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Washingtonian Mag's "Cheap Eats" 2005


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Anyone seen it yet?

I don't know why I waste the $5 every year on this issue. :rolleyes: No insights to be had out of the whole list. Same old same old again this year - though the favorable "review" of Cafe Spice was amusing in light of the discussion here.

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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Anyone seen it yet?

I don't know why I waste the $5 every year on this issue.  :rolleyes:  No insights to be had out of the whole list.  Same old same old again this year - though the favorable "review" of Cafe Spice was amusing in light of the discussion here.

Take out last year's issue and a magic marker. Over the "4" on the cover write "5".

Do I get a cut of the money that you've saved? :raz:

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

Joe W

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Anyone seen it yet?

I don't know why I waste the $5 every year on this issue.  :rolleyes:  No insights to be had out of the whole list.  Same old same old again this year - though the favorable "review" of Cafe Spice was amusing in light of the discussion here.

Take out last year's issue and a magic marker. Over the "4" on the cover write "5".

Do I get a cut of the money that you've saved? :raz:

Too late, I already wasted the $$. :laugh:

Actually, they always make a big deal out of the what's new and what's been cut. What doesn't change is the lack of anything interesting to say.

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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Does anyone who lives in the D.C. area for more than half a year still believe this mag's restaurant recommendations?

I have a friend who just moved here from L.A. and who went to a Thai restaurant in Bethesda because of this magazine's recommendation. Bwa-ha-ha-ha! I think she's learned her lesson.

I tried to tell her.

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Anyone seen it yet?

I don't know why I waste the $5 every year on this issue.   :rolleyes:  No insights to be had out of the whole list.  Same old same old again this year - though the favorable "review" of Cafe Spice was amusing in light of the discussion here.

Take out last year's issue and a magic marker. Over the "4" on the cover write "5".

Do I get a cut of the money that you've saved? :raz:

Too late, I already wasted the $$. :laugh:

Actually, they always make a big deal out of the what's new and what's been cut. What doesn't change is the lack of anything interesting to say.

Cutting down on clutter....

Go to 2005 version. Cut out the one column (IIRC it's on the far right) that has the "New on" and "New off" list. Throw rest out.

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

Joe W

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Does anyone who lives in the D.C. area for more than half a year still believe this mag's restaurant recommendations?

I have a friend who just moved here from L.A. and who went to a Thai restaurant in Bethesda because of this magazine's recommendation. Bwa-ha-ha-ha! I think she's learned her lesson.

I tried to tell her.

Count the number of pages with restaurant ads on them.

Any questions?

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

Joe W

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Does anyone who lives in the D.C. area for more than half a year still believe this mag's restaurant recommendations?

my parents-in-law do, to some extent. after 35+ years in washington as relatively frequent diners, they have their own opinions, but they always get the mag and read its recommendations, and mark places they haven't been, and whatnot.

from my admittedly limited experience, it seems to me that it's kind of like zagat's: more useful as a directory than as a real hardcore food lover's guide.

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It's a 150 page advertisement. don't waste your time

I wanna say something. I'm gonna put it out there; if you like it, you can take it, if you don't, send it right back. I want to be on you.

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It's a 150 page advertisement.  don't waste your time

Eh. We buy the thing every year just to see what made the cut, bitching and moaning all the while about how we ought to know better.

This year, though, they dropped Taqueria Poblano

Taqueria Poblano from the list, and my SO reacted like they'd shot her dog. I think "that rag" may be banned from our home forevermore.

by way of reprisal, we found ourselves at TP last night, downing tacos and margaritas. Take that, Washingtonian, Peddler of Lies! :rolleyes:

A jumped-up pantry boy who never knew his place.

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The fact that Kotobuki, where most sushi is a dollar a piece, was left off shows how much effort they put into the darn thing.

True Heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic.

It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost,

but the urge to serve others at whatever cost. -Arthur Ashe

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I can't tell you how many years ago it was that I had to ask my neighbor to stop getting me a subscription to that rag for Xmas. There was just so much that offended me.

It will be interesting to see how those THREE (!?) new mags shake out; especially since someone we all know and love is working for one of 'em.

