Feed the Reader
From Pat Daniels, who is a Fan District advocate and activist, this comment on a Dec. 12 story by Elizabeth Kincaid on vegetarian options in town: "Sydney Park is not a dog park per se. It is a park that belongs to the City of Richmond Department of Recreation, Parks and Community Facilities. Sydney Park is open to all -- yes, children do play there as well; and dogs on a leash and whose owners pick up after them are welcome to enjoy it as well. Sydney Park was reclaimed from weeds and drug paraphernalia in 1999. The Friends are getting ready to embark on phase II of the renovation of the park and must rely on donations and grants to accomplish their goals. We find it interesting that though the park gets many visitors and users as a result of the business next door none of them join us in maintaining the park even by picking up after themselves!"
On the same story, Rob Wilson writes: "Though I appreciate the inclusion in Style's recent coverage of local vegetarian options, I would like to express some grievances with the section on Crossroads Coffee and Ice Cream. As kitchen manager and creator of the menu, I am obviously sensitive about the way my food is observed. I felt the article's focus on bagels, tempeh bacon and vegan chicken salad communicated a lower quality than I try to offer. Though we do have some of those items from time to time, we also offer an extensive array of inventive upscale vegan dinner entrees. We also boast the largest vegetarian breakfast in the city, 100 percent homemade vegan soups, and competitively priced lunch options. Michelle Webb ensures that there is a regularly stocked case of inventive desserts, and deserves recognition as one of the finest vegan bakers in Richmond. Jeff Kroll and I put a lot of hard work into the store and my staff and I take great pride in what we do. Thanks for your inclusion in the article and we look forward to serving you in the future."
In an earlier message to Short Order, Wilson referenced some of the problems he's uncovered working in food service and frustrations that are voiced by many. "I am leaving in a month to teach in Vietnam and this is a perfect reminder of why I gave up on food service. It's a thankless, low paying, benefit-free job. I can't say I'm shocked that Style would write such a misguided article, this is not the first time I've been angry after reading any of your food reviews."
Another reader, expressing some incredulity, wondered whether the critics were paid off, or if Cirrus was tipped in advance of our review visits last month. To be clear: Style pays our critics to write about their experiences and pays for their meals. Critics visit an establishment at least twice, sometimes many more times, before submitting their reviews. Their visits are unannounced, but most restaurateurs know that Style reviews are typically scheduled two to three months after an opening, and perhaps with significant changes in menu, staff or ownership, again in a few years. (It should be noted that some restaurants beg for reviews; others do anything to avoid them.)
There's no absolute science to the review process and debate gets hot on the topic just ask any chef who's been written about. In the case of Cirrus, we sent two critics to see if their views lined up unbeknownst to either, they did. But your vitriol always interests us, and we encourage your commentary on all things food- and drink-related. We'll reciprocate by bringing you whatever's hottest on the range in 2008.