Sifton Strips Masa of Its Fourth Star

Photo: Mark Peterson

Sam Sifton, who’s not exactly known for knocking culinary demigods off their pedestals, has finally gone and taken one of the city’s hallowed institutions down a peg. In a review of Masa that just went online, he strips the restaurant’s fourth star owing to what he describes as “wrinkles in Masa’s fine silk”: They asked him to kindly wait outside when he showed up early (that’s three paragraphs of the review), some of the dishes aren’t explained when they’re served, and the staff doesn’t pay you much attention after dessert. (Someone’s getting fired!) Though he concedes that Masa is “the city’s greatest sushi restaurant,” he thinks the restaurant, with its $450 menu, violates the contemporary dining rule that “culture at its highest must never feel transactional, whatever its cost.” And then there were six: Del Posto, Jean Georges, Daniel, Eleven Madison Park, Le Bernardin, and Per Se are the current crop of Times four-stars. Bruni gave Masa four in 2004, the same year he downgraded Bouley from four to three. The next year, Alain Ducasse at the Essex House was also reduced to three.

Masa [NYT]