Atlanta Journal and Constitution Mention

When Foodies was in the Atlanta Journal and Constitution!

(Mentioned in list towards the bottom. A screenshot of our Bacchanalia review accompanied the original article)!


Reviews and reaction stir the pot
Published on: 03/01/07

Readers of the Feb. 21 Dining In/Dining Out section of The New York Times got an extra something to read a full-page ad in which restaurateur Jeffrey Chodorow took the Times' lead restaurant critic, Frank Bruni, to task in an excoriating 1,100-word letter to the food editor.

The back story, briefly, goes like this:

Chodorow is best known as the financier behind the short-lived Rocco's on 22nd, the opening of which was documented on the NBC reality TV show "The Restaurant." But he also runs a couple dozen big, splashy restaurants from L.A. to London.

His latest baby is Kobe Club, a Midtown Manhattan draw for wealthy beef fetishists who would consider paying $190 for a tasting of wagyu beef raised on three different continents. Bruni gave Kobe Club a majorly harsh zero-star review — he complained of "insipid or insulting dishes" and compared the decor to a "torture chamber" — and Chodorow hit the proverbial roof.

Chodorow's assertion that Bruni lacks the "food background" and thus the credentials to review restaurants is what got everyone talking. But the part I found most fascinating is where Chodorow announces — catch this — a blog (http
www.chinagrillmgt.com/blog in which he promises to follow food critics in their steps.

Chodorow writes that his blog will contain "a special section entitled Following Frank [Bruni] and After Adam [Platt, critic for New York Magazine], in which I will make a follow-up visit to restaurants they write about for the purpose of reviewing their reviews."

Love it.

I've never met a restaurant critic with a hidden agenda or a closet full of axes to grind. But I imagine they exist, and anything that exposes them is good.

Rather, most critics see their reviews as salvos launched into a public debate and strive to be accurate with fact and honest with opinion. No more, no less. If Chodorow really has the time, the energy and the stomach to parse two restaurant reviews a week, his efforts will only deepen the meaning of the review.

Chodorow will also find that his is one of many voices. Nowadays, when general-circulation publications come out with restaurant reviews, blogs and message boards everywhere light up. The review itself becomes a list of talking points around which conventional wisdom collects.

Alternate reviews have also started to proliferate on personal blogs. Some are dashed-off paragraphs; others thoughtful, graded looks at the food, decor and service at a particular restaurant. Many begin with the phrase, "After reading about ..."

In Atlanta, there is no shortage of people who follow restaurants and want to get their opinions heard. Often, these opinions are expressed pointedly in response to reviews written by the city's troika of food opinion: Meridith Ford here at the AJC, Besha Rodell at Creative Loafing and Christiane Lauterbach at Atlanta Magazine.

Here's a sampling:

http://www.atlantacuisine.com/: Far and away the most active local site, this board features reviews, coupons and a lively discussion board where local print reviews are often parsed as a jumping-off point for a thorough, often intelligent, sometimes mean-spirited back-and-forth. Reading the posts reminds me of crashing a cocktail party where everyone knows everybody else, has had a couple of drinks and talks loudly. The site has spawned a fun free paper, published monthly, called Atlanta Cuisine.

www.accessatlanta.com/restaurants/content/restaurants/talk.html: This is AJC's board, where people can post their restaurant experiences.

http://www.atlantafoodies.blogspot.com/: Formatted reviews (i.e., questions with answers) of both upscale and casual restaurants. The writer identifies herself as a native Atlantan and dyed-in-the-wool foodie.

http://www.blissfulglutton.blogspot.com/: Nice diary of the writer's food amblings, with plenty of photos and terse reviews that don't stint on opinion. Lots of appealing ethnic finds. The writer identifies herself as a former chef.

http://www.chowdownatlanta.com/: A new site that promises to offer a good mix of cooking, dining, carryout and deli-case dinner ideas. The writer is a woman who abhors leftovers.

http://www.atlantaeats.blogspot.com/: An opinionated, guy's-guy food blog written by a writer who calls himself "Steakhead," won't eat foie gras and lists "Animal House" among his favorite movies.

http://www.runningwithtweezers.typepad.com/: This is a local cooking rather than restaurant blog, so it doesn't quite fit with the others. But I include it because it's the best written, warmest of spirit and most visually appealing of the bunch. If this writer (a professional stylist) turns to restaurant reviews I, for one, would be tempted to follow her advice.

1 comment:

Chinese Southern Belle said...

Evening at Emory Welcomes Chinese Southern Belles,
Natalie and Margaret Keng, for Eggrolls ‘n’ Sweet Tea

ATLANTA, Ga. — Natalie and Margaret make their Evening at Emory debut in the upcoming class Eggrolls ‘n’ Sweet Tea. This exciting hands-on mini-course offers a unique blend of food, markets, culture and immigrant family stories.

Eggrolls ‘n’ Sweet Tea is an introduction to Asian cuisine. It includes a tour of an Asian grocery store, where you’ll learn to navigate Asian vegetables, meats, spices, noodles and more, an overview of the role of food in Asian culture and history, local resource lists, as well as a teaching lunch at a local restaurant where you’ll learn how to order authentic specialties.

Natalie and Margaret Keng, a dynamic mother-daughter duo, have delighted friends with delectable classic and country Asian creations, as well as entertaining stories of family and culture, for over 30 years. Margaret taught one of the first adult education Chinese cooking classes in Atlanta in the early 80’s, “before soy sauce was available in a regular grocery.” She also co-owned and ran the first full-service Chinese restaurant opened in a mall before the era of foodcourts.

Eggrolls ‘n’ Sweet Tea is the result of the Kengs’ combination of traditional Asian cuisine with the world of the Deep South. After immigrating to the U.S. in the early 1960s, Margaret discovered creative ways to cook her favorite childhood dishes in a different culture and a full work/family schedule. Some of the resulting dishes were “Ginger Beef with Rice-a-Roni,” “Five Spice Rutabaga” and “Hot Hunan Catfish.”

Daughter Natalie Keng started working at her family’s Chinese restaurant in Smyrna, Georgia when she was eight years old. She stood on a beer box to run the cash register and helped as an apprentice in the kitchen. Currently, she is a freelance communications consultant, documenting her own family's history as one of the early Chinese immigrant families in Atlanta and creating a new community initiative that celebrates food, family and culture and supports local farmer’s markets and sustainable living. www.chinesesouthernbelle.blogspot.com

This Evening at Emory class meets on March 26th and 28th. Tuition is $135 and includes a full lunch and food samples. To contact Natalie or Margaret, email nkeng@post.harvard.edu or 770-405-8826.

To register and/or view a full schedule of course locations and descriptions, please visit: www.EveningatEmory.org or call 404-727-6000.

We look forward to hearing from y'all!