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NYT Articles on Food, Drink, Cooking, and Culinary Culture (2002–2005)


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Would it be fair to say that most NYT two and perhaps all NYT one star restaurants would be below the Michelin one star radar? I am just thinking that the Michelin guides don't even attempt to rank restaurants much below an NYT three star level. I may be totally wrong - I've hardly looked at a Michelin since I left Europe.

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Pan - I was under the impression that the Times had a category between one star and no stars that wasn't a negative category. Like recommended. I guess I was wrong. They use one star for good. So under their system,  DiFara's gets one star. But under my system, because it isn't a formal enough place, I would rate it "Recommended"

I understand your logic, but I think it's more instructive to have separate ratings for food and service/decor/ambiance. Would you agree? By those standards, DiFara's gets 2 stars for food and nothing for ambiance or service but a check mark for the owner/chef and his daughter for being friendly and helpful, though overwhelmed at times of peak demand.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Although I can't encapsulate the job of a restaurant critic in one sentence, I think the ideal trait all restaurant critics should exhibit is (in a word): consistency.

Then you wouldn't have wildly differing outlooks vis a vis Otto and say Blue Hill (or some other place that recently merited two stars).

Consistent standards (although keep in mind that standards vary from reviewer to reviewer) should be the mantra and the job description. Grimes probably has that in abundance -- unfortunately, recent reviews lend a different perception that his "standards" seem to have slipped.

About rankings for decor, service and ambiance -- I thought the Times' review is supposed to be all about the overall package, with emphasis on the food. (Grimes seems to give equal weight to consideration of both food-centered and non-food centered aesthetics.) Take away the current outlook and then how would the NYTimes be any different from a Zagat?

SA

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Too complicated. I think it is easier if we bite the bullet and look at dining as a social experience first.

But I don't. I look at it as a dining experience. And there's also a difference between dining out for a special occasion and just having great food that makes an ordinary day special.

I've previously gone on record as having a problem with the proposition that an "under-$25" restaurant virtually never is given a star by the NY Times. I know that we differ on that proposition.

I'd have less objection if stars were as hard to earn from the Times as from Michelin, and then merely being _reviewed_ amounted to something of a recommendation (by analogy with a Michelin listing), with some equivalent of a Bib Gourmand being awarded to some of the excellent-value Chinese restaurants like Grand Sichuan, for example. Now, I'd give it 2 stars, frankly, but that's because food is paramount to me in a restaurant, so my standards are different from the Times's.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I agree, Stephen.

The under-$25 and over-$25 restaurants are judged separately, and to different standards. I just feel like it's too compartmentalized.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Hey: look what I just found on another website that shall remain nameless:

Regarding the recent thread on Grimes' Otto review, he was interviewed on the radio last week and discussed his star system. Basically, one star means a very good neighborhood place that you might go to after a movie, a 2 star is a place you go to after the movie and spend more time talking about the food than the movie, a 3 star, you forget about the movie, and a 4 star you thank god you are eating this food at this time (and you wouldn't go to a 4 star restaurant after a movie). His explanation was something like that - I sure wasn't taking notes. He also discussed the Atelier review with some regret, noting that it is a place he definitely wants to revisit and reassess because he thinks the chef is really gifted.

So if Grimes is undependable, who are the great restaurant critics in NY??? (I still miss Mimi Sheraton's biting reviews, but that definitely dates me

PS: the one response that actually named a critic mentioned . . . Fat Guy. According to the post, he "blows away the competition."

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Here's the link for the above quote:

http://chowhound.com/boards/manhat/messages/63802.html

I've heard various Times critics give various facile explanations of the star-rating system. You've got to bear in mind that this is softball talk-radio stuff and not a serious presentation. It seems to me that if you're going to award stars, you should on at least an annual basis devote the "Critic's Notebook" column to an explanation of how you view and apply the system, and each review should contain at least a sentence explaining why the particular star rating for the week was awarded.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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  • 1 month later...
http://nytimes.com/2003/04/02/dining/02WIN...ml?pagewanted=1

They tasted the gins at room temperature (what was that about?)

Very odd descriptors from Hesser: Gordon's was "a little fat and sweet"  Fat?  How can a gin be fat?  She found the Hendrick's cumcumber gin "too boozy".

Best value: Gordon's.

I suppose if you can decribe a gin as "gauzy," then "fat and sweet" isn't inappropriate.

I like gin, but if you're going to test it at room temperature, don't you have to include turpentine as a control?

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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Years ago after hearing a radio perfromance of T S Eliot's The Cocktail Party in which one character has "gin and water" I tried it at room temp and it was horrid.

I guess before ice became available and popular people did drink gin at room temp.

One other thing about this panel. The article says they sampled 17 gins, but only 10 are reported on.

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I guess before ice became available and popular people did drink gin at room temp.

You can bet that the Royal Indian Army wasnt drinking their Gin and Tonics with ice cubes...

But that was for medicinal purposes (malaria), and medicine is supposed to taste bad.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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I guess before ice became available and popular people did drink gin at room temp.

You can bet that the Royal Indian Army wasnt drinking their Gin and Tonics with ice cubes...

But that was for medicinal purposes (malaria), and medicine is supposed to taste bad.

Yeah but the Gin was added so that it would taste BETTER...

From the Tastings.com peice linked above:

The British military, particularly the officer corps, became a hotbed of Gin consumption. Hundreds of Gin-based mixed drinks were invented and the mastery of their making was considered part of a young officer’s training. The best known of these cocktails, the Gin and Tonic, was created as a way for Englishmen in tropical colonies to take their daily dose of quinine, a very bitter medicine used to ward off malaria. Modern tonic water still contains quinine, though as a flavoring rather than a medicine.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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At the risk of being obvious, I think the botanicals, or whatever you call them, show more strongly at room temperature. Ghastly though it sounds. I am having a flashback of Alec Guinness ordering that gin and water. "Ice?" "No ice." Very clipped.

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At the risk of being obvious, I think the botanicals, or whatever you call them, show more strongly at room temperature.

I'm sure they do.

The flavor profile of almost everything is altered by temperature. But room temperature is not the way gin is normally consumed, Obi-Wan's habits notwithstanding. It's hard to take the NYT results seriously, since all the contestants probably taste differently under normal (i.e., chilled) conditions.

I am reminded of several Lawrence Sanders novels that had characters drinking not gin and water, but vodka and water.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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In all seriousness -- has anyone ever used juniper berries (in anything other than gin, that is)? Where can they be bought? Have you cooked with them? Do you have recipes? (Do they taste like gin without the kick?) I never thought of them in relation to anything but gin -- but they must have other uses. Mustn't they?

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