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Michael Bauer Disses L.A. Restaurants...[Moved from LA Board]

Okay, he seems to think the restaurants are good, but he goes out of his way to insult L.A. foodies. Guess we're all a bunch of celebrity-obsessed industry suits who could give a you-know-what about fine cuisine.

SF Chronicle Disses LA Food Scene:

http://laist.com/2007/07/26/sf_chroni...

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  1. I don't think he was all that mean. He did say that the cliche about no one eating anything fattening is false.

    1. I didn't find it insulting at all. He made a few generalizations, but they weren't really insults. To be honest I think the author of that article was being overly defensive. And I disagree that downtown has "always been a mecca for good restaurants". Huh? Until very recently there were only a tiny handful of places downtown worth eating in.

      1. agreed with the other posters above. i don't see it as being a diss on LA.

        however, look at the places he chose to dine at: cut, spago, etc.....gee, i wonder why he came out of those meals with the generalizations.

        michael missed out on the multitude of ethnic joints in and around town and seemed to only focus on the higher end spectrum of the food chain. and by doing so, he did himself (and his readers) a huge disservice.

        5 Replies
        1. re: wilafur

          "... missed out on the multitude of ethnic joints in and around town and seemed to only focus on the higher end spectrum of the food chain."

          That's exactly what he does here on his home turf. He has other people review the cheap places.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            then i am further intrigued why he chose not to review the low priced ethnic joints in LA that he seems to enjoy reviewing on his home turf.

            that would be more of an apples to apples comparsion no?

            1. re: wilafur

              I think Robert is saying that Bauer also does not review cheap restaurants in SF and that Bauer is guilty of the same sin in both cities.

              1. re: Porthos

                ah, now that i paid attention when reading robert's message...i gotta agree. whoops! damn reading comprehension. =)

              2. re: wilafur

                He has a small army of reviewers to handle those low-priced ethnic joints in SF and surrounding areas... while he repairs to the famed and named.

          2. just read the article, but didn't read the diss.

            if anything, it's the usual dispassionate, undescriptive, underwhelming review he gives, but didn't think it was that inaccurate.

            1. I don't think he's insulting us, he's insulting his readers by giving them such as boring article. The "diss" is the fact that he hasn't bothered to check out L.A. restaurants for an entire decade.
              http://eatingla.blogspot.com/2007/07/...

              6 Replies
              1. re: Chowpatty

                when's the last time the LAT sent a critic to SF?

                1. re: revets2

                  You know, you're right -- I don't know if the LA times gets SF all that well. But you know who does a fantasic job at covering LA? The New York Times. Over the past year or two, there's been great coverage of the Chinese restaurant scene here, taco stands all down the coast, an interview with Jonathan Gold, a story on Los Feliz, etc. You'd think that at the very least Bauer reads the NYT dining/wine section -- he'd certainly learn a thing or two about LA there..

                  1. re: tannazie

                    Don't have time to search right now, but I'm pretty sure S. Irene did a story a year or two ago.

                    1. re: tannazie

                      excellent point, tannazie. didn't even think of that. even though we live in LA we really enjoyed reading that in our NYT and thought the recs were really solid, too! bravo!

                      1. re: tannazie

                        The NYT also does a great job covering the SF dining scene, too. My wife and I always chuckle at the frequency with which SF related articles show up in the food section of the NYT. I don't think, apart from the NYT though that many papers do much in the way of really covering another city's restaurant scene.

                      2. re: revets2

                        No idea, but considering how Bauer often does visit other places as part of his job (NY, Phila., Chicago etc.) and writes about the food there, I was really pretty shocked he said he hasn't eaten in LA in a decade... we in SF may diss LA for whatever various reasons rivals of any sort might, but I don't think anyone in the know would diss LA on the food scene.

                        In any case my read of the article was that he was pretty impressed with what he found but starstruck in a funny kind of way.

                    2. It's great that he was able to scratch the surface of the LA food scene in five days, but to make sweeping generalizations of a region much larger and more diverse than SF is simply irresponsible journalism.

                      His assessment that there are no moderately priced restaurants is asinine, to say the least, and perhaps if I were being escorted about the town by the restaurant critic of a glossy magazine, I'd come to the same conclusion. So then perhaps this is the fault of Patrick Kuh, who lacks the everyman sensibilities that, say, his Pulitzer-Prize-winning contemporary proudly exhibits.

                      I am okay with blaming Kuh for this slight, as it seemed he was trying oh so hard to show that the LA dining scene is all grownz up and can compete with the lofty standards of San Francisco.

                      I'm sorry, San Francisco. We can't compete with each other food wise. We don't play the same game.

