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Superdiners!

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  1. Just sad....

    1. hahahahaha. Oh, are they being serious?

      1. Glad to see the UT is giving voice to some people who know their food - though can't say I agree with all the choices in that list.

        1. They're too cheap to hire a decent food critic, so now it's food reviews by committee??

          1. I agree with DD comment about them being too cheap to pay a decent, seasoned food critic, but I find some interesting points of view with a few of the people they have tapped. Although I am sure that the chefs involved have an educated palette, I'm not entirely comfortable using them as reviewers for their peers in a public forum. Likewise, I don't think using a PR firm principal that represents some local restaurants is the wisest choice for a transparent opinion of other dining establishments. Altogether, an odd concept.

            1. Not a big deal IMO. At least with a restaurant, you don't have to buy 3-6-12 dinners to see if you like it.

              Ultimatelly it's my palate that counts, no matter the critic.

              1. Jeez, this is really dumb!
                I guess you don't have to be a Culinary Cosanostradamus to predict this won't last long.

                1. Looks like it's a part of their benefits plan, staffers getting free meals for opinions???.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: cstr

                    Well -- they gotta get paid SOMETHING...

                  2. I was really hoping that some members of this board would have gotten picked to be a "superdiner". I know KirkK helped out Naomi Wise and The SD Reader, why not the UT? I think that I would have enjoyed seeing my Night and Day spontaneously ignite in flames from some of the comments found here.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: littlestevie

                      I think some members of the Superdiners (sounds like some kind of culinary super hero, doesn't it. Yikes, if that's the intent) actually are on this board. It would not surprise me if almost all of them lurk at one time or another

                      1. re: DiningDiva

                        Ha! I love the thought of them lurking on CH, but I get the feeling they were hand plucked from the foreboding waters of Yelp.

                        1. re: DiningDiva

                          I also strongly suspect that a few of them are (semi) active posters on SD Chowhound.

                      2. Superdiners is a super idea in my recipe book. So, yah, many of these peeps aren't your average eater, they have credentials and a reason to be in print...but hey, who doesn't multi-task and multi-promote these days? I like that it's clear who owns what. I'd only feel deceived if those facts were hidden. To me, these folks give a breath of fresh air, dare I say scent, that may lead my nose to places I'd never normally sniff out! From this 1st installment I've added to my "must taste" list! I especially appreciate the shout-out for little places, cuz I'd rather give my Superdollar to a super-local biz. Bottomline is, I don't get what the complaints on Chow are for. Maybe you're just cranky cuz you're hungry! lol!

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: tasT

                          I see this is your first post. So do you work for the U/T or are you one of the Superdiners? Enquiring (yes spelled that way on purpose) minds would like to know

                          1. re: DiningDiva

                            Hi DiningDiva...Heavens no, I don't work for the UT and I'm not a SuperD either...I'm an uncredentialed consumer who enjoys a variety of views and flavors. The UT is much too one-sided and conservative for my liking...so I enjoy whatever variety they can Dish.

                            1. re: tasT

                              And you're sure you don't have a bridge for sale? ;-)

                              1. re: tasT

                                Super.

                            2. re: tasT

                              I don't think the complaints are that the UT is trying to do something, it's more about who the people were that were selected and why they were picked vs other well-known people.

                              First of all, I can see why the paper would want to have chefs on the list, but I don't see how it's appropriate to put chefs with regular customers. it would be more appropriate to have 2 groups of "superdiners" and have the chefs/industry people give one opinion and then the regular people a separate opinion. This would remove any sort of bias/agenda pushing from the equation. If these people are in fact dining together and you think something sucks, but a chef says it's really good, you make be intimidated as a regular diner to express your difference in opinion.

                              Furthermore, for the "regular people" that were selected, I feel the UT could have represented them better. I'm not questioning the qualifications or anything of the regular people (I think that's fine if they want to have a food focus group), but when you just say (for example) "Sara Hanson, fine wine specialist, blogger and U-T Superdiner." I immediately think, "please link me to the blog and what makes her a 'specialist'?"

