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Washington Post Reviewing Baltimore Restos


lackadaisi
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Having just returned from Black Salt and what is now the best seafood stew of ANY restaurant in the Baltimore/Washngton area (labelled a nondescript "seafood stew") I could not be in any greater mood to attack Tom since I could not disagree more emphatically with his rating.

Yet, why is there a problem with Cindy Wolf's new restaurant? She once was at Georgia Brown and opened Charleston in Fells Point, moved it a few blocs away and now it is a legitimate four star restaurant by Tom's standards here.

This is one of the most interesting and long awaited reviews-for me-that he's had recently.

I already drive from Reston to Baltimore for Charleston, Black Olive, Angelina's and a few others. Why not a significant new restaurant worth the trip in Fells Point?

Or Easton? Or Washington, VA? Or White Post? Or Flint Hill? Or, gasp, Reston?

I am actually impressed that no one has agreed with the person that started this thread that a trip to Bawlmer by DC's reviewer is a waste of time. Of course, it's not. Several hundred thousand people who work in the Washington area LIVE in the Baltimore metro area. A lot of people who live in Columbia, Bowie, Millersville, Annapolis, Frederick subscribe to BOTH the Post and the Sun.

With almost 9 million people (not an exaggeration) now living in the greater Baltimore-Washington metro area and no longer any farmland between the two, with traffic lights, strip shopping centers and fast food places at regular intervals for over 120 miles of U. S. route one from Fredericksburg to Bel Air we have become a metroplex sharing elements of each city.

I lived at New Hampshire and the Beltway for 20 years. For three of these I dated a girl in Parkville, for two a girl in Fairfax. Parkville was a faster drive. I watched WJZ and remember Oprah when she worked for channel 11. When neighbors went to RFK for the Redskins I went to 33rd and Greenmount for the Colts. In fact to anyone in the Maryland suburbs of D. C. the University of Maryland is THE school; George Mason might as well have been in Richmond.

My point is that with so many people living in so many different areas, each with its own perspective and influences I believe it is EXPECTED that the Post restaurant critic visit, at the least, a significant new restaurant in a neighboring part of our Metroplex or greater area.

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There's a puzzle in the back of the magazine for huffy city folk.  Who's the Baltimore City Paper critic, btw?  Any good?

The CP's critic is Richard Gorelick, the column is Omnivore. I think he's not bad, certainly better than Elizabeth Large in the Sun. Not to pick on her, I'm sure she's a lovely person but I've really had quite enough of her pedestrian palate. Anyway, I really enjoyed a recent piece by Gorelick about waitstaffs. Here's a link, in case you're interested.

http://www.citypaper.com/news/story.asp?id=9717

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I lived at New Hampshire and the Beltway for 20 years. 

No doubt in Le Chateau, with an occasional stop at Bob's Big Boy for a double decker and Tony's Villa for your pizza fix before catching a movie at the Allen theater.

Still too scared to go on the sideways roller coaster at Kiddyland,

Rocks.

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To answer the questions and respond to the comments:

I live in NoMa, and I dine mostly within the city limits. But, I do not limit myself to the city. I frequently venture to the suburbs in search of good food - especially for ethnic restaurants. I also travel frequently, making use of various resources to find good food when I travel. For instance, I check egullet and chowhound whenever possible before travelling. I also check the websites of local newspapers, and the websites of various national publications. I carry a copy of the Stern's roadfood in my car at all times, and when I am renting a car while travelling, I make sure to bring it. I love food of all kinds, in all places. I rarely feel that I can not find enough information to have a good meal wherever I am, and I try to ensure that as many of my meals as possible are outstanding.

My disgruntlement about Tom's lack of focus should not be read as a condemnation for travelling and experiencing food in other locations. I do believe that is necessary - I just think that he has taken it too far and should cut down a little in the travelling in order to help our city expand the type of restaurants it offers (ex. by reviewing more small restaraunts) or by forcing restaurants that have been reviewed to resist from living off thier laurels. There are many places that have received very positive reviews that no longer deserve that positive press, but the information still remains just as easily accessible through the website as that which is still valid (for instance, Sushi Aoi still has a positive review even though the food is barely edible). Instead of a review of a restaurant in Baltimore, I would love to see a compilation of restaraunts that Tom has recently tried that no longer live up to thier prior reviews.

