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It's possible that the waitron was really over the top, but I suspect it's snowflakes customers (it can happen in any age bracket) over interpreting an innocent effort to warn them that a lot of food is coming.

We regularly order 2-3x more food than we look like we can eat, and never gotten more grief than a friendly warning that a lot of food is coming.  Okay, and being congratulated when we clean off our many plates at the end of the meal, I guess some people may find those comments offensive.

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Sietsma and his devotees are so over the top clueless and smugly self congratulatory that I read his chats purely for entertainment value.

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I gave up on SIetsema when he spent an entire review of some Korean restaurant and his biggest complaint was that the server didn't explain how he should have eaten one of the dishes.  Korean tables always have spoons and chopsticks (forks if you're really terrible with chopsticks) and at the end of almost every hand, there are fingers.  Seems to me he could have found some simple, satisfying method to transfer the food from the bowl/dish/barbecue to his ingestion port.  While some Korean servers in restaurants with a large number of me-guks can speak passable English, most don't  He probably would not have received instruction he could understand anyway.  I did suggest that maybe the next time he wanted to go to a Korean restaurant, perhaps he might want to take someone who was familiar with both Korean customs and food.

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14 hours ago, Ericandblueboy said:

I'm genuinely perplexed.  How can you be fat shamed if you're not fat?  We knowingly over order food all the time, and sometimes the server will remind us that's a lot of food, possibly to help reduce our bill.  Are these people snowflakes or is this just another instance where I'm particularly insensitive?

Maybe it's because I'm Chinese but that's funny to me.  I wonder if I've traumatized people for life.

With that second example, I thought it was just the waiter trying to be funny. I'd think a 12-year-old would be able to process that accurately. Especially if it's a boy, 12-year olds can plow through a lot of food, and, of course, Mom and/or Dad is going to pay for the meal.  It seemed like something else might have been going on here.  

With the initial instance, I thought that some of it was that the server didn't just comment once but made repeated comments and said things to people in the back and relayed their responses back to the customers.  Just one comment might not have bothered the customers as much.  Most servers know not to make a fuss like that, and if they make a comment on the amount of food ordered, it is either a warning that a lot will be coming or an offhand kind of comment to the effect that that's a lot of food, a joking kind of thing. But it sounded like the server in that instance just didn't let it go. (That's how I read the comment anyway.)

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Yeah, being Chinese myself, I can interpret the waiter as a friendly praise, kids generally pick at food and get bored long before the end of the meal, so the waiter is probably saying good on him that he ate a lot, like the man of the house.  But humor and complements sometimes don't translate well across cultures.  

And yes, that recent incident probably have an inexperienced waiter who didn't get a clue and stop the first time and inexperienced diners who didn't know how to shut down in unwelcomed conversation.  Though, a ton more people complain about being surprised by portion size on Sietsma's chats, so the waiter was probably trying to error on the side of caution.  I wonder if the waiter followed up repeatedly precisely because the customers were thin and fitted the profile of people who typically complain about waitrons misleading them regarding portions.  

In any case, weird to characterize this as fat shaming if they were actually so confident in their fitness.  Maybe they should get a social interaction business card printed out with all their possible triggers listed ( with blank slots added so they can pencil more in as they discover new triggers), so they can hand it to all the retail clerks and waitrons that they might accidentally have uncomfortable conversations with.  (Yes, I know I am being mean now by American standards, but I bet most Chinese people would find my suggestion funny).

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3 hours ago, astrid said:

In any case, weird to characterize this as fat shaming if they were actually so confident in their fitness.  Maybe they should get a social interaction business card printed out with all their possible triggers listed ( with blank slots added so they can pencil more in as they discover new triggers), so they can hand it to all the retail clerks and waitrons that they might accidentally have uncomfortable conversations with.  (Yes, I know I am being mean now by American standards, but I bet most Chinese people would find my suggestion funny).

I do find it funny - must be cultural.

