AWvsCBsteeeerike3 wrote:...they're having problems with the lo-brow crowd which I would consider myself firmly in.
You're probably not in this crowd. It's a confluence of several things.
1. The de-professionalizing of food media and the reduction of it to lists. Eater, Thrillist, TimeOut have swallowed up real food reviews in which the paid professional reviewer eats at a place anonymously 5-8X then writes an objective review. That traditional media is dead. Eater on a local level doesn't have people who go out to eat and write reviews, they have people who sit in offices and who aggregate press releases they receive into lists of "hot" or "essential." I've opened a few places that have made their "Hottest (Bars/Restaurants) To (Eat/Drink) At Right Now" lists and those lists often include places that have been open for under a couple weeks. They haven't eaten there, it's just new. It's just basically saying "yo, this is open now and high-profie." If Eater archived those lists--they do not, they disappear each month when a new one is posted--we could go look at the list for 16 months ago and probably find half the places closed. The burger list we're discussing was in the Tribune, but written not by Phil Vettel, their reviewer for decades, but but Nick Kindelsperger, the kid the Trib hired to write lists to attract younger readers. This is our food media, 80% of it. 2% of it is professional food reviewers. The other 18% is...
2. Social media/Yelp and the foodies. First let's define foodies. Young, urban, lots of disposable income to go out and eat a lot, probably use their social media for a lot of check-ins, tweets and photos about restaurants. Almost certainly not packing a culinary degree or experience in a pro kitchen. The kind of people who want to talk to chef, then ask chef what temp he sous vides the shortrib and when chef says "145" they look at the ceiling and go "....sorry, just converting, I run my on celsius at home...." That kind of person. This guy fits that bill. The way my buddy described him was: "1015 one top reso. Total INCEL." ie he booked a table for one at 10:15. Someone who either can't get a date or can't get someone to eat at 10:15PM with him but he's just got to get in ASAP to eat that burger which, by his own admission, he's ready to compare to the burger that he already know is the best burger in town. When the burger was out, he gave them 2 stars. If the burger was still avail, he'd probably have given them 2-3 stars, because he already knows where the best burger is. He also took his case to social media. He's a poon. Screw that guy. He's not a low-brow guy who eats all his meals at Roger's Feedlot, he's a snobby urban prick.
3. The need to make matters of taste objective. Jesus this has just gone completely off the rails and I'm frankly not surprised that it comes at a time when real objectivity in the world is dying in favor of "yeah but how do we feel about the issue?" TDS probably does not have the best burger in town, they have the burger in town that Nick Kindelsperger, listmaker for the Chicago Tribune, liked the best when he last had it. The dude who booked at 10:15 resy for himself's favorite burger is his favorite burger, he does not in fact know where the best burger in Chicago is. Au Cheval is not the best burger in America. In N Out is not the best burger in America. Some whiskey that won double gold at the San Francisco Spirits Whatever 2018 is not the best whiskey in the world. They're popular, and a lot of people's favorites, or won the taste of the judges at a particular show, but they are not the best because that's a matter of taste and totally subjective.
#1 and #3, totally go together. All these lists, all this writing in which subjective taste is made objective. Type best burger in America into google and you'll probably get a hundred million results +. From people who need to write that the thing that they like best is best. To get clicks, and ad revenue.
To your other point, TDS sits in a 120 year old building surrounded by new condo construction and the moment their lease is up, they're gonna be out of there. They're already looking for new space and they've got 2.5 years. The owner, Matt, was in his late 20s when he opened it. He runs on VERY thin margins, as most restaurateurs do. On Tuesday's (he's a somm and wine nerd) he brings in some wine, usually special rare stuff, opens it by the glass and pours it at cost. If the bottle cost $100 and he can get 8 half-pours, each half pour is $12.50. He does this as a gesture of hospitality to wine lovers in the neighborhood and his professional peers and it's incredibly generous. On Mondays they sell a smaller burger for $5 along with a $1 beer and a $3 shot of bourbon. He's been doing that for years as a gesture of hospitality to the broke kids in his neighborhood and cooks and other industry people. He does that despite having a Michelin Bib Gourmand rating and a sterling reputation for quality in his restaurant. So for him to go "ok, big influx of business, but we're only going to make 20 burgers tonight and if they don't get here in time, then screw 'em" would be to turn away another 20 guests/night or so that help him make a living. This will drive him and his staff crazy, the complaints about the burger as the foodies who want to swing their dicks around about what burger is "best" descend like locusts on his restaurant, but it's money he can't say no to.