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Washington Post Reviewing Baltimore Restos


lackadaisi
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We have a thriving restaurant industry in DC that deserves to have a Washington Post reviewer who cares and supports it. This week's review of Pazo is just the most recent indication that Tom Sietsema has no loyalty to this city. I understand the need to review suburban restaurants, but Baltimore is not the suburbs. Baltimore is a completely separate city that has its own newspaper, and reviews of its restaurants should not be occupying the valuable weekly review space in the Post.

This review is the straw that broke the camel's back. I am already so sick of Tom's wasted attention on his out-of-town reviews. Yes, people from DC like to travel. But, there are other, more appropriate resources (such as national or destination-specific publications) for them to find out that information. Of course they will continue to ask when he continues to provide. But, it is our city that is suffering. Only a small percentage of the readers find any relevance in his out-of-town reviews, and we need to know more about the restaurants in our city. As indicated by the Post's refusal to pay for these trips - as he complains about constantly - these are not relevant. These are his vacations. It is fine if he wants to send back some information when he is on vacation, but it has become completely clear that Washington DC is no longer his priority. The Post needs a reviewer that is dedicated to its city, and Tom Sietsema is most certainly not.

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Back in my reviewing days I used to piss off some readers and the occasional editor by straying too far afield. But that variety kept it interesting for me - the opportunity to occasionally write about something other than the local Philadelphia restaurant scene.

I'm also not certain Baltimore is that far away for someone in the DC market. For those living north of the Beltway, it might be easier to get to Baltimore than to downtown DC.

As to writing about one's vacation eating discoveries - alas I too was guilty of that though readers tended to encourage such columns - just one question. How, Mr. IRS auditor, can you call it a vacation? See here's my published column on Las Vegas. It was obviously a business trip.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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How exactly is our city suffering with this review? Would you rather read a review of another 1 or 2 star restaurant in DC? For those of us that do not read the Baltimore paper(s) it could be a pleasant surprise to find a good or very good place to eat that we may not have otherwise heard of.

I think he has done a good job of keeping readers informed of places to dine within reasonable distance to DC. The Post readership extends far beyond the limits of DC proper.

Wearing jeans to the best restaurants in town.
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Personally I don't have a problem with a couple reviews each year that are outside the immediate DC metro area. He does this maybe 2 or 3 times a year. Generally he only does it for places that are at the top level...he is the one who brought our attention to the Inn at Easton (which I'm sure more than one DC-ite has enjoyed thanks to his attention) and he has reviewed Charleston in Balt in the past...certainly a restaurant that should be on the radar screen.

From where I live on Cap Hill I can be in Baltimore in 30 minutes...not too far to drive for a quality restaurant IMO.

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We have a thriving restaurant industry in DC that deserves to have a Washington Post reviewer who cares and supports it.  This week's review of Pazo is just the most recent indication that Tom Sietsema has no loyalty to this city.  I understand the need to review suburban restaurants, but Baltimore is not the suburbs.  Baltimore is a completely separate city that has its own newspaper, and reviews of its restaurants should not be occupying the valuable weekly review space in the Post.

This review is the straw that broke the camel's back.  I am already so sick of Tom's wasted attention on his out-of-town reviews.  Yes, people from DC like to travel.  But, there are other, more appropriate resources (such as national or destination-specific publications) for them to find out that information.  Of course they will continue to ask when he continues to provide.  But, it is our city that is suffering.   Only a small percentage of the readers find any relevance in his out-of-town reviews, and we need to know more about the restaurants in our city.   As indicated by the Post's refusal to pay for these trips - as he complains about constantly - these are not relevant.  These are his vacations.  It is fine if he wants to send back some information when he is on vacation, but it has become completely clear that Washington DC is no longer his priority.  The Post needs a reviewer that is dedicated to its city, and Tom Sietsema is most certainly not.

How bizarre.

Aside from the fact that there are tens of thousands -- if not hundreds of thousands -- of Sunday Post subscribers who can drive more easily into Charm City than DC (growing up, I was one of them) I find it hard to picture DC as "suffering" because of Tom's occasional jaunts up the B-W Parkway. Indeed, I'd suggest that there are more reviews in a year's Sunday Posts than restaurants worth a thousand words and a color photograph in ther area. What restaurants haven't been reviewed that need coverage? What scenes have been missed?

I'm as provincial as the next fellow -- I pretty much skip to the Style section if the restaurant reviewed is more than has a 703 area code (I thought Vienna was in Austria, but apparently there's one here, too) -- but even if Baltimore is the moon to our Earth, its gravitation still affects our tides and the success of a place like Pazo is going to affect our scene, just as many trends start here and go north.

