More and more, I think that to be a successful restaurant reviewer you have to be able to get really enthusiastic about terrible restaurants. Given that readers don't really want to read about bad restaurants, and given that the vast majority of restaurants are bad, an overly negative reviewer would quickly write him or herself out of a job.
Case in point: Mandaloun, a thorougly mediocre Lebanese restaurant in Glendale that both S. Irene Verbena and Jonathan Gold have given glowing reviews in the last few months.
I was attracted by the fact that the restaurant makes its own pita bread in a wood oven. The pita is, indeed, quite good. But it's the only redeeming quality of the restaurant.
We ordered the largest sampler plate the restaurant offers - $30 per person. It included bland hummus, dry sausages, mediocre tabouli, a non-descript chick pea stew, a somewhat decent smokey baba ghanouj, a pasty beef tartar that went untouched, some greasy fried filo sticks filled with cheese, falafel balls, pickles, and perhaps one or two other things. None of the items were much better than what you get at the Falafel King in Westwoodd for $6.
Main course consisted of a bunch of very dry grilled meats. Overcooked chicken skewers, dry beef and chicken shwarma, an unexceptional lamb kofta... all just very bland stuff. 80% went uneaten.
Please, Jonathan and Irene, if you read this PLEASE try to more accurately represent restaurants that you review. I'm beginning to think that neither of you have particularly good taste.