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Middlebrow Restaurants


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7 replies to this topic

#1 slkinsey

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Posted 14 February 2005 - 10:02 AM

In your groundbreaking "ten questions with Steven Shaw" you remarked that "$25 and Under means everything that doesn't fit into the other restaurant column."

I've always wondered about this. Although I don't have any data to back this up, I believe that most people in NYC who read the Times do most of their dining at what I would call "middlebrow" restaurants. This is to say places like @SQC and Landmarc, where dinner is probably going to cost somewhere between $40 and $60. Yet, Landmarc's one star review notwithstanding, this seems to be a fairly under-reviewed category of restaurant in the Times, with the "other column" tending to stick with higher-priced places and "<$25" seeming to devote a large percentage of its space to lower-priced and "cheap eats" ethnic places.

Do you think there is a hole in the Times' coverage in this category? Is it realistic or reasonable to think that one reviewer or one column can cover everything from a taco stands in Flushing to potential one-star places that the other guy can't fit into the other column?
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#2 Eric Asimov

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Posted 14 February 2005 - 05:58 PM

I do think there is a danger that, because of the $25 and Under moniker, these kind of restaurants can fall through the cracks. They are inherently less exciting than the myriad new restaurants that seem to open perpetually. I think there does need to be a system for keeping track of restaurants that don't hit a certain buzz threshold or are reviewed once and then forgotten.

I do think the $25 and Under column ought to be able to deal with these neighborhood places, except for the price cap, which all too many of them now exceed.

For a few years in the late 90's we used to do a thematic roundup of restaurants in the weekend section each week. I always thought that was a useful place to keep track of restaurants that would otherwise disappear from the radar screen.

#3 chefzadi

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Posted 15 February 2005 - 07:45 AM

I do think there is a danger that, because of the $25 and Under moniker, these kind of restaurants can fall through the cracks. They are inherently less exciting than the myriad new restaurants that seem to open perpetually. I think there does need to be a system for keeping track of restaurants that don't hit a certain buzz threshold or are reviewed once and then forgotten.

I do think the $25 and Under column ought to be able to deal with these neighborhood places, except for the price cap, which all too many of them now exceed.

For a few years in the late 90's we used to do a thematic roundup of restaurants in the weekend section each week. I always thought that was a useful place to keep track of restaurants that would otherwise disappear from the radar screen.

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"The buzz" factor and the myriad new restaurants that open perpetually"

In France the turn over rate of restaurants is quite low. When I got back to Lyon alot of the familiar places are still there. Just to give you a sense of time, I was born there, I'm 37 years old and I started my career in the industry there at the age of 14. If I drive down Beverly Blvd or Third Street in Los Angeles for instance, it changes almost yearly. Often times the people behind the scenes are the same, only the facade has changed, a new concept to give the place "a buzz." As a loose example Rocco's restaurant (can't remember the name) seemed to be heavily Asian influenced, then he did something Italian with his mom, and now he is planning on something called Caviar and Bananas :blink: . Certainly when it opens (has it already? Sorry as I don't keep up on the details of these things) there will be a lot of buzz. Alot of buzz that will be written up ensuring lots of warm bodies to fill up the dining room.

Thoughts please.
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#4 jhlurie

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Posted 15 February 2005 - 02:26 PM

chefzadi, "Caviar & Bananas" is a Jeffrey Chodorow venture WITHOUT Rocco. It's in the same space as Rocco's 22nd Street TV disaster, which is probably the source of the confusion.

Rocco is, as far as I can tell, out of the restaurant business entirely (well, unless Mr. Asimov knows something we don't...)
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#5 chefzadi

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Posted 15 February 2005 - 02:37 PM

Oops. :laugh: As I said I don't keep up much with the details of these things. I hope this doesn't cloud my initial point about "creating buzz" which I would Eric Assimov to comment on.
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#6 Eric Asimov

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Posted 15 February 2005 - 09:31 PM

"buzz'' too often has far more to do with marketing than it does with eating. It draws people who are more concerned with status and proximity to fame than it does people who are interested in food. it has far more to do with what restaurants as commercial enterprises than it does with restaurants as expressions of passion and vision. The one thing I do not miss at all about not reviewing restaurants is figuring out how to get into some restaurant of the moment.....

#7 Bux

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Posted 15 February 2005 - 11:18 PM

The one thing I do not miss at all about not reviewing restaurants is figuring out how to get into some restaurant of the moment.....

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Does that mean you're now free to use your own name and the recognition will get you a reservation. (That's meant as humor. At least I thought it was funny, which may just mean it's past my bed time.)
Robert Buxbaum
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#8 Eric Asimov

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Posted 16 February 2005 - 04:36 PM

Hey, I never thought of that! Maybe they'll send extra portions of bad food, too!