problem. Eater's review of The Nomad Bar bucked that trend, and I commend Sutton for touching the untouchable.

30) I hate ABC Cocina.

· All Coverage of Shitshow Week 2014 [~ENY~]

ABC Cocina

38 E 19th St., New York, NY 10003 212 677 2233

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