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Shilcutt States the Obvious, Commenters Go Batshit

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Along with her review of Liberty Kitchen in this week's Houston Press, critic Katharine Shilcutt blogged about being outed as a critic while she was dining for her review. She noted that Liberty Kitchen chef/owner Lance Fegen opened the restaurant with a sign that explicitly banned Houston Chronicle critic Alison Cook from entering the premises. Shilcutt defended her decision not to dine anonymously by noting that most restaurant prep occurs hours before guests arrive and stating that she tries to watch the service other guests receive when she feels she's been spotted