Yargh. In our standard Monday roundup of restaurant reviews on the various blogs, we peeked at our RSS history for ChuffPo (we’ve capitulated) and wiggled our brains into Steve “Hungry Hound” Dolinksy’s writeup of the brand-newly-opened Urban Belly (3053 N California, 773 583 0500).
We realize that we are subtle and quick to anger.* Except without the subtle part — we work in broad strokes, and we are superficial, and we might be the sort of person who snarks first and examines the nuances of the situation later. But oh goodness gracious, Steve Dolinksy, we would like to punch you in the mouth. Hard. Without regard to the post-punch status of the bones in our hand.
When I heard Urban Belly was opening this week, I was a little skeptical, and frankly, worried I wouldn’t have a good experience. I try to stay away from the arms race in food coverage currently being waged by Time Out, Metromix and a host of other bloggers, all of whom seem to be descending upon restaurants as soon as they open.
David Tamarkin of Time Out: Chicago takes issue with Dolinksy’s accusation that TOC is among those noveltyphiles who descend on a restaurant while the buzz is still warm on the blogs, and that’s cool. TOC delivers real, thoughtful reviews of restaurants that are designed to help readers of the magazine decide where to go for dinner, and rightfully recognizes that a true assessment of a restaurant’s value cannot be made in one visit, let alone on the day a place opens. Dolinsky alleges that he understands that too:
It’s more common courtesy on the part of food writers to cut the owners some slack when they first open. Typically, a wait of a few weeks is standard, and most of the big time critics will visit at least twice, if not three times, before they’ll print a review.
Cough cough, Pat Bruno. But that’s not the issue here. Apparently Dolinsky believes rules were made to be broken, and simply because
…for some reason, I’ve been drawn to Bill Kim’s personal project [UrbanBelly] since he announced it several months ago.
So he visited on opening day! And blogged about it!
STEVE DOLINSKY. DO YOU SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE? You are not allowed to hate on the first-day visit bloggers, Mister Person, because now you are a first-day blogger. And you are the worst kind, which is the self-denying kind, the kind who thinks he is too cool for school and that it is entirely unacceptable when everyone else is a frothy sycophantic self-made critic who lines up on the first day of service, but for some unfathomable reason it is totally okay when you deign to descend from your lofty radio food show and Friday-night local-news restaurant report to mill around with us internet-people in our apparently universal ritual of obsessive first day one-upsmanship.
He goes on to give a standard review of the dishes he tried, which is unremarkable except that the fact-checking portion of his brain appears to be on vacation (for the record, David Chang’s New York trifecta of Momofuku restaurants, which Dolinsky cites as an inspiration for Urban Belly, are all located in Manhattan’s East Village, not the Lower East Side). But honestly we are so livid at his dismissal of the value of food bloggers, and his own smug self-satisfaction, that we almost think he’s done Urban Belly a disservice by giving it such a glowing “personal interest”-driven review. Fortunately, if the food’s as good as he says it is, Chef Bill Kim will be able to rise above the layer of slime Dolinsky’s put over everything.
[Photo: Interior of Urban Belly, via Steve Dolinksy’s review in ChuffPo]
*Like a wizard! Also, we are a giant nerd, and we realize that too.