Covering the food and restaurant scene in and around Seattle is a tall order. Ask me, I know: I did it, in one capacity or another, for more than two decades, much of that time at The Seattle Times, where I kept a desk — and file cabinets filled with restaurant review notes — before retiring from that job in 2014.
These days, everyone’s a critic, though far fewer folks are getting paid for it, as longtime Seattle Times lead critic Providence Cicero told Eater Seattle before stepping down last month, allowing (not-so) new critics Bethany Jean Clement and Tan Vinh to step up to the plate.
These days, the Times remains one of the last bastions of local media willing to pay-up to help you decide whether it’s worth your wallet to eat at this restaurant (the much-awaited new three-and-a-half-star il Nido, where you need to plan strategy to get in there a month in advance), or that (minuscule two-star sake bar Hannyatou, home to a no-reservations policy).
This week on Food for Thought, Stein and I discuss those big changes.
Chief among them: foregoing anonymity (a national trend, by the way) and star-rating restaurants “in an anti-traditional way” according to Bethany Jean’s intro on the revamped restaurant coverage (wherein a corner pho shop may be worthy of four stars).
Me? I’m glad I’m no longer attempting anonymity, stealing menus or handing out star ratings, but I still love dining out and do so often, at inexpensive strip-mall gems and superb-if-spendy restaurants.
Stein, on the other hand, much prefers to dine in, and swears he’d never stand in line to eat anywhere, nor pay big bucks to get into a restaurant that costs as much as his first car. That said, we both agree that restaurants need to TONE IT DOWN in the noise department, as we’ve mentioned a time or two before.
"The C student starts a restaurant. The A student writes restaurant reviews." –P.J. O'Rourke