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Tim Maslow Piece in Bostoon Mag just now

For all of the CH Strip T fans (I still haven't gotten there, but hope to soon).

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  1. I honestly thought this article was an April Fools joke that I had missed on the 1st when I read it yesterday. I've enjoyed most everything I have eaten at Strip-Ts and Ribelle, I think Chef Tim should ignore what was said and keep doing what he does best.

    1. This seems like good news for Strip-Ts. The Alan Richman story was a ridiculously whiny chunk of fluff, but if it results in the return of a lot of terrific dishes that've disappeared from their menu, I'm all for it.

      1. As usual, Richman is full of crap, whining about how certain trends (novel techniques and ingredients and combinations of flavors, like this isn't happening year-in and year-out in the restaurant business) don't make him happy, so it must be the chef's fault for not trying to please customers.

        Yes, many chefs fall in love with trendy ingredients and try to mimic what innovators (these days, Chang, Redzepi, and AdriĆ ) are doing, and some do a better job than others. The good ones find a following and succeed, the bad ones go back to doing something more conservative and safe. But the vast majority are motivated by trying to make customers happy so their restaurants stay in business, not simply egotistic one-upmanship of other chefs that ignores customers, as Richman contends.

        Further, a lot of the places Richman slags are succeeding, so his stance here looks out-of-touch, reactionary: the grumpy old man pining for the good old days when he was more comfortable with what was happening at the edge. Either that, or all those customers are just bedazzled by marketing hype and not really enjoying what those chefs are doing -- which is obviously nonsense. I think that deliciousness always finds a way. Dumb ideas and bad execution are quickly spotted for what they are. Customers are too smart to support expensive places that aren't wowing them. So go screw yourself, Gramps, and find a nice place that still puts curly parsley on the plate.

        I wish Maslow had responded with a shrug: "Some people are going to get what we're doing, some won't; if enough do, we'll survive." But at least his response to the slap at Ribelle wasn't to change what he's doing at Ribelle. (He'd already made some changes there to accommodate dietary aversions and kids, and rolled out new ideas like his pasta tasting menu). The shift at Strip-T's could and should have been discussed without bringing Richman up.


        6 Replies
        1. re: MC Slim JB

          Crediting Richman was a bit surprising to me; the changes seemed to be underway already, and it seemed to fly in the face of Maslow's (for better or worse) mantra of sticking to his guns/having faith in his vision.

          But, I could see where perhaps referencing Richman was part of how the menu changes were able to get press. So, if that was the case, and the press gets people into try Strip T's, then I'd say thats' worth it. (and again, just idle spec on my part)

          1. re: valcfield

            I agree that Richman is probably just trying to be his a$&%%e self and be noticed. But i also thought that Maslow was very measured in his response and don't think he fretted over the review as much as he just took a deep breath now that he was running two places instead of one. Perhaps it caused him to think over some things that heeventually would have thought about anyway. I doubt he is going to change his vision all that much and I am really looking forward to sampling his different menu options. If it weren't for CH I would never have known about him and I wouldn't have paid attention to Boston magazine article.

            1. re: Northender

              Agreed- and certainly didn't mean to imply that Maslow's response was anything but respectable/measured. If I was trying to imply anything, it was my guessing the piece was probably born as a "get response to Richman" piece not a "there are menu changes at strip t's" piece (the latter not being particularly newsworthy), and then that that frame may have (intentionally or unintentionally) colored the portrayal of the reasons behind the menu changes.

          2. re: MC Slim JB

            In case people haven't seen this, Alan Richman is one of the food critics reviewed by chefs in this poll.


            1. re: opinionatedchef

              Thirtieth percentile for Richman is generous but not crazy in my book. By contrast, I think J. Gold is required reading even if you never get within two time zones of the places he reviews.


              1. re: MC Slim JB

                Yes, don't we feel lucky to have J writiing today!

          3. I think Richman is a total a$$clown. That being said, I nearly cried the last time I was at Strip-T's and the braised oxtail and romaine dish wasn't on the menu (and the rest of the new dishes we tried were all OK but not standouts.) And I only had the burger once because shortly after I tried it it went to the lunch menu only. It was a very, very memorable burger. I have been dying to have another one since that day over a year ago. So I think these changes are fantastic.

            1. Meh, regardless of all the BS of either article (Richman's or the Boston magazine), I'm just happy to see some of my favorites back on the Strip T's dinner menu: Eggplant Bahn Mi, Burger, Fried chicken, mussels, grilled romaine oxtail.

