- toph Jun 29, 2000 02:51 PM
Who are the best food critics/restaurant reviewers in Chicago? anyone out there have any favorites? likes or dislikes? what mags or books have good advice?
I don't agree with him on absolutely everything, but Dennis Ray Wheaton of Chicago magazine seems to be one of the most honest, reliable critics in the country, fairly unswayed by hype, still fairly anonymous in a town that plasters reviewers' photographs on top of their columns, and willing to hold local restaurants to national standards.
Hey- Not to be biased or anything but I'd love to hear your opinion on the new restaurant section in the Reader, Chicago's independent free weekly. I'm the critic but we have an interesting system-- we have an army of about 1800 volunteers who review places and submit their reports online. Their ratings for food, ambience and service get automatically calculated/updated and the result appears in the paper weekly. I am responsible for the text, which takes into account the raters' opinions and comments. Please, if you have a chance, take a look and let me know what you think....
re: Laura Levy Shatkin
the reader could really fill a niche if it wanted to. The fact is that there are no good food writers in the city. Almost every restaurant in this city gets three stars. There's no way that a crappy place like saussy or an overrated place like grace should get the exact same review as other, far more accomplished places.
Since the tribune can't cut it, the reader should. I think that the new system isn't all that useful, really. There's too much too struggle through, online. In the paper, printing a half dozen little reviews is simply frustrating--it seems like it's supposed to be a guide, but there's not enough there to fit a given whim.
Hire a good, credible, tough reviewer. Do one or two big reviews a week. Continue with restaurant news. Add a few little tidbits, a la new city, if that's your desire. I guarantee that you'd make a lot of people very happy.
(but make sure that you hire a good, credible reviewer. your music and movie guys need work. no offense.)
Though heavy on steak houses and italian restaurants, Pat Bruno's judgement is generally sound, and he's a really nice guy, generous with advice when you can't find raw materials for cooking. He cooks himself and teaches cooking classes, so he's an all-round informed fellow about food.