A Word Analysis Of The New York Times’ Rudest Restaurant Reviews

Stand down, Guy Fieri

Jan 14, 2016 at 12:17 PM ET

New York City’s Per Se was once considered one of the best restaurants in the world. But apparently Thomas Keller’s legendary eatery has slipped. A recent review in the New York Times called the place “among the worst food deals in New York,” and stripped it of two of its four stars in a gleefully mean fashion.

So we decided to revisit some of The Times’ most famously scathing restaurant reviews to see how they stack up.

Vocativ analyzed the most-used words for the most vicious food critic reviews of seven restaurants: Kobe Club, a lavish Midtown steakhouse with samurai swords hanging from the ceilings that has since closed; The Bistro At Villard Michel Richard, the now-shuttered eatery in the New York Palace Hotel that was deemed “awful” and awarded no stars by Times critic Pete Wells; Box Tree, also closed, a “pretentious” Midtown restaurant with unpriced menus that Ruth Reichl said was “as expensive as it is inept”; Hudson Cafeteria, another no-star Midtown hotel restaurant that served a dessert reviewer William Grimes likened to toxic waste; Javelina, a trendy Tex-Mex restaurant that opened last year near Union Square; Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar, Guy Fieri’s Donkey Sauce-slathered behemoth in Times Square; and of course, Per Se.

The reviews come from different periods of Manhattan food trends. Kobe Club was around in the mid-aughts when big gimmicky concept restaurants were a thing. Box Tree closed at the end of the 90’s, and was one of the last holdout of stuffy restaurants that were too self-important to include prices on the menu. But the reviews themselves have a lot of things in common, like sarcasm and disgust. And the most common words in their reviews tell a story of what the place was (or is) like.