As I hope I have explained clearly enough, I enjoy reading reviews of restaraunts in other locations, I just believe the Washington Post is the wrong venue for those reviews. I differentiate between restaurants like Inn at Easton or the Inn at Little Washington and those in Baltimore because those are places that may not otherwise be noticed. Baltimore is an actual city, not a hidden gem. There are other sources for reviews for that city, and thus there is no need for DC's paper to review them in one of its full weekly reviews.

The Washington Post has a national reputation, but we can't forget that it is also our local paper. It is the paper that washingtonian's read to find out what bands are playing, what the weather will be like, when the cherry blossoms will bloom, and how the local restaurants are doing. The availability of such local information through such a well-respected resource is a treasure, and I have no qualms about fighting to ensure that we - and others visiting our city - continue have access to it.

I understand that our area has never been one that is limited to the city proper. I lived in the suburbs for nine years before finally moving into the city two years ago, so I understand the need for reviews of suburban restaurants. Moreover, as a cityite, I will continue to read the suburban reviews and venture out. But, the Washington Post is based in the city proper, and the city should be its nucleus. Basing the starting point elsewhere is a slippery slope - once it has begun, when will it end? I understand that some areas of the suburbs are closer to Baltimore. Just because the reviews go to where you live, however, does not mean that they have to extend to everywhere to which you can travel in a relatively short amount of time. If that were the case, why don't we focus more on New York? The shuttle gets one from the Washington Post headquarters to New York in less time than driving to Baltimore takes during rush hour.

Although I disagree with some of Tom's opinions, I do think that he is an asset to the city, but I am starting to feel that he wants to be more national in scope than I believe is appropriate for a Washington Post reviewer.

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Although I disagree with some of Tom's opinions, I do think that he is an asset to the city, but I am starting to feel that he wants to be more national in scope than I believe is appropriate for a Washington Post reviewer.

Hey Tom! Anytime, pal. I can't wait around forever, y'know! :laugh:

Cheers,

Scottie Pippen.

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Remember that between the food reviews in the Post, the City Paper, the Washingtonian, and the Washington Times, the Post is probably the paper where it's most appropriate to assume a broader scope considering the readership.

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Reviewing Baltimore falls most definitely within Tom's portfolio, for all the reasons other posters have already mentioned. One case in point: I live in DC but recently planned an evening with a friend in Baltimore. I did some research to find someplace other than Charleston for a special dinner. We ended up having an underwhelming meal at Corks. I would have been thankful for the tip on Pazo at the time. Now I know.

Don’t you have a machine that puts food into the mouth and pushes it down?

--Nikita Khrushchev to Richard Nixon during the "Kitchen Debate" in Moscow, 1959

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My personal opinion is that travel enriches rather than detracting from a reviewer. Phyllis Richman, who previously had Sietsema's position as lead WP reviewer, did not get out of town as often, and I felt it showed in her columns. I'd be irritated if Baltimore restaurants got WP coverage once a month, but two or three times a year is perfectly OK with me. It's nice to know about places like Charleston and Black Olive when I'm up that way--from a reviewer I read regularly, whose tastes I understand.

Sometimes I have wished Sietsema would cover more restaurants in typical Washington-area destinations like Rehoboth/Lewes/Ocean City or the nearer ski resorts. The reviewer I grew up reading, John Batchelor of the Greensboro (NC) News and Record, did dining guide columns of beach restaurants in late spring and mountain restaurants in early fall. These guides were snapshot reviews of four or five restaurants--but enough to give an overall sense of where to go when you're on holiday. Clearly, I'm on the side of geographic diversity here.

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Remember that between the food reviews in the Post, the City Paper, the Washingtonian, and the Washington Times, the Post is probably the paper where it's most appropriate to assume a broader scope considering the readership.

That's true.

When I mentioned the Baltimore City Paper, I was trying to make the point that as much as we, where ever we may live, deserve to know about a destination restaurant, Baltimore deserves coverage. The chef that's doing great work or the business people/residents...

Edited by morela (log)

...

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To answer the questions and respond to the comments:

I live in NoMa, and I dine mostly within the city limits.

Where is "NoMa"? I assume Washington DC but have never heard of it.

It is the area in NW DC that is north of Massachusetts Avenue. It is east of Logan Circle and North of Chinatown. AKA Shaw and Mount Vernon Square. Basically, near the new convention center.

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To answer the questions and respond to the comments:

I live in NoMa, and I dine mostly within the city limits.