                              If, for example, the description was instead something like "KirkK is the author of the popular San Diego blog mmm-yoso!!! (link mmm-yoso.typepad.com) which has been around for X years" I would feel much more confident in trusting that opinion over "David Salisbury, a law firm’s director of business development, avid diner and U-T Superdiner."

                              Anyway, it's too early to draw any conclusions and I'll allow some of them to win me over if they're actually not afraid of offering harsh and accurate criticism of places that do things wrong. I just don't think the UT did itself any favors in the way they launched this little campaign.

                              1. re: karaethon

                                I think you hit the nail on the head. Plus, how many people are paying that much attention to the UT in general, much less the dimishished opinion critics for arts, theater, film and food?

                            3. OK, I'll bite: I think the U-T did a pretty impressive job of assembling that panel. That doesn't necessarily mean that their work will be great, but I'm kind of impressed, they obviously did some legwork.

                              Some of the names, like Andrew Spurgin, Brandon Hernandez and Catt White are probably familiar to all SD Chowhounds -- they're involved in a lot of local food projects.

                              But some are more obscure, and also still quite awesome. Matt Rowley is a nationally respected expert in cocktails and artisan food, who doesn't really get any press locally, and I can't recall seeing any work of his in a local publication. It's a real coup to get him contributing on the local scene.

                              Sara Hanson's blog is my favorite SD-centric wine blog, maybe there are others I don't know about, but she's one of the few (maybe 5 or 8) local wine people I know who are equally interested in European wines as New World wines, which I think is a major area in which San Diego could extend its enjoyment of wine. http://www.thesarkuswineblog.com/

                              Dean Loring is a really interesting guy with a long background in food and restaurants, and a passion for doing things the right way. Tina Luu has spent a lot of time trying to help make the local restaurant scene better, and supporting local independent restaurants. Bill Sysak, if I understand correctly, is the highest level Cicerone (like a beer sommelier).

                              Robin Taylor is a bit of a hero to a lot of us in San Diego, his farm has basically changed the game in giving San Diego restaurants the chance to use great locally grown produce without changing their operations much -- i.e., delivered daily, only a slight price premium over commodity produce. In other words, his farm is making it possible for us to, over time, develop the kind of restaurant scene they have in the Bay Area, where working with the best ingredients is considered a baseline, not a novelty.

                              And these are just the some of the people on the list that I know. There's a lot I don't know, who I bet are equally interesting. I reckon the chef at Addison has a pretty respectable palate.

                              Anyway, I think it's really cool, and I wanted to chip in with that, because I know how these things tend to draw an excess of negative comments.

                              Next, I'll write about why I like Searsucker. :-

                              )

                              -----
                              Searsucker
                              611 5th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: jayporter

                                Oh...please do the thing about Searsucker. That could possibly end up being one of the most read posts ever on this board.

                                -----
                                Searsucker
                                611 5th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

                                1. re: foodiechick

                                  Oh, Gosh, I still like the idea of

                                  Muslin Terrace

                                  as the possible name of a new Melarkey venture.

                                  Of course, I think that "cosanostradamus" was reasonably clever as well.

                                2. re: jayporter

                                  Jay, while I don't have a big beef with many of the selections, the format leaves me cold. Some of these folks really do have good perspective and good palates, but are they going to get more than 5 or 6 sentences a week? Will they be able to flesh out their opinions or will we be left with mere fleeting impressions. Are we going to hear from the whole panel every week or just a few in greater depth.

                                  The sommlier from the US Grant says he like El Paisa tacos. Okay, well, so what? So do I and many other people, it's a solid recco. Why does he like them? What's good about them? What's worth making a trip out of your way to try them? Does it really give someone in Clairemont, El Cajon or even Del Mar any reason to make the trek south to El Paisa instead of around the block to the nearest 'berto?

                                  Andrew Spurgin is absolutely knowledgeable and passionate about sustainable fish, seafood and ocean preservation and Waters offers some really creative food. Will he get enough space for that passion to shine through? Catt is an absolute force of nature with the farmers markets she operates and truly does have a lot to bring to the table, how much space is she going to have to entice someone one who may only shop at their local Von's to try something different? And so...

