Why Do Critics Seem To Get Stuck in Certain Neighborhoods?


Brigman asks: Is it just me or have there been a lot of Bay Ridge restaurants covered lately? Do the authors live there or something? There have got to be some value restaurants near the rest of us. . . .

Dear Brigman: Great question! Yes, it often seems like critics and bloggers get in a rut, and you’ll see a whole passel of posts from a single neighborhood. There are two reasons for this, and I’ll give you the less noble one first.

I spend a significant portion of my time dragging my ass around the five boroughs, either on public transportation or in the cars of friends and acquaintances. From my apartment, the “launch window” needed to get to Bay Ridge and do some work there is usually five hours or more, taking transportation into account. Therefore, when I find myself in a far-flung locale, I visit the specific place I traveled there to check out, but then I wander aimlessly and evaluate other places I’ve heard of in the neighborhood, or places I simply stumble on as I walk around. I may visit four or five restaurants for sit-down or carryout in the course of a single afternoon.

Not every place merits a blog post, but a trip to say, Flushing, might result in three. Now, I could hold onto two of them until you’ve forgotten that I did something there recently, but that’s not satisfactory, either, since the postponed pieces then lose all sense of excitement and immediacy. God help us, one of the places might have closed down or made some other change if I wait a couple of weeks. Yes, there may be three posts from Bay Ridge in as many days, but at least they’re fresh.

The second reason? Just like topics on Twitter, neighborhoods trend. If you see lots of posts from Long Island City in a month, that could be because restaurants have been popping up there like night-blooming flowers. The aforementioned Bay Ridge is hot right now, and every time I go there or the equally hot Sunset Park, I see more places I want to try. There is some justification for trying several places in a single neighborhood all at the same time–and that’s that you get a better picture of what’s going on there, and in what direction the culinary scene is headed in that locale.

Also, it might be a convenience to the reader, too, since several places from the same neighborhood in a short span of time might convince you it’s the right time to check out an unfamiliar neighborhood.

I hope that answers your question, Brigman.