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On 3/18/2016 at 2:15 PM, Bart said:

Tom gave the forum a shout out early in Tom's chat this week when someone asked about Todd Kliman leaving the Washingtonian.  The question was, "is there a future for being a food critic in DC?".  Tom mentioned a bunch of critics and publications and then ended with this:

And let's not forget the online food community created by Don Rockwell, donrockwell.com, that gives voice to thousands of opinionated eaters in the region and beyond.

That's the first time I ever recall him mentioning this place.

...and another DR.com shout out from the DC Urban Mom Sietsema thread referenced in today's chat, for whatever that's worth...  

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7 hours ago, u-bet! said:

...and another DR.com shout out from the DC Urban Mom Sietsema thread referenced in today's chat, for whatever that's worth...  

Thanks, u-bet! But you know what? This one, lone comment mixed in with a few dozen others makes me sadder than it does happy. I've already accepted that nobody will know about this website until after I'm gone, because I'm not willing to compromise what I do, but this really drives it home. Meh, such is life - I've had other chapters.

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Wow, Tom was getting hammered in that thread but he handled the anonymus comments well. 

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51 minutes ago, lion said:

Wow, Tom was getting hammered in that thread but he handled the anonymus comments well. 

One big mistake Tom Sietsema has made over the years has been sequestering himself in his little corner. It's a legitimate strategy (and don't kid yourselves: It's a strategy), but one that doesn't work anymore - certainly not this "weekly chat" stuff which is an artifact from the 1980s - it doesn't hurt that his publication has so much readership: Can you imagine such a thing if he didn't work for the Post? (Your answer lies with Todd Kliman.)

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13 hours ago, Mark Slater said:

Funny that Tom just posted on DC Urban Moms. No replies as yet.

Why does he post there and not here?  I guess DC Urban Moms are more important?

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28 minutes ago, Ericandblueboy said:

Why does he post there and not here?  I guess DC Urban Moms are more important?

Clearly you are not aware of the real power brokers in DC. 

Watch out for the Beltway Bambinos, too! 

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Regarding Don's post above, my chat isn't a "strategy," but a way to address readers' questions and comments in real time and in a more personal venue than print. I learn as much as I (hopefully) give in that hour every week. Just for the record, my "little corner" (as Don puts it) is the second best-read chat on the WP site (after Carolyn Hax) and enjoys a national, even international, audience. If it wasn't effective, I would have dropped it by now. But the regular give and take is one of the most important things I do.

I'm posting for the first time in years (?) because I get tired of being misrepresented. It's fine to disagree with my reviews or stories, but please, don't pretend to read my mind.

I think of this forum as a helpful Washington resource and have said as much over the years; indeed, I gave the site a shout out in my best American food cities series a couple years back. DR is one of the things that makes Washington a better food scene.

Just my two cents.

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4 hours ago, Tom Sietsema said:

Regarding Don's post above, my chat isn't a "strategy," but a way to address readers' questions and comments in real time and in a more personal venue than print. I learn as much as I (hopefully) give in that hour every week. Just for the record, my "little corner" (as Don puts it) is the second best-read chat on the WP site (after Carolyn Hax) and enjoys a national, even international, audience. If it wasn't effective, I would have dropped it by now. But the regular give and take is one of the most important things I do.

I'm posting for the first time in years (?) because I get tired of being misrepresented. It's fine to disagree with my reviews or stories, but please, don't pretend to read my mind.

I think of this forum as a helpful Washington resource and have said as much over the years; indeed, I gave the site a shout out in my best American food cities series a couple years back. DR is one of the things that makes Washington a better food scene.

Just my two cents.

Since you went public with it ...

Of course it's a "strategy," and what's wrong with that?

The "little corner" you mention wasn't referring to your chat; the pronoun "it" referred to the noun that came directly before it, namely the "little corner" (a lame choice of words) that is the Post's purlieu: You, yourself, have mentioned for years that you don't venture out from your own "platforms" (your word), and that has been your strategy - what am I missing here?

A few things you may not realize:

* I have so much work to do here that I have to force myself to write reviews, giving up other things that need to be done. Yes, I still dine out an insane amount (in 2017, I went to Beard nominees in over a dozen states), but I can't stand to write poorly, so I'm reluctant to toss off hastily written reviews. 

