Fancying ourselves, as we do, wordsmiths of a sort, we enjoy his (admittedly somewhat facile) mockery of Zagat's "traditional" but, some say, "unoriginal" verbiage:
"Go to see, be seen" at Bice? Absolutely — in 1988, when it was, according to that edition of Zagat, "hot as a pistol." And we did a spit-take on this one: Isabella's is the place "to see and be seen on the West Side."
At this late date, they insist on dragging out variations of the "like a trip to Italy" or "quickest way to Paris" cliches. The latter is used in the Balthazar blurb and it completely misses the point. Balthazar's setting may be French brasserie, but it has evolved into a quintessentially New York institution. ...
The culinary axis of this city has changed in the years since Zagat first started, though they don't appear to have noticed. Bottino is said to be "far afield on 10th Avenue." Capsouto Fr res is described, hilariously as "halfway to Joisey" in "the middle of nowhere," which means the middle of nowhere is only a few blocks from restaurants such as Nobu and Chanterelle.
And MUG's not through with them.
He also makes some great points on the the Zaggies' numbers:
At The Modern, dinner with one drink and tip is said to be $70, while the three-course prix fixe mentioned in the text, the least expensive of the prix fixe menus, is $78. At Oceana: $75 is noted as the price for dinner, one drink, and tip, but the three-course starts at $78 here, too. At Veritas, where the prix-fixe is $72, the Zagat average dinner price of $81 supposedly includes a drink and tip.
All that said, we're still thumbing through a 2003 and wouldn't mind a new one. (Oh, come on, it's a quick and easy way to look up addresses and phone numbers.) And on rereading the MUG item, we might have an idea of why he's quite so upset. "Having sat down and read it cover to cover," is his opening. Such a mind-numbing onslaught of faux-witticisms would put anyone in a foul mood.