The Poisoned Pen - Devastating, Hilarious Restaurant Reviews

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MetroplexJim
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2013/07/28 14:10:24 (permalink)

The Poisoned Pen - Devastating, Hilarious Restaurant Reviews

For some perverse reason I truly looked forward to Tom Shales' annual reviews of Kathie Lee Gifford's "Christmas Specials".  And even now, I still truly relish the wicked prose of H.L. Mencken and Hunter S. Thompson.
 
But, Kathie Lee doesn't do Christmas Specials any more.  Shales retired.  Mencken and Thompson have passed. 
 
As a result, the biggest belly-laught I have had in the past few years was gotten by reading the NYT review of Guy Fieri's Times Square eatery:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/14/dining/reviews/restaurant-review-guys-american-kitchen-bar-in-times-square.html?_r=0 .  This opus actually led to an increase in Fieri's business from locals practicing "ironic dining".
 
But, one doesn't have to write for the NYT to wield a searing rapier.  Here is a review I came across about the homely Enon Valley Inn, where I had enjoyed many a fine "Pittsburgh-style" fish sandwich in my youth:
 
What is that smell?
When you leave this place there is a smell of old grease and urinal pucks that clings to your clothes.  Among the locals hanging around, the worst is a crusty old man with greasy hair who always wears the same plaid shirt. He is always there. This guy eating is disgusting. Skanks hover around him. If you have the misfortune to be in this area, RUN - don't walk - past this dump. The area code is ee-ii-ee-ii-oh. Hope you have a full tank of gas to get far away from there.
 
--------------------------
 
I gotta say, he had me at 'urinal cakes'!
Anyone else come across a "colorful" review that they would like to share? 
#1

32 Replies Related Threads

    CajunKing
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    Re:The Poisoned Pen - Devastating, Hilarious Restaurant Reviews 2013/07/28 15:37:41 (permalink)
    Recently searching for slugburger places I have come across a few reviewers who have had NO CLUE what a slugburger was when they ordered one and then had the Cajones enough to complain there was bread in their hamburger.
     
    I havent come across anything quite so colorful, as smell of old grease and urinal cakes, but have had many a good meals in places like that.
     
     
    #2
    WarToad
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    Re:The Poisoned Pen - Devastating, Hilarious Restaurant Reviews 2013/07/28 18:39:23 (permalink)
    Having had the oportunity to eat at Fieri's NYC joint, I have to say the review was just so far off base and blatently skewed, the author lost all credibility with me.  My kids polished off their plates, my pickey wife loved her pasta, I found no real faults.  Little spendy, but it is NYC.
    #3
    MetroplexJim
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    Re:The Poisoned Pen - Devastating, Hilarious Restaurant Reviews 2013/07/28 18:58:34 (permalink)
    WarToad

    Having had the oportunity to eat at Fieri's NYC joint, I have to say the review was just so far off base and blatently skewed, the author lost all credibility with me.  My kids polished off their plates, my pickey wife loved her pasta, I found no real faults.  Little spendy, but it is NYC.


    Thought so.  Fieri is an "easy mark" for a NYT "smarta$$".
     
    Kinda makes you wonder about what they might say should Paula Deen ever put her name on an NYC joint.
    #4
    NYNM
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    Re:The Poisoned Pen - Devastating, Hilarious Restaurant Reviews 2013/07/28 21:28:36 (permalink)
    Oh! Times Square, filled with restaurants, is a culinary wasteland. How many chains can you get (but the tourists seem to love it. Americans because it is familiar, others because they think this is typical American food.)
    #5
    Foodbme
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    Re:The Poisoned Pen - Devastating, Hilarious Restaurant Reviews 2013/07/29 03:05:54 (permalink)
    NYNM
    Oh! Times Square, filled with restaurants, is a culinary wasteland. How many chains can you get (but the tourists seem to love it. Americans because it is familiar, others because they think this is typical American food.)

    Probably because the chains are the only ones that can pay the rent prices. A single operator or a mom & pop couldn't afford it!
    #6
    billyboy
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    Re:The Poisoned Pen - Devastating, Hilarious Restaurant Reviews 2013/07/29 03:41:18 (permalink)
    I'm always encouraging friends and family visiting from out of town to venture outside of their comfort zone and stay away from the national chains.  I'm more than happy to give them loads of recs from great local spots far away from Times Square or even play tour guide and go along with them to some of my most favorite places to eat. 
     
    I can't imagine spending time and money (travel and lodging expenses) and then end up eating somewhere I could probably find at home.  To me, the whole experience of visiting a new city is to try new things and explore. 
     
    I was recently in Albuquerque and Santa Fe for ayersian's wedding and I ate lots of chiles (red, green & Christmas), blue corn pancakes, sopaipillas, carne adovada, chile rellenos, green chile cheeseburgers, green chile tamales, paletas and much more.  I can find some of it here in NYC if I look far and wide but most of it I had never tried before and I welcomed the opportunity to try so many things for the first time in a region where so many people make them and make them well.   
    #7
    MetroplexJim
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    Re:The Poisoned Pen - Devastating, Hilarious Restaurant Reviews 2013/07/29 09:40:35 (permalink)
    In The City, like Paris, it is exceedingly difficult to get a bad meal at any restaurant - outside the tourist haunts - that has been open for at least two months.
    #8
    kozel
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    Re:The Poisoned Pen - Devastating, Hilarious Restaurant Reviews 2013/07/29 10:02:03 (permalink)
    MetroplexJim
    WarToad
    Having had the oportunity to eat at Fieri's NYC joint, I have to say the review was just so far off base and blatently skewed, the author lost all credibility with me.  My kids polished off their plates, my pickey wife loved her pasta, I found no real faults.  Little spendy, but it is NYC.

    Thought so.  Fieri is an "easy mark" for a NYT "smarta$$".
    Kinda makes you wonder about what they might say should Paula Deen ever put her name on an NYC joint.

    Taking a lesson from the Michael Jackson playbook, 'What's worse than bad press? Ans: No press!'
    #9
    kozel
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    Re:The Poisoned Pen - Devastating, Hilarious Restaurant Reviews 2013/07/29 10:07:26 (permalink)
    Foodbme
    NYNM
    Oh! Times Square, filled with restaurants, is a culinary wasteland. How many chains can you get (but the tourists seem to love it. Americans because it is familiar, others because they think this is typical American food.)

    Probably because the chains are the only ones that can pay the rent prices. A single operator or a mom & pop couldn't afford it!

    When I worked in the Rockefeller Center area, going out for lunch we'd notice most places raised prices during various 'holiday periods'.  It became customary that if you showed them a local business card, normal menu prices would be honored.
    #10
    tmiles
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    Re:The Poisoned Pen - Devastating, Hilarious Restaurant Reviews 2013/07/29 12:23:50 (permalink)
    In the last year or so I have eaten at several Roadfood places that were less than great, but still pretty good. I don't post about them at all. Like most of us here, I'm still looking for the next Maine Diner, but you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find the prince. IMO, beating up on a guy who is trying is just bad karma.
    #11
    EliseT
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    Re:The Poisoned Pen - Devastating, Hilarious Restaurant Reviews 2013/07/31 12:01:35 (permalink)
    As a food blogger, I try to be responsible. Jonathan Gold once told me to remember that you can put a mom and pop place out of business. So the place has to be able to take the hit. If you are on the level of Guy Fieri, you have a responsibility to your fans and should be fair game.
     
    Usually if I don't like a place, I just don't write about it. I consider my blog (and Roadfood) to be about, "Hey! You have to check this amazing place out!" not a bunch of complaining.
     
    The second requirement to publish a bad review is that it has to be so bad it's hilarious. I have only ever published 2 bad reviews and one bad Roadfood Trip Report. The bad reviews were for Gordon Ramsey's London in LA, which was egregiously bad, and a bakery where the owner screamed at customers every time I went there. Old timers here will remember the report about my husband being chased out of a restaurant by a cleaver-weilding chef after we pointed out a roach on the wall.
     
