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Seattle Restaurant Bites Back at Critic With a New Dish: The Sloppy Cicero

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Photos: S. Pratt/Eater Seattle /
Hillary Dixler Canavan is Eater's restaurant editor and the author of the publication's debut book, Eater: 100 Essential Restaurant Recipes From the Authority on Where to Eat and Why It Matters (Abrams, September 2023). Her work focuses on dining trends and the people changing the industry — and scouting the next hot restaurant you need to try on Eater's annual Best New Restaurant list.

First in Denver, now in Seattle: A chef has decided to bite back at a critic following a mixed review by adding a dish named after the critic to the menu. Seattle Times critic and James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards Committee chair Providence Cicero recently awarded two and a half stars (out of four) to chef Jason Wilson's recently opened Miller's Guild. She found the meat-focused restaurant "pricey" and the dishes sometimes "did not deliver the bang" she was hoping for. Her review ends with the observation that a fellow guest wanted to order appetizers and then head to the restaurant across the street for a Sloppy Joe.

In response, Wilson and his team have added the $15 "Sloppy Cicero" to the menu. General Manager/partner Jake Kosseff tells Eater that they decided to respond to the review with a dish because the restaurant has a tradition of naming drinks after customers and because "Providence's was our first review, and in honor of that we wanted to do something." He says they took the last line of the review to heart ("we took it to mean she thought we should serve Sloppy Joes"). The Sloppy Cicero is made from hand-chopped trim from the restaurant's various steaks, a spicier version of traditional Sloppy Joe sauce, and melted gruyere all served on a house-made whole wheat bun.

Kosseff says the dish is "absolutely" more about being playful than being angry: "We listen really carefully to guest comments and reviews and spend every day trying to make the place better ... I think Providence is great. We have fun with her like we would with anyone else." Kosseff says customers have been responding positively to the dish in the restaurant, though many walking in don't necessarily make the connection to the restaurant critic.

Other restaurants have bitten back at critics too, if in a less positive way. For example, Lockhart Smokehouse in Dallas threw a "Fork You Leslie Brenner Day" after Dallas Morning News critic Leslie Brenner complained about the barbecue restaurant's ban on forks. They also ran a baloney special, writing on Facebook, "Ours will be Smoked, not written."

· Miller's Guild [Facebook]
· All Biting Back Coverage on Eater [-E-]

Miller's Guild

612 Stewart St., Seattle, WA 98101