New York Observer Restaurant Critic Pans Brooklyn


The New York Observer yesterday ran one of those stories that get lots of attention for their broad and sweeping condemnations of something or other, in this case Brooklyn’s restaurant scene. A critic named Josh Ozersky claims that, out of context, Brooklyn restaurants would be recognized as the mediocre, sloppy joints serving off-cuts they actually are. He notes: “The borough, once universally understood as a backwater, set an all-time high for Zagat reviews, with 250 (up from 217). Adam Platt of New York, on the heels of some very good reviews, announced a ‘culinary power shift east’ thanks to Brooklyn Fare and a small number of ambitious efforts.” It seems to us Ozersky’s viewpoint reflects that of a restaurant critic above all, in which money is no object and getting in is less of an issue. But for ordinary people eating at everyday prices in restaurants that don’t take reservations, Brooklyn still offers a much better value for the money, in our opinion. (Also, his information seems dated. Dumont faded years ago.) What do you think? Above, Blanca’s tarragon prawn.
The Truth About Brooklyn’s Overhyped, Undercooked Restaurant Scene [NYO]
Photo by jmoranmoya

30 Comment

  • Josh Ozersky is a fat shill who bases his opinions on who comps him the most free stuff.

  • Wait I’ve lived in NY my whole life and always thought the Observer was supposed to be a hyperbolic fake news humor rag in the style of the Onion? Were they serious this whole time? It wasn’t just a hilarious paper-wide extreme take on a particularly stunted and repulsive world view?

    The other thing is that the comments in this article about Brooklyn are pretty much the sort of thing that most of the country and the world has been saying about NY forever, more specifically about Manhattan.

  • You’ve gotta admit, the very precious dish above is just asking for ridicule.

    The man may be right or wrong, I don’t know, but who can afford to be a hip Brooklyn foodie these days?

    I checked out Blanca’s menu – $185 per person for a 25 course tasting menu. Please!

  • IMHO the guy has a valid point (Brooklyn Restaurants in general are overrated) and there is a self-reinforcing loop because media always wants ‘new, hot, trendy’ and so many writers live in Brooklyn.

    BUT they guy so overstates his case and throws many good restaurants under the bus that he undermines any credibility he has. He either wants page clicks or is just bitter against Brooklyn restaurateurs for some reason.

  • sixyearsandcounting

    “The great unspoken fact of Brooklyn life is that nobody, at least nobody I have ever met, moved there because they liked it better than Manhattan.”

    Well, he hasn’t met me, and I hope it stays that way.

  • sixyearsandcounting

    “The great unspoken fact of Brooklyn life is that nobody, at least nobody I have ever met, moved there because they liked it better than Manhattan.”

    Well, he hasn’t met me, and I hope it stays that way.

  • There is definitely some truth to his article but as usual he comes off as a douche.

    And DH is right:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/30/dining/30comp.html

  • ” I believe that Brooklynites grossly overestimate their restaurants as a defense mechanism against the anguish of exile.”

    This is an old opinion. My grandfather, a Navy Captain during WWII, stationed first in Manhattan and later in the South Pacific, observed “People from Brooklyn like it because they have to.”. In his case, he may have been insulting his in-laws as much as his command.

  • Doesn’t he just shoot himself in the foot by writing this? No one’s ever going to send him over the river as a food critic now. Talk about narrowing your opportunities by stereotyping half of your city.

  • Doesn’t he just shoot himself in the foot by writing this? No one’s ever going to send him over the river as a food critic now. Talk about narrowing your opportunities by stereotyping half of your city.

  • I could not get through the whole article I do not know if you need to be qualified to be a restaurant critic but he should be able to write.
    Ido think that The whole foodie, artistinal thing has gone way off the scale for pretentious posers. When did eating and cooking become rock and roll? Why does it cost so much?
    This latest gimmick of expensive dinner events with chef nazis costing hundreds is absurd.When is an exclusive by invitation supper club going to open in East New York? When is the pizza demand going to top out? It’s a tomato pie. How did that get to be gourmet? Every month a new pizza place opens on Atlantic charging $15to $20 for something that costs $3 to $5 to make.
    There is a ‘Jewish’ deli that is not kosher selling greasy sandwiches for a fortune and there is always a crowd waiting to get into this tiny hole in the wall.
    It is a big improvement to have so many restaurants. But why are they so expensive, pretentious and theme driven, Brooklyn has become a cool hipster food court.