                      He even asserts that momentarily when he says, "I also wasn't able to check out the Korean, Mexican, Japanese and other ethnic places that make dining in Los Angeles so satisfying." Uh, ya think? Next time he goes to French Laundry, I bet he only orders drinks.

                      13 Replies
                      1. re: SauceSupreme

                        What Bauer actually said was, "... there are fewer really good moderately priced places."

                        I suspect he means that in SF we have some first-rate places where the location keeps the price down (e.g. Incanto and Aziza), and that doesn't happen in LA.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          As a transplant I notice some "philosophical" differences between L.A. & S.F. dining. Conceptually & with respects to decor... S.F. has L.A. fairly well beat at the moderate (and probably the high end level). Fact is L.A. is farily sub-urbs dominated... and the restaurant scene (many more chains than S.F.) reflects that... the moderately priced restaurants rarely have the ambiance that S.F. has. Yet... from a purely deliciousness perspective I have been a little bit dissappointed with Bay Area restaurants (I think taste buds here don't really appreciate the fullness of flavors... that L.A. seems to evoke) - and maybe its just that the expectations are really high given the ambiance & the prolific ingredient branding.

                          IMO, both cities have their strenghts & weaknesses & great meals can be had at either.

                          One last thing... since moving up I have detected the obvious contempt and rivally from S.F. towards L.A. that is certainly not mutual. L.Angelenos generally regard S.F. in a great light... and I really don't understand S.Franciscans snubbing.

                          1. re: Eat_Nopal

                            This rivalry dates back at least to the 60s with the rivalry between the Dodgers and Giants, especially when a couple of Dodgers were seriously injured by beanballs, bats, etc. I'm hoping there's others out there who know exactly why...

                            I totally agree with this palpable contempt and why it continues to exist - I don't know. I've lost count the number of times upon first meeting San Franciscans that they start digging almost immediately. For the most part, I blow it off as LA-envy, but the ones who move down here on their own accord and start bashing away really need to go back...

                            I think for those like me who have been involuntary native-Angeleno whipping boys for our fair neighbors to the North, this article just reinforces our views that the disdain is still very real. Can we all just get along?

                            1. re: bulavinaka

                              My family has lived in California for over 100 years, and it goes back waaaaay before the Giants/Dodgers -- probably to the 1940s, when the power in California shifted from the north to the south. No one likes to drop from number one to number two! Like all rivalries, this one is somewhat one-sided, with the more powerful member being unaware of or faintly bemused by the competitive attitude of the less powerful member. The same dynamic exists between Oakland and San Francisco (like a lot of die-hard East Bay sports fans, I'd rather root for an LA team than an SF one). Or between Boston and New York, and countless others regions and cities. Sports teams are only the most visible symbols of the prevailing attitudes.

                              I will, however, completely agree than anyone who moves from one region to another and bashes their new home really needs to go back. Or as I said many times during the tech boom to people who complained about the traffic and the lack of housing "it wasn't as much of a problem until you came here, so why don't you leave and make it better for all of us."

                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                Hey fellow Californian - my family as well... In fact, they started out in Nor Cal - Stockton/Sacramento area in the 1890s... my guess would be then that the powershift took place as sourcing water became reliable with Mulholland's megaproject back in the early-1900s. Couple that with the birth of cinema and the Creation of megaindustrial complexes and commercial ports to bolster WWII efforts, and the trend is probably spot-on.

                                Speaking of water, I know that this has always been a sensitive issue with folks up North. Alot of folks view this issue as THEIR water being expropriated and mostly wasted by Angelenos. Conversely, our tax revenues have long bolstered tax deficits from Nor Cal. I guess we all need each other in one way or another...

                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                  Provincialism is definitely stronger in SF and traditions die harder. Forgot all about the North/South power shift. It was present in banking and a few other industries but might best be seen via the water rights factor. Beyond that, I think SF fears it might/could become LA with the sprawl, freeways and media scene....although traffic in the Bay Area is every bit as bad as LA, just a little different.

                                  Re: Dodgers/Giants - both came to California in the 50s and were NY-based teams, but the rivalry was carried over.

                                  1. re: ML8000

                                    The rivalry extends back well over a century, and has the building of the L.A. Harbor and the routing of rail lines at its heart. The old Cole's P.E. Buffet in downtown L.A., opened in 1903, had as the heart of its decor a rather gloating photomural of the aftermath of the great 1903 San Francisco earthquake.

                                    That being said, Eat Nopal is right. Angelenos haven't really thought about the rivalry much for decades - we LIKE San Francisco, except when the Giants are playing - where it obsesses some Northern Californians. The same could be said for the supposed rivalry between New York and Los Angeles, which is perpetuated almost exclusively by New Yorkers and ex-New Yorkers.

