Our colleague Helen Rosner’s take-down of John Mariani’s reviewing practices picked up enough steam for Esquire articles editor Ryan D’Agostino to take note and respond. Whether or not it sways public opinion on Mariani, it is an illuminating look at what the magazine’s Best New Restaurant list means.
Esquire’s annual list is idiosyncratic; we don’t pretend it’s comprehensive or empirical. And as you point out, Esquire doesn’t position John as a critic. What that means, for one thing, is that he doesn’t give bad reviews; rather than evaluate every place he goes, he writes only about places he’s enthusiastic about. He doesn’t use fake names or disguise himself. He just travels an awful lot, eats a ton of meals at restaurants, and makes recommendations. He has a deep appreciation of good food, and he loves to share the highlights of his experiences. He has made a small business out of it. Maybe chefs treat him differently, although that may say more about them than it does about him.
Check out D’Agostino’s full rebuttal on on MenuPages: Chicago.
[Image of the back of Mr. Mariani’s business card via Esquire.com]