  • I could not get through the whole article I do not know if you need to be qualified to be a restaurant critic but he should be able to write.
    Ido think that The whole foodie, artistinal thing has gone way off the scale for pretentious posers. When did eating and cooking become rock and roll? Why does it cost so much?
    This latest gimmick of expensive dinner events with chef nazis costing hundreds is absurd.When is an exclusive by invitation supper club going to open in East New York? When is the pizza demand going to top out? It’s a tomato pie. How did that get to be gourmet? Every month a new pizza place opens on Atlantic charging $15to $20 for something that costs $3 to $5 to make.
    There is a ‘Jewish’ deli that is not kosher selling greasy sandwiches for a fortune and there is always a crowd waiting to get into this tiny hole in the wall.
    It is a big improvement to have so many restaurants. But why are they so expensive, pretentious and theme driven, Brooklyn has become a cool hipster food court.

  • daveinbedstuy

    Thanks for that link, eh. This douche has zero credibilty.

  • A. I agree with DH.

    2. I agree with Six – I moved to Brooklyn because in 1996 because I liked it more than Manhattan, even moreso now.

    (c) Josh Ozersky clearly has Brooklyn envy (and almost certainly has p—- envy as well – I’d say it, but Mr. B would prolly ban me).

    Fourth, the “anguish of exile” sounds very much like someone who was rejected by a Brooklyn co-op Board.

  • in reply to MM and oldtimer – good quality food can cost money. you can also get good quality food for cheap. i have eaten at Brooklyn Fare. it’s serious money to eat there but it’s a luxury that i enjoy partaking on rare occasions. i have also spoken with the owner. he really doesn’t make much money at all off the restaurant because his ingredients are so expensive, he requires a massive staff to prep the food and he doesn’t have a liquor license. i see nothing wrong with the “pretentious” foodie scene. a foodie is someone who can enjoy the fine dining experience as much as the down and dirty street food. it’s about quality and if it’s just a hip/poser fad, so what? i can think of a lot worse. as for this “food critic” i can name dozens of others who would disagree with him. he’s just one person expressing an opinion. an opinion i don’t happen to agree with.

  • Also kinda weird that Roberta’s isn’t even mentioned, no?

    • Cate

      Nice article, Slopefarm. I like this quote: “I didn’t want to open in Manhattan with a massive [financial] burden on my shoulders, and Brooklyn rents are way cheaper,” Ricker said. “Plus, most of the interesting things happening in New York right now are happening in Brooklyn. Everyone I know lives in Brooklyn.” Though rents are rising quickly, aren’t they?

  • “Every month a new pizza place opens on Atlantic charging $15to $20 for something that costs $3 to $5 to make.”

    Table 87 @ Hicks? Great Pizza! I get the individual Margherita for only $10 bucks – good for 2 meals. And I’ve gotten the home-made sausage pizza to share – the sausage is amazing. Totally worth it IMHO.

  • He makes some valid points. Perhaps would be more well received by someone a little more relevant.

  • Just adding myself to the list of Brooklynites by choice – I moved to Brooklyn Heights in 1981 because I liked it. And it sure wasn’t about the money – I paid lots more in rent than most of my Manhattan friends, who lived in the Village for the most part, though some later moved to Chelsea and the UWS.

  • stuyheightsarch

    When I first moved to NY 15 years ago I had a choice between Manhattan and Brooklyn. I just loved Brooklyn better I never wanted to live in Manhattan. I find it to be a great place to visit….

  • punko

    Brooklyn by choice since 1988 here!

  • Adrienne

    Moved from Manhattan to Brooklyn when I was a week old. And never looked back. :)

  • I’m more troubled by the lonely prawn than the pretentious yawn.

  • I’m more troubled by the lonely prawn than the pretentious yawn.

  • “If Brooklyn-beat restaurants appear in other neighborhoods, it’s because there are white college graduates living there to support them.”

    Ok – that will come as news to restaurateurs in likes of Clinton Hill Bed Stuy, that the healthy 40+% of their patrons, that not part of that demographic, are mere ghosts.

    “None of the immigrant residents who populate Ditmas Park go to The Farm on Adderley; most of them don’t eat at restaurants at all.”

    Perhaps many, most, but None? Really?

    Williamsburg: “Technically Jews, Latinos and whites over 40 do exist there, but they are effectively invisible in the neighborhood’s restaurant culture.”

    Hmm, does the writer mean “Jews” as in kosher observing Hasids? or Jews in general? Latinos, as in the residents living south of the BQE, like working class and working poor people of ANY color anywhere in the US – understandibly not lining up to sample $15 cocktails or $80 brunches? Or Latinos in general?

    If the writer wants to go after Kings County based, gastronomic off-shoots of their Manhattan siblings, for moonlighting ostensibly as fine dining, or their hipsterized, casual cousins and their over-priced, pretentious deconstruction of regional, ethnic, or street food and the blog fueled solipsism that boost them, go ahead – by all means. But to make myopic, crude, general ethnic statements, without any subtle context to class and culture – critical attributes of any credible NY based writer, is a bit disappointing.

  • right or wrong, that Tarragon Prawn is a joke.

    NYC food and drinks

  • right or wrong, that Tarragon Prawn is a joke.

    NYC food and drinks