The NYT is pleased to report that for the first time since Katrina, the New Orleans Times-Picayune will be running formal restaurant reviews.
The Times, at least on the dining pages, has been pretty admirable in its ongoing coverage of the fits and starts of the recovery of the city's food culture after Katrina. At times, the focus on nice places for people who don't live in New Orleans made me a little bit uneasy, but if someone reads Bruni, books a table at Cochon, and a flight to New Orleans, and bothers to talk to a few folks while they're there, that's positive.
And it's nice that the Times-Pic feels that the scene now such that they can write critically about less positive aspects of the hometown dining scene*:
In its Friday issue, for the first time since every restaurant in the city shut down after Hurricane Katrina nearly three years ago, the newspaper was handing out beans alongside a formal restaurant review.
“The restaurant scene is once again robust enough to withstand critiques,” said Jim Amoss, editor of The Times-Picayune.
What is missing from Amoss's statement, and Severson's reporting, is a quick glance at the calendar, which would reveal that it is 2008. Other than a cursory mention of bloggers, and the alt weekly, the Gambit, at the end of the article, and quickly dismissed as "not credible" the premise of the article is that "critique" of restaurants = reviews in a daily newspaper. To suggest that New Orleans restaurants have been enjoying some sort of holiday from criticism since the storm, until now, is to betray a profound lack of awareness for the Chowhounds, Yelpers, and God knows who else, who have been sweating New Orleans restaurants since before the waters receded. Especially in a monopoly newspaper town like New Orleans, a print review is something that will get the attention of people who cook and serve food, but for this to be a news world requires imagining a world without Internet, but also without alternative tabloids, magazines, or really any other media to speak of.
*Come to think of it, someone might consider getting Michael Bauer a subscription to the Times-Pic.