    #12
    JRPfeff
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    Re:The Poisoned Pen - Devastating, Hilarious Restaurant Reviews 2013/07/31 12:24:21 (permalink)
    EliseT

    Old timers here will remember the report about my husband being chased out of a restaurant by a cleaver-weilding chef after we pointed out a roach on the wall.


    Elise - It sounds like it would be fun to dine with you.
    #13
    CajunKing
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    Re:The Poisoned Pen - Devastating, Hilarious Restaurant Reviews 2013/07/31 13:35:01 (permalink)
    JRPfeff

    EliseT

    Old timers here will remember the report about my husband being chased out of a restaurant by a cleaver-weilding chef after we pointed out a roach on the wall.


    Elise - It sounds like it would be fun to dine with you.

     
    JRPfeff - You like being chased out of a restaurant by a cleaver wielding chef?? 
    #14
    MetroplexJim
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    Re:The Poisoned Pen - Devastating, Hilarious Restaurant Reviews 2013/07/31 14:14:38 (permalink)
    If anyone here missed  the Amy's Baking Co. (Scottsdale) episode on Gordon Ramsey's "Kitchen Nightmares", here it is:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XjgHEctcy0 .
     
    These owners make the previous "champs", Del's Restaurant in Pittsburgh, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFN0ghIcDDg seem like a melding of Thomas Keller, Joel Robochon, and Mother Theresa!
     
    (If you refuse to watch the video of the train wreck in Spain and routinely avert your eyes when passing a car accident, do not "click" either link).
    post edited by MetroplexJim - 2013/07/31 14:16:14
    #15
    EdSails
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    Re:The Poisoned Pen - Devastating, Hilarious Restaurant Reviews 2013/07/31 16:44:52 (permalink)
    I regularly do reviews for Examiner.com and OCFoodies.com. As Elise said, if a place is not good, why waste time writing a negative review? All my published reviews are positive, I feel that the places I review are places that I would go to even if I were not writing about them. A perfect example is a place called 101 Noodle Express in Irvine. I reviewed it and go there once a month. I even had my esteemed colleague Elise T join me there for dinner one time. If a place is good, I like to write about it and give it business. If the place is not good, why waste the time? 
    #16
    bartl
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    Re:The Poisoned Pen - Devastating, Hilarious Restaurant Reviews 2013/08/01 00:42:12 (permalink)
    Sometimes, a place is so bad that it deserves a bad review. I do try to make positive reviews; here's one of the more popular ones I wrote (I met the owner's girlfriend several months later, who told me I was dead on): http://www.midbergen.com/...unc=display&sid=11
     
    Bart
    #17
    MetroplexJim
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    Re:The Poisoned Pen - Devastating, Hilarious Restaurant Reviews 2013/08/01 09:03:20 (permalink)
    What I am discovering here is that RF-ers are kind, generous, gentle, forgiving people ... and that I must be a vile misanthrope who wallows in Schadenfreude!
    #18
    buffetbuster
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    Re:The Poisoned Pen - Devastating, Hilarious Restaurant Reviews 2013/08/01 17:32:54 (permalink)
    Bartl-
    I give you credit for writing a fair review, despite the customer service issue.  Nice job! 
    #19
    ces1948
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    Re:The Poisoned Pen - Devastating, Hilarious Restaurant Reviews 2013/08/01 22:15:51 (permalink)
    I know it's very difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff sometimes. Personally we are on a very very tight eating out budget and so I appreciate hearing if someone had a problem with a place.
    #20
    EliseT
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    Re:The Poisoned Pen - Devastating, Hilarious Restaurant Reviews 2013/08/02 00:49:58 (permalink)
    OK, Jim, so you don;t feel so alone, here are my poison pen reviews...
     
