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British Toff Decries the Coarseness of Modern Food Writing

We’re still scratching our heads over an essay in Slate today, in which a British journalist, fretting over what he considers the unseemliness of today’s food writing, declares himself out of the game. Is it for real? Something about the piece had the whiff of a put-on, like Ernie Kovacs’s poet character, Percy Dovetonsils, or one of those stuffy authority figures who get hit with a pie in a TV commercial appealing to teenagers. “The food writing that’s in vogue today consists chiefly of a bellow of bravado,” writes Paul Levy, formerly of the British newspaper The Observer. Today’s food writers, he says, “thrive on the undertow of violence they detect in the professional kitchen, and like to linger on the unappetizing aspects of food preparation. The gross-out factor trumps tasting good as well as good taste.” Is he kidding?

Philadelphia’s Chief Critic Unmasked; Area Restaurants Say, ‘Who Cares?'

Craig Laban
As a rule, every trend that begins in New York ends up in Philadelphia eventually, from punk rock to New American dining. Now, according to the September issue of Philadelphia magazine, the city has inherited our most inane and pointless debate, one which continues to fester here. Craig LaBan, Philadelphia’s chief restaurant critic, is being sued by the owner of Chops Steakhouse over a review he wrote some months ago. And in the process, he’s threatened with losing his anonymity. But as the critic of record in essentially a one-paper town (with due respect to the Philadelphia Daily News), LaBan is about as mysterious to Philadelphia as cheesesteaks or Legionnaires’s disease.

Jay McCarroll Sits on a Bench

Gothamist today points us to a week-old Observer profile of The Bench, the park bench in front of the American Apparel at Houston and Orchard Streets, which apparently has been turned into a sort of hipster anti-scene scene, especially on Saturday nights. And who's apparently the token celebrity to frequent The Bench? Project Runway alum Jay McCarroll, natch. Which, when you think of it, comes as no surprise at all. Of course the dude hangs out on a park bench; he's homeless. The Bench Bunch [NYO via Gothamist] Earlier: Is Jay McCarroll Homeless? He Sure Said So (and So Did His Publicist)

Soho's Jerry's May Be Reincarnated in a New Space

Astoria: The owners of Sai Organics health-food store have opened an organic restaurant in the old Keystone Diner spot on 30th Avenue near 31st Street. [Joey in Astoria] East Village: The prices of Gemma’s rustic fare are shocking “and not in a Kobe/Gilt kind of way.” [Gastro Chic] Meatpacking District: PM may lose its liquor license soon if complaining neighbors sway the community board. [Down by the Hipster] Midtown East: Menchanko-Tei has been closed by the Department of Health. [Midtown Lunch] Soho: Jerry’s diner has closed, but the owner may be looking for a new space. [Eater] Tribeca: Peat Week at Brandy Library starts August 20 bringing a series of public “peated” Scotch tastings and special menu offerings. [Brandy Library] Pomodoro’s II on West Broadway at Murray Street will soon share its space with a Cheesesteak Factory Express. [Grub Street] West Village: Reservations by phone are required if you want to eat the last of the Chianina steak at Maremma only on offer through next Friday. [Grub Street]