Food, Restaurants
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City of Gold: Thoughts and My Favorite Restaurant Reviews

City of GoldCall it Gold’s Midas touch. The new documentary City of Gold could be a full-length film packed only with restaurateurs sharing the story of how LA Times restaurant critic Jonathan Gold saved their struggling business.
Whether the subject is a single mother from Ethiopia at risk of closing who now races to make enough doro watt to feed Gold’s rabid readers or three Oaxaca-born siblings prepping long-uncool cricket tacos for Gold, his dinner companion Ruth Reichl and the 300 seats of diners angling for their taste, the Los Angeles food community clearly appreciates Gold’s dogged determination to find, research and evocatively describe the many cuisines, carts and far-flung restaurants of the sprawling city.
Gold has captured that LA spirit, and inspired a whole new realm of die-hard food adventurers, and the movie captures their spirit in cameo appearances from the food community and interviews with chefs — including Dave Chang and Roy Choi — agog at his reach and knowledge.
The movie could be 1/3 its length, but it’s enjoyable, particularly when the chefs of aforementioned restaurants Meals by Genet and Guelaguetza (and spice-master Tui of Jitlada) share their respect.
So in the spirit of Jonathan’s rags-to-reviews impact, here are some of my all-time favorite reviews for their ability to make me want to be there, alongside the critic, experiencing something new.
Aladdin Falafel, LA Weekly, Jonathan Gold (5/5/1999): This is the review that made me a strip-mall-navigating Gold fan. After a lifetime of dutiful falafel consumption, this review — peppered with vibrant words like jammed, screaming, oozing and even money-laundered — broke the dish down from a sandwich to a symphony of genre-defying texture, freshness and spice.
Senor Frog’s, NYT, Pete Wells (12/29/15): This was no glowing review, but it was as fun and campy as a conga line in Times Square. And perhaps most telling, the day it came out, friends from coast to coast suddenly and unabashedly expressed interest in heading to Senor Frogs. 
Sylvain, The Times-Picayune, Brett Anderson (1/28/2011): New Orleans’ food is Anderson, a brilliant wordsmith who weaves the city’s history and sense of place into each review. Time slows to a muggy summer afternoon when I read his prose: “Wrapped in pewter-colored walls running up against faux pressed tin, the single dining room doubles as an upmarket but still roguish barroom, complete with scuffed wood floors, a side-alley entrance and a cocktail list that could hook a Hurricane-swilling bachelor on bitters and artisanal gin.”
Barbuto, NYT, Frank Bruni (1/8/2008): Bruni crafted wonderfully narrative, often lyrical reviews that captured the spirit of New York through its food. This review remains a favorite for its opening, which is almost like a children’s book in its seasonal, temporal praise of the restaurant’s best dish, a chicken for all seasons.

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