                                    1. re: condiment

                                      I don't see a rivalry between New York and Los Angeles. Each has their forte and neither comes close to the other. NY easliy beats LA for fine dining, italian, and european cuisine while LA has NY trounced for mexican, chinese, taiwanese, and korean. There are too few gray zones for there to be much of a rivalry. The only one may be sushi. The SF vs NY rivalry is much more heated when one talks about who has a "better restaurant scene".

                                      1. re: condiment

                                        What can I say, I grew up in SoCal and have lived in NorCal since college so I see both sides...even the adoption of the 49'ers as an LA team (okay, SC is the real pro team in LA).

                                        Perhaps I wasn't clear, I think the "rivalry" is really that NorCal'ers don't want the sprawl, freeways, glitz and stripmalls of LA...and the general livability issues related to it. Of course all of that is here...just not in the same volume.

                                        Any way, there's plenty of things LA does better foodwise...and I'm happy to chow it when I go down there. Overall however, for food and general livability, I perfer NorCal.

                                        1. re: condiment

                                          1906 Earthquake. Are all your dates wrong, or did they redecorate?

                                          In 1900 San Francisco was more than three times as big as LA, and although LA was growing rapidly (insanely rapidly: it tripled between 1900 and 1910, and then almost double again between 1910 and 1920, and then more than doubled between 1920 and 1930), SF was still 25 percent bigger in 1910, and had all the established political, financial and cultural institutions.

                                          BTW, I'd like to see the source for the claim that Southern California subsidizes Northern California's "deficit" -- seems unlikely. At least, it seems unlikely that LA is subsidizing the Bay Area. In general, urban areas subsidize rural areas (California and New York, for example, are subsidizing many Southern and Midwestern states), which has nothing to do with north or south. Only one of the top ten counties by per capita income in California is in Southern California (Ventura), and seven of the nine Bay Area Counties (plus Santa Cruz) are in the top ten. From this I would extrapolate that the Bay Area generates more taxes per person and consumes less money in social services.

                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                            The deficit info came from my accountant who used to consult for the state... This info was from the 80s and makes sense for back then, as the Bay area and Sacto were the main revenue points in Nor Cal, with most of the rest of this area being relatively sparse in population and not generating nearly as much tax revenue per square mile back then.

                                            Conversely, So Cal was already drawing in about 1500 to 3000 people per week during the 80s, mainly in defense, aerospace, and the general growing economy. That's from a Cal Geography class I took in college.

                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                              I apologize - the restaurant opened in 1903, and the quake date was a typo.

                                    2. re: Eat_Nopal

                                      About the moderately priced "nice" restaurant in SF. That is based in part to the many small neighborhood element of SF live/geographics and a little boom in the mid-90s when a bunch of young(ish) chefs / restaurateurs moved into the neighborhoods to open their own places.

                                      In the process they upped the overall quality - yet kept the moderate prices of a nieghborhood place. Universal Cafe, Slow Club and even Slanted Door started out this way or propelled things. Azziza and Nopa might be the lastest of these...although given the size of SF, nothing is far away or even a distination.

                                      I also think compeition is much more fierce in SF, and given you can get anywhere in the City in 20 minutes, there are always other choices.

                                2. Bauer's reviews don't carry much weight up in the bay area so there's no need to "sweat" his reviews. He's no Ruth Reichl. Do you have any idea how many bay area people are going to be upset that he feels Pizzeria Mozza trumps A16? Not many. That said though, he compliments most of the restaurants on that list.

                                  And to head down to LA and not do Korean, Japanese, regional Chinese, Mexican...well that's not dining in LA at all.

                                  I'd say most LA people could care less about how their dining scene stacks up vs San Francisco. It is interesting to note however, that if you go into the bay area saying how such and such doesn't stack up to NY, people are instantly up in arms. Except maybe when you say: "the food critic at the SF Chronical isn't nearly as reliable as the NYTimes food critic."

                                  edited for clarity

                                  13 Replies
                                  1. re: Porthos

                                    I'm not sure I get that example. Are you saying that people in the Bay Area would stick up for Bauer? If so, you know different people than I do. I think he's an embarassment and almost anyone would be more reliable. Although now that I think about it, Bauer is quite reliable: I can almost always tell you in advance what he's going to say about any particular restaurant.

                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                        I'm sorry. They were two independent statements. The up in arms comment was referring to how sensitive bay area folks are when the SF dining scene is compared to NY.

                                        The jab at Bauer was just a jab at Bauer. Basically what Slacker said.

                                        Like I said, I don't think anyone in the bay area takes Bauer seriously. No reason LA people should.

                                        1. re: Porthos

                                          Either you edited it or I misread it the first time, 'cause it's clear now!

                                      2. re: Porthos

                                        I don't get it either. If his reviews don't carry much weight then why would anyone be up in arms over him?

