Thursday, March 04, 2004

Spin City

An upscale Italian joint opened recently on my corner in the West Village. Actually, since the one time I went there lunch for two came to just shy of 100 bucks, I suppose "joint" is not the right word. My lunch for two included no appetizer, no dessert and just 3 glasses of the cheapest wine possible. Oh, and one of us ordered vegetable soup as an entree. What I'm getting at is that it's expensive. In other words, I mean to say that when the bill came, I almost plotzed. The price included entertainment such as lots of indeterminate European accents, beautiful young women with ugly old men and one extremely loud gay lawyer who I know tons more about because he was so loud.

Our food was dull and standard. There was nothing offensive, but nothing particularly good. The wine was nothing to e-mail home about. The waiters, however, all look awesome in their candy pink shirts and the tall drink of water who is the host is considered hot by all the middle-aged ladies in the hood.

In the interest of not wooing bad karma I will not reveal the name of the restaurant.

Sure I was predisposed to not like it because I was a regular at the previous restaurant that lived there. The previous restaurant, Anton's, was forced out when the landlord more than doubled the rent. Anton was the chef/owner and employed only 2 waiters & one Hispanic sous chef. With the rent set to skyrocket, he said there was no way he could turn even a modest profit... As if that little fact ever stopped a NYC restaurant from opening.

Lemme get to the point.

I just saw the listing for this restaurant on NY Citysearch. I was curious about what it would say because the place had recently gotten the most devastatingly bad review I think I've ever seen in the New York Times. I think "Snow Dogs" got a better review than this place. The Times review basically said that the restaurant was overpriced, tasteless. The reviewer said the food was as pretty and vapid as the clientele. The reviewer concluded that this place could only attract and was made for beautiful, stupid rich people who were themselves tasteless people. Ouch. Wait, did he call me beautiful? Aw.

The Times ripped this place a new one to the point I felt sorry for them. It can't be that bad, I thought. And I'm not that razor thin and jaw-droppingly beautiful (close but no cigar) so maybe my presence will prove it wrong. So in part to support them and in part because I had a very sick relative visiting who hadn't been out in two days and couldn't go farther than a block, I went. I also went because sadly my imagination was impoverished -- before that day I could not conceive of a lunch that expensive at a little village cafe.

Surprisingly on Citysearch it was a recommended restaurant(!), $$$$ explained the high prices, and it gushed over the food.

But the best part was that it contained this snippet of a review, "Everything looks good at (name deleted)" -- Marian Burros, New York Times.

They just seemed to forget to include the rest of the review which was something like, "Everything looks good here and yet tastes like crap." The review even compared the gelati to supermarket sherberts. I suppose this gimmick is old hat for movies but it surprised me in the food arena. I say this place should cut out the middleman, pull an all-out Sony and just create their own reviewer.

Here, I'll get them started:

"A culinary delight, every dish a winner, you'll wish you were even more ridiculously wealthy than you are so that you could just throw hundred dollar bills at their feet when they serve the panini. Speaking of the panini, it is so orgasmically delicious, that you may forget you just dropped a twenty on what is basically an under-stuffed mediocre sandwich on stale yet exquisitely oily bread. The delicious selection of wines can be paired perfectly with your 2nd, 3rd or 4th wife. After the second glass you may even forget she is only with you because her acting career never panned out and she's really wildly attracted to your pad in the Hamptons. Speaking of the Hamptons, you can enjoy the same vibe at their other two locations. With one in the Hamptons and the other on the Upper East Side, you can relax with others who share your tax bracket, if not your accent." -- Ima Sheetengyou, The Times Herald News Examiner Daily Standard Weekly.