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Feb 18, 2012 03:29 PM

Troy Johnson's Review of TBL3

I wasn't crazy about it, he made it seem as if any sort of tasting menu/degustation in San Diego is destined to fail. Which I didn't like.

"Tourists come for the sun, not dinner. And locals don’t do degustation." Perhaps the majority, or in the past, but I think that may be changing.

The review came off as if similar concepts CAN'T work here, why limit any type of cuisine that could add to the growing food scene?

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  1. I like some of his tweets but with the death of Naomi Wise SD has lost the last serious restaurant critic. I might not always agree with her opinion (and don't expect it from any food critic) but I always had the feeling that she really knew what she was talking about regarding food. Everything what you can read now in the Reader, City Beat and SD Magazine about food is jusy laughable and a waste of time.

    1. I know his review is getting all sorts of flack on the Twitter-verse, and he does deserve some of it. I mean, the review doesn't even make sense... he really should've spent more time talking about the food instead of going on some soapbox monologue.

      8 Replies
      1. re: shouzen

        I don't think he is really known ( or good at) writing reviews about food. At least the stuff he wrote ar Riviera sounded often more like PR stuff from the restaurant. His popularity is more based on his writing style and his TV show but not the depth of his reviews.

        1. re: honkman

          Never seen his show, but you bring up a good point about the PR stuff. In fact, that's what I find useful about following him on Twitter - lots of useful updates about local chefs and restaurants.

          1. re: shouzen

            I like most of what I've read from Troy, he seems unpretentious and genuinely interested in covering all of the food scene. That's why I didn't understand why he would sort of cast off a particular type of dining - as if he has some vendetta against contemporary fine dining.

            Whether or not San Diego is as receptive to it as other cities (at the moment, or in the past) really doesn't matter, and saying that it hasn't or won't is taking the wind out of the sails so to speak.

            Why not just talk about the food, this type of fine dining is always niche, regardless of area - but give it the chance to grow.

            1. re: Rodzilla

              ".... he seems unpretentious and genuinely interested in covering all of the food scene." - Definitely not the first which comes to my mind when reading his reviews.

                1. re: DiningDiva

                  I based that assesment off of this interview -

                  and what a mutual acquaintance had said, but this recent review definitely rubbed me the wrong way.

                  1. re: Rodzilla

                    I thought his "rant" on reclaimed wood in the same issue was rather funny and spot-on.


      2. just me I guess but I thought Troy was simply being honest about the difficulty of succesfully carrying such an ambitious menu in San Diego. if it were a readily succesful concept we'd no doubt see more of it here. He went on to basically praise the menu.

        13 Replies
        1. re: ibstatguy

          And yet many people - in the industry, no less - thought it was an outright attack on Trey Foshee.

          1. re: DiningDiva

            I find that very strange. San Diego seems thin skinned. I read it the same as ibstatguy.

            1. re: Josh

              Josh, I'm not so sure it's thin-skinned, tho' when I pointed out in a another forum that Troy had a point about tasting menus in SD being hard to do, and that fact that SD doesn't exactly embrace new, different and "out there", I was pretty much excoriated as well.

              Look, I agree with many posters here on CH. I think SD has some very good chefs capable of turning out some *VERY* good food. However, in order for SD to move to the next level or echelon of dining some things have to change and that change has to happen in the dining community, the people sitting in the chairs in the resto. But we can't have the discussion about what it would take to nudge diners in that direction if anytime someone prints or posts something that gets construed as an attack on SD it get shot down as sour grapes or something.

              I didn't think the review was an attack on Trey Foshee, nor was I offended by the review. I did think it was more of an indictment of San Diegans' failure to embrace the multi-course meal and possible unwillingness to pay for it. So for me it more or less exposed SDs still provincial roots. Don't get me wrong, I love my hometown and have and will continue to defend it. I just don't think we need to get so defensive when someone writes something less than glowing about us ;-)

              1. re: DiningDiva

                What I also didn't like about the article was the general assumption that tasting menus, even outside of San Diego, are a thing of the past because poeple don't have money and time. It's disappointing to see that a "food writer" pushes more for this philosophy that dinners can;t take too long, everything has to be fast and people are anyway overwhelmed by too many taste sensations.

                1. re: honkman

                  I'm not sure I got that out of it either.

                  Though I will add that given the ever-widening income gap in our society, tasting menus like this read a little like a Gatsby-esque indulgence of the gilded age and not something accessible to the average American.