Where is "NoMa"? I assume Washington DC but have never heard of it.

It is the area in NW DC that is north of Massachusetts Avenue. It is east of Logan Circle and North of Chinatown. AKA Shaw and Mount Vernon Square. Basically, near the new convention center.

OK, it's a new designation. Thanks.

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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It's the product of real estate agents trying to trade on the cachet of SoHo or TriBeCa. Shaw is full of poor people you know, and it's hard to sell $900,000 rowhouses in the 'hood.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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It's the product of real estate agents trying to trade on the cachet of SoHo or TriBeCa. Shaw is full of poor people you know, and it's hard to sell $900,000 rowhouses in the 'hood.

Some day I hope to move into AnWa.

peak performance is predicated on proper pan preparation...

-- A.B.

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I lived at New Hampshire and the Beltway for 20 years. 

No doubt in Le Chateau, with an occasional stop at Bob's Big Boy for a double decker and Tony's Villa for your pizza fix before catching a movie at the Allen theater.

Still too scared to go on the sideways roller coaster at Kiddyland,

Rocks.

Actually, when I went to the Allen I also cruised the Hampshire Mo as well as Queenstown. The Chateau was from '70-'88. In the '80's I actually preferred the Crossroads to either of the Studebakers. But all of this is another story.

Didn't Don Geronimo go to Northwood?

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My personal opinion is that travel enriches rather than detracting from a reviewer. Phyllis Richman, who previously had Sietsema's position as lead WP reviewer, did not get out of town as often, and I felt it showed in her columns. I'd be irritated if Baltimore restaurants got WP coverage once a month, but two or three times a year is perfectly OK with me. It's nice to know about places like Charleston and Black Olive when I'm up that way--from a reviewer I read regularly, whose tastes I understand.

Sometimes I have wished Sietsema would cover more restaurants in typical Washington-area destinations like Rehoboth/Lewes/Ocean City or the nearer ski resorts. The reviewer I grew up reading, John Batchelor of the Greensboro (NC) News and Record, did dining guide columns of beach restaurants in late spring and mountain restaurants in early fall. These guides were snapshot reviews of four or five restaurants--but enough to give an overall sense of where to go when you're on holiday. Clearly, I'm on the side of geographic diversity here.

Phyllis was as sophisticated and knowledgeable a reviewer as I have ever read. I also sort of "grew up" with her when she took over at the Post, knowing that she knew and liked the places I grew up with. Like myself she was a native Washingtonian. Over time she acquired a national reputation and while she did not have "postcards" as Tom does she would, occasionally have a major article that would encompass 10,000 or more words in the Travel section featuring, among other cities, Vancouver, Singapore and Paris. These were exhaustive efforts that I saved for years. What was important to me was her persepective: I tended to agree with most of her opinions (even down to leaving Crisfield's for Gifford's to have dessert!). I regarded her on par with any other American reviewer and gave serious consideration to HER favorites when I finally visited several of the cities she wrote about. Today I've represented a company from Vancouver for almost 15 years but on my first visit there I took along her lengthy article. When she wrote that "Vancouver (Hong Kong style) Chinese food was a revelation for a Washingtonian I knew as someone who had organized 25 or 30 banquets at the old Szechuan that I was indeed, in for something special.

She also called Singapore the greatest city in the world at the time for someone who lived to eat. Others that I knew who travelled extensively and obsessed on food agreed with her.

She was able to make statements like this because she had, in fact, literally researched and eaten her way around the world-she just didn't focus on this or write about her travels very often. This last statement may be the criticism of Tom-his postcards which may seem to imply a kind of national ambition to some. But Phyllis Richman, for me, was a gift to this city. She promoted it and grew her self in stature as she, in turn, reported on D. C.'s growth. Where we disagree is that I felt her writing reflected her extensive and worldly experiences. Unlike-even myself-she didn't incorporate this in her writing very often.

It is no secret that I am a chauvinist to Washington. It's also one of the reasons that I DO mention better restaurants in other cities-to point out that some of our restaurants play well on even an international stage. It is no secret that I believe that Sietsema could play more of a loyalist role while still retaining his integrity and honesty. Phyllis did. The once a year or so features on a single city seemed to allow her weekly focus on Washington. Monthly "postcards" can be a distraction from Washington. But I believe the reason he does this is to give the same type of perspective to Washingtonians travelling elsewhere who share, for the most part, his taste and judgment. Reading his on line chats, every week, there are a number of people who ask his opinion of other cities.

