Though the laws of restaurant physics state that a critic’s review can mean the life or death of a restaurant, sometimes those laws are broken. Sometimes a place remains open due to good service, rich clientele, or witch magic (we’re positive Bandolero exists because of Santería rituals). Sometimes sheer trendiness, celebrity love, and the perceived value that results can make a restaurant succeed. Hell, we’ll even admit to making a reservation now and then based on nothing but a restaurant’s recent buzz. Here, We’ve picked six restaurants that have notedly defied the odds, and the critics. What do they have that everyone else doesn’t? Probably money, a celebrity restaurateur, a former location that is beloved (or Santería).
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The food media vultures have picked the carrion of
Keith McNally's London debut to death, so we're just going to link to this cavalcade of hatred. London writers really know how to abuse someone with their words, and after re-reading some of the worst reviews, we feel like mid-range call girls in comparison.
Bandolero, Washington DC
Graffiato had a
spectacular reception, but Mike Isabella's follow-up Mexican crypt Bandolero led to a bland review (" one of the grimmest restaurants to open in years") from the Washington Post's Tom Sietsema, preceded by a few snarky, blind-item tweets, a dust-up between the two, a few more bad reviews, and then a quiet retirement serving the polished people of Georgetown University from now until forever.
Bill's Food and Drink, NYC
Somehow, in a "
particularly dispiriting" trendy saloon with "dull, crowd-pleasing steak-pasta-salad" cuisine, "you’ll be lucky to escape the joint with a bill under $500." Worse still, it's John DeLucie's second go-around with an equally dismal dud.
City Winery, Chicago
Everyone wanted to like
City Winery when it came west from New York, according to the TimeOut Chicago folks. Who doesn't like the idea of live klezmer brunch, really? But its " borderline hopeless" service and meh food left reviewers " full-on McKayla Maroney not impressed." On the bright side, it does perfectly well as a concert venue.
The Fat Cow, Los Angeles
For some reason, Los Angeles and
Gordon Ramsay just don't get along very well, as evidenced by the awful reviews given to The Fat Cow, a bistro placed, for some reason, in a mall. Behold , with the greatest line: "Many will recognize it for the cynical exercise it is: lowest-common-denominator food, made without soul, and banking on celebrity."
LA Weekly's exercise in despair
The Lion, NYC
Dan Abrams, our boss, we're sorry that the restaurant you are an investor in has been called " far louder and less pleasant" than the Waverly Inn, on which it was modeled. But, ultimately, " neither is it another Waverly Inn". Is that your fault? We couldn't say; we're not famous enough to get into the " worst restaurant of the year."