                                        1. re: hrhboo

                                          Perhaps our Angeleno friends protest too much that they don't feel competitive with the SF restaurant scene.

                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                            I think what Porthos is saying is that SF people get all up in arms generally when someone says anything SF doesn't stack up to NY. And then the example was a smart, funny, ironic example demonstrating that. Emphasis on ironic.

                                            1. re: slacker

                                              Frankly it's more a communication/style thing and it's not just SF/NY because I see it in LA too.

                                              NY'er tend to commiserate and go on about not being able to get something like in NYC. That's fine, because it's true. NYC does many things SF can't...but at a certain point it's "Okay we know that you can't get that here...so get over it and stop killing the vibe I'm getting from my personally roasted, special blend coffee and organic scone with imported elderberries." (The angry Mission boy response is, "Okay so move back.")

                                              The LA / SF has a different dynamic...and I see just as much LA defensiveness about the food scene there, compared to SF...hence this very thread. LA definitely does some things better then SF...but few people travel to LA for just the food or wine.

                                              1. re: ML8000

                                                Every city consists of a unique demographic blend and it's only natural for certain cities to excel at certain cuisines. Few things go without saying like high end french, pizza, bagels, mexican, korean, regional chinese, market driven cal-med, cuban. Some areas are fuzzy like sushi, japanese, thai, and I'll throw in vietnamese. And some topics like italian and mid-tier restaruants are just a hotbed for debate.

                                                I would and do travel to LA just for asian food, to SF for Manresa, Bar Tartine, and Oliveto's Truffle or Whole Hog, and NY for Sushi Yasuda, Babbo, Ess-a-Bagel, and Lombardi's. Each city has stuff worth traveling for and stuff you start to crave when you're not in said city.

                                          2. I don't think he diss'ed the LA food scene. He prefaced things that he was only going to cover certain types of places. Sure he mentioned the valet parking thing...but isn't there some truth to it? If you think that was ripping LA a new one food-wise, you have to read his other stuff where he actually digs in.

                                            I'm not defending Bauer because more often then not I disagree with him and he's become a stuffed shirt. He'd definitely not Jonathan Gold but then no one is and he's also dealing with a different food scene and context.

                                            It is however a real shame he didn't cover Mexican, Korean or Chinese in SGV but that's par for the course for him. He doesn't cover that up here. His tag is that he like mid-upper scale cal-ital-med "continental cuisine" and places with bars in it...and sure enough that's what he covered in LA. Funny thing is at the beginning of his career he covered a broader range of places and a lot more open.

                                            Re: regionalism/provincialism, it happens everywhere. There's plenty to make fun of in LA and SF. I make fun of the super freak artisan foodsters up here...then I eat their goods and shut up.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: ML8000

                                              Yes. I agree it's very hard to talk about freak artisans with a mouthful of ACME sweet roll, Cowgirl cheese, and ferry building farmer's market produce.

                                            2. His view is the typical tourist's eye-view on things. Sweeping through LA in five days will not give one a very clear view of what it's all about here, but rather alot of generalizations. We are not all celebrities or celebs-in-the-making. Contrary to popular belief, most people in most cities appreciate average or below average food, and with that said, LA is no different, but we do have great food in all price ranges and probably the best variety and breadth of it in the world. In in describing LA, do we mean the city of, the county of, or the do we stretch our bounds from Ventura county line down to OC, then to SGV to the east? The weight Bauer carries with the masses is substantial enough - he is the executive food and wine editor of a newspaper of a major city known for its great food. But to those who might appreciate great food more than the average eater, I think you can read his article and take it with a grain of salt. If I were a reader in some backwater, I'd probably view his take on things as gospel. Being a native Angeleno, I find his article to have some merit, but for the most part, his level of eating and view on things doesn't really apply to the LA that I know...

                                              1. On Eater, I posted
                                                http://la.eater.com/archives/2007/07/...

                                                I think Bauer did a HUGE disservice to his readers. On one hand, the restaurants he went to are all tops. Really. But for him to spread stupid fallacies like "Valet is expensive" and "tourists don't get to go to good restaurants" AND "there are no moderately priced restaurants" is ridiculous. It was just sloppy.

                                                6 Replies
                                                1. re: lesleyb

                                                  Actually, he said valet was *in*expensive -- which it sounds like it is, unlike SF. I think he was pointing out that unlike SF, everyone drives in LA, and valets are ubiquitous and not considered a luxury. He also didn't say there were "no" moderately priced restaurants. Again, I think he was comparing it to SF -- after all, he was writing for an SF paper and an SF audience, and moderately priced restaurants are probably the single strongest category of restaurant in SF.

