The Critic's Critic: Alan Richman and M. Wells

Staff Writer
GutterGourmet weighs in on the Alan Richman/M. Wells controversy

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

Ronald Reagan used to say in exasperation to his debate opponents: “Well, there you go again.” That is about all I can say in response to Alan Richman’s latest diatribe against M. Wells. I must confess at the outset that I am no fan of Mr. Richman (not to be confused with the far more jovial Adam Richman of Man v. Food, of whom I am a great fan). In fact, I took great joy when Tony Bourdain (of whom I am also a great fan) bestowed the much deserved “Golden D@#chebag” award on Alan Richman after he used his poisonous pen to savage New Orleans when it was down post-Katrina, which I felt, like many others, was equivalent to mercilessly kicking a homeless person for sport.

Other “victims” of Richman’s constant need for attention via his predilection for scandal are Katz’s Deli, which Richman feels is a tourist trap, and New York City pizza generally, which Richman, a Philadelphian (which may explain a lot of things), pronounces as overrated. Remembering Richman’s earliest appearances on the early Food Network show Dining Around, one saw the rather gnome-like Richman barely containing his misanthropic, misogynistic rantings and ravings, with his totally contrasting beautiful co-host, Nina Griscom, barely able to contain her revulsion for him.

The recent accusation of butt-touching at M. Wells seems consistent with Richman’s public persona. I have little doubt that even if he wasn’t physically abusive to the M. Wells waitress, that he and his party were verbally abusive (which he admits). I doubt that Richman has ever eaten at Au Pied de Cochon in Montreal, Bourdain’s and my favorite North American restaurant at which the chef/owner of M. Wells was trained. You see, besides being the greatest food on the continent, Au Pied de Cochon is what the aging Mr. Richman calls a “hipster” restaurant and therefore the service does not comport with the French-style table service that Mr. Richman is used to and demands.

Apparently, Mr. Richman takes umbrage if he, the great and powerful restaurant critic, is not doted upon by the underpaid and verbally abused waitstaff or if a new restaurateur does not immediately return his request and grant him an interview. Forget about the incredible reviews by Sifton and Food & Wine, according to Richman, M. Wells is clearly a “Diner for Schmucks.” There you go again Alan. Well, at least thankfully, it’s not a Diner for D@#chebags.