After seeing that our good friend Adam Platt awarded Allen & Delancey, a restaurant we especially admire, a measly two stars, we decided to confront him with his misjudgment, and request – nay, demand! – that he explain and even justify his method of awarding stars to us. We knew it was an argument we couldn’t win, and what’s more that we shouldn’t win, given the fact that Platt is arguably the city’s top critic, but we also know he would respond to us like the big baited bear that he is. The debate played out via our favorite medium, Instant Messenger.
Ozersky: Adam, here’s what I want to know: What’s your problem? Why did you only give Allen & Delancey two stars? I mean, what the hell does a place have to do to get you to cough up three?
Platt: What’s the matter with two stars?! Two stars means very good! It means this critic had several very good meals at the joint. Not transcendent meals, not good meals, but very good meals. That’s a solid rating, my furry friend!
Ozersky: It’s a ghetto. You put everything there that’s not bad or life-changing. The food is awesome, the room is nice, they brought you all your prissy implements — what the hell do they need to do? I won’t even ask what you need for four or, God forbid, five stars.
Platt: You consort with too many irate chefs, Cutty! One star is good! It’s the same for Michelin, it’s the same for our friends at the New York Times, though I’m loath to mention them. Any star is a recommendation. You’re sounding like one of the horde of bleary-eyed kitchen slaves who regularly accost me rudely in the street.
Ozersky: But I feel for them, Platty! The food is so good at A&D.; Why are all these other places so much better? What keeps it from being three stars? Or Anthos, or all these other places that I like more than you?
Platt: Why do you feel for them?! Did you read the review?! It was generally civil and complimentary. No cutlery was smashed. No insults were hurled.
Ozersky: But Platty, what the hell does three stars really mean?
Platt: Read the magazine, my porcine friend! It’s all there in black and white!
Ozersky: No it’s not. It just says “very good” and “excellent.” What the hell does that mean?
Platt: Very good is very good. Read the list of the three-star places I’ve designated. Allen & Delancey isn’t Gotham Bar and Grill. It isn’t Café Boulud, it isn’t Del Posto. It’s very good, in my humble and somewhat controversial opinion.
Ozersky: Those places you mention are really good. Why are they only three stars then? I still can’t figure out what goes on inside that giant head of yours.
Platt: I don’t give out four-and five-star reviews lightly, Cutty. I have to preserve whatever shred of reputation that I have, and I do that by noting when places don’t live up to certain objective criteria. In the last five to ten years, there’s been an explosion of really exceptional restaurants, in which a whole generation of superstar chefs did their best work: the Vongerichtens, the Bouleys, the Kellers. But they haven’t been replaced; nobody has come along to take their place. That’s why these new restaurants that you like so much don’t get three or four or five stars. Because they aren’t that good.
Ozersky: I’m not too dense to grasp what you’re saying, Platt. I may just be weak-minded. Whatever the last good meal I had was my idea of a five-star meal.
Platt: And if it’s a fat slab of meat, it’s ten stars!
Ozersky: Alright already. You have me there.