In my industry I write a restaurant column for a trade paper focusing on the cities our trade show is in. I have done this for seven or eight years and have built my own credibility with those who read it. Circulation is somewhere north of 50,000 but many people after visiting restaurants I've liked in, say, Atlanta, Orlando or New Orleans will go out of their way to ask my opinions about the upcoming city. I'm flattered when I'm asked for cities that the 30,000 attended trade show has NOT been in. Point is that for the same reason that I carried Phyllis' opinions with me to Vancouver and that many ask Tom's opinions in his Chat and I have my own "following" if you will, in my industry, there is an audience for this.

Her approach was different from his. Still, she may have been as worldly as anyone on earth, especially in her last few years.

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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?

Not that I am aware of, I beleive that is a culinary wasteland

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I lived at New Hampshire and the Beltway for 20 years.  For three of these I dated a girl in Parkville, for two a girl in Fairfax.  Parkville was a faster drive.  I watched WJZ and remember Oprah when she worked for channel 11.  When neighbors went to RFK for the Redskins I went to 33rd and Greenmount for the Colts.  In fact to anyone in the Maryland suburbs of D. C. the University of Maryland is THE school; George Mason might as well have been in Richmond.

Joe - just because I know details are important to you, I feel the need to point out that Oprah did actually work for channel 13 (WJZ), not channel 11. She was supposed to be second fiddle to Richard Sher on the show "People Are Talking." It didn't quite work out that way. And, the C-O-L-T-S Colts Memorial Stadium home was a few blocks east of Greenmount on 33rd, at 33rd and Ellerslie.

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I lived at New Hampshire and the Beltway for 20 years.  For three of these I dated a girl in Parkville, for two a girl in Fairfax.  Parkville was a faster drive.  I watched WJZ and remember Oprah when she worked for channel 11.  When neighbors went to RFK for the Redskins I went to 33rd and Greenmount for the Colts.  In fact to anyone in the Maryland suburbs of D. C. the University of Maryland is THE school; George Mason might as well have been in Richmond.

Joe - just because I know details are important to you, I feel the need to point out that Oprah did actually work for channel 13 (WJZ), not channel 11. She was supposed to be second fiddle to Richard Sher on the show "People Are Talking." It didn't quite work out that way. And, the C-O-L-T-S Colts Memorial Stadium home was a few blocks east of Greenmount on 33rd, at 33rd and Ellerslie.

AAArgh!!! You're right!!!! Humbly, obsequiosly, timidly, feebly.....I was wrong. And the worst part, is that I was wrong about something that I really feel that I remember a lot about!!!! Well, in my defense, when you get to my age (!) one's mind plays tricks. Or something to that effect. Never mind that I don't look my age although I do color my mustache, sideburns and.... Or that there is an artist, Markus Pierson, that I relate to-big time!

Did you ever cruise the Varsity on 40 West? Or am I a decade or two too early?

Thanks, Cindy. It's really nice to know that someone shares some of the same memories.

Edited by Joe H (log)
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Earlier, Malawry posted (and for some reason, I cannot get the quote function to work correctly here)

Sometimes I have wished Sietsema would cover more restaurants in typical Washington-area destinations like Rehoboth/Lewes/Ocean City or the nearer ski resorts.

Which reminds me, it's about time for me to find out what's going on in the Rehoboth Beach restaurant scene this year! I'll be posting soon.

We'll not discriminate great from small.

No, we'll serve anyone - meaning anyone -

And to anyone at all!

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It makes me so sad to think that Shaw could be realtored out of existence. Say it ain't so!

Oh it's already well on the way.

As for Seitsema, I appreciate his reviews of places outside DC proper. We almost never go out, so reading about a Balto restaurant has about as much value for us as reading about those here. :wink: That said, we travel a lot, so his out-of-town recs in the travel section are always welcome.

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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Did you ever cruise the Varsity on 40 West?  Or am I a decade or two too early?

Yep, you are. But, I think that my parents probably did...

Over four years ago I organized a lunch on the other board at Taberna during the first Restaurant Week. To the best of my knowledge this was the first gathering in D. C. that anyone had attempted on that board. Ten or eleven people showed up including three who have become part of an informal monthly group that continues to this day. Anyway, one of those there was a girl who father was a good friend of mine in high school.....

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