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4.5 out of 5 stars25
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I am in awe of Ruth Reichl's talents at making food spring to life purely through the written word alone. The woman is a genius!

This book focuses on Ruth's move from Los Angeles to New York to take up the much revered post as food critic for the New York Times. But the restaurants know she's on her way however and Ruth is determined to be prepared. Ruth is quite unlike the reviewers who have preceeded her- she doesn't believe in praising up only 'posh' eateries for rich people, much to the horror of her editors, and is quite happy praising up a fairly non-descript Japanese eaterie. And for another thing she is determined to experience the meals not just from a "critics" point of view and with all the fancy service and fawning that comes with it, but from a different perspective. Consequently, Ruth goes incognito- and as her various characters are born, Ruth comes to see how people look on the outside can not only affect their personalities, but also their tastebuds.

This book alternately had me drooling over the depictions of the food, laughing at the hilarious antics of the various guises of Ruth and wanting to reach for my apron to go and start cooking up some of the delectable sounding recipes included in each chapter. I ate up every single word (pun intended). Reichl's love of food and eating shines through in every page- I honestly don't know how she can eat what she does and not weigh fifty stone- lucky woman!! She really did have one of the best jobs in the world- but as a reader you are alternatively envious and sympathetic as she realises that being a food critic isn't always all its cracked up to be.

A fascinating, moving account of the restaurant business and food in New York that makes me want to hop on a plane to go back there to eat in some of the places written about. I can't wait to devour more of Reichl's books. She may just be be my new hero.
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VINE VOICEon 11 May 2007
When Ruth Reichl arrives in New York from Los Angeles, the restaurants are expecting her! She is told by a woman on the plane that there is a photo of her by the till in every restaurant she is likely to review. A plan is needed! So Reichl develops a series of disguises so that she can eat incognito.

(She then eats at the same restaurant with no disguise and notes the different way she is treated!)

I loved every minute I spent reading this book. Reichl obviously adores food and this is really apparent. She writes about food in a way that is totally lacking in pomposity (other food critics could take a note from her book.)

The book explores not only a series of gorgeous meals, and a few not so gorgeous ones! But also the whole experience of eating in wonderful restaurants, and the differnce disguises and company make to the experience.

Cannot recommend this highly enough.....delicious!
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on 10 November 2011
Very interesting book and well worth a read if you are at all interested in food. The book begins with Ruth on a plane to research her new life as a food critic on the East Coast. She soon discovers that all the top restaurants are on the look out for her and as such has to create a series of elaborate disguises. She describes how she feels able to take on completely different personas whilst wearing the disguises and the results of how she is treated while dressed as an old person, or as a poor looking person, do not paint the high end restaurant scene in New York in a very favourable light to say the least.

I had never heard of her before but I applaud what she did during her time at the paper to expose the two faced restaurants and to promote restaurants who offer better food than their more well-heeled competitors. In the end she quits to spend more time eating with her family, which left me wondering why she didn't eat out with them. Surely restaurant critics are harder to spot in family groups than when they are on their own. Anyway, good book, glad I bought it.
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VINE VOICEon 10 July 2006
When Ruth Reichl arrives in New York from Los Angeles, the restaurants are expecting her! She is told by a woman on the plane that there is a photo of her by the till in every restaurant she is likely to review. A plan is needed! So Reichl develops a series of disguises so that she can eat incognito.

(She then eats at the same restaurant with no disguise and notes the different way she is treated!)

I loved every minute I spent reading this book. Reichl obviously adores food and this is really apparent. She writes about food in a way that is totally lacking in pomposity (other food critics could take a note from her book.)

The book explores not only a series of gorgeous meals, and a few not so gorgeous ones! But also the whole experience of eating in wonderful restaurants, and the differnce disguises and company make to the experience.

Cannot recommend this highly enough.....delicious!
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on 26 June 2006
I thoroughly enjoyed this book; Ruth's account of her life as the restaurant critic at the New York times is unmissable. Her take on food goes without saying; as a former chef and the editor of Gourmet magazine you would expect nothing less; it is all the other threads of the story which make this such a good read. The characters she invents in order to review various establishments are fascinating and really give an insight into different aspects of Ruth's own character, the descriptions of her colleagues and family are insightful and true while her memories of her firends battle with cancer are touching without being oversentimental or soppy. Altogehter a great book, def. one for the bookshelf.
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on 23 February 2016
I loved this autobiographical tale by food writer Ruth Reichl. The story begins with Reichl’s move to New York to take up the post of Restaurant Critic at the New York Times. Before she has even started the job she is made aware that her task will be almost impossible, so widespread is her reputation. She devises a plot to thwart restaurant staff and provide “real” reviews for her readers.

The story is engaging from the start and it is fascinating to watch the cast of characters Reichl creates in her bid to complete an honest review. It is also interesting to see how the real Ruth changes with each new character she creates. Funny, honest and with glorious food descriptions throughout, this is a highly enjoyable read.
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on 4 October 2014
I am hovering between a three and a four for this book as it was enjoyable and different but it did not inspire me to want to read more books by this author. The descriptions of food are marvellous and I can see that this would be very appealing to real food lovers. As a vegetarian I did not relish the vivid descriptions of beef but found the various world wide cuisines described interesting. The book was humerous and well written and for me a change from the usual fiction I read. If you are interested in cooking and enjoy eating out with fine wines and delicious food then this book would have appeal.
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on 7 February 2012
Three stars is mean; three and a half would be fair. I enjoyed reading this book and I'd recommend it, but I know I'll never pick it up again. Reichl writes well and has a genuine and articulate interest in food, and her accounts of the weirdness of life as a high-profile food critic are absolutely winning. The excitement of going to work for the NY Times - and finding she's famous, at least in restaurants - is lovely to read about. I found the autobiographical elements, however, strikingly strange. She flirts with different identities, flirts with affairs, and it is unsettlingly unclear how much this was invented to help the book along and how much an expression of her character. It felt like a major thread of the book that hadn't quite been woven in properly. I'd probably be less dis-satisfied if she didn't write so well - as it was I really felt frustrated that she hadn't put all the bits of the book into place.

A good read but not, I think, as good as it could have been.
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on 4 April 2013
Good insight into the life of a food critic including how well they are treated when recognised so is that a fair review of a restaurant?
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on 25 February 2011
I had high hopes for this book and I was looking forward to delving into the New York restaurant scene. I was not disappointed. The writing is lively and witty and it goes without saying that the descriptions of food and people are vivid and fun to read. The insight into restaurants, newspaper offices and New York's food culture kept me going back for helping after helping until there was nothing left. Very satisfying and surprisingly moving.
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