The world loves a good scathing restaurant review — especially when the target of said review serves the kind of foie gras and caviar-laden meals few can afford. New York Times food critic Pete Wells demoted Thomas Keller's vaunted New York City restaurant Per Se from four to two stars yesterday, and unsurprisingly, the internet had a lot to say about it.
Echoing many of the sentiments expressed by Eater NY critic Ryan Sutton last year, Wells pronounced the lavish dining destination in the Time Warner Center "among the worst food deals in New York." Some of Wells' sharpest barbs include pronouncing a mushroom broth "as murky and appealing as bong water," renaming overcooked lobster "gristle of the sea," and comparing gratis after-dinner treats to "the swag that’s given out after a free press lunch."
The hubbub began in the comments section of the review, with readers from across the country weighing in. While a few seemed to think Keller had it coming, others were simply outraged that such expensive restaurants even exist:
Meanwhile on Twitter, the reactions ranged from glee to shock:
Ooooffff that review of Per Se is BRUTAL.— Max's Sandwich Shop (@lunchluncheon) January 13, 2016
For Per Se to lose not one, but two stars in its NYT review is the biggest insult possible.— #LegendaryBunny (@MzNikiLz) January 13, 2016
Is there a special German word for enjoying a critic's pan of a restaurant you can't afford to eat at? https://t.co/NrOQs6te9W— Michael Cooper (@coopnytimes) January 12, 2016
Someday I hope to be described as "grand, hermetic, self-regarding, ungenerous" https://t.co/KnXMO1amCv— Richard Lawson (@rilaws) January 12, 2016
Many speculated on how Keller and his staff would react to the news:
There were also a few well-timed State of the Union jokes:
I bet President Obama doesn't even address the fact that Per Se has lost two stars on his watch.— Jon Lovett (@jonlovett) January 13, 2016
Others wondered what, exactly, made Per Se worthy of the two stars it retained:
Two stars—"very good"—smells like a diplomatic gesture. Because this is not a review of a "very good" restaurant. https://t.co/Oswfj5TC5m— Todd Pruzan (@toddpruzan) January 13, 2016
NYT takedown review of Per Se needed one sentence explaining why it rated 2 stars "very good" when it was so bad.Editor not doing his job.— Mimi Sheraton (@mimisheraton) January 13, 2016
And unsurprisingly, there were plenty of wisecracks referencing Wells' recent (and surprisingly favorable) review of Cancun's finest restaurant export, the spring break partier mecca Senor Frog's:
Pete Wells' Per Se review: How the 2-star restaurant should emulate Senor Frog's— Fredric Hodge (@tetsuomirs) January 13, 2016
@davidsunlee I had a waaaaaayyyyyyy better time at Señor Frog's than I did at Per Se.— Kat Kinsman (@kittenwithawhip) January 12, 2016
The internet explosion of feelings is almost as good as the one that followed Wells' 2012 takedown of Guy Fieri's Times Square restaurant — though it seems doubtful that Keller will appear on the Today Show to defend his business, as Fieri did.