Reviews can be a restaurant's savior or the beginning of an end, and while it's always nice to see a great restaurant get a good review, it's a lot more fun to see a critic tear it to pieces. When else does one encounter such unabashed hatred? So here are the year's best take downs — agree or disagree with each verdict, they're all at the very least entertaining reads. Below, the most revolting food, hostile environments, and appallingly rude service restaurant critics were forced to endure this year so that you wouldn't have to.
· Jay Rayner on Le Caprice: "Don't go to Le Caprice hungry. After my experience there, I am minded to wonder why anybody goes there at all. But certainly don't go there eager to be fed."
· Jay Rayner on Gordon Ramsay's Bread Street Kitchen: "To be frank Bread Street Kitchen is the kind of place only its mother could really love."
· Alan Richman on M. Wells: "My experience there was like no other. The motto is "All's well at M. Wells." I assure you it is not."
· Sam Sifton on Fishtag: "The restaurant marries solid Mediterranean cooking to a kind of wackadoo, cheffy bravado that brings sea urchin to the table floating in a glass of brackish seawater as if it were art. (It is not. It is kind of nasty.) Fishtag is a good restaurant trapped inside a bad one."
· Sam Sifton on Imperial No. Nine: "They were pillowy in the sense of the word that describes the taste of a pillow."
· Steve Cuozzo on the Trilby: "The Trilby wears too many hats. It’s sort of a restaurant that sets a new benchmark for vagueness — serving not even 'small' and 'large' plates of food, but 'smaller' and 'larger' ones."
· John Kessler on the entire city of Atlanta: "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."
· AA Gill on L'ami Louis: "It's undeniable that L'Ami Louis really is special and apart. It has earned an epic accolade. It is, all things considered, entre nous, the worst restaurant in the world."
· Jonathan Gold on the Olive Garden: "What is lasagna fritta? Apparently rolled lasagna sliced into thick discs, crisped in trans-fat-free boiling oil and served with a marinara dipping sauce. Words for once fail me."
· Leslie Brenner on Lockhart Smokehouse: "You know what? If you're not going to offer barbecue sauce, the meat had better be awfully good. This brisket desperately needed some."
· Nancy Nichols on MesoMaya: "How anyone could screw up a flan in a Mexican restaurant is beyond me, but the version I was served twice at MesoMaya wouldn't pass muster in a prison cafeteria."
· Hanna Raskin on Aqua: "it's inordinately easy to maintain a moralistic stance when the payoff for neglecting sustainability standards is so slight: The food at Aqua is awful."
· Julia Kramer on The Black Sheep: "It was at this moment that I ate a pickled morel, then decided I never want to eat a pickled morel again, then became ready to stop eating at the Black Sheep. But alas, I was in the middle of a tasting menu."
· Julia Kramer on Grahamwich: "A dilettantish assortment of international sandwiches that reflect not just repeated failures of execution but a lack of care in their conception."
· Katharine Shilcutt on Cafe Moustache: "When the best thing I can think of to say about a restaurant's lunch and dinner is that they're "inoffensive," something has gone seriously awry in the kitchen."
· Victoria Pesce Elliott on Wynwood Kitchen & Bar: "Owners Tony Goldman and daughter Jessica Goldman Srebnick are indeed visionaries. Unfortunately, when it comes to the food, I just don't see it. My meals ranged from mediocre to barely edible."