Finally, your note significantly misconstrues Sietsema's travelling: the "postcards" from the self-financed trips (odd that they irritate you so) appear in the travel section and thus take no space whatsoever from the DC restaurant coverage. Those of us who travel, appreciate them; those who think even a local writer like Tom should have a knowledeg of food beyond the Federal Enclave appreciate them, as well.

I think you need a good meal, my friend, some comfort food from Colorado Kitchen, perhaps. Sietsema recommends it highly.

Edited by Busboy (log)

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I didn't think it was that odd either. Several of the people I work with in downtown DC commute from Baltimore. I wouldn't expect a lot of Baltimore reviews, but here and there is reasonable.

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Allow me to pile on....

As a resident of downtown Silver Spring, I can be at Pazo faster than I can be at Restaurant Eve, much less any of the restaurants he reviews in Virginia that are outside the beltway. Hell, on some days I can be there faster than I could get to Corduroy for spring rolls.

I disagree with you totally on the worth of his vacation dining. If anything, it makes him a better food critic. If he limited himself to DC he would have no basis for comparison. For example, how much is CityZen comparable to French Laundry? Is Citronelle really world class French cuisine on a par with the best of what New York (or Paris for that matter) has to offer? WIthout having dined at these places outside DC he would not be able to render any meaningful judgement whatsoever.

How could he be the lead food critic for one the country's newspapers of record without a national reputation?

Besides even Peter Angelos thinks that DC and Baltimore are one city. :biggrin:

Edited by JPW (log)

If someone writes a book about restaurants and nobody reads it, will it produce a 10 page thread?

Joe W

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I understand the need to review suburban restaurants, but Baltimore is not the suburbs.  Baltimore is a completely separate city that has its own newspaper,

Hmmm....I'm remembering a very recent article on the front page of the Sun about rising housing prices in Baltimore & surrounding area driven by people living in Balmer and commuting to DC. There was a line in the article, something like "Baltimore, welcome to the DC suburbs".

While I'm definitely not saying I think of Baltimore as a suburb, it is unquestionably part of the greater DC area. Heck, I live in Takoma and my husband is interviewing for a job in downtown Charm City as I type -- and we're not planning on moving.

Going up to Baltimore to eat, or catch an O's game, or visit the Aquarium, is not "travel" -- it's just taking advantage of all our area has to offer.

"What, after all, is more seductive than the prospect of sinning in libraries?"

Michael Dirda, An Open Book

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Disagree totally. I love to diss the burbs as much as any other Dupontian, but my (irrational) love toward good food trumps my (even more irrational) snobbery toward unfashionable zip codes on any given day. Why should a restaurant in Reston have more legitimate claim to space in the Dining section than a restaurant in Baltimore?

What would you have him do? Review places only in Northwest DC reachable by metro? That would be more way provincial than living in Reston.

Edited by Nadya (log)

Resident Twizzlebum

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I understand the need to review suburban restaurants, but Baltimore is not the suburbs.  Baltimore is a completely separate city that has its own newspaper,

Hmmm....I'm remembering a very recent article on the front page of the Sun about rising housing prices in Baltimore & surrounding area driven by people living in Balmer and commuting to DC. There was a line in the article, something like "Baltimore, welcome to the DC suburbs".

While I'm definitely not saying I think of Baltimore as a suburb, it is unquestionably part of the greater DC area. Heck, I live in Takoma and my husband is interviewing for a job in downtown Charm City as I type -- and we're not planning on moving.

Going up to Baltimore to eat, or catch an O's game, or visit the Aquarium, is not "travel" -- it's just taking advantage of all our area has to offer.

Yea, I saw that "Baltimore, welcome to the DC suburbs" line too. It annoyed me for plenty of reasons. One of them is that Baltimore City is actually more populous than the District but whatever. Of course, I think what they were getting at is the huge number of people in the Baltimore area who work in the DC area. My husband is one of them and much like you, we certainly have no plans to move.

But, back to the topic at hand. I think you all should be really happy to have a restaurant reviewer like Tom Sietsema. I'll trade you for Elizabeth Large and players to be named later so quick your head will spin.

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Disagree completely, lackadaisi, and am trying to understand where you're coming from (literally and figuratively).

Where do you live? Where do you typically focus your dining out attention?

As for Tom, I think he does our area a great service. I may not always agree with his reviews, but I know my taste is strictly my own.

Beyond his one review per week (personally I can't imagine churning a quality review out with such frequency), he does extensive research (e.g., eating in restaurants all over the area, talks to owners/chefs, etc.), writes the "Weekly Dish" column and then still finds energy to tell area dwellers where they might want to eat when they travel, even if that has to happen on his own dime.