                                                  Much as I dislike Bauer, I don't think it's fair to critique his piece as if it were an attempt to write some kind of definitive critique of LA eateries. It's clear to me that he was writing for his (perceived) audience: people who live in the Bay Area who make short trips to LA for various reasons, and who want to know about the famous restaurants they've heard about and get a feel for how the restaurant scene there is different from what it is in SF and also different (or maybe not so), from the media stereotypes.

                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                    Yeah, I agree, and I also don't get the diss -- when I read this article yesterday, it made me want to go to LA to eat. And I think that he's right that San Francisco has a higher number of moderately priced restaurants than LA: we're not talking about cheap eats, here, he's talking about good, nice, sit down restaurants, but where the prices are in the middle. I think that it's legitimate for him to say that, since (as others have said) he usually does only review these kinds of restaurants when he is in San Francisco, so he was able to say that the price point of the LA restaurants was a lot higher than their equivalents in LA.

                                                  2. re: lesleyb

                                                    lesleyb, before one criticizes Bauer for spreading fallacies, i must remark that your comments in quotes are not Bauer's. this is a "sloppy" twist of words. he did not say tourists "don't get to go", he remarked that:

                                                    "The city is so spread out, for example, that it's difficult for conventioneers downtown to get to the top restaurants without renting a car or paying their monthly mortgage payment for a taxi. People have to drive to get anywhere, so restaurants become destinations, with elaborate interiors and high prices."

                                                    while i don't agree that LA doesn't have good moderately priced restaurants and that this is why the city of angels doesn't have moderately priced dining, your point is better made with the accuracy of his words.

                                                    as commented above, he said valet was "cheap" compared to SF which it is. we've seen valet upwards of $15 in SF.

                                                    as a native Angeleno and a former SF resident, i'm not sure why some are so defensive about Bauer's article. some points are well-founded. and why is no one questioning Kuh as his host. does anyone read him?

                                                    1. re: lesleyb

                                                      All of those quotes were made up. Here are the actual quotes from the article:

                                                      "At around $5, (valet is) inexpensive by San Francisco standards"

                                                      "Unlike San Francisco, where tourists constitute a hefty percentage of the patrons at popular places, the Los Angeles dining scene is fueled by locals."

                                                      This doesn't mean tourists don't go to good restaurants, it means locals are the lifeblood of good restaurants. I would take that as a compliment.

                                                      "there are fewer really good moderately priced places."

                                                      This is not a diss, it's a statement of fact. SF has the best range of delicious mid-priced restaurants in the country (not cheap restaurants; entrees in the $15-$25 range). Anyone who has spent substantial time in SF and LA will agree that SF beats LA on mid-priced eats. I can't tell you how many times I've read posts on Chowhounds by LA hounds visiting SF who were shocked by the reasonable prices at great restaurants, and SF hounds visiting LA who were bothered by the lack of great mid-priced options.

                                                      1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                                        You're both right!!! I'm so embarassed. my little post up there was in haste. But i still stand my distaste for his generalizations. And I have said that the restaurants he picked are wonderful ones to dine at, and he liked them all. That's good. I just think saying silly remarks "there are fewer really good moderately places" isn't doing our dining scene justice. If he was comparing it to SF, sure, I see his point. But the first part of his thought was "Most restaurants are destinations, so there are fewer really good moderately places." I don't think one explains the other at all. Anyway...

                                                        1. re: lesleyb

                                                          But...he WAS comparing it to SF! That was the whole point. I don't understand what the problem is with that statement, since it's true. And I understand the first part of his point -- if a restaurant is a destination, people tend to be willing to spend more.

                                                    2. My take was very different. I thought he *liked* the 'celebrity factor' and enjoyed that aspect. I suppose someone from LA could have taken it as a diss, but I don't think that is at all how he meant it.

                                                      The real diss was that he didn't review any ethnic restaurants, and didn't even mention your Thai food, which (IMO) puts our Thai food to shame, across the board. But as was mentioned above that is what he does here too, so don't feel bad....and then there is sushi...

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: susancinsf

                                                        I also thought there was a wistfulness in his tone, like "they have celebrities! Why don't *we* have celebrities?"

                                                        Anyway, I knew the review was going to be a joke when I bought the paper... LA is justifiably renowned for the kind of cuisine MB ignores... I think I actually laughed out loud when I got to "I wasn't able to check out the Korean, Mexican, Japanese and other ethnic places..."

                                                        1. re: daveena

                                                          Those ethnic eateries are where many those "mid-priced" places are that MB claims are far fewer in LA than SF... and that's if one splurges (except some seafood options and sushi, of course).

                                                          1. re: bulavinaka

                                                            Are we using the same definition of "mid-priced"? On the Bay Area boards, "mid-priced" is roughly defined as entrees between $15-30, and has connotations of upscale food in a relatively casual environment... in LA, I think AOC, Bin 8945, and Angelini Osteria (if you order pasta as an entree) fit his definition of "mid-priced". I think you're interpreting his comment as "there is less affordable, good food in LA". I read it as "the places in LA that serve the kind of food that I like are more expensive than the places in SF that serve comparable food. And there are fewer of them."

