Finicky Foodies

September 21st, 2011 § 2 comments

So, Sam Sifton, the all-powerful New York Times restaurant critic, is no longer the make-or-break-restaurant Times fresser. He has been promoted to National Editor. All in all, HG liked Sifton’s reign even though his star ratings seemed erratic. Hope he continues to contribute recipes for the Sunday Times Magazine. They are simple, earthy and good.

At one time, Clementine Paddleford (love that name) of the defunct Herald-Tribune was the chief New York food scribe. But, it was Craig Claiborne of the New York Times who elevated the status and power of the American restaurant critic. (Does anyone remember the $4000 meal CC shared with his collaborator, Pierre Franey, at Chez Denis–long closed–in Paris?). CC had taste and knowledge but was a sucker for Chinese restaurants and Jewish delicatessens. Relentlessly overpraised them.

HG quite liked Claiborne’s female successors, Mimi Sheraton and Ruth Reichl. Another woman who could write about food was the lusty and lustful Gael Green of New York Magazine. HG misses her presence at the mag (HG gathers she’s now contributing to Crain’s New York Business).

The dining reviews in The New Yorker seem fey and uneven. HG is not fond of Zagat and finds all guidebooks misinformed or out of date.

In the end HG agrees with SJ: Best restaurant critic, bar none, is the great and adventurous David Sietsma of the Village Voice. He is a man whose palate knows no fear and is willing to travel to the ends of New York City to track down the best food from Burkina Faso or a particularly talked about slice of Pizza. He is the opposite of pretentious and a downright hilarious writer to boot. A true New York treasure and just about the only reason to pick up the Village Voice.

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§ 2 Responses to Finicky Foodies"

  • I disagree about Zagat. Just what i like about it is that it is not just one voice. It does totally depend on the editor i the area and the amount of interest the contributors have but it can be quite helpful.

    For instance, a professional food reviewer usually does not comment on the table being too close together or the noise level being unbearable. To me the ambience is close to equal importance to the food itself.

    If you want to become editor for the Santa Fe area i have an in at Zagat

    • Gerry says:

      Gerald, Sifton and his Times predecessors, used a lot of space (too much in HG’s opinion) to describe ambience, noise, clothes, music, etc. HG believes Zagat excels in meeting the needs of the average (not the obsessed like HG) fresser.

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