We’ve roasted and skewered the Times’ Frank Bruni more than the law allows, but he’s the model of rectitude compared to New York’s Adam Platt, who bestowed four stars on Momofuku Ko after just one visit.
Platt concedes that critics are “normally” supposed to pay multiple visits before passing judgment. Why break that rule? Apparently because it’s so hard to get in:
The murmuring, deferential patrons who manage to find a spot at the modest, twelve-seat bar are chosen at random, by a computerized system that seems designed not to entice people to dine at Momofuku Ko but to drive them away. These seats can be booked only a week in advance, and only by logging on to the Momofuku Website. The computer begins taking reservations each morning at ten o’clock, and thanks to the legions of devoted and increasingly frantic Chang groupies (the 30-year-old chef was just nominated for his third James Beard award, and has been the subject of many glowing profiles in many glossy magazines), they’re gone not in minutes but in seconds. Under these trying conditions, getting in the door once, let alone the three times most critics prefer, could take months or even years.
Sorry, but that makes no sense. I have Ko reservations this Friday, and I didn’t “have the services of many diligent assistants willing to peck at their keyboards like gaming zombies for an entire week.” I did it myself.
As the food boards attest, there are already people who’ve dined at Ko more than once, and the place is still under a month old. It’s difficult, but not that difficult, to get in. It certainly wouldn’t take “even years” to visit three times. As Platt paid his lone visit in the restaurant’s third or fourth week of existence, you’d have to conclude he didn’t try very hard.
If it takes “months,” so what? Four years ago, it took Frank Bruni more three months to review Per Se, which in the day was just as hard to get into (I would argue that it was harder) as Momofuku Ko. Bruni was obligated to take his time, particularly before giving out four stars, and he took that obligation seriously.
Platt’s breathless over-eagerness is shown by the timing of his review, posted late yesterday (Tuesday). His reviews are normally posted in line with New York’s publication cycle, with new issues hitting newsstands every Monday. It seems he was more concerned with making Eater.com’s Week in Reviews than with writing responsible criticism.
You may be thinking, “Wait a sec! What about this very blog, New York Journal, which routinely reviews restaurants after only one visit?”
Well, I respectfully submit that there are some significant differences between Adam Platt and me. I’m not paid to do this, I spend my own money, I don’t do it full-time, and I don’t have the benefit of “diligent assistants” to make reservations for me.
I also haven’t changed my standards for one restaurant.