                                                            I think that you have to understand that MB is, by the old Chowhound definition as posited by Jim Leff, a "foodie" and not a "chowhound". Therefore, statements that he makes about LA dining which may offend you, as a chowhound, were probably not intended to be offensive by him. Bay Area CHers who are familiar with his preferences therefore do not interpret his statements as intentional disses. Anyway, feel free to ignore him. We do.

                                                            1. re: daveena

                                                              You might already know that in the San Gabriel Valley, a large Chinese community from just about all parts of Asia live and work there. Again using this area as an example, I can dine at some of the finest restos there and easily work within that price range. I think what he expects in terms of types of food and price ranges doesn't translate well in LA. Also, being that SF is so much more geographically condensed, it's much easier to define SF compared to what we define as LA.

                                                              I don't really take insult to what he wrote - I just think he does his readers a great disservice by alot of generalizations and omissions. And I don't think he is totally to blame. His "host", the food critic for Los Angeles Mag, is part and parcel of this microculture and leads MB around by the nose to prove his point. Like you Chowfolks in the Bay Area ignore MB, we Chowfolks in LA ignore the mag with our city's namesake.

                                                      2. Bauer dissed LA restaurants? Really? I must have read the wrong article.

                                                        "Mozza is a star in its own right...The pizza is the best I've had."
                                                        (Not sure if you realize just how big a compliment this is. SF is a huge gourmet pizza town, and Bauer has tried all of the top spots.)

                                                        "Be as cynical as you like about Puck and his empire; I was ready to give it up for the man with the first courses: airy, silken bone marrow flan...I also loved the marinated veal tongue"

                                                        "The $100 Kobe beef was as rich as foie gras"

                                                        ""My favorite was the buttermilk steamed chicken breast, which took on a velvety texture "

                                                        "for the immense style and effortless formal service, the prices are a real bargain"

                                                        "it was one of the best steaks I can remember eating in the last couple of years. "

                                                        "For pure satisfaction, Jar can't be beat."

                                                        "salad that would make Alice Waters weep. "

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                                          I think when one reads the body of his opening text that leads to his more detailed views on the places he visited, one does not walk away with a very favorable take on LA, which is fine. We have far too many people in this area already. As I've already mentioned, I for one felt that his generalizations were ones typically held by alot of tourists (which weren't helped by this guy, Patrick Kuh of Los Angeles Rag), and that his take on LA definitely is not that of mine personally. I'm a native Angeleno whose perspective on LA is heavily biased toward the Westside for the most part and also by ethnicity and culture, so I can't even relate to most of what he states... His list of eateries are all Beverly/Melrose/Downtown and top-shelf, so his take on LA is but a dust partical on a sliver of a slice of LA as I see it.

                                                          I'm sorry he feels that LA doesn't have its share of mid-ranged places, but maybe his take on the bounds of LA is, or where he or his buddy Kuh took him to. Jumping over that area that Bauer covered, I go to SGV for excellent food at prices that are probably considered below mid-ranged for alot of Angelenos. Maybe it ain't LA to him or others, but to me, LA is a broad free-ranging area that isn't narrowly defined by zip or jurisdiction. If I can get there within 45 minutes, most likely it's LA to me.

                                                        2. I skimmed his reviews, and he seemed to really like the meals. I didn't think he dissed the restaurants; only the "industry" clientele who frequent the places. Even we LA natives are tired of being pushed aside for them (e.g: our 8 p,m. res at a Patina group restaurant was pushed back to 9:00 one night so that Billy Crystal and a friend could have our table. No more Patina group restos for me.)

                                                          17 Replies
                                                          1. re: CynD

                                                            Those industry folks are treated like the royalty of LA, and don't most of them know it... The problem is most non-celeb folks aren't like you, where these celebs are the draw. Geez - how many times over the course of a month does a post come up where celebrity-watching is a priority for choosing an eatery? The restos and John Q. citizens alike treat these public faces with fanatic praise for different reasons, and of course this fans the flames of their egos as well as lubricating their already devine and luxuriant lifestyles. I guess it's part and parcel to being in certain areas and businesses of LA.

                                                            1. re: CynD

                                                              The Industry in L.A. is like any city... there are always your movers and shakers; L.A.'s just happen to be better know to the rest of the country. In SF, it's all the VCs, multimedia-gulch, silicon valley, and general valleywag-covered types who fulfill the role of VIPs for the high-end restaurants. My biggest problem with his review is that he's more distracted by the scene than I've ever seen of my L.A.-dining compatriots and infers his "awe" upon the rest of the diners -- going so far as to dismiss the palate of the L.A. diner.

