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Seymour Britchky

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I just realized that I posted this yesterday on a very old General Topics board. Hope the reposting doesn't mortally offend anyone.

On the advice of a friend who grew up reading Seymour Britchky's NYC Restaurant Newsletter, I picked up the 1979-80 and 1990-91 compendiums of his reviews. It's some of the the best restaurant writing I've ever seen - insightful, hilarious, populist and fearless, with equal attention paid to food and experience of the establishments. Thing is, he stopped publishing the newsletter in the early 90s, and the last writing I can find credited to him was the Lutece cookbook he co-authored with Andre Soltner in 1995. After that, nada, zip, zero info on him anywhere I've looked.

1. What became of him?
2. Why isn't he mentioned more often? Was his writing not well regarded at the time?

xxxKat

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    Stanley Stephan

    Well, Yahoo white pages show someone with that name living in NY, NY and his age as 71. Perhaps that last book did really well and he retired.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Stanley Stephan

      I picked up the 1990 edition of his NYC restaurant review book in a used book store some time back. I was unfamiliar with him, but likewise, found his writing quite erudite and insightful. His culinary preferences seemed rather heavily skewed towards the old-school French/Continental, though. While he was quite stingy with the 4-star ratings, I distinctly remember him bestowing one on Andre Soltner because of the flash of recognition I got when the Lutece Cookbook came out.

      I'm curious what Mr. Britchky thinks of the current restaurant scene in NYC (when even his beloved Lutece has undergone significant changes).

      1. re: Mark Lee

        I remember Seymour Britchky's restaurant book and his reviews (were they in the daily news?) Opinionated, lots of New York personality, surely he was a chowhound. But perhaps overshadowed by Claiborne in his "loftier" perch at the Times?

        As for Lutece, it was the preeminent restaurant in NY for a time, and certainly deserving (at that time) of its 4 stars.

        1. re: jen kalb

          I used to pore over my tattered copy of his 1990 NY Restaurant Guide with glee, thought he was a wonderful, irreverent, humorous writer. I remember his self-proclaimed qualification as a food critic was that he "had eaten three meals a day every day of his life. Thanks, Kat, for the posting.

          Deb

    2. More Britchky fans! I started reading his reviews in the early '80s; he was instrumental in further piquing my already avid interest in fine food. I especially liked that his hard-won praise wasn't exclusive to expensive establishments; it was through his review that I became acquainted with Phoenix Garden (which at that time was housed in Chinatown's Elizabeth St. arcade). I, too, wish he were around to review the current food scene. I can't help but wonder if he'd find cause to rejoice, as I do, in the burgeoning home-grown artisanal cheese industry and the international Slow Foods movement. He missed a lot of good stuff.

      1. I know this thread preceded his passing, but I wanted to confirm for the record that Seymour Britchky passed away on June 18, 2004:

        http://www.nytimes.com/2004/06/19/us/...