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I personally believe that some of the comments expressed in Washingtonian are on par with any criticism that I have read anywhere. Although I tend to believe that, overall, my opinions are closer to Sietsema in the Post, I also know that a number of chefs in the D. C. area feel that Washingtonian's reviews are fair and accepted. I agree with many of the judgments expressed in this issue from El Pollo Rico to Two Amy's although with Two Amy's I feel that their ice cream-NOT their pizza (OTHER than their pizza marguerita which is exemplery) -is their strongest feature. Shamshiry is included as is Negril, Mark's Duck House, Malaysia Kopitiam, Guajillo (next door to the board famous Ray's), Cuban Corner and a host of other outposts of locally good and relatively inexpensive food, many of which are rarely discussed on this board. Washingtonian, for me for years, has been an important resource to alert me to restaurants that I might not otherwise be aware of in the 6.1 million population D. C. area.

I wouldn't sell it so short. A lot of people, including myself, like it.

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Washingtonian, for me for years, has been an important resource to alert me to restaurants that I might not otherwise be aware of in the 6.1 million population D. C. area.

Its just that so many of its rec's seem like they're the same ones you would have read when you started reading those many years ago.

I'd much prefer getting my info from Sietsema, Kliman and what I hear from others on these boards - eG, DonRockwell.com or even Chowhound. I think for the most part we've got the region covered and have a pretty good finger on the pulse of the restaurant scene.

Edited by bilrus (log)

Bill Russell

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Its just that so many of its rec's seem like they're the same ones you would have read when you started reading those many years ago. 

'Zackly. When was the last time you really believe Duangrats beat out a number of the other NoVA Thai places in a lower price bracket (Natta Thai in Vienna and Bangkok 54 in on Columbia Pike being my current favorites)? Hell, as I reread what I just typed, when was the last time you thought Duangrats was a cheap eat?

I suspect Joe H is right, we *are* perhaps a tad rough on ye olde Washingtonian, as peanut gallerys everywhere are on any purveyor of Top 100 lists, but -- some? many? -- a goodly number of their choices leave me scratching my head (or pumping my fist in rage and defiance). My head-scratchings and fist-pumpings are echoed by enough of my foodie friends and acquaintances to make me suspect the Washingtonian isn't as "in touch" as it would like its customers to think, even if it's not the Anti-Christ we make it out to be in this forum.

And, as I believe I've made clear, I think whoever decided to drop Taqueria Poblano is an awful person who likely pulls the legs off puppies and eats babies in his free time. While pooping on the flag. :angry:

A jumped-up pantry boy who never knew his place.

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I love Taqueria Poblano. Both of them. I also follow these boards as much as anyone and have done so, in the case of the other, for almost five years now. But I strongly believe there is a tendency on all boards, even for other cities as well as international AND even boards for other cities outside of North America (i.e. Bonjour Paris) to mention disproportionately the same restaurants over and over, often neglecting many restaurants which should otherwise receive recognition. In large part because certain restaurants are personal favorites of those who post.

I first popularized Maestro on the other board as well as Laboratorio. Having organized dinners at both they became primary restaurants which received a lot of attention because many people went. Shamshiry, Full Kee (Chinatown),Le Mannequin Pis, Five Guys, El Taqueria Charrito, Heritage of India, Stoney's (Broome Island), Soigne, Prime Rib (DC), El Pollo Rico, G and M, Faidley's, Bread Oven, Inn at Easton and a whole host of others became frequently mentioned places as a result of being favorites of a number of frequent contributors. The same is true on here with a slightly different group (sometimes the same) overall.

Yet some restaurants (often as good) were/are never or only rarely mentioned: Cuban Corner, Crisp and Juicy, Nora's, Jerry's Seafood, Linwood's, Krupin's, Narrows (not G and M for crab cakes), Kabob Bazaar, Ravi Kabob, Vidalia, Neilsen's (DC's best frozen custard, richer & smoother than all others locally, even Carl's). Four years ago Kinkead's was an automatic answer to anyone visiting D. C. When was it last mentioned on either board? Black Salt is rarely if ever mentioned on the other boards. Friday and Saturday nights now have a three to four week wait for a table and they are full each night. Maestro, rarely mentioned on here, has a two MONTH wait on weekends unless one goes at 5:30 or 9:30 (I believe Maestro tobe on par with the French Laundry). The Prime Rib, frequently mentioned on the other board, is never mentioned on here. Yet I believe it is, overall, DC's best steak house. Laboratorio is never mentioned here, yet if in Italy Roberto's Lab would be among that country's best. All five of these are enormously popular (as are some others) yet like the ones listed just above them, rarely referred on here.

