Saturday, April 5, 2008

... what Seattle Times readers did not know...

On November 30, 2007, the Seattle Times published a review about tidbit bistro on the NWTicket insert. We felt honored to be reviewed on a newspaper after two months we opened the doors. The article was published two weeks before our grand opening to which the Seattle Times had also been cordially invited. That was a slow time of the year for most restaurants and it was even slower for the newly opened tidbit because many guests were waiting for the grand opening.
The review started with a traffic bulletin: “I-5 was in the grip of Friday night gridlock” the author writes. We all know how bad traffic can be on I-5 and how that can impact our moods. Unfortunately, the traffic set the author’s mood for the entire review. The author defines the Spezzato Marengo as: ‘a mellifluos name for a prosaic stew” (!?!). I wish Ada Boni, author of the bible of Italian cuisine Il talismano della felicità, could read this Seattle Time definition about this recipe that she glorifies in her masterpiece. The reviewer also tries to give us a lecture of Italian trying to explain the meaning of the word ‘arancino’ but she shows to know very little about my culture. 
The reviewer was really good at offending John, me and our staff. Even now, after six months I found myself depressed and disheartened while I was re-reading the article.  You may be right Cicero: "a restaurant has to do better"; however, you also have to do better: please have the decency to learn the basics of Italian cuisine and culture, if you want to visit one of the few restaurants in Seattle that is run by Italians.  You can offend the food and the service, but you should never offend the servers and imply that they are bad because they cannot pronounce correctly Italian words.  I wish I could hear you pronouncing the word Raschera!  While we try to improve, we thank you for such a good example of bad journalism and we feel that your readers should be correctly informed.  

If you are interested in reading the Seattle Time’s review, here is the link:
The same day the review was published we received several e-mails from guests and readers expressing their appreciation for our restaurant. Some guests sent also messages to the Seattle Times and cc-ed us. Many other guests wrote reviews on the Internet and others expressed their disappointment about the Seattle Times in person to us. We sent a letter to the Seattle Times, asking to correct the multitude of mistakes that the ignorant author wrote about the food. They ignored us. Below is the letter. Thank you for reading it.

Dear Seattle Times,

Thank you for taking the time to come visit tidbit and for writing an article on our independent restaurant. We really appreciate any feedback. Most of the issues you had with the restaurant have already been addressed for our grand opening. It would have been nice if you had checked our menu online so that you would not be misleading current diners.

The following information in the article was not correct:
- tidbit is generally not empty on Fridays or Tuesdays. We are not the busiest restaurant on the hill, nor do we claim to be. With every small restaurant it takes months, maybe even years to be constantly “full”.
- The Spezzato Marengo is not a prosaic beef stew but it comes from a very old and historic recipe that we try to follow closely.
- We don't promise wild mushrooms but mixed mushrooms (although oyster mushrooms were also in the mix).
- The Crocche' di Patate have nothing to do with Tater Tots (the texture is different).
- Arancino mean small orange tree (it ends in 'o' and it is masculine, the fruit would be feminine and end in 'a').
- Color and taste of our Arancini come from tomato and not from saffron following my family recipe from Naples. There is a hint of saffron, so as not to overpower the flavor profile.
- Banderillas are not canapé. There is no bread in them.
- It was parsley and not spinach in the Chicken Braciola that came in the Risotto del Giorno.
- In the same Risotto del Giorno there were three or four slices of one single braciola and not a "bundle of chicken braciole".
- Fontina is not a creamy cheese but a soft cheese.
- Bresaola cannot and is not supposed to be garlicky. There is actually no garlic at all in our Colorata salad.

We really appreciate your feedback and we are striving to improve all aspects. However we will not pretend that our servers speak fluent Italian or Spanish so to make fun of them is malicious and unnecessary. At least at tidbit the owner is Italian.

We would love for you to try our food again and enjoy one of our entrées that was not described in the article. Thanks again.


-Nic Longo and John van Deinse
tidbit bistro
2359 10th Ave E
Seattle, WA 98112

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