Foodie Feud: Online Dispute Breaks Out over Fishtag

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

Left: Merri Lee Kingsly. Right: Sam Sifton. Photo source: Eater NY

After The New York Times‘ Sam Sifton published a harsh, zero-star review of the newly-opened Michael Psilakis restaurant FishTag (79th between Broadway and Amsterdam), surprising many after a series of glowing reviews, one foodie came rushing to defend the newest Psilakis creation.  Merri Lee Kingsly, publisher of Saveur, was so irritated with Sifton’s negative review that she attempted a lengthy counterargument in the Times‘ comment section, only to get censored.  Eater was happy to publish the rebuttal, though.  Sifton’s review begins by calling chef Ryan Skeen’s cooking “a kind of wackadoo, cheffy bravado,” and later complains, “FishTag recalls what happens when children get into Mom’s closet and play at fashion.   The food shows up in the dining room overdressed and shrieking in three shades of lipstick and mismatched slingbacks, with flavors that clash or do something rather worse than that.”  To defend FishTag, Kingsly argues: “I would consider creativity and experimentation refreshing in the food world.  Mr Sifton…you need to stop being so rude to the chefs in our world that work so damn hard every single day and put every bit of passion and love into the food they cook so that people like me…and obviously sometimes you can enjoy…I am exhausted reading the nasty reviews.”  After Kingsly’s comments, another foodie jumped into the ring, and this time, a chef came into the debate to defend critic Sifton.  Grub Street found a comment from Suvir Saran, chef of Union Square’s Dévi, that declares, “those living in glass houses hardly need to challenge another in their position.”  Suran claims that Kingsly and other editors of Saveur have a bias or personal vendetta against certain restaurants for never being written about in the magazine, and later says, “Kingsly’s outpouring is one that speaks of a delusional person. Especially so because of the pedestal where she sits and the power she and her publication have to make a difference themselves.” Oh snap.  Kingsly simply responded to say that her opinions are just hers, and not meant to reflect Saveur.  Stay tuned to see if the debate results in a full-fledged FishTag beatdown.

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