              Maybe I'm crazy but when something is really delicious rather than wanting to order something BRAND NEW AND EXCITING the next time I go, I just want to order the same damn thing that was a hit last time. I missed those menu items.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Klunco

                I think there's a continuum there: the encased-in-amber menu and the place that takes your plate away in mid-bite because they're onto something new already. I'm so tired of Stella's menu, which has changed barely at all in nine years, that I never dine there anymore. But I like the fact that Metropolis changes its menu seasonally but not much from year to year.

                It's hard when you see a favorite disappear from a menu, but I understand why chefs want to periodically keep things fresh and give regulars reasons to come back without getting bored. Hamersley can never escape his chicken, but at least some poor cook in his crew has to cook it all night every night for only six weeks at a time.

                I'm with other posters in being glad to see the oxtail romaine salad and other early-Tim-era Strip-T's favorites back.


                1. re: Klunco

                  I can understand a chef getting bored with certain menu items, but it's really really tough for a restaurant to gain and keep momentum when they keep changing things up. I love Strip-T's, but I can't tell you how many times I've introduced the place to friends and ended up basically apologizing for the menu. "Well uh, they don't have the oxtail salad you heard me rave about... or the fried chicken... or the burger... or the banh mi... but I bet this new stuff's good too!"

                2. Thoughtful post by Prezza's Chef/Owner Anthony Cataurano on Facebook today regarding the Boston Magazine article. He writes:

                  "Interesting article for those who have been following along. When I first opened Prezza I was trying to force certain dishes on people. I was definitely some what Ego driven and in need of a check. I was young, 26 actually. I ignored small individual complaints by customers and friends as well as sound advice. Then our second review came out by Mat Shaffer at the Herald, it was less than favorable. At first I was mad and then I realized he was right. It helped to change how and what we cooked from that day on and helped Prezza evolve to what it is today."

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Northender

                    Among the customer-driven changes at Prezza from its early days was going from the sensible portions of a restaurant in Italy, where one could reasonably finish an antipasto, primo, secondo and dolce, to one more typical of Italian-American restaurants in the North End, where anyone who orders like that goes home with a big doggie bag. From my perspective, his original concept, whether ego-driven or not, was better.

                    I'm not sure what changes Caturano made in response to the Herald review, but his is an example of one of my earlier points: most chefs want to stay in business, so they are very focused on keeping customers happy, and the restaurants that ignore customer desires don't last. The market speaks, and smart chefs listen.

                    But that sometimes means that the place has to move in a more conservative, middlebrow direction, which is not necessarily a great thing if you're a food geek who cheers for innovation and the success of unique, idiosyncratic visions. So I think Richman is taking a very odd stand for a food writer. He should be happy when crowds flock to something new and/or quirky and continue to support it, even if it doesn't particularly ring his bell. Without those occasional mutations, the food culture stalls and ossifies.


                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                      "Go screw yourself, Gramps".

                      Damn MC, As a longtime fan, gotta say this might be the most unmeasured I have seen you.


                      There is no good in reacting to these pieces (as we have seen recently with other chefs), a shrug would have been best but Tim's response was o.k. splitting the difference.

                      1. re: hyde

                        If Richman is merely trolling, consider me successfully trolled. He's been awful for years, but this strikes me as a new low.


                      2. re: MC Slim JB

                        MC, i always respect and welcome your view but as a long time Prezza fan, I would note that while portions are large, you can get a half order on pastas and salads if you ask and if you dine with a companion, orders are easily and happily split. They also change their menu seasonally. Cataurano also has a commercial fishing licesne so on many occasions, he brings in fresh caught fish and makes a special preparation for the evening. I don't remember the early days so I have no frame of reference for your observation, but I am sure you are correct given what Cataurano himself has posted. The intereresting thing that makes Prezza such a welcome spot for regulars is the fact that making the customer happy seems to be job one for them. Of course at their price points, they certainly should.

                        1. re: Northender

                          Don't get me wrong: I'm a big Prezza fan; it's one of the few North End places I have any use for, and I have a lot of use for it (very versatile, great for business entertaining, lots of features that most N. End places don't have, like a full bar, dessert, reservations, a really deep wine list, strong service, etc.)

                          But I remember vividly that first time I took then girlfriend / now missus there, and we accidentally ordered twice as much food as we needed to, thinking in terms of the early portion sizes. We now get one of each course and share them.


                    2. I doubt that the decision to bring back some of the much-loved dishes that caused such a buzz when Tim first took over Strip-T's is based solely on the Richman piece. I'm sure the number of tables turned in a week and customer feedback as well as comments on sites like this were important factors as well, and then Richman's comments added to reflections that were bound to happen. Sometimes the only way to know if something works is to give it time, and it is natural and organic for Strip T's to have to figure out it's place in the context of coexisting with Ribelle.

                      That said, I, too, am happy to think that those early dishes are going to be available again.