* Regarding being busy and writing poorly, I probably spend an average of less than a minute on each post I write, because my grammar is good, my mind is quick, and being a classical pianist, I type like a bat out of hell - in this case, I said "little corner" when I should have said "Post's platforms" - then, I moved on, and didn't give it another thought. It sounds snippy, and I wish I hadn't written it, but at this point, it would be like unringing a bell.

* I have reason to believe you think I belittle you - that is not my intention, as I respect you as much as I respect anyone else (did I not write you when you won the Beard Award and say it was "richly deserved?") If I write something that sounds like a roundabout criticism, it's because I try not to mention names - not because I'm being shifty, but because I often write about DC restaurant criticism *as a whole*, and I have absolutely no desire for negative comments to show up about people on Google (didn't think about that one, did you). People forget about posts in a few days, but since things here are indexed (another thing which I don't have time to do as well as I'd like), derisive remarks can haunt people or restaurants on Google for years - I take that responsibility very, very seriously.

* Regarding DC restaurant criticism, let's call a spade, a spade, Tom: You're the Washington Post Restaurant Critic, ergo, the 800-pound gorilla, whether you like it or not. More importantly, you have absolutely *no* checks and balances - I cannot tell you how many times I've sat on my hands, trying to keep them from reaching the keyboard. If critics can criticize, they *must be criticized as well*, and nobody - not even me - is criticizing you right now, save for a few anonymous cowards who aren't using their real names: There's something very wrong with that. And whether you know it or not, the reasons I lay off you are because 1) we generally agree, and 2) I have no wish to bring you harm. Having said that, based on The Post's enormous readership and influence, I really think you need to be held in check, and now I'm wondering whether I should simply be more direct - it has nothing to do with you as a person; it has to do with the words that you publish, that occasionally - *occasionally* - seem so out of touch with reality (I began to list things, but I'll refrain) that they need to have a spotlight shined on them: To quote one of our important news publications: Democracy Dies in Darkness.

I believe this is the first time you've posted on this website. When I saw your post about R Family Kitchen & Bar, I *knew* you'd be posting here, too. You know what that is? It's a strategy - and there's nothing wrong with having a strategy. Our regular posters will tell you that I go out of my way to treat them like friends and family - I wish that could be you, too, but I suspect this is a one-and-done type situation, and that's a loss for us all.

You may now retreat to your corner platform. :) Or, you're more than welcome to stick around as long as you like: You're *always* free to criticize anything I write, without any resistance from me, though I may clarify why I wrote a particular thing - people here disagree with me all the time (have you seen the grief I've taken over Bob Dylan?). If I'm going to criticize, my words should be held under a spotlight, just like anyone else's.

Best regards,
Don

PS - I'm happy to move all of these posts to the "Criticizing the Critics" or "Writing Fair Critiques"  thread. Still, given your level of readership, you're mentioned here several times per week, and there isn't much I can do about it.

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Not sure what the comment about "being busy and writing poorly" is referring to (me?), but allow me to address a few things.

1) Yes, the Washington Post is a huge platform. It's one of the most important publications in the world. I feel grateful every day that I get to write about a subject I care deeply about. I also feel a real responsibility to fairly and accurately cover the restaurant scene. To that end, I eat out about a dozen meals a week. I'm fortunate that my employer picks up the tab, but I never take that for granted. (Then again, the Post also pays White House reporters to fly first-class on Air Force One and sports writers to go to the Olympics. And on. It's part of our jobs.)

2) What sort of "checks and balances" are you suggesting? I have plenty of those already: editors, copy editors, online critics (including readers who can post comments following my reviews).  

3) Do I ever get things wrong? Of course. Have I ever made mistakes? For sure. But week in and week out -- decade in and decade out (scary thought for some of you, I know!) -- I hope there's some consistency and even (pleasant) surprise  to my work. Most people have very little idea what goes into this job. A lot of people think they can do it (reviewing in general) better. To them I say: have at it and see how easy it is.  I know I strive to be fair: I've given raves to people I know detest me and pans to people who don't.