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For that matter, this section of EGullet is "D.C. & DelMarVa". Am I, a resident of the "Del" part of that title, supposed to claim second-class citizenship simply because I don't live in DC? And what of those who live in Baltimore?

Here in Rehoboth Beach, the newspaper racks include papers from DC, Baltimore, Wilmington...and the New York Times! What the hell is that doing here?

Fact is, der Brucer and I take occasional day trips to all of those places, both for business and pleasure. It's all part of our "neighborhood."

We'll not discriminate great from small.

No, we'll serve anyone - meaning anyone -

And to anyone at all!

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Hey, have you seen the debacle over some of Sietsema's Village Voice reviews?  He's seems to bring controvery right along with him.

The restaurant reviewer for the Village Voice is ROBERT Sietsema, not Tom Sietsema.

Err. I knew that.

Need more sleep.

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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S'okay Jon, I got it quite confused myself until I made a point of remembering that and meeting Tom in person.

Gee, thanks for rubbing it in.

Actually I'm serious. I kind of knew this already and forgot.

Back to D.C. Back in my years living there, there was no D.C. baseball. Ergo, people didn't get so angry whenever Baltimore was involved in some discussion. I'm just saying...

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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Provincialism runs rampant in these parts, and I feel Tom is taking a macroscopic view of the greater D.C. area. It's a good lead to follow. I mean, not partaking in the gems that are in the burbs, or Baltimore, or the Eastern shore is just plain settling for less as far as I'm concerned.

Pride...Provincialism...Xenophobia......you're world is shrinking!! Break the mold!!

Edited by monavano (log)
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If Mr. Sietsema devoted a full review to a restaurant in New York it would be one thing (I really get upset when Blake Gopnik reviews new exhibitions in the Big Apple) -- but as everyone has already stated, Baltimore is very close. Heck, the Inn at Little Washington takes longer to get to then Pazo does. Not to mention the fact that food coverage in the Sun is sub-par at best, and many Baltimore residents read the Post. If you live in Loudoun county, Pazo isn't a real viable option -- but if you live in Columbia, it certainly is. The review is far from being a disservice -- in fact, I think the review opens people up to the possibility of a road trip to Charm City.

K

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The Post needs a reviewer that is dedicated to its city, and Tom Sietsema is most certainly not.

Lackadaisi,

I appreciate your passion, but the Post's core readership extends way beyond DC proper, all the way up to and including Baltimore. The Post's readers are fairly-served to get a couple reviews a year from Baltimore, Frederick, Fredericksburg, etc, as these towns fall well within the Post's purview.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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S'okay Jon, I got it quite confused myself until I made a point of remembering that and meeting Tom in person.

Gee, thanks for rubbing it in.

Actually I'm serious. I kind of knew this already and forgot.

Back to D.C. Back in my years living there, there was no D.C. baseball. Ergo, people didn't get so angry whenever Baltimore was involved in some discussion. I'm just saying...

Disagree with you on this.

Provincialism in the DC area is just as bad, if not worse, than it is in NYC.

However, personally, I couldn't figure out why anyone would want to live anywhere near NYC. :shock::laugh:

If someone writes a book about restaurants and nobody reads it, will it produce a 10 page thread?

Joe W

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I can equate this to my years living in South Florida. The Miami Herald would frequently review restaurants in Ft. Lauderdale and Boca Raton and occasionally some as far north as West Palm Beach. In this spetrum you have three counties (Miami-Dade, Broward & Palm Beach) covered. I always found these reviews interesting and a helpful tool for finding new restaurants with in a 30-60 minute drive from me.

Much the same can be said about Sietsema's occasional reviews of restaurants not considered to be within DC proper and the surronding burbs. I find no problem in driving up to Baltimore for a great meal, and coincidentally, I am headed up to Pazo tonght for dinner.

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I can equate this to my years living in South Florida.  The Miami Herald would frequently review restaurants in Ft. Lauderdale and Boca Raton and occasionally some as far north as West Palm Beach.  In this spetrum you have three counties (Miami-Dade, Broward & Palm Beach)  covered.  I always found these reviews interesting and a helpful tool for finding  new restaurants with in a 30-60 minute drive from me. 

Much the same can be said about Sietsema's occasional reviews of restaurants not considered to be within DC proper and the surronding burbs.  I find no problem in driving up to Baltimore for a great meal, and coincidentally, I am headed up to Pazo tonght for dinner.

Does the Herald ever review any restaurants in Del Boca Vista?

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