Given that Alan Richman has become a kind of professional debunker, the Amazing Randi of the food world, it was with some relief that we read his critical overview of Brooklyn in the new issue of GQ. The verdict: Brooklyn rules! Gramercy Tavern, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and the cities of Las Vegas and New Orleans, all victims of his scorn over the last few years, must be fuming.
The tone of the piece is that of wonder, like a Manhattan studio-dweller looking at a $1,200-a-month Ditmas Park one-bedroom for the first time. Richman lavishes praise on Moto (“Don’t miss the Italian-style deviled eggs, very Piedmontese”), Frankie’s 457 Spuntino (“A serious wine list and irresistible pastas”), and The Grocery (which “forever altered the reputation of Brooklyn cuisine”). But his favorite of all the new Brooklyn restaurants is The Good Fork, which seems to Richman to embody the dressed-down but serious attitude he is so entranced by. “In a world of restaurants that too often seem alike … The Good Fork is uncommon in every way,” he writes approvingly.
We’re crazy about the Good Fork, but is it really Ben Schneider and Sohui Kim’s restaurant that excited Richman so? We love the place, but it’s not better than Gramercy Tavern, JoJo, or the Commander’s Palace. The piece is brilliantly written and a gas to read, but somewhere behind it, there’s an exhaustion with fine dining. The casual, low-key unpretentiousness of the Brooklyn restaurants are obviously a tonic to the great critic, who has over the last few years made it clear that he’s fed up with the whole three-star rigmarole. Certainly he wouldn’t be the first critic to experience tablecloth fatigue. How else to explain the sheer ardor here? Brooklyn’s restaurants are good, but they’re not that good.
No Eat Till Brooklyn [GQ]