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I’ve resisted it for the four and a half years I’ve been writing this blog, and yet there’s nothing I get asked about more. I’ve been concerned that my minor opinions could play a major role in shaping a restaurant’s business, and yet I pledge honesty and integrity when taking to the keyboard. I’ve worried that I lack the street cred to render a valuable critique, and yet I’ve been cooking in New York City for nearly five years, blogging about it all the while; I’ve written, pitched and “sold” a food television series to the producers of Top Chef; I’ve begun publishing articles in respected food, travel and life style periodicals internationally, and I have been eating out in New York City since I was 18. May I humbly submit that I think I’ve paid my dues. It’s time I start writing restaurant reviews.
My take on reviewing restaurants is to keep things short, simple and personal. My reviews will always be in my own voice and reflect my individual experiences, so as not to portend that my feedback is objective. How can it be? I have only one palate, one appetite, one sense of taste, style and decorum…after all, I am just one person, and what I like may not be universally adored. And yet, I know food. I know how to cook it, how to find it and what is right to eat when. All my friends ask me regularly for recommendations and now that professionals have begun paying me for my judgement, I thought it only fair to share those thoughts with you.
In the coming months, I plan to post a lot of restaurant reviews and travel stories among my food-forward adventures on these pages. Some of these will be online versions of articles I’ve published; others will be original content written just for you. I do not claim that these reviews will rival the work of the many passionate reporters who eat across menus, have extensive expense accounts or impressive titles credited to their names; to the contrary, I plan to reprint my reviews on Yelp. If ever there was a democratic forum with all the pitfalls and blessings that a multitude of voices brings, Yelp is exactly that. It is also a user-friendly, heavily-trafficked interface with an easily understood star system that I plan to borrow (substituting apple icons for the stars). Here’s how the rating system breaks down:
With that, I invite you to dig into my first official restaurant review and Eat it Up!
Tertulia: Is it worth the wait?
Let me start by saying I had a fabulous time at Tertulia last Friday night. Let me also explain that Tertulia has been the restaurant I’ve been wanting to dine at since it opened and I moved to Boston last August. It has been lauded by the press ever since, and all my attempts to taste test Chef Mullen’s tapas over the last six months have been thwarted. Until now…
Enter an eager eater who finds herself in town for just the weekend, and told her friends she’d be perched at Tertulia’s bar by 7 PM on Friday. Scoring a seat and saddling up to what felt like a true homage to a Spanish tapas bar, I joyfully passed the time munching on shaved Serrano and sipping glasses of cider while friends swung by to say hi. The room was extremely crowded, the buzz palpable, the staff overwhelmed. I couldn’t have been happier; I was back in New York at a foodie hotspot. And then we ate.
The trouble with Tertulia is they can’t handle the herd of people who want to eat there, and the food does not live up to the hype. Four hours (I am not exaggerating) after putting my name on the list for a table of six, we were sat. Tack on another hour, and a full five hours after arriving, we were fed. That’s shameful. And the staff knew it, so to Tertulia’s credit, after racking up an insane bar bill and patiently waiting for food for five hours, the manager gave us our entire meal for free. That’s pretty damn classy, but I can’t say I’ll go back to try again because the wait is exhausting, and simply put, the food is not as good as Boqueria’s.
I tried: the crushed egg, potato and Ibérico ham toast (soggy), the fried Padrón peppers with way too much sea salt (something I almost never say as I have a taste for salty food), the baby squid stuffed with black rice, Merguez sausage and roasted peppers (tasted like cat food…sorry), the Ibérico ham croquettes served with membrillo for dipping (thank god these were good), the crispy potatoes with Pimentón de la Vera and garlic aioli (smothered in way too much mayo), the crispy Brussels sprouts with pork belly and mojo picón (yum!), the toasted bread rubbed with tomato (which tasted of out-of-season tomatoes), the classic egg and potato tortilla Española (unremarkable), the beet, grapefruit and mustard greens salad (gritty) and an entree special: house-hunted pheasant braised in foie gras and garnished with shaved black truffle (the best plate of the night, but how could it not be?).
All told, Tertulia was better in anticipation than it was in actuality.
359 6th Ave
New York, NY 10012
Neighborhood: West Village