On Wednesday evening, there were only five comments on Sam Sifton's New York Times blog post about his review of Daniel Boulud's new venture, Boulud Sud (the actual two-star review isn't taking comments). One was pretty sarcastic. "This is another of the endless array of pseudo gourmet, overpriced restaurants that make dining in nearly every metropolitan center identical," it read. "The only thing that may be worse than what is shown in the photos is Asian fusion, ugh!" Which suggested the person hadn't gone to the restaurant. That appears to have gotten under Sifton's skin. He tweeted late Wednesday, "Super-cranky comments on this week's Boulud Sud review. Correlation betw. online readers to Boulud Sud eaters is: nil?"
Sifton is a professional critic. He should be used to a bit of backlash by now. (There's a whole blog dedicated to said backlash, for goodness' sake.) But what seems to be getting to him is someone flaming without ever visiting that which he has deemed decent. On Tuesday, Tom Harrow posted an essay on The Economist's More Intelligent Life mourning the rise of the amateur reviewer. He writes:
Established, respected publications, online and in print, do not expect their reviewers to be too hasty in formulating opinions. Amateur critics, however, can rarely afford to be so generous. What's worse, their reviews of a mediocre or frustrating meal are often mediocre and frustrating in themselves, and often appear just as visibly in online search results.
It seems to be this very lack of diligence that is annoying Sifton. After all, he would quickly lose his job if he issued a restaurant review based solely on the pictures.