                                                              I've lived in L.A. and S.F. and now commute (and dine in both cities) on a 50/50 basis and disagree with a lot of his statements about the restaurant scenes. I'll say that eating at the same quality of restaurants in both cities, my yearly costs for dining were/are easily 20% higher in S.F. Valets in L.A. can run up to $20 in L.A. (which is especially noteworthy since he reviewed Cut which has a valet at that level as do many Hotel-based restaurants in the BevHills, Sunset Strip areas) and that when in S.F., I rarely take my car to a restaurant in the city. Is that not one of the benefits of a 7x7 sized city like SF?

                                                              His commentary about dessert prices is just ridiculous.. as if to fill up his word-count. At Gary Danko, Postrio, French Laundry, etc. prices are just the same. I can find a creme brulee at $5 and $15 in every city... however the price is going to be defined by the general price-scale of the restaurant. Are drinks more expensive in LA... once again it depends where you dine or eat in both cities. A martini at Aqua or Postrio is the same price as one you'll get at any West Hollywood/Bev Hills restaurant.

                                                              The Batali statement is also a laugh as only a few years ago Batali said he'd never open a restaurant in L.A. Of course printing and recalling Batali's statement only serves for Bauer's implied statement that S.F.=competitive and L.A. is mediocre and isn't gastronomically competitive.

                                                              I question his choice of restaurants and selections at the restaurants. Who in their right mind orders the old Spago pizza that is such a cliche and can be found in various derivative forms all across the country? I know he hasn't been able to make it down the few miles from SF to LA in 10 years, but the Bev Hills Spago is practically a new restaurant than the old Spago. Also, he mentions sushi (which surely is of interest to the SF public -- though plentiful up there, I've yet to find one that measures up to the scale of sushi restaurants in quantity or quality that can be found in the LA area), why didn't he visit even one?

                                                              Finally, his comment about pizza. Once again reflecting his own starfker nature, Pizzeria Mozza is singled-out -- yet L.A. has no Chicago style pizzerias unlike the S.F. area which means a vast "type" of pizza is missing from LA. If we wandered outside of Bauer's Cal-Med-Ita only focus, there's also nothing like Berkley's Indian in LA just as you don't find the variety of Mexican in S.F. that you find in SoCal. I love that in a single sentence he seems to have found a line of deniablity for not running those comparisons while making generalizations about the 2 cities.

                                                                  1. re: brunello

                                                                    "there's also nothing like Berkeley's Indian in LA"

                                                                    You might want to revise that statement after visiting Little India, aka Artesia or even some places in OC. You'll be blown away and you don't have to sit next to dirty hippies to enjoy your food.

                                                                    I live part-time in Berkeley and OC and honestly I didn't think the article was that bad at all. If anything, I thought he came across as a starry-eyed tourist. Yeah, I expected him to say comments that suggest SF is better, but how is that any different from any other smug Frisco-dweller you've ever met? Also, the celebrity comments were expected.

                                                                    I was shocked when he said that Mozza's pizza was better than anything in SF. That takes balls for a Frisco-dweller to admit something from LA is better! I gotta get me to Mozza soon.

                                                                    1. re: choctastic

                                                                      "You might want to revise that statement after visiting Little India, aka Artesia or even some places in OC."

                                                                      Add Cerritos to the list or you will have some really angry Punjabs. I was also surprised by the Berkeley statement... not that I know anything about Berkeley's Indian population.. but I would have thought that maybe the Nor Cal Indian mecca would be somewhere near San Jose.

                                                                      1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                        I think the claim for Berkeley was probably about Vik's, which is (a) chaat, and (b) South Indian, so Punjabi restaurants would be "nothing like" Berkeley Indian. The Berkeley South-Asian community is much older and more established than the South Bay South-Asian communities, but I think most people would agree that the best "Indian" restaurants in the Bay Area are in the South Bay/Peninsula.

                                                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                          LA has much better chaat than Vik's. However, I've never found a sit-down Northern Indian restaurant in LA that rivals Ajanta in Berkeley. That said, I'm a westside boy, so I never made it out to Artesia or Cerritos.

                                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                            Yeah, I assumed brunello was talking about Viks since that gets the most press around here.

                                                                            1. re: choctastic

                                                                              The guy isn't very smart to make sweeping generalizations based on one restaurant.

                                                                              An ex co-worker from Hong Kong thought a Mandarin restuarant in Mexico City could vie for best of in the Western Hemisphere.... assuming that one restaurant really is better than any Chinese restaurant in S.F. would that somehow mean that Mexico City has better Chinese cuisine than S.F.? Absurd.

