Whenever we run a less-than-savory restaurant review, I know at least one of two things will happen: I’ll hear from the owner, and/or I’ll get letters from loyal customers questioning the critic’s taste.
Natural. Understandable. Fine by me, since I welcome counterpoints on any opinion the CN&R publishes.
So I fully expected that C. Moore’s 2 1/2-fork take on Broadway Heights would draw some strong rebuttals. What I wasn’t expecting was an insinuation of impropriety.
Turns out C. Moore is a housemate of a Broadway Heights employee. This has sparked the notion that any unhappiness of his carried over to the roommie reviewer.
C. Moore says that’s not the case. The employee “is a pirate guy—grrr!”—gruff but not disgruntled; moreover, “I never told him I was reviewing the place until the day it came out.”
I accept the writer’s word. We prefer our writers to have more separation from their subjects, to avoid an appearance of self-interest, but I haven’t found reason to question C. Moore’s ethics or honesty.
So why mention all this? Because I understand the importance of reputation, and reputation is at stake here.
CN&R editors do not take negative reviews lightly—we know the effect they can have on a local restaurant. Reviewers don’t judge a place right when it opens, nor on a single meal; they often visit multiple times, with consistency among the elements they consider.
The Broadway Heights piece caught my attention because CN&R staffers, including me, have lunched there many times. It also is a Best of Chico winner, popular with many people.
While I’m not enough of a connoisseur to second-guess a critic on Thai food, I did arch my eyebrows on this one. But since I haven’t tried everything C. Moore sampled, I wasn’t about to pull the review summarily. So, I did something I haven’t done before: took our editors to Broadway Heights so we could see—and taste—for ourselves.
We didn’t come away as critical as the critic, yet could understand where C. Moore was coming from. (For instance, I enjoyed the tomato parmesan bisque; others agreed with the assessment it’s too thin.) We just made sure the headline and review acknowledged that this Chow runs contrary to general perceptions.
Why print something negative? Because the five forks Henri gave Fortunatto’s this week would mean far less if we only raved, never ranted.
The CN&R’s reputation matters, too, so let me assure you that no one here harbors ill will toward any local proprietor. We just want good meals when we plop down hard-earned cash—as we’re sure you do.
Goodbye/hellos: Tang Lor has completed her internship with us, so we’ve bid her a reluctant farewell.
The rest of the fall intern class is sticking around, and we’re thrilled to welcome back Laura Hauser as well as Emanuella Orr, who placed 14th in a national college journalism competition for her October CN&R cover story “Invisible victims.”
Our spring group has one newcomer: Chico State photography student Jessica Stevens.
Starting next issue, we’ll also have a “new” contributor: Toni Scott, a summer ’06 intern who just completed her master’s degree in political journalism at Boston University.