Speaking of Sifton, a bit more on the valedictory review of Per Se. I'd wondered a bit about why Sifton chose to go out with a stop the presses number along the lines of "Good Restaurant Is Good." Thinking about it a little bit more, it makes perfect sense. The photograph at left of Hawaii FB Mike Edwards helps to explain. Why repeatedly drop about a grand per couple to confirm your hunch that Tom Keller knows a thing or two about this restaurant racket? Well, because you can.
More importantly, because other folks can't. Barring enormous personal resources, it's impossible for you to review Per Se the way that Sifton reviewed Per Se, because Sifton's rocking on Uncle Punch's dime, and you're not. It's a way for Sifton (and DI/DO editor Pete Wells) to close a chapter in DI/DO history with a reminder to the Cheese Sandwich Militia to know their role. Close inspection of a recent photo of Sifton confirms this hunch. Props to Penny Pascal, as always. Play us off, swag us out, OFWGKTA (lyrics totally NSFW, obvs):
As Gastropoda points out, October 12, 2011 is the day the music died, at least around these parts. Sifton's leaving the dining beat for bad coffee in Manchester NH, and greasy cheeseburgers in Spartanburg, SC. Before he goes, he stops off at this midtown joint a fellow from out West opened up. Turns out it's pretty good. One imagines that Sifton, like a convict, got to pick his last meal, a way of putting a bow on his tenure as the most important restaurant critic in America. Sifton's ambit was considerably broader and less Kissingery than Bruni's, and it's a bit disappointing that he uses the opportunity of his final review to remind us that Thomas Keller runs nice restaurants. On the other hand, had he used the final review to anoint an artisanal lo mein spot in Canarsie as the future of NY dining, not hard to imagine the place crushed under the weight of that expectation.
Instead, Sifton confirms that a grand will get you a nice meal, even in Midtown, and there are not many of the Siftonian flourishes we will miss in the weeks and years to come. The week when Occupy fill in the blank is blowing up like Stephen Garcia's Facebook wall is likely not the best week to review a place this fancy, an unpleasantness Sifton recognizes:
However, even last night, there were those objecting to the choice. The Cod is not mad at going out with a review of a high-end restaurant -- the lead DI/DO critic's job is not to ID the best dining values in the city, after all. At risk of sounding like Hipster Ariel, I do wish that Sifton had gone a little further out on a limb for his final review.
Sticking w/ Keller does make identifying the final Soundtrack much easier. Did you know that Thomas Keller was the original bassist for the Misfits? Play us, and Sifton, off, and best of luck in the new gig.
Keen celeb watchers will note that Paltrow and Radiohead-manque frontman Martin have been married, and had kids together. Simlarly, Beyonce and Jay-Z have been linked romantically. So Sifton drops a real bombshell here with the suggestion that the Jigga and Mr. Coldplay are swapping like they were Mike Kekich and Fritz Peterson! Have not seen any other mention of this, though. Glad our culture has moved past its celeb obsession and is letting these talented performers work out their personal lives in peace. Play us off, Beyonce/Coldplay mashup (Plus some Gaga, in case stuff gets weird):
So, Sifton Soundtracks are back from vacation. Today, Sifton drops a trey on Craft, the same it got back in the day from Grimes. It's an oddly uncompelling three star review. It was good back in the day. Still good now.
That's not the kind of endorsement that has one pitching a tent on the sidewalk on 19th St., but it does help the soundtrack question. (Beetubs, it's impressive that Craft kept bring Craft while Tom Coliccio became Tom Coliccio.) We've made fun of Colicchio "jamming" with his "axe" now and again, but it's clear, based on Sifton's indictment of the tunes, that the appropriate Sifton Soundtrack comes from a supergroup you've never heard of. Play us off, Little Village!
*The only cure for NPR-approved alternative country is listening to the entire Onyx discography through these:
Q: Why, in 2011 does Sam Sifton drop a Blaze Starr reference into a review of a fancy but boring UES restaurant?
A: Because he can.
Desmond is a curious choice for a review. It may be relevant in ways the Cod misses, but Sifton does a good job of painting a picture of good but not very interesting food for rich folks. It's like a William Hamilton cartoon, or maybe like Le Cirque +better food and -Kissinger. But in a naked city with eight million stories, you'd think a canteen for rich folks serving Dover sole could be left to the imagination.
In any case, here is an appropriately unchallenging soundtrack -- a lounge cover of NIN:
There have been bad reviews in DI/DO before. Bruni on Ninja comes to mind. Freeman's got damned with faint praise well into its Yogi Berra Era. But! When you close a review of a hotel restaurant by offering the guests of that hotel the address and number of a Chodorow-operated establishment, you have crossed over from a bad review to ritualized acts of aggression, like dropping a hat in front of someone at Mardi Gras Indian practice.
We are in whole new territories of scorn. Again, like Tim Thomas creates the illusion of an opening, Soundtrack-wise:
And lobes of dismal-flavored sea urchin served over thick lardo and heavy toast were just dreadful: the eighth band after Nirvana to write loud-soft-loud music and call it new.
No Sifton Soundtracks today. The Cod hit the monthly limit for NYT articles. Seems sort of silly for the proprietor of a blog with literally dozens of readers to pay in order to promote content appearing in America's paper of record, so I'm not gonna do it.
Before I hit the wall, I did see JTE's jawn. When you see "Tampa" and "crabs" in the lede, its a relief to see that the article is about a restaurant.
Sifton drops two stars on Red Rooster, Marcus Samuellson's new Harlem jawn. It's good timing, considering recent assertions that Sifton can be a Debbie Downer. It's a review that makes you want not only to eat at Red Rooster, stat, but also to wake up in the city that never sleeps, 20 lbs thinner, 20 years younger, and with an allover tingly Dinkinsy feeling. It all sounds good, esp the lox vs. gravlax, but it all sounds like a fantasy of what NYC could be. The Harlem venue overdetermines the musical choice, what with almost all jazz ever, or even Across 110th St. However, Sifton's review is all about heterogeneity, and he makes the soundtrack clear when he talks about liver pudding:
In this era of good feelings let us not reflect on how and why duck liver pudding with duck pastrami calls Hennessey and satin sheets to Sifton's mind, but rather welcome the guidance. Clearly, Sifton wants the Quiet Storm, but with a twist. There is a band from Brooklyn, (in this new era of peace and love, there are no borough beefs), spelled S-T-E-T that can take care of you:
Anchower, Sifton Soundtrackswise, I know. A DM exchange with the man himself has egged the Cod back into his self-appointed, yet sadly neglected task of sharing appropriate music to listen to while you read Sifton's restaurant review. With Bar Basque, Sifton makes it easy on the Cod, if tough on himself. He drops an uno on Bar Basque. Bar Basque is a Chodorow jawn, and longtime Cod readers will remember that Chodorow is fucking crazy. Dude took out a full page ad in DI/DO to respond to Bruni's pan of his samurai steakhouse. Chodorow would seem to be for the restaurant critics what the student you enjoy hearing stories about, but hope you won't end up having to teach is for fessers. (Aside to grassoppers -- this never happens.)
Hard-body work associates? Anyway, no need for "dinkadiknkadinka club music," (does Sifton have a bootleg of the long-lost Paul Anka dubstep project?) The American Psycho nod makes the soundtrack automatic, thanks to this scene. (You can watch it here, if axmurdering yuppies are S for your W. Chodorow and Huey Lewis -- what could possibly go wrong: