Atlanta Journal Constitution critic John Kessler is unhappy with his city's food and is telling Atlanta chefs to up their game. Why? Kessler thinks standards have dropped: "I can’t tell you how many good restaurants have served me limp salad greens, pan-fried fish without crisp skin, steaks without sear and seasoning that is all over the place." Ouch.
Kessler's not the only critic in the country who thinks their city could do better: just last month Dallas Observer critic Hanna Raskin called the Dallas dining scene "broken" in a lengthy rant. So, what's going on? Are these legitimate complaints, or sour grapes, or what?
Both Kessler and Raskin are relatively inexperienced with their respective cities' current dining scenes: Raskin wrote her diatribe after a mere six months on the job. Kessler at least has a little bit more experience, but he is returning to the scene after a five year hiatus from the review beat. According to him, that's the reasoning behind writing the open letter: "I haven't hit every major restaurant yet but have been to enough to witness a real change from my last go-round at this job."
So, we're calling it a trend: two cities, approximately the same size (metropolitan-area populations between five and seven million) have critics who are publicly criticizing their cities' cuisines as a whole. Which city is next? Phoenix? Denver? St. Louis?