If everybody’s a critic (and a blogger), where does that leave professional restaurant critics and food writers? Staring into the abyss, according to Francis Lambert, who provides coverage and commentary on New York University’s recent symposium “Taste and Authority: The Restaurant Review” in his article on Salon. Participants included Alan Richman, from GQ, Mitchell Davis, vice president of the James Beard Foundation, and Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin.
In this new world order of online, first-person reviews, how relevant are professional critics’ restaurant reviews to your dining choices? Which critics matter (or mattered. See Bruni, Frank.) most to you? Give your faves a shout out here or over on Facebook.
* Chef Simon Dolinky of BLVD 16 is honoring those who make dineLA possible with a discounted tasting menu for restaurant-industry employees only. The offer runs from February 9-14. BLVD 16 is also participating in dineLA, so those of us not in the industry can still enjoy his meals at a steal. [Grub Street Los Angeles]
* Former chef to Oprah and restaurateur Art Smith, of Table Fifty-Two in Chicago and Art and Soul in Washington, D.C., dishes on earning a spot in the Chicago Culinary Museum and Chefs Hall of Fame (nevermind that the museum itself has yet to find a spot). [Chicago Tribune]
If you’re turning an old restaurant into a new one, not very, according to The New York Times. They check in on Scott Conant, the chef at Scarpetta, as he takes over the space formerly occupied by Table 8 in New York’s Cooper Square Hotel. In less than a month’s time, Conant and his crew have created Faustina, an entirely new restaurant, which will begin service on February 5. Across town, Tom Colicchio and his team have transformed craftsteak into Colicchio & Sons, in a similar span of time. Of course, these turnarounds aren’t nearly as impressive as the six short days it took to transition Venice, California’s A.R. Restaurant Bar & Grill into The Tasting Kitchen.
At 27, Harwood Arms head chef Stephen Williams has been cooking for just six years. However, he’s got two things fellow gastropub-runner Gordon Ramsay does not: a London Gastropub’s first Michelin star and a kind demeanor in the kitchen. The London Evening Standard spoke with him to discover what’s behind his good attitude and what’s on his great menu, and celebrate the fact that nice chefs can and do finish first.
Reserve your table at Harwood Arms and see what wowed the Michelin Guide reviewers.
The eaters over at EaterSF are excited about the recent opening of Barbacco Eno Trattoria. Sibling to Perbacco, Barbacco will be serving up casual-yet-inspired Italian fare, complemented by a carefully curated wine list. Book your table and be among the first OpenTable diners to review this sure-to-be-a-success restaurant.
Fans of SPQR need not worry that the Bay Area’s answer to the Roman Empire, food-wise, is in decline. Newly hired chef Matthew Accarrino is already pleasing critics palates with spuntini, rustic pastas, and more, most recently Patricia Unterman of The San Francisco Examiner.
SPQR only accepts reservations via OpenTable, and with just 49 seats, would-be diners at this Pacific Heights revamp should book early.
Everything old is new again at The Four Seasons. Recently hired Fabio Trabocchi, formerly of now-shuttered Fiamma, has exited his position as executive chef at this Manhattan mainstay after, according to the New York Post, regulars couldn’t find the restaurant’s regular dishes on the menu. Both sides are mum about the reasons behind the split, but it’s no doubt that both the legendary restaurant and this Michelin-starred chef will continue to please diners, albeit separately.
As if New York City Restaurant Week Winter 2010‘s terrific prices aren’t incentive enough to dine out at many of Manhattan’s classic restaurants, the fabled Russian Tea Room is offering up guided tours of the restaurant’s restored-yet-infrequently-viewed upper floors. Normally open only for private events, the 30-minute tour will highlight the lavish (and oftentimes unusual) décor, which includes a bear fish tank, bear chandeliers (Are you sensing a theme here?), and an automated diorama of the Kremlin. All things you don’t see every day. Or most days, really.