Former Angeleno restaurant critic Brad A. Johnson kicks off his new gig as the resident restaurant expert at The O.C. Register today, holding little back when he calls the chips at Gabbi’s Mexican Kitchen “unacceptable” and describes his pork chop at Zov’s as “burnt to a crisp.” But Johnson is more interested in laying out his battle plan than savaging sacred cows, promising to institute “a four-star rating system,” wherein “the top-tier rating will be rare.” The critic commits to making three visits to a restaurant and being as anonymous as possible (though he was quickly called out at Zov’s), basing reviews around the food, service, and ambience, what he calls “the holy trinity of dining out.”
Johnson lists his likes (he eats tacos four times a week and is on the hunt for the perfect burger), dislikes (frozen fries, with no apologies to Thomas Keller), and things he doesn’t hate as much as his peers (truffle oil). Among his battle scars in the game, he takes pride in choking on millet paste in Uganda, having wine spilled in his lap at Joel Robuchon in Vegas, and surviving a twelve-course fugu feast in Tokyo.
The James Beard winner ends his prelude with a final stab: “Unlike 95 percent of the reviewers on Yelp or Zagat or whatever blogs you might follow, I have a pretty good context and track record around which to base my opinions.” Ouch!