Faux Bon Vivant

Friday, August 17, 2007

This is an old post I wrote but never got around to putting up.

As the grand bon vivant, it is always a pleasure to grace only the finest restaurants with my presence. I delight in the fact that every owner has my picture posted, red pen encircling my face with a warning to host and waiter alike that due reward will be given to anyone able to spot me, should they distinguish me from my alias and disguise. My mere presence when announced sends fear to the owner, and chef quibble prostrate behind kitchen doors wondering how my affable opinion will either make or ruin them. And with show and ostentation, I put the meal on my tab and float out the door, for this has just been another night of fabulous foods and delectable wines for me!

For I am, the Restaurant Critic.


Apparently, this is how some people view me and other food bloggers when we critique restaurants. Which I gotta say, is pretty far from the truth. I mean, eating like this is how I would use a wish on a monkey's paw, only without the curse part preferably.

I recently received an e-mail which basically accused me of being stuffy and perceiving myself as "all deserving to critique food," and it was my ordained task to do so. He was upset that I could "pass judgment on restaurants which work hard and have years of cumulative experience in their staff to create a fine dining scene."

Let's do a reality check for a moment.

I am not Ruth Reichel, Mike Dunne, Kate Washington or Frank Bruni. I am a 24 year old grad student who works in the non-profit arena, writes for a local food magazine, and has a blog. I had hot dogs wrapped in crescent rolls and cheese last night for a quick meal for Christ's sake (which was yumtastic). I was able to interview the new chef at The Firehouse for Edible Sacramento, the whole time knowing I'll never eat there as it's like $200 a meal. It's like I'm freakin' Tantalus or something.

What makes me a "restaurant critic" is that I go out and spend my own money for a fun time out and a good meal with friends. I then write about my experience. That's it. I have been eating food for years and doing my best to educate myself; does that not qualify me to judge the food that I pay for and eat? I think so.

If someone can gain insight to deciding to go out to a certain venue based on my experience, then great. If they disagree then they had a different experience than I did, and that's to be expected. Everyone will experience a meal differently.

But to call me snooty? Gurl, please.

Who doesn't critique the food they eat? Be it mom's home cooking, KFC, or The French F***ng Laundry, I'm going to analyze what's in my mouth (insert dirty joke here). Plus, going out is a special occasion I can do once in a while since I live in a two income household, budget like a crazy cat lady, and have no kids to worry about. Thus, I can go out to eat every so often.

Do I go to the Waterboy every damn night? No, I like to go to small mom and pop places, bars, coffee shops, and everything else that serves food. And far more often than not, I cook at home.

So in response, get over yourself, and maybe go have a nice meal, critique it based on your experience, and have some fun. And I'll bet money, you'll review it to all of your friends the next day.


  1. A lovely post.

    Let's hear it for pigs-in-blankets. Sometimes comfort food is all that's needed to set things right.

    I made a variant of that recently with flat squares of sliced Spam wrapped in rectangles of crescent roll dough. Bake for a few minutes, and voila - you have "Pig Newtons". I took them to a potluck and folks went berserk over them (of course, I didn't mention the Spam part).

  2. I love it. If we can't form opinions about what we put in our mouths (hehe), then what can we form opinions on?

  3. amen.

    Boy I have missed reading your posts! I had been busy all summer.....did ya check out my food network articles yet???

    will be back to read more,

  4. I am making those "pig newtons".

    Restaurants are aware of the huge number of food bloggers and how they can affect business..this is a fact in these here times.

    I actually know a couple who like everything they eat..everything is always "real good" to them. Stuff that kinda makes me go "ew".

  5. Great post, Garrett. And I totally agree -- the person should get over himself.

  6. Oh dear, the price you have to pay for being a good writer and not such a wuss that you can't openly criticise.

    In the first few months of my blogging my parents went ape-shit over some of my reviews (not that I do many of them, and not like they're ever on my front page) because they think 'you shouldn't criticise unless you can do better'. Maybe if I charged someone £20 for a one course meall, they might have a point.

    By charging for food, you immediately put yourself up for criticism. It's only fair.

  7. "work hard and have years of cumulative experience in their staff to create a fine dining scene"
    -- in defense of good criticism, I offer:

    Without a food critic (well, without a good food critic, at least) then how should good restaurants -- who work particularly hard, or whose experience makes them even better at what they do -- be rewarded? If people can only pick new places to try based on the yellow pages or awning, then what means that those above average places stay afloat? Not to mention: what might provide restaurant feedback (sorry, sounds like a regurgitation joke) so that a restauranteur can differentiate poor business due to location, from poor business due to service, from food that just ain't cutting it? Sure everyone's taste is different - that's why we have many food blogs instead of just one all-knowing FOOD CRITIC OF THE TIMES, but democratic, pan-ethnic food criticism, tastefully applied, is GOOD for restaurants, not bad.

    {pan-ethnic criticism, tasefully applied? your Matzo and Pig Newton lines must be rubbing off on my posting...}


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