Keith McNally has never been one to hold his tongue against the critics — you’ll recall him chiding Frank Bruni over his shabby treatment of Jody Williams at Morandi, only to part ways with her a year later. Now, in keeping with the expressly stated “Do Not Cross the Line” policy at Pulino's he’s lashed out at (or, at least, sent a carefully worded e-mail to) our own Adam Platt, who gave the “roiling piranha tank of New York scenesters” a one-star review in New York this week. Here’s the e-mail (which was also sent to at least a couple of blogs), as well as Platt’s response.
Dear Adam Platt,
In your review of Pulino's you mention that "it takes McNally months to whip his kitchens into shape". If you believe this to be true, and wish to give Pulino's a fair shake, why review the place only weeks after it's opened?
In describing the crowd at Pulino's you employ the usual cliches ("indie-movie moguls" "neighborhood tattoo artists"), but where did you drum up the word "scenesters" ?? I haven't heard this word since Dylan went electric.
The fact is, you're as out of touch describing young downtown New Yorkers as you are at understanding the restaurants where they like to eat. For in your middle-aged world it's axiomatic that busy, exuberant restaurants cannot and will not serve great food. This, unfortunately, is no less a form of prejudice than restaurateurs believing that bald, over-weight reviewers are incapable of reviewing lively downtown restaurants impartially.
Although I didn't disagree with all of your criticisms I did find it peculiar that so many of them were attributed to other people. (" 'I feel I'm at the front row of a U2 concert,' hollered one of my guests"). After all, you're the professional paid to review the restaurant, not some unqualified acquaintance who happens to be at the table.
Finally, another inaccuracy in your review is the bizarre claim that I was wearing (of all things) a cardigan? I may not be a paragon of fashion but I haven't worn a cardigan since 1965. (The year Dylan went electric!).
Let's just hope that in future you can resist criticizing less formal restaurants as harshly as you did Pulino's. And, hopefully, you can do so with a little less bile and prejudice.
And Platt’s response:
I respect Mr. McNally, of course, and have praised the food and atmosphere at many of his "busy, exuberant" restaurants in the past. As always, in these cases, he is entitled to his opinion and I, as a bald, middle aged and, alas (slightly) overweight professional restaurant critic, am entitled to mine.
Anyway, if you’re a young downtown New Yorker, here’s a bit of good news: per Bowery Boogie, Pulino’s has put out its outdoor seats!
Related: Pizza à la McNally [NYM]