While we have come to respect his consistency and his penchant for creative turns of phrase, we’ve made no secret here at Grub Street SF of our lack of love for SF Bay Guardian food scribe Paul Reidinger. He’s been at the job for over a decade*, and still we question the sophistication of his palate, and frequently wondered to ourselves — especially when we got four paragraphs into a review before he’d said anything about the restaurant — if he wouldn’t rather be writing essays on conceptual photography or wordy, self-published fiction. Today, alas, Mr. Reidinger writes his farewell column for the paper, and it’s predictably rambling and self-satisfied. The best part: He admits most of the fan mail he ever received “seemed largely to be [from] members of the UC Berkeley faculty.” Ha!
“Never was I an awarder of stars,” he explains, “nor, as I understood things, a recommender. [Ed. Note: That would explain why we sometimes couldn’t tell if he liked or hated a place.] … For me the model, or ideal, of this gig resembled a travelogue, a running account of places visited, impressions received and relayed.” Of course we would have preferred if the model were a bit more direct, and a bit less reliant on tangents — or random political gestures, as in this weird review of Michael Mina from last year.
One thing we will most certainly miss from Mr. Reidinger, however, are his occasional asides admiring handsome male servers and their beards — not since Gael Greene have we appreciated a critic’s randiness so much.
The Guardian isn’t replacing Paul exactly, but rather putting more of current food-and-drink writer Virginia Miller’s writings — including the occasional formal review — into the print edition. Miller has been writing the Appetite column for the Guardian’s website and occasionally for the print edition, for two years, and she has also contributed on Grub Street on occasion while maintaining her own site The Perfect Spot SF.
The Last Supper [SFBG]
*This post has been corrected to show that Mr. Reidinger had worked for the paper for more than the ten years previously stated.