In San Francisco we have only one food writer who counts, Michael Bauer. I'm looking to find an article from 2001 "Eating in Michael Bauer's Town" that succinctly sums up the situation here. One man, one vote- and he's the man.
I've always viewed him as someone who enters a room just as it's emptying.
However, even a blind squirrel does finds the occasional nut and Mikey must have his cheeks packed right now. Last week he wrote one of the bitchiest, meanest, and accurate reviews I've ever come across. The first two were no surprise . . .
The restaurant in question is Tres Agave, a Tequila Bar with a restaurant attached. I went there when it first opened and was completely underwhelmed. In a town with great taquerias every block or two, it's just a damned shame to be served something Chevy's (that's Chi-Chi's for you in the mid-west) would apologize for. And yet, Bauer gave it a great review upon opening. Last year, he put it in the top 100.
In SF any number of non-pro foodies have blogs that are surprisingly influential. And beyond that, we have things like yelp.com, a kind of bulletin board for everyone's two cent's worth. All of these have been burying Tres Agave (except for the tequila selection) since day one. How did Bauer get it so wrong and then why did he, essentially, give it a death sentence once he caught up?
I think he got it wrong because he refuses to secretly experience restaurants. I remember going to Glow back in 2001 on a night the crew knew he was coming in. How did they know? He always used the same fake name to make the reservation. The staff tried to stack the deck that night. Friends of friends tried to persuade friends to come pack the place and help the place look alive during the charade of his secret dining experience. The owners and staff behind Tres were pros and I'm sure they put out the best stuff for Bauer when he was there and he bought it.
I ate there within a month of Bauer's trip and I was shocked to find that the place was obviously a prototype for a future chain. From the "Caesar Salad and the burger" on the authentic menu to the Syracuse plates and libby glassware on the tables, this place just screamed "we'll be attached to Crowne Plazas across the country!" And earlier this year the gossip was that due to poor sales and public reaction, the concept was not selling to other markets. That would be when Sammy Hagar packed up his Wabo, his Cabo and sold his shares.
Poor Michael, sitting there with huevos on his la cara. I think the embarrassment of being so publicly wrong got firmly lodged in his culo and he went loco. For pure entertainment, now go and read this article.
Go in Peace