                                  Ed Bedford and Naomi Wise have been writting for the Reader for eons and each has established a pretty recognizable voice. While I often find NW a little (okay sometimes A LOT) long winded, and I tire of reading about her posse of friends who eat with her, buried in all the extra filler is more than just a superficial tidbit or two about a restaurant. Ed is always good for a chuckle or two and I've ended up in with some pretty decent meals by following his reviews. Are we going to get anything useful out of the U/T Superdiners in a quick paragraph, or is it all going to be superficial fluff?

                                  No, I don't want, need or expect a PhD dissertation on every restaurant . Speakingly for myself, what I want, need or expect from a review is what the person recommending the place likes about it. What is it about the place that makes it worth a visit and my money. Is it the food, the ambiance, a creative menu, the place is open late, it's farm-to-table, well priced, and so on. If the Superdiners can do it in a blurb the size of a sound bite, all the more power to them.

                                  Perhaps the U/T is being hip and edgy with this format and I just don't like it because I'm just an old dinosaur. Or perhaps I just have no faith in the U/T to pull something like this off effectively. Take a look at it's Food section. What an embarassment. What a missed opportunity. A couple of dedicated people with a clear voice, focus and understanding of the state of food and beverage in this county could do wonders in helping to advance dining in San Diego. No, fine dining is not particularly the San Diego's thing but, jeez, do we have some terrific other thing happening.

                                  Jay, I loved the piece you did in the December Edible. It really made me want to take a trip down to TJ to try the Hotel Cesar. I loved the piece StreetgroumetLA did on Mision 19. It really made me want to make a reservation and get there pronto. It took you and Bill more than a few sentences to develop your thoughts and paint a picutre that was compelling enough to make me want to go try the place. Will the Superdiners be able to achieve the same thing? Who knows, but I guess we'll find out ;-)

                                  1. re: DiningDiva

                                    Thank you Gayla for your kind words about that piece, I really appreciate that.

                                    I agree with you that I would certainly be more interested to read, say, Matt Rowley's book or a post on his blog than just a paragraph of his opinion on a given food topic. However, I'm still interested in reading his paragraph.

                                    I also agree that San Diego would benefit tremendously if one or more of our local publications and/or writers pursued a certain kind of food writing, one emphasizing a depth of understanding of its subject matter, and seeking to draw meaningful insights from our culinary interactions. I imagine that all of the possible candidate publications have concluded that the San Diego market can't sustain such an enterprise. Clearly the Superdiners project is not at attempt at it.

                                    All that said, as a reader, I welcome all new attempts to do something interesting and enjoyable, even if they're not exactly what I want. Just like, as a diner, I welcome all new attempts to provide an interesting restaurant experience, even if it isn't one I personally connect with. This is why I was dismayed to see the vitriol which preceded the opening of Searsucker, here and elsewhere: it only discourages future restauranteurs from trying out new ideas which I may really enjoy. Why would people subject themselves to that kind of hostility just for starting an independent local business that, at some level at least, they create with the intention of serving their community?

                                    Similarly, I think it's self-defeating for a group who wants to read and discuss culinary topics -- which presumably this board represents -- to denigrate the contributors and editors who are starting a new project, even if the project itself is not exactly what anyone here wants. Because, after reading a bunch of negativity, why would these folks or other future people who may have amazing contributions we'd all value, want to share themselves with us in any other way?

                                    It's in our best interest to encourage all sorts of new projects, new restaurants, new food TV shows, whatever. Even if 99% of everything is garbage, which I think is probably true, without that 1% we'll never get anything new that's worthwhile.

                                    1. re: jayporter

                                      Well said Jay.

                                3. I don't see what all the hullabaloo is about, it's a good selection of people, some hits, some big misses with the restaurants, but it's their first installment. Let's see where this thing goes. I'm fine with putting joe plumbers on that list. You want a diversity of opinions, not just refined palates, especially for readers of the UT.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: chezwhitey

                                    Disagree a little - you may want a diversity, but I want refined palates. That's why I read CH and not Yelp.

                                    1. re: Josh

                                      Remember though, this is the UT, not bon apetite, the readership is a completely different demographic. You are right, most of yelp is trash, but there are a few decent reviewers on there, but people tend to confuse number of reviews with food knowledge and substance.

