I've written a bit about how both here and in the Indy I tend to Pollyanna more than is my natural wont for a host of reasons, not the least of which is I'm a food writer and not a restaurant critic, no matter how I usually get addressed. Nobody is paying me to eat at these places (I work for the Indy, after all), let alone the several times I would have to to be objective, and I don't do the Ruth Reichl disguise thing to prevent privileged treatment. So I figure my job is to write the story of the place, describing the hopes and aspirations of the people who run it, and oddly enough, I usually get to like people when I ask them things and let them talk. Most humans are pretty pleasant and engaging, at least in short doses, when they know impressing you is a good thing for them.
Then there's the fact that this is a mighty small town, and the restaurant business is merciless--there's no such thing as being too big too fail (just ask Ruth's Chris). People figure out what's no good pretty quick, and those that don't can keep lamenting we don't have an Olive Garden or Spaghetti Factory over on John Dickson's blog. When in doubt, I try not to write about places where I don't like the food. The good news is most food in town is at least competent, and much is much better than that, and those are the places I write about a lot, that win Foodies.
This is a long long intro to explain why it would be so much fun to write this review of Novikov that Jay Rayner let loose in The Observer, a veritable Chernobyling. To get a bit of its ill-flavor, here's a morsel; "This is generally very, very bad: prices that knock the wind out of you
and moments of cooking so cack-handed, so foul, so astoundingly grim
you want to congratulate the kitchen on its incompetence." I do worry for Rayner, though, since the restaurant's owner is a buddy of Putin's--they play for keeps, those Russkies, and how hard could it be to poison a food critic?
So, I think I'll keep making nice.