1. Elitist eats
The “must-try” places for moneybags hedge funders and oligarchs are kaiseki and omakase-style restaurants, where long, zillion-course meals are served at a few counter seats — starting at $200 per head. Food writers who can bypass impenetrable reservation systems with help from the house naturally adore them. Snooty French “Le’s” and “La’s” of the past were as cheap and easy as corner pubs by comparison.
2. Off-color wine
Sommeliers and wine writers jaded by the same old $300 Brunello are always on the hunt for new thrills. Unstable, funky, “natural” vino tasting of farm-cellar mildew no longer does the trick for them. Odious “orange” wine — from white grapes left to macerate with their skins on — is the “must” at every new brasserie, trattoria and izakaya. But to most of us, elixirs allegedly suggestive of hazelnut, bruised apple and creamsicles in actuality taste like kerosene.
3. Dim lights, no pity
I can read every menu in London — from pizza spots in Brixton to empire-evoking dining rooms in Mayfair — without a flashlight. Darkened New York eateries, on the other hand, evoke an ophthalmological exam for macular degeneration. Are they saving on electricity? For extra fun, half the customers blind the other half with iPhone flashlights.
4. Speak less
We have more “speakeasies” than in Prohibition-era TV drama “The Untouchables.” A few, like Chumley’s and ‘21’ Club, were once the real thing. Now, every new spot claims to include remnants of an actual 1920s gin mill, such as the one beneath Henry in the Life Hotel. Others merely fake it, like “meat speakeasy” Holy Ground. Here comes another, Understudy, in the DeKalb Market Hall. This trend needs to dry up.
5. We’d rather get high
Legal hemp-plant derivative cannabidol (CBD) is supposed to mellow us out without leading to acts best forgotten in the morning. The supposedly calming chemical is in the booze at Caffeine Underground in Bushwick, in the java at Oliver Coffee downtown and served on strip steak at Adriaen Block in Astoria. But what if we don’t want to chill out? What if we want the sugar-high kick and buzz of a 100-proof vodka-and-strawberry Cosmo? Don’t let CBD get you down — it doesn’t work anyway.
6. Just give me Ray’s
Baked dough with cheese and tomatoes on top — aka “pizza” — has been my favorite food since I was 3 years old. But today’s humble pie is warped by obsessive “authenticity” and/or cruel mutation. There are chefs flaunting shapes and styles from Naples, Tuscany and Sicily. Pizza is Romanized into rectangles at PQR, Canadian-ized with maple syrup and bacon at Paulie Gee’s and reduced to cardboard at “plant-based” 00 + Co. An “artisanal” margherita slice at Starbucks-backed Princi at 1633 Broadway is $7.50.
7. Korean gets confusing
The legion lovers of pricey, concrete-box Cote Korean Steakhouse must have had their brains, and tongues, numbed by the loudest racket since the Saturn V moon rocket. Four “Butcher’s Feast” cuts of USDA Prime and American wagyu beef all tasted alike to my untested, 68-year-old palate. Maybe I needed more $16 cocktails to tell them apart. The once-unpretentious, if highly varied cuisine, has been elevated to precious “New Korean” at super-expensive Jungsik and Atomix. Sure, they’re great — but anyone for good, cheap bibimbap?
8. Chefs, shut up about your travels
We love your food, David Chang, et al. We know the inspiration you take from indigenous styles from Peru to Yemen makes New York restaurants more fun. But we can’t all afford to globetrot the way you do. Your ceaseless blabbing about it makes our more limited knowledge seem contemptible to us. You’re not Tony Bo