Right now I shouldn’t be writing this post, because I’m on deadline for a restaurant review. Restaurant critic is an intriguing job, and everyone wants to know how it works, so I put together this handy FAQ.
Q: Do you tell the restaurant who you are and when you’re coming?
A: Of course. Otherwise I might not get special treatment, and I live for special treatment. Generally I call several days in advance and ask the restaurant to procure the largest possible lobe of Grade A foie gras and begin marinating it in grand cru Sauternes. On the day of my meal, I call to confirm that they have sufficient Iranian beluga on the premises. So pretty much the same thing you do when you go out.
Q: Who do you bring with you to the restaurant?
A: Generally it’s me, Kid Sensation, PLB, Maharaji, and Larry. Larry is a white guy, but he is a real estate investor who makes a lot of money, so we bring him along to cover the caviar.
Q: Isn’t the newspaper supposed to pay for your meal?
A: If you’re implying that our bankrolls aren’t fatter than the foie gras, this interview is over.
Q: Do you tell your guests what to order?
A: Yes, with the caveat that Larry is a vegetarian, and he is getting seriously tired of grilled portobellos.
Q: How do you decide how many stars to award the restaurant?
A: I take into account the food, the service, the decor, and intangible factors, such as:
- The restaurant’s name is the same as its address (e.g., 727 Pine): minus one star
- Waitress is smoking hot: plus one star
- Prices on the menu lack decimal places or dollar signs: this must be a cool place, plus one star
- Grilled portobello: minus one star
Q: Do you ever wear a disguise?
A: I have a closet full of hand-tailored gorilla suits.
Seriously, now, I watched Kitchen Confidential before it went on hiatus, and one episode had the most awesomely misinformed restaurant critic plotline I’ve ever seen. The New York Times reviewer made a reservation and everyone knew it was her; she came to the restaurant alone on opening night; and the review ran the next day. Plus she was hot.