Longtime New York magazine critic Adam Platt has just dropped his anonymity, putting his picture on the magazine's cover and writing an essay about his decision to go unanonymous. Calling critic anonymity a "time-honored Kabuki dance" and a "dated charade," Platt writes that by removing the pretense of being anonymous he is actually letting readers "know what restaurateurs around town have known for years": what he looks like. Chef and Bizarre Foods host Andrew Zimmern sums up that point of view: "Big Reveal...for the 3 People in NYC who don't know what he looks like."
Eater NY had speculated that part of his decision to reveal his identity might have something to do with the incident in which the supremely buzzy ZZ's Clam Bar booted him out mid-meal. Platt does mention this in his essay, saying, "Now that the great anonymity charade is over, maybe the bouncers will recognize me before I walk in the door. If they don't, then the incensed chefs can come out of the kitchen themselves and explain to their paying, well-behaved customer why it's time to leave."
Platt also adds that he will not change his routine even though he has gone public. For example, he will still book with pseudonyms because "the art of surprise has always been the critic's most useful tool." On that matter, sort-of anonymous New York Times critic Pete Wells agrees, having argued "by reserving under another name we can at least keep the element of surprise on our side." Platt also says he plans to continue to book at odd hours and "will do [his] best to ignore" when chefs send extra menu items. He will also continue to use an expense account, another hotly debated critic's tool.
Of anonymity, Platt ultimately concludes that it is not a critic's most important weapon: "Anonymity would be nice, but it's always been less important than a sturdy gut and a settled palate." And of course, he isn't the first critic to notice that it's nearly impossible to be completely anonymous anymore. Back in 2010 GQ's Alan Richman told Eater NY: "Everyone is unanonymous these days." And more recently, Pete Wells decided to use a dining decoy while reviewing Daniel to "make the review more reliable and objective." It still remains to be seen whether other critics follow Platt's lead.
· Hi, I'm Adam Platt, Your Restaurant Critic [NY Mag]
· New York Magazine Critic Adam Platt Reveals His Identity [Eater NY]
· All Critics Coverage on Eater [-E-]