It has occurred to me that you must consistently get food prepared with much more care and quality than the average Joe, right?
While I agree with your views more/less most of the time, there are so many instances when what comes to the table is all over the place, consistency-wise.
Take Glutton — one of your current favorites. I have eaten there about 5-6 times now. The food has been anywhere from superb to tasting like second-day leftovers. The last time I was there, I went with the burger. Now, I only eat about 3-4 burgers a year, so when I get one, I always want that indulgence of calories to be of high quality and worth it.
The burger I had at The Glutton was a tasteless waste of calories, made with little care. Do you agree that the food you receive at these joints (where you are known) is at a much higher caliber than the middling peon? My experience working at a fine dining restaurant on the Strip would seem to suggest that the answer is a definite YES.
With skeptical regards,
Envious Inquisitive Eater
Given your reference to the “average Joe,” we must assume that you are, unfortunately, one of the unwashed rabble* that we and our staff work so hard to avoid. Notwithstanding our aversion to anyone who is less than to-the-manor-born, we (politely, quietly, with as little noise as possible) applaud your question — a somewhat thoughtful inquiry that gives us the briefest of hope that, perhaps, you may someday, rise above your piteous station in life.
But let us set aside matters of breeding for a moment, hard though that may be, and consider the topic you raise: Do well known restaurant critics get better food than the anonymous hoi polloi who, regrettably, we titans of gastronomy must occasionally share space with in a public food emporium?
The answer is: yes and no.
Because insofar (note: using the word “insofar” always makes you sound smarter than you are) as the menu goes — meaning everything from the groceries to the cooking — what the food writer gets is no different than what you and your relatives will encounter in the same establishment. No chef or restaurant, anywhere, goes out and whips up some spectacular dish just for a critic when they discover a writer in the house. Restaurants, even the great ones, are assembly lines, not improvisational street theatre, and what’s cookin’ that night is pretty much what the critic will get. (Insufferably upper crust language note #2: using words like “cookin” – in speech or writing – is proper only when done ironically, lest you be thought to be even dumber than most food writers. Which is pretty damn dumb.)
Therefore, put your mind at ease that critics are not being festooned with more food favors than you, the impious, pitiable proletariat, can ever imagine.
What critics DO get is extra special attention (and truffles), from everyone from the hot hostesses to the bus boys.
The chefs DO take extra care with adjusting the seasonings, cooking things just so, and paying special attention to the plating and presentation — to make sure each particular dish is the best it can be. But are we getting appreciably different food than the mere mortals beneath us? Decidedly no. We just get the food the way the chef, or the owner, or the cook first envisioned it, and as well made as they can make it.
As to your criticism of the Glutton burger: we find it a bit harsh and are always suspect of such common folk kvetching. (Food writing note #3: using a word like “kvetching” makes you sound like an old Jew – which is a very cool (and necessary) thing in the food writing world.)
Yelpers — the very definition of the ignorant unwashed — love to say their food was “tasteless” or “had no flavor.” All food has flavor. Even air and water have flavor. Just because you didn’t like it doesn’t mean it tasted like the the void of space.
ELV doesn’t know what was wrong, if anything, with your hamburger. We can say that we’ve had at least four of them and considered every bite the very apotheosis of ground beef. We’ve turned many a reader, friend, foodie and gourmand on to this tiny bastion of beef and always received positive feedback.
We do know though, that restaurants, unlike architecture and movies are organic beings, run by fallible, carbon-based life forms, and therefore subject to the vicissitudes of fate and folly on a daily basis. Every movie critic sees the exact same movie and passes judgment upon it. Every restaurant critic gets, at best, a snapshot of a living thing in a particular point in time.
We urge you, a person who seems intelligent and well-intention-ed (despite the unavoidable handicap imposed by your average-Joe DNA), to return to Glutton and tell the helpful waitron you want the same burger Eating Las Vegas gets. If you’re still disappointed, we will just have to retire to our respective manses and agree to disagree on this one.
* While ELV considers himself a man for the people, he does not consider himself a man of the people.