After reading DRosengarten's glowing review in Gourmet recently I decided to try il buco once again. The food was mostly very good, but the service was absolutely terrible, nearly insulting - as has happened many times in the past, we were seated a full hour after the time we had reserved for, and then came the parade of incompetent and comatose wait staff. Most people I've spoken to have had similar experiences - Did anyone else find this review slightly rose-colored?
I must confess, I feel a lot of sympathy for Mr.
Rosengarten on that one. In general, I find his
written work to be excellent and reliable. He got
caught in a restaurant reviewer's nightmare on that
one. He works on something like a twenty-seven year
lead time, and he wrote that rave review long ago.
Then, after it was too late to do anything about it,
the restaurant changed chefs on him, the poor guy.
re: Steven Shaw
yes, there was a chef switch. But the new chef's pretty good (on some
dishes, better than the old one). And the poster wasn't complaining
about the food, he was (quite justifiably) upset about the
service, which has always been awful (it stems from the
owner, who, shall we say, has made a curious choice in
deciding to enter the "hospitality" business).
woops. one of my biggest gaffes ever; hope not too many
people saw it. I left a reply to the Il Buco message full of
vitriol for food critics who appear (undisguised) on television, and using
this as an explanation for why Rosengarten's review didn't catch
the terrible service at Il Buco.
I thought Rosengarten was the guy who's on the Food Network with Ed Levine, but
just found it out's Steingarten, not Rosengarten. Problem is
I don't own a tv, and have never seen the show. So I got my 'gartens mixed up. Send me back to kindergarten (sic)
re: Jim Leff
Your absolutely right about David Rosengarten being unable to review restaurants objectively while not doing so anonymously. Apparently his magazine has no problem with it though, and I found both the IlBuco review and the review on the Indian restaurant that appeared in the same issue conveyed a sense of fondness, or at least familiarity, for the people involved with these places.
re: Jim Leff
David Rosengarten is indeed on the Food Network, in
all his glory. He is on two shows: "Taste" and "In
Food Today," both of which air daily. Jeffrey
Steingarten also makes TV appearances.
I didn't see your original post, full of vitriol, but
I would be interested in further discussion of the
anonymity issue--perhaps over in General Topics.
re: Steven Shaw
oh, so he IS on TV. Ok, so I'll repost my original response
(hope you're still reading along, Joe!)
That's why real restaurant critics don't do television. Rather than push themselves into the limelight, they put their readers first and remain anonymous, so that when they visit a restaurant where servers treat everyone else like bugs they aren't fawned all over and given a false impression.
Rosengarten, who was making good $$$ from his magazine and book work, apparently wanted glory, too. And he has achieved a new level of prominence, but, as a result, is liable to send well-meaning readers like yourself into unpleasant experiences. Meanwhile honest critics continue to eke along without succumbing to the temptations of media showboating. The fundamental point of what we do is to give good advice to our readership. Readers first. But that takes a certain humble dedication.
Furthermore, he didn't even fake it well. Reichl wrote a few years ago that the servers "are nice to you if they feel like it". So he should have been clued off to at least send some friends on another night (it's not enough to just watch other tables when you're Rosengarten...everyone's walking on eggshells fer sure).
Note: as I've written on this site, I, myself, was going to include Il Buco in my book--pulled it, last minute, when they switched chefs...see my reply to steven shaw--but only with a strong suggestion that readers down a bunch of pre-meal valium if they hoped to withstand the service without killing or being killed.
re: Jim Leff
Just wanted to throw in a good word for the service at
Il Buco. I went there for a birthday party about two
years ago, we were 5 folks, and the waitstaff was
overflowing in warmth and attentiveness. Now, I have
to add the modifier: three of the five were young
pretty girls and there was certainly a touch of latin
romancing in the good service, but nothing offensive --
just familiar. Anyway, we had a very nice meal.