                                      1. re: chezwhitey

                                        I know many people here who find the UT laughably bad. I think there is an audience here for something that's not written for 4th graders.

                                  2. Overall I think it's a good idea. Can't really comment till we start seeing some reviews and how they are laid out. I don't like the name at all, very gimmicky. Also who scouted the people out to be the "super diners"?

                                    1. I like the idea, regardless of the lineup, but I have no faith in the U-T continuing it for any length of time. They continually fail on keeping up with the times or local interests.

                                      1. What's the deal?

                                        The goal of any publication is to attract advertisers and readers, in that order. I enjoyed reading about the food preferences of different people. Just like Chowhound, I don't agree with all of you, but I appreciate your observations.

                                        What's the beef? (grass-fed, and cage-free, of course)

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: Fake Name

                                          Different people might have different reasons why they don't like it but for me it is the twitterization of food news. It's an useless sentence of each "superdiners" (most fo them in the industry so most likely biased which makes it even more useless) about a rather stupid question. Just long enough so that there is no danger of missing the attention span of any reader. This kind of news might be good enough for twitter but is not the reason why newspaper exists (even today). I don't expect a five page essay about restaurants/food etc. but there is a middle ground (between one sentence blurbs and long essays) which a good newspaper should cover and where I think also a market exists so that newspapers can survive. I don't think that such kinds of "news" will help the UT so survive, more the opposite.

                                          1. re: honkman

                                            I agree, Honkman, that readers of your style and stature would enjoy a more sophisticated and deeper coverage by a seasoned (hah! foodpun) critic.

                                            But I don't think the numbers will bear that out to be a better plan for the UT's goal of increasing advertisers and readership. People WANT shorter articles and they want it simple.

                                            Bemoan the fact as you wish, but it's the truth. Most newspapers cut their food critics long ago AFTER a decline in readership.

                                            I know, I know, everybody misses Eleanor Widmer, my darlings. And I know it's been established my standards are fairly low and unsophisticated for both culinary experiences as well as food literature/reporting. So take it (I just can't resist!) with a grain of fleur de sel.

                                            1. re: Fake Name

                                              Yes, some people want shorter articles and want it simple but they don't want one sentence "articles". This article is more a summary of badly written ads covered as "opinions" of "insiders". Articles can be very short but still well written. This is a good example how it shouldn' be done. And don't be afraid to spend five minutes with the same article - it might hurt at the beginning but then you will enjoy it

                                              1. re: honkman

                                                Yeah, but we don't know exactly what it is going to be yet. That was an introductory article to give an overview of the new "superdiners" and a few quick hits of the places they like. Subsequent articles could be more long form. But we don't know yet, so why not wait and see before rushing to judgment?

                                        2. OTOH, I enjoyed reading this article, even though most of the rec's were already known, far more than the Readers dreadful "review" last week by some unknown twit who wrote a paen to Jimmy Carter's Mexican.

                                          1. So I guess this is what they had in mind...

                                            http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/20...

                                            10 Replies
                                            1. re: Alice Q

                                              well, I can't say that is surprising to anyone here. I can't see why the U-T needs to sends its panel to a restaurant that they have already endlessly hyped. At least they peppered it with what seemed to be honest criticisms as well as pleasantries.

                                              Now it will be amusing to see if the second assignment is a Cohn restaurant...likely BoBo (or however it is spelled)

                                              1. re: MrKrispy

                                                I think it's interesting that the two chefs are the only ones who really offered any meaningful commentary. The rest of it seems a little redundant - mostly about the scene and the lightbulbs. I haven't tried it yet, now that they're open for lunch I may try to swing down there. I am also more than a little amused that my boss - Gary Schons - is on this list. That's more than a little weird.

                                                1. re: Alice Q

                                                  Only the chefs had offered any meaningful commentary? Addison's chef said "Searsucker is a great addition to the San Diego dining scene. It fits chef Malarkey’s style like a glove." Tells me nothing. You're boss had more to offer than that and got me thinking about the crabcake.

                                                  Will be interesting to see how this format plays out.

