I feel like I can speak honestly and freely with you. We've had all of these intimate encounters, after all. Remember that time I poured you Budweiser from the bottle? Remember the time I accidentally poured Saratoga sparkling into your tap? How many times have we met now, five? Six? How many times did you pass up the corporate American Express card under the name John Maroni?
There they are. Three stars in the New York Times for Momofuku Ssam Bar. Three stars! Frank, I really feel you've betrayed me. Worse, I feel you've betrayed New York. We all looked the other way when you started awarding three stars to restaurants without tablecloths. We all looked the other way when you practically made out with Mario Batali on the page every effing time the man opened a restaurant. And we all hoped that the unhealthy David Chang obsession would end with last April's Ko review.
Don't get me wrong, Frank. I love Ssam Bar just as much as the next offal addict. I loved the grilled sweetbreads so much it broke my heart to see them go. I hold every pork up to the Chang standard and I never eat butter at other restaurants because the butter just isn't as good. But do I believe--honestly believe--that Ssam Bar, a haven created for the carnal enjoyment of overworked restaurant employees, is worthy of the same number of stars as, say, Babbo, or Bouley, or Blue Hill Stone Barns?
No. No, it isn't.
Anyway, have you ever heard of a PX? Personne Extraordinaire. That's restaurant-speak for really really damned VIP. Have you ever heard the term 'soignee'? Soignee. Root: French. Definition: Polished and well-groomed; showing sophistication and grace. Applicable translation? A small piece of paper alerting restaurant staff to the presence of a PX. Other applicable translation? Service that is so disgustingly over the top in its execution that no restaurant critic could ever write a bad review afterwards.
My point? They know you and your fake names over there, dear friend. So if you think you can be objective, tossing extra stars out because you think everything is so vastly different this time around, you have another think coming. Not everyone gets that extra-special Macari poured tableside. Trust me, I know soignees and you were one soigneed cat.
And awarding three stars, Frank, well, it's going to change absolutely everything in New York. Congratulations. Your vigilante-ism will 1.) destroy a place that some of us actually enjoy eating at, 2.) encourage industry a-holes to employ the Ssam Bar method of service (see guest; act rude; throw plates in plastic bins; refuse to offer second drink; drop check), and 3.) perpetuate the already rampant 'too cool for school' fallacy of the East Village. So thanks, Frank. Thanks a lot. For those of us who actually respect what we in the FOH (front of house) call POS (points of service), the New York Times has now proven itself the least reliable source of food-related information.
I mean really, FB. Three f@*$&ing stars? Are you f@*$&ing crazy?