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Burros's Casa Mono review--Lack of anonymity disturbing?


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Burros's Casa Mono review--Lack of anonymity disturbing?

denis | Jan 30, 2004 05:59 PM

I'm not sure if this post should go on "Not About Food," but since the description of that board said that it was about nonregional, nonfood issues, I think it belongs here.

I was wondering what people thought of Burros's reviewing this place non-anonymously and as a long-time professional acquaintance of the owners, as she admitted, and of her defense stating that her years of reviewing had taught her that if the food's not good, it can't be made good just because a reviewer has been spotted.

I think this is nonsense. The cloak-and-dagger aspect of the Times restaurant reviewer job is admittedly a little silly-seeming and undoubtedly arduous, but I think anyone who's worked at a restaurant knows that VIPs can get better meals than nobodies. Yeah, if the recipes are bad or the kitchen is inevitably incompetent, attention from the management won't make a bad meal good. But the point is that when the management knows there's a VIP there, they can make sure every dish is at its best, and this may well not represent the experience to be had by the average diner. That a restaurant can produce one (or three) good meals for someone upon whose opinion its fate depends tells me little about what it might be like for me to eat there. (Casa Mono may be something of an exception, since a bad review in the Times might well not have killed it given its Batali cachet, but the principle still holds.)

I don't doubt what Burros said about Casa Mono, and my experience of the tortilla from Bar Jamon indicates the place can deliver quality. I just thought she probably shouldn't have reviewed this place herself.

But perhaps I'm out of line on this.

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