Some days, I am happy to be wrong. That’s how I felt about Sam Sifton’s one-star review of Imperial Palace.
Forgive me if I sound like a broken record, but one star in the Times system is supposed to be “good,” but most of Frank Bruni’s one-star restaurants were mediocre. This led to a situation where it was nearly impossible to award one star, and have it be a compliment. The few restaurants so honored were lost in the scrum of many more where one star was an insult.
So I was gratified to read this:
Crab is the restaurant’s calling card. But a series of meals taken there over the last few months say more: The Palace is riding high, at the zenith of Cantonese cooking in New York City. . . .
Entirely on the fly, it is possible to eat brilliantly there, in the manner of an improvised Cantonese banquet. It is not a formal restaurant nor in any way a perfect one; service can be slapdash, particularly if you speak no Chinese. But the cooking is extremely sophisticated.
Except for the reference to slapdash service, practically all of the review is positive—a rave, even. And it gets one star.
Sifton will need to file about a hundred more like it before people get the message that “one star means good.” But this is an excellent start. To make it stick, he’ll need to give zero a lot more often than Bruni did. I wonder if he has the guts for that.
Eater made the safe (and correct) one-star bet, winning $2 on a hypothetical one-dollar wager. We lose a dollar.
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Life-to-date, New York Journal is 71–27 (72%).