    http://laist.com/2008/06/11/gordon_ramsay_a.php#photo-1
     
    http://laist.com/2008/02/06/dinela_happy_en.php
     
    http://laist.com/2007/05/18/aroma_hasnt_cal.php
     
    http://www.roadfood.com/Forums/tm.aspx?m=266008&high=cockroach
     
    and yes, I think I'm totally fun to eat with nonetheless
    #21
    ScreamingChicken
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    Re:The Poisoned Pen - Devastating, Hilarious Restaurant Reviews 2013/08/02 08:34:03 (permalink)
    CajunKing
    JRPfeff
    EliseT

    Old timers here will remember the report about my husband being chased out of a restaurant by a cleaver-weilding chef after we pointed out a roach on the wall.
    Elise - It sounds like it would be fun to dine with you.
    JRPfeff - You like being chased out of a restaurant by a cleaver wielding chef?? 
    It'd probably be a nice change of pace from his usual experience of being chased by a cleaver-wielding Pie Diva.
     
    I don't mind a negative review as long as it's honest and well-detailed.  And to me there's a difference between subjective negative (not caring for a certain flavor or seasoning, for example) and objective negative (like badly over or undercooked food, dirty tableware, etc.).
    #22
    MetroplexJim
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    Re:The Poisoned Pen - Devastating, Hilarious Restaurant Reviews 2013/08/02 08:47:52 (permalink)
    EliseT, Thank you!
     
    Thank you especially for reprising the wonderful cock-a-roach debacle.
     
    Your review of Gordon Ramsey's toney eatery was spot on and was in the spirit of H.L. Mencken declaring: "My mission in life is to comfort the afflicted ... and to afflict the comfortable".
     
    Being from L.A. I know you have seen this; enjoy it again!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7reNuHNoSNg
    #23
    Mosca
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    Re:The Poisoned Pen - Devastating, Hilarious Restaurant Reviews 2013/08/02 09:51:51 (permalink)
    "Laurie got offended that I used the word 'puke'. But to me that's what her dinner tasted like."
     
    --Jack Handy
    #24
    ces1948
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    Re:The Poisoned Pen - Devastating, Hilarious Restaurant Reviews 2013/08/02 11:59:51 (permalink)
    Which brings up an interesting point. On the front page is a restaurant called Massie's. It has 3 reveiws, 1 glowing and 2 not so good. If only the positive review were present I might be tempted to go there but after reading the other 2 reviews it's definitely off my list. 
    #25
    MetroplexJim
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    Re:The Poisoned Pen - Devastating, Hilarious Restaurant Reviews 2013/08/02 12:34:42 (permalink)
    After we had discovered the wonderful Babe's Chicken Dinner House ( www.babeschicken.com ) I went online to write a favorable review. 
     
    There I found an excruciatingly horrid review about the Carrollton location we had enjoyed so much.  Curious, I checked the other Babe's locations (and their two related places) and sure enough, the poster had posted unique horrors about each.  Most likely the poster was a disgruntled employee, but whatever her motive her true agenda was anything anything but hidden.
    #26
    EliseT
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    Re:The Poisoned Pen - Devastating, Hilarious Restaurant Reviews 2013/08/02 15:28:11 (permalink)
    Thanks, Jim! Now one restaurant in LA makes you buy a ticket beforehand then feeds you what they want to, like omakase.
    #27
    EdSails
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    Re:The Poisoned Pen - Devastating, Hilarious Restaurant Reviews 2013/08/03 03:53:00 (permalink)
    I get your point. My feeling is if it's a bad place I don't give it publicity. So many good places, I'd rather send people to them.
    #28
    EdSails
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    Re:The Poisoned Pen - Devastating, Hilarious Restaurant Reviews 2013/08/03 03:55:29 (permalink)
    EliseT


    and yes, I think I'm totally fun to eat with nonetheless

     
    we'll see....we haven't hit the Mexican place with the fried grasshoppers together yet!
     

    #29
    EliseT
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    Re:The Poisoned Pen - Devastating, Hilarious Restaurant Reviews 2013/08/03 13:45:25 (permalink)
    I'm never eating grasshoppers again. They are rough and get caught in your throat, and the legs get stuck between your teeth. Awful!
    #30
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