4)  I have pretty tough skin. I can handle criticism -- and I've learned from it over the years. I don't shy away from negative feedback and in fact let people rant about me on my own food forum. It goes with the territory.  But I didn't go into this to win friends or curry favor with anyone. That's a losing proposition in criticism.

That's it for the moment.

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8 minutes ago, Tom Sietsema said:

Not sure what the comment about "being busy and writing poorly" is referring to (me?)

Me! (See the bullet point above.)

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1 hour ago, Tom Sietsema said:

Not sure what the comment about "being busy and writing poorly" is referring to (me?), but allow me to address a few things.

1) Yes, the Washington Post is a huge platform. It's one of the most important publications in the world. I feel grateful every day that I get to write about a subject I care deeply about. I also feel a real responsibility to fairly and accurately cover the restaurant scene. To that end, I eat out about a dozen meals a week. I'm fortunate that my employer picks up the tab, but I never take that for granted. (Then again, the Post also pays White House reporters to fly first-class on Air Force One and sports writers to go to the Olympics. And on. It's part of our jobs.)

2) What sort of "checks and balances" are you suggesting? I have plenty of those already: editors, copy editors, online critics (including readers who can post comments following my reviews).  

3) Do I ever get things wrong? Of course. Have I ever made mistakes? For sure. But week in and week out -- decade in and decade out (scary thought for some of you, I know!) -- I hope there's some consistency and even (pleasant) surprise  to my work. Most people have very little idea what goes into this job. A lot of people think they can do it (reviewing in general) better. To them I say: have at it and see how easy it is.  I know I strive to be fair: I've given raves to people I know detest me and pans to people who don't.

4)  I have pretty tough skin. I can handle criticism -- and I've learned from it over the years. I don't shy away from negative feedback and in fact let people rant about me on my own food forum. It goes with the territory.  But I didn't go into this to win friends or curry favor with anyone. That's a losing proposition in criticism.

That's it for the moment.

I'm one person who enjoys reading major media restaurant reviews, including your own, others in this city and from other regions.  I value them.  I tend not to get into discussions about the critic's lists or perspectives.  Maybe part of the silent majority or minority with the emphasis on silent.  I'm very aware paid media critics working for major media sites get to infinitely more restaurants than do I.  They experience more.  Also, I've been to far too many dinners with far too many different folks where the reactions to a dish are night and day.  Such is taste or other elements of a reaction.  Diversity of opinion makes the world go round. 

As to the "chat"'s.  Damn.  I don't access either of the two mentioned above or any others.  Interesting they are so popular.  I'll have to get to them.

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It's not whether you like or dislike the food, which can be subjective by nature, but how you write it up.  I used to pride myself on my ability to read a Rolling Stone magazine album review panning a record and realizing by the reviewer's description of the music that I would enjoy it.  Now that was a critic who was really doing his/her job well.

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Often the key to reviews of any sort, including restaurant reviews, is to see how well you align with the given writer or not.  There is usually something to learn in what you read, including restaurant reviews, and I just take it all in. I would suggest that Tom Sietsema is not a critic I agree with that much, and would also suggest it is time for a fresh restaurant critic at The Washington Post - just my opinion.

But at the end of the day, Sietsema is doing what we all are doing here - writing our opinions about our restaurant experiences. My opinions are right for me just as his are right for him and your opinions for you. Take what you want and throw the rest away.

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On 2/1/2018 at 11:53 AM, Ericandblueboy said:

Why does he post there and not here?  I guess DC Urban Moms are more important?

Yes, we are. :-)

Not sure if this is relevant content but I really enjoyed this thread. I find commentary on one guys opinions far more interesting than the original source material. This is not a hit against TS but rather a broad complement to the creativity on this thread. 

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46 minutes ago, Ericandblueboy said:

Aren't you a suburban mom?  I don't think you can get all uppity if you live in the suburbs.  ;-)

I think this might make the list of Top 10 things never to say to a woman.  We may get to see a new drop kick record from Tyson's.  I set the over/under at the Key Bridge.

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