Word of Mouth

Gretchen Kurtz on Hunger Pains and the Restaurant Reviewer's Role

When I put away my wigs (as if!) and pseudonyms at the end of 2015, I thought I was retiring as a restaurant critic. I loved the job, but after nearly five years of reviewing, both at Westword and a previous publication, it was time for a break. My kids needed to see their mom. My cholesterol needed some TLC. Hell, I needed to see if I was still human, or if all the stored-up calories had turned me into some previously unseen species capable of going without eating for months at a time.

At some point, though, a funny thing happened. I think they call it a hunger pang. My appetite for reviewing, both literally and figuratively, had returned. Retirement, it turns out, was only a sabbatical.

Rest assured that my mission as a professional critic is unchanged: honesty, anonymity and a little fun along the way. Because I respect and admire the hardworking souls who staff our city’s restaurants — from dishwashers to servers to executive chefs — as much as I do the readers asking where to eat tonight, my reviews will always be a no-spin zone. My role is simply to praise what is working and point out what isn’t, trusting that candor will help our city’s excellent food scene get even stronger.

So join me as I seek out the spots — some new, some old — that delight, entertain and nourish us. Got a restaurant you think is worthy of being reviewed? Let me know at [email protected]

Read Gretchen Kurtz's critique of The Preservery, the first restaurant she reviewed in her revived role.
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Gretchen Kurtz has worked as a writer for 25 years; during that time she's stomped grapes in Napa, eaten b'stilla in Fez, and baked with Buddy Valastro, aka the Cake Boss. Her work has appeared in publications including Boulevard (Paris), Diversion, the New York Times and Westword. Our restaurant critic since 2012, she loves helping you decide where to eat and drink tonight.
Contact: Gretchen Kurtz