For me, these boards, Tyler Cowan, Washingtonian, the Post (does anyone ever read Nancy Lewis? She's fantastic! Has gone everywhere for serious Q, frozen custard, etc. and knows what the best should measure up to.)-all are sources that really compliment each other. Anyplace that receives several raves on here or the other boards I will eventually check out. But the same will be true with Washingtonian, the City Paper (superb writer!) and all three of the Post writers (I like all three-a lot). For other cities Zagat is usually a very good resource. Almost always it will identify the better restaurants in a city along with some real finds. (Has anyone noticed that El Pollo Rico has a 26 food rating?)

While the writing varies in Washingtonian it is a real plus to this city, often using its articles as forums to help promote D. C. It is widely read both in and away from the D. C. area. Like the Post it has a great deal of influence. Far more than any of these boards (another board's claims for the number of daily people who click on it is absolutely ludicrous) or the City Paper or the Times. Yet all have a very real role and compliment each other as resources which we shouldn't dismiss.

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Joe H,

I agree with you that Washingtonian is a good resource for scouting places. I use it like I use Zagat's - name., address, phone number, operating hours. THe professional food writers have more reach and can devote more time to exploring food than those of us with a 9-to-5. And of course they reacch millions more people than all the web boards combined. To paraphrase what someone recently said to me, "The foodie boards tend to grossly overestimate their influence."

However, I have to disagree with your favorable assessments of the Washingtonian's reviews.

The most recent specific example is the review of Cafe Spice. The overall experiences that I had there had absolutely nothing in common with what they wrote. It is a complete and utter joke that they put that in the Cheap Eats.

To my mind, the mag has a complete lack of critical reviews. By critical I don't mean negative, merely non-cheerleaderish. Given the amount of restaurant advertising dollars that Washingtonian gets, it is EXTREMELY difficult to believe that there is no editorial pressure to write only glowing reviews.

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

Joe W

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Joe H,

I agree with you that Washingtonian is a good resource for scouting places. I use it like I use Zagat's - name., address, phone number, operating hours. THe professional food writers have more reach and can devote more time to exploring food than those of us with a 9-to-5. And of course they reacch millions more people than all the web boards combined. To paraphrase what someone recently said to me, "The foodie boards tend to grossly overestimate their influence."

However, I have to disagree with your favorable assessments of the Washingtonian's reviews.

The most recent specific example is the review of Cafe Spice. The overall experiences that I had there had absolutely nothing in common with what they wrote. It is a complete and utter joke that they put that in the Cheap Eats.

To my mind, the mag has a complete lack of critical reviews. By critical I don't mean negative, merely non-cheerleaderish. Given the amount of restaurant advertising dollars that Washingtonian gets, it is EXTREMELY difficult to believe that there is no editorial pressure to write only glowing reviews.

I haven't been to Cafe Spice and I am certain that there are probably many places that I would/do totally disagree with them about. I also tend to give more credibility to one writer over another. But I don't think the purpose of Washingtonian is to show quite the kind of criticism expected of Tom Sietsema or Eve Zibarte. Mark and Gail Henry and Walter Nicholls may be more similar to the style of it from some of their articles in the Post. Frankly, I can't think of any city magazine (and almost every major city has one) that may have the kind of detailed criticism that you would find in the Post, Times, etc. I believe that city magazines such as Washingtonian have a different role. Still, there IS criticism; but it is often phrased in such a way that the overall thrust, even to a mediocre restaurant is rather positive. I would note, however, that Washingtonian was the FIRST to rate restaurants here, assigning up to four stars for them. Zagat gives me names that I can research elsewhere-but it is an excellent starting point although not much more. Last, I would note that when I mention city magazines in general I am not including the various papers and magazines in New York, Chicago and San Francisco which are a different breed altogether. I would compare Washingtonian to, say, D (Dallas), Denver, Atlanta, Orlando, etc.

It's really one board in particular that I believe is guilty of grossly overestimating its readership.

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I think if you are expecting criticism from a city mag, you are barking up the wrong tree. Criticism just isn’t their purpose. As the website for Baltimore Magazine – the first of the genre, btw, says “celebrating Baltimore since 1907.” That pretty much sums it up. I subscribe to B-Mag, mostly because it is actually cheaper to subscribe than to buy two issues off the newsstand. And, occasionally, I actually enjoy it. Last year for instance, they ran a piece about something I’ve always wondered about – the story behind Bob Dylan’s song “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” (disclosure—a good friend of mine wrote it but it really was interesting, swear). And, I also found a recent issue that examined the age old question “Baltimore: Is it a northern or southern town?" mildly interesting. Don’t get me wrong, it will never take the place of Atlantic Monthly (not that it is trying to) and the restaurant reviews must be read in the proper context. Remember, it’s a celebration.

