CHOW's guide to SXSW
- Nab Mar 5, 2007 12:29 PM
Maybe this has been up for a while now, but I just saw it today.
It's definitely a little cheesey, consistent with CHOW's general style. Smells of marketing.
I just took a brief glance at it, but a couple of things I thought mildly curious:
- In their mention of Out of Town BBQ, they only mention Salt Lick, Smitty's, and Crosstown BBQ.
- In their mention of BBQ in town, there's only Artz and Ruby's.
- There is mention of Torchy's Tacos which is a taco truck on S.1st in an empty lot. I drive by this all the time, but am curious to give it a try.
I recall there being mention that we got our own board because of reasons possibly related to SXSW events and other promotional opportunities. I was reminded of that when I saw this guide.
Thanks for pointing this out, Nab. Most of the CHOW guide to SxSW is extremely lame. Map D, East Austin, consists of—only—Hoover's and El Gringo. Gimme a break.
Know what's even more interesting? If you download the 44-page .pdf version, you'll see that the head writer is listed as none other than Mick Vann, of the Austin Chronicle.
Plus, CHOW seems to take advertising from local bars and restaurants like the Mohawk Bar (whose print ad is on page 2 of the .pdf file) and Magnolia Cafe (whose sign shows up as the icon for the CHOW article), even if "chowhound" doesn't.
Oh, but CHOW and chowhound are the same thing now. Right?
That sounds like the sensible thing to do here, but I can't bring myself to participate in that "guide" whatsoever.
I just saw the sections on "How to Drink More" and "How to Stay up Late" which made me nauseous. Not to mention the "Local Lingo" one. This guide is an absolute abomination. It irks me so because I fear our board here will now get littered with the kind of people that "guide" was targeted at.
I'm amazed that Mick Vann would be in charge of such a publication. I love reading his reviews for the Chronicle, I think he has wonderful taste -- and he has personally reviewed some of the most excellent places on the east side: Nubian Queen Lola's, Ben's Longbranch BBQ, El Zunzal, etc. It's hard to believe that he would allow only Hoover's and El Gringo to be listed over there. I wonder if he's trying to keep the good places secret?
The guide isn't the worst I've ever seen, I guess. Most of the restaurants listed are certainly fine, there weren't any that are terrible. There are even a few places listed that I really like. It's just...lacking.
Mick Vann gets paid to write about food by organizations that take advertising money from restaurants (the Austin Chronicle and now CHOW). Much of such a gig involves finding ways to write nice things about crappy chow. He’s had his fair share of dud reviews at the Chronicle, too. See, for example, his raves about NG House, Polvo’s, Austin Land & Cattle, Evita’s, and El Borrego de Oro.
I would also disagree that most of the places listed in the CHOW guide are fine. In my opinion, the Roaring Fork, El Gringo, the Salt Lick, Taco Xpress, and (sorry) Alamo Draft House serve at best mediocre chow. Kerbey Lane, Magnolia Cafe, Polvo’s, and Güero’s are a tier below in my experience. Even the Driskill Grill, Crosstown BBQ in Elgin, and Aquarelle are, arguably, overrated.
Chowhounds focus on finding delicious food wherever it can be found. Most published critics have other priorities. In this guide, it would seem to be a combination of appealing to advertisers and making SxSW visitors feel like wild-and-crazy guys for a weekend. Once can only hope that the association does not inadvertantly lend any chowhound credibility to this guide.
(As a side note, the hotel room gourmet feature appears to be an uncredited use of the concept of this chowhound thread: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/360376 . The scallops in particular seem to be inspired by jfood's recipe. I guess CNet owns the content, but it would be good to give the contributors their due.)
It might just be a coincidence. I feel pretty cynical about the whole guide, but here's a sign of originality.
I think the lawyers should probably have advised you to include the safety precautions mentioned in that thread, though. It's really important to hold the iron when cooking your eggs. Propping it up is just asking for trouble (and damage to the carpet).