                                                                              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                Well, I could have been wrong. I just looked at the all the places he could have talked about before I responded and concluded he must be talking about Viks. The poster can't be talking abut Udipi because Artesia has a branch that is better. Also, can't be talking about the lunch buffet places because we down here in OC/LA have a ton of those and some are really quite good. So I guessed he was talking about Viks since I read about it the most on these forums.

                                                                                He might have been talking about fusion Indian food like Ajanta, in which case, maybe he has a point. I dunno since I dont really go for fusion food. I did hear that Goa (fusion restaurant in LA) is supposed to open soon.

                                                                                --oh yeah for fusion food, there's also Chakra in Irvine. I've been there several times and it's a very nice space. I didn't care for the food, but like I said, I don't much go for fusion food in general.

                                                                                1. re: choctastic

                                                                                  For Choctastic: I don't know what restaurant he was referring to either, but I do know that I've never seen 'dirty hippies' in Vik's ( or clean hippies for that matter: the clientele at Vik's when I've been is mostly Indian families with a few students in the mix), and that type of statement only serves (from my point of view) to decrease your credibility, when otherwise I would have no reason to believe Indian food couldn't be better in LA (I really like Vik's, but never having been to Chaat places in LA I can't compare. I do believe LA is better on some counts, notably Thai as I mentioned above, and Mexican).

                                                                                  I don't think this is supposed to be a north-south fight, (nor do I think Bauer intended his article as such), so why be inflammatory rather than just comparing the chow?

                                                                                  Speaking of which, for Morton: it would be nice if you posted those chaat places in LA you think are better than Vik's on the LA board. I don't recall seeing any chaat discussions there lately...

                                                                        2. re: choctastic

                                                                          Just to clarify, I've been to the Artesia area many times, but the food doesn't use the quality of ingredients as you find in the Berkeley area (and the immediate Los Angeles metro area is just abysmal for Indian food.) The cooking, despite the large Indian population, is very Americanized or delivers only a real fast-food set of flavourings.

                                                                          BTW, I'm of Northern Indian decent and I have top (in India, not America) Southern Indian chefs as close family friends my entire life. Needless to say I've been to India a few times and know the food pretty well. I think what Berkley benefited from was the influx of Indian professors and graduate students, etc that moved in for the school with their spouses. The spouses are the one who started the restaurants in the area and generally came from a more wealthy class to bring with them from India a different set of cuisine and cooking skills.

                                                                          1. re: brunello

                                                                            So what Berkeley restaurants are you talking about then? I'd love to find more good places in Berkeley. Perhaps you can start a thread on the San Francisco board. Since you speak in generalities and not about specific places, you're not giving any useful information other than "Berkely rocks" and "LA sucks".

                                                                            1. re: choctastic

                                                                              Sorry, didn't want this to digress to an Indian food thread from the original topic so I was sticking to generalities. I'll put up a thread on the SF board for Indian later.

                                                                              1. re: brunello

                                                                                I'm also very curious which places you're talking about. I started this topic:

                                                                                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/427348

                                                                                1. re: brunello

                                                                                  Still hoping you'll disclose these great Berkeley Indian places on the SF board.

                                                                      2. Bauer used his blog to address these accusations

                                                                        "I had no idea what I wrote would be construed as dissing"

                                                                        "I had a great time in Los Angeles and loved much of the food. I'm already anticipating a return visit this fall. There's no denying the fact that I like it -- right now, I really like it."

                                                                        Full text here:

                                                                        http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/s...

                                                                        1. What a strange article. It's like a food snob's whirlwind tour of LA's most expensive and well known restaurants. Only chefs with Names need apply. Places for the nouveau riche and glitterati - although no doubt with good enough food if you like spending that kind of money.

                                                                          As many other posters already said, where's the ethnic? Where's the neighborhood, or close by, Mexican, Chinese, Thai, Lebanese, Persian, Japanese...? The places that aren't "destinations", where there's usually NO valet parking, that don't run $200 per person seem to have been hidden by the blinding light of celebrity chefs and In establishments for the upper end.

                                                                          It's not so much a diss as a report by someone who came for the Movie Star's glam version of LA, not the people's. At least he liked all the places he visited, almost uncritically.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: salutlemonde

                                                                            "It's like a food snob's whirlwind tour of LA's most expensive and well known restaurants"

                                                                            Funny you should mention that. He loved the lesser known restaurants like tJar and Hatfields. I have been in LA for a long time and havent even considered going to Spago or Patina. I think Spago and Patina left the biggest bitter taste in his mouth. Had he replaced these with Grace, Campanile, Michael's, Angelini, AOC, Opus (at the time of his visit), etc he would have had a completely different opinion.

                                                                            Anyhow, his opinion was very positive. I think he liked LA dining for what it was but preferred SF. There is nothing wrong with that.