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Outside of the debate over Washingtonian as a whole, I have to agree with some other posters that the Cheap Eats issue is cruddy. I've written this elsewhere, but it deserves to be repeated:

As hillvalley noted, where is Kotobuki?

Couldn't they have found one -- at the very least -- Ethiopian restaurant? We've got ten million of them and all fall under the price points dictated by Cheap Eats.

Where's The Islander?

How in the world can the recommend Lauriol Plaza? Yeesh.

Why is Mandalay described as Malaysian food, and in the quick reference as being located in College Park? If the guide is most useful as a type of Zagats, than that's a big big mistake.

I am also mad that I wasted my $5. And 20 minutes reading the feature.

K

Edited by Kanishka (log)
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For the 99.9% of the people who read Washingtonian and do not read blogs, message boards or city papers it serves a very real purpose for them. Maybe there are five, even twenty five, that you, I and others question, they get a lot right. (Some they may even steal from reading websites like this. And, of course, not everyone on this and other websites agree all the time... and, how many topics are started on this and other websites BECAUSE of articles, columns and reviews FIRST found in print elsewhere?) But, from my perspective, every article in print whether good, bad, informative or merely hyperbolic, about D. C. is exposure to an industry that deserves all it can get.

Washingtonian and virtually every other city mag have "Best of," "Cheap Eats" and "Readers' Favorite" issues. They are enormously popular and among the year's better selling.

Enough people are paying $5.00 to more than justify them. Considering that their "Cheap eats" issues started thirty plus years ago-long before there were blogs and boards to cross check a recommendation-someone over the years has done a lot of eating and a lot of asking to find what they did. I had a lot of respect for this then; I still do, now.

Perhaps they are "cruddy," even "crummy." But sometimes they are also "good."

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Interesting Joe. You seem to have very high standard for paeela but accept mediocre (at best) food reporting. Why is that?

Just because something sells well @ $5 and exists in other cities does not make it good or worthy of respect. If that were the case, Chilpote would be considered sublime Mexian food.

The Washingtonian has lost us with its piss poor restaurant reviews. It would not be off-base to do a little investigating as to whether restaurants who advertise in the Washingtonian are treated differently in reviews.

For this partiular issue, it does not seem that the reviewer even visited some of these restaurants in 2004 as the write-ups are often unchanged as are the lists of restaurants.

Joe the only way to improve the dining scene in DC (restaurants and press) is to reject the mediocre.

For the 99.9% of the people who read Washingtonian and do not read blogs, message boards or city papers it serves a very real purpose for them.  Maybe there are five, even twenty five, that you, I and others question, they get a lot right.  (Some they may even steal from reading websites like this. And, of course, not everyone on this and other websites agree all the time... and, how many topics are started on this and other websites BECAUSE of articles, columns and reviews FIRST found in print elsewhere?)  But, from my perspective, every article in print whether good, bad, informative or merely hyperbolic, about D. C. is exposure to an industry that deserves all it can get.

Washingtonian and virtually every other city mag have "Best of," "Cheap Eats" and "Readers' Favorite" issues.  They are enormously popular and among the year's better selling.

Enough people are paying $5.00 to more than justify them.  Considering that their "Cheap eats" issues started thirty plus years ago-long before there were blogs and boards to cross check a recommendation-someone over the years has done a lot of eating and a lot of asking to find what they did.  I had a lot of respect for this then; I still do, now. 

Perhaps they are "cruddy," even "crummy."  But sometimes they are also "good."

Edited by DCMark (log)
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Joe the only way to improve the dining scene in DC (restaurants and press) is to reject the mediocre.

Well said. Turning a blind eye to mediocre restaurants just because they are local--and supporting local magazines that give them limp-wristed reviews--is the equivalent of the "Buy American" nonsense that says we should buy poorly made and unreliable products just because they are domestic. Excellence is the product of discriminating consumers, not civic cheerleaders. If the two can go hand in hand, of course, that's all the better.

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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When Washingtonian list Weenie Beenie in its "Cheap Eats" issue, then it will have credibility : )

Thanks,

Kevin

DarkSide Member #005-03-07-06

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