                                                  1. re: Island

                                                    Wasn't really making a comment on what the chefs on the list had to say, as much as the fact that the only two meaningful comments (imo anyway) came from chefs. Sorry if that was unclear.

                                              2. re: Alice Q

                                                I didn't see the advertorial disclaimer. Seems it ought to be listed somewhere.

                                                1. re: Alice Q

                                                  The cocktails were my least favorite, although I am a little sick of hipsters with their skinny jeans, curly mustaches and craft cocktails!

                                                  — Ricardo Heredia, executive chef at Alchemy Restaurant

                                                  +1 to this man.

                                                  1. re: chezwhitey

                                                    We really like Alchemy (and visit often ) and his cooking but there are quite a lot of hipsters with their skinny jeans, curly mustaches and craft cocktails at Alchemy especially late at night

                                                    1. re: honkman

                                                      Talk about biting the hand that feeds much

                                                      1. re: DougOLis

                                                        Couldn't agree more. It can be hipsterpalooza at Alchemy. Chef might as well go ahead and book reservations at Searsucker for his own custromers.

                                                  2. re: Alice Q

                                                    The comments are like reading the news feed of the restaurants Facebook or Twitter..

                                                  3. Meh - it's no Berlin.

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: Josh

                                                      oh, well, no...that's true.

                                                      1. re: Fake Name

                                                        Funny these are the ones they leave. I guess non-sequiturs are OK.

                                                      2. re: Josh

                                                        Ich bin ein Berliner

                                                        1. re: mikec

                                                          Mmmm, donuts....

                                                      3. I find it interesting that most of the panel pretty much stuck to the design and Malarkey's personality. Food, not so much. The most misplaced statement was from the UT reviewer comparing Searsucker to NYC's Elaine's. Huh?

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: foodiechick

                                                          If all it's going to be is chirpy fluff, then I don't see it lasting. I hope it improves.

                                                          1. re: Josh

                                                            Well call me a cynic but.... ;)

                                                          2. re: foodiechick

                                                            I thought their not commenting on the food was itself a telling comment...

                                                          3. Not to beat on a dead horse, but I found this week's edition slightly more palatable:
                                                            http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/20...

                                                            The whole thing still reads like some sort of extended advertising but it seems like they let the people say a little more about the food this time. They also seemed to emphasize the non-chef diners (but listing their quotes first). There's still a lot of work to be done, but I'd say this week is a baby step in the correct direction.

                                                            10 Replies
                                                            1. re: karaethon

                                                              I don't know. My eyes started to glaze over before I got halfway through the list -- I didn't even make it to the end.

                                                              1. re: karaethon

                                                                I like the honest assessment from the addison chef about how he doesn't believe a chef should step on the toes of a salumi maker and that this isn't the right climate for this. I may not agree completely with what he says, but I still appreciate his candor.

                                                                1. re: chezwhitey

                                                                  I don't see where he is honest but more disrepsectful against chef who do excellent charcuterie. You can get excellent and horrible charcuterie from salumi makers, you can get excellent and horrible charcuterie from chefs. It might say more about his own capabilities for making charcuterie

                                                                  1. re: chezwhitey

                                                                    You're right, just because he's not capable of it he shouldn't be doing it. Just like if he can't make stock it's okay for him to get it from Sysco. Or if he can't make a cheesecake it's okay for him to get it from the Cheesecake Factory. Or if he can't make bread it's okay for him to get it from the Wonder Bread truck. He probably shouldn't get any credit on the dish but it's okay for him to do it.

                                                                    1. re: DougOLis

                                                                      I think the point Chef Bradley was making, at least in regards to Salumi makers stick to making salumi and Chefs stick to cooking, is striving at being the best at your respective craft. A jack of all trades but a master of none type deal is what I think he is saying to stay away from. I've eaten a lot of bad house made salumi over the years, so I can't say he is totally wrong if this is the point he was trying to make.

                                                                      1. re: DougOLis

                                                                        Yeah!

                                                                        Think about all those tired images of chefs walking through their own restaurants vegatable garden. You know, the genuine, thoughtful and caring chefs who maintain their quality of ingredients the only way possible- by raising it themselves.

                                                                        Now consider this idea further- think about the chefs who use foie gras. Let's create a picture of them in a pen of buried geese, gently but firmly forcing a tube down their feathered throats to force-feed them the nutrition necessary to fatten their lovely livers, which will be subsequently harvested and the rest of the goose tossed aside.

                                                                        Because, after all, they are genuine, thoughtful and caring chefs who maintain their quality of ingredients the only way possible- by raising it themselves!

                                                                        1. re: Fake Name

                                                                          You crack me up more times than not. Great points man. I will point out though that if you have ever seen a Goose or Duck feed their young, they basically bury their bills down the little ones throat in a not at all gentle manner.

                                                                          1. re: mjill

                                                                            Hey, don't get me wrong- I enjoy foie now and then. But I don't think every chef has to do everything.

                                                                            Your point is valid, and I'd bet some of the goose parents would prefer to half-bury their offspring and use a pvc tube. It's natural, but with a touch of contemporary methods.

                                                                    2. re: karaethon

                                                                      Eh. Addison's chef's comment about champagne struck me as pretty ridiculous. To be called "champagne" it's true that the wine must come from Champagne, but sparkling wine made via methode champenoise can be produced anywhere. Is he going to claim that only sparkling wine from Champagne is worth drinking?

                                                                      1. re: Josh

                                                                        I could not agree more. I feel the sparkling wines from California are absolutely stunning. People should try some older vintages of Gloria Ferrer Royal Cuvee to taste superb wines at a fraction of their French counterparts. I also recommend Roederer Anderson's Valley and Schramsberg, all great wines that should compete very well with the French.

                                                                    3. The downward spiral continues....
                                                                      http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/20...

                                                                      There's even a shout-out to Cheesecake Factory.

                                                                      10 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Josh

                                                                        I think Josh as someone who is very against this column in the UT I find it hilarious that you read it every week so far. To me it says the person who came up with the idea for the paper did a good job since it appears a lot of people are reading it, even the snobs, and commenting about it on secondary boards.

                                                                        1. re: mjill

                                                                          Maybe I'm hoping it will get better? Maybe I'm curious to see what they're doing with it? Maybe I'm amused by things that are risible?

                                                                          None of those are mutually exclusive.

                                                                          It's an odd thing to suggest that eyeballs equals a good job. Lots of people are watching Charlie Sheen's public meltdown, that doesn't make it a good thing. Rubberneckers slowing down to look at a traffic accident aren't giving their tacit approval to the wreckage.

                                                                          As far as snobbery goes, there's a story I heard once about living in glass houses.

                                                                          1. re: Josh

                                                                            I guess you just don't understand the "paper" business which is really just a click business now. Their goal is to draw eyes. Charlie Sheen for better or worse is selling magazines and drawing clicks. The UT is drawing your eyes, so are they the ones with "low" standards or is it you? Regardless, like I said, it appears the purpose of the column is working since it's being read and talked about.

                                                                            1. re: mjill

                                                                              Good points.

                                                                        2. re: Josh

                                                                          Face, meet Palm.

                                                                          At least Burger Lounge got one mention!

                                                                          I find it funny that they pretty much had to go to the "avid diners" for this one and none of the chefs would touch it.

                                                                          I think there's something wrong in the wording of this phrase from Andrew Spurgin: "It’s no secret that when I’m hung it’s off to In-N-Out"

                                                                          1. re: DougOLis

                                                                            For all intents and purposes, the article (?) is about "guilty pleasures.' I just love that the Burger Lounge owner is cool enough to admit that he submits to a McDonald's burger every now and then. Usually, foodies won't go lower than In-n-Out.

                                                                            1. re: Maxmdwinter

                                                                              Actually, the guilty pleasure I found interesting was Jack-in-the-Box.

                                                                              However, the one that tickeled me the most was the hand-dipped chocolate cone from Foster's Freeze. It really *is* good and worthy of being a guilty pleasure, and the hamburger isn't really half bad for a fast food burger.

                                                                            2. re: DougOLis

                                                                              Yeah, I kind of had to read that line a couple times too ;-D It could be taken several different ways!

                                                                              1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                TWSS

                                                                              2. re: DougOLis

                                                                                Heh, don't know how I missed that one.