And the new, New York Times restaurant critic is...

For weeks, ever since Frank Bruni announced that he was going to be packing it in and leaving his gig as restaurant critic for the New York Times, speculation has been running high as to who Dining section editor Pete Wells and the NYT brain trust would name to succeed Bruni in a position that has been called (mostly by Pete Wells and the NYT brain trust) the most powerful critic's position in the world.

Well, now all that speculation can end because the NYT --in a totally less-than-shocking move -- once again went to the well and bumped one of their own into the big job.  Starting in October, Sam Sifton -- who was most recently holding down the post of Culture editor at the Times, but had previously done turns as both the Dining editor and deputy Dining editor -- will be taking on Bruni's mantle and becoming the new restaurant critic.

Lots of people out there had their hopes (and, in some cases, their money) riding on a variety of dark horse candidates.  Adam Platt, Peter Meehan and S. Irene Virbila were all high up in the betting over at eater.com, which was tracking the battle for the big job with particular focus.  Personally, I was pulling for Jonathan Gold, the Pulitzer Prize-winning restaurant critic for our sister paper, the L.A. Weekly.  To my mind, he would've been perfect, and would have also provided a much-needed shake-up to the pages of the NYT Dining section. But alas, no one who mattered was asking my opinion, so now all that's left is to count down the days before Bruni's last review runs (it should be sometime around August 19, giving him plenty of time to pimp for his new book, Born Round), and then see what Sifton can do with the job.

Honestly?  I don't envy Sifton the position one bit, but I do wish him the best and hope he eats the hell out of that city.

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