                  1. re: Josh

                    No more an indulgence than good seats to a Lakers game. Different strokes... everyone's gotta have a hobby ;)

                    1. re: Josh

                      Many people spend a lot of money on a lot of things at many different economic times, e.g. cars, plasma TVs, and tasting menus are just another hobby. Would you also say that all these things don't fit in our times ? Without getting too political those who can afford such items have responsility to help in general those who can't but at the same time shouldn't feel guilty to search for such items and so I don't think that for example tasting menus out of place in today's world

                      1. re: honkman

                        I wouldn't say out of place, maybe, but certainly does raise an eyebrow. I recently ate at The Linkery for the first time in quite a while, and while I enjoyed my meal it was with some sadness that I recognized it's an indulgence I can't really afford.

                        Obviously Troy touched a nerve with this piece, and it seems almost like a Rorshach test. People seem to be seeing in it what they want to see, rather than what is there.

                        It has struck me though, more than once, that the trend in dining towards fabulously expensive tasting menus really does create a schism. That's an experience that is simply going to be off-limits to anyone who isn't wealthy. I'm not saying it shouldn't exist, but I think it's good to recognize it for the indulgence it is.

                        When you realize that there are families out there without enough to eat, and the people who benefit most from our country's lopsided economic policies are likely the ones enjoying these meals (for the most part), I think it raises some perfectly valid questions that we'd do well to address as a society. Obviously, though, that's far outside the scope of a CH discussion.

                        1. re: Josh

                          Many people try to buy things like cars, houses, TVs they don't have the money for but hardly anybody is really critizing it since it is part of a good life. On the other side if people instead spend it for more expensive food etc it is unnecessary luxury. Why is having a fancy car or a own house more important than enjoying some other parts of life like food (and yes I agree this discussions goes far beyond CH - but is very interesting. )

                          1. re: honkman

                            I think from the mindset of a person watching their money the difference is that if you spend $400 on a TV it will presumably last you some number of years, vs. a meal that's over in a few hours. I'm not saying it's wrong to spend a lot of money on a meal per se, I've done it in my fashion at times, though I think the most we've ever spent was probably around $150 or so during our honeymoon. I suppose it's a matter of degree, and everyone's scale is different. If you're desperately poor, $5 for a meal can be an extravagance.

                            I don't even know that I'm criticizing the practice. I just know that a meal at TBL3 is something that is out of reach for most of us. It doesn't seem strange to me that a journalist would make that observation.

            2. re: ibstatguy

              I felt that his review and what he wrote was very badly researched with trying to make connections between things which don't exists and just using it as a soapbox. He never wrote any decent reviews when at Riviera but more PR stuff covered as "reviews", unfortunately the quality of his reviews are actually going down even more now. And in his second part I don't really see that he "basically praises the menu" (not that I expect it from a review) but mainly complains again and again how long it takes and how much food it is etc. He sounds more like a "hip" person who has no really interest in a tasting menu/upscale food but has to go just because it might be trendy and so that he is able to brag about.
              I also don't think that people are thin skinned because it is "against" San Diego or Trey Foshee but because it is simply a very badly written article.

              1. re: honkman

                I didn't perceive complaints in what he wrote. It sounded more to me like he enjoyed the food but was questioning whether or not it will take off due to San Diego's history of indifference.

              2. re: ibstatguy

                I feel if he wants to complain about tasting menus, he has a regular column that he can do that with and it doesn't need to be in the context of TBL3.

                Going to TBL3, and writing a review on it (if he was limited by word count) would have been to pick 2 good dishes and perhaps 2 bad dishes and then say he would have some extended writeup online. He could then spend the next column retrospectively looking on the concept of tasting menus and then talking about it.

                Troy is definitely entitled to his opinion and many people may agree or disagree, but I just feel that he approached the whole thing incorrectly. In a "take on TBL3" I'm expecting to hear about the food and not read an editorial piece about why tasting menus don't agree with San Diego

              3. I remain baffled about the controversy over this. In particular, what a writer "should" be allowed to write about in a review.

                I don't follow the idea that there should be "reviews" that generally include "my companion chose the xyx, which proved to be an excellent choice" and usually some reference to authentic mouth-feel and at least one use of "overtones".

                I neither agree nor disagree with what he's written- it's all above my area of appreciation, out of my ken, not in my wheelhouse.

                But what's all the hubbub, bub?

                It's just an article.

                6 Replies
                1. re: Fake Name

                  Like the internet, food writing is evidently Serious Business.

                  1. re: Josh

                    and don't you forget it, Mr El Indio Hater.

                    1. re: Fake Name

                      Mordiditas. Not even Taco Bell has such an item.

                  2. re: Fake Name

                    I was mostly angry that the restroom at TBL3 was overlooked in the Super Diner's coverage of Best Restrooms in the UT the following week.

                    1. re: Stiflers_Mom

                      I know you're kidding, but I have to say that the restroom at George's is one of the crappiest high-end restrooms ever!

                      1. re: shouzen

                        ya I agree. I especially dislike that for the men, you have to walk up the stairs and around the bar of the other restaurant....