Jay Rayner Paints the New York Restaurant World in a Few Broad Strokes


Who knowsnot Jayhe never lost controlCourtesy of Henry Holt and Co.

The Man Who Ate the World, British restaurant critic Jay Rayners tour of the planet's great restaurant cities will be coming out soon, as Gawker noted yesterday. Its piece lingered over Super Marios latest profanity-laced anti-blogger tirade, which was almost as enjoyable as his last one. But having read the New York chapter, we were hit by how much other good stuff was in it.

One figure we didnt expect to appear in such heroic proportions was Steve Plotnicki, the blogger behind Opinionated About Dining. Weve encountered Plotnicki and his commendable appetite on our nightly go-rounds but never knew that he was the king of the bloggers, as Rayner anoints him. Nor, for that matter, did we know that he was a multimillionaire who made a fortune from the Robot Wars TV show.

After a night on the town with the Blogger King, over the course of which they ate at Per Se, Jean Georges, Bouley, Eleven Madison Park, and wd-50, Rayner decides that the single thing he liked best was the uni on buttered pumpernickel toast with jalapeo slices: something you could make standing up at the refrigerator if you had the ingredients handy.

An especially entertaining passage involves following Tim Zagat throughout his nightly rounds of glad-handing. By far the most hilarious part involves Zagat making small talk at Masa with Masa Takayama while the latter shifts from foot to foot and glances back over his shoulder at his $500 a head diners. We have an all-new admiration for Tim Zagat now!

For a relatively short chapter, theres a lot to love here, from Rayners description of the monkish Jonathan Benno at Per Se to a rumble between Wall Street drunks and the kitchen staff at wd-50 to an account of Rayners letdown when finally encountering Peter Lugers steak for the first time. (Welcome to the club, Jay.)

Will diners in Dubai, Vegas, or London like the book as much as we do? Who cares?

The Man Who Ate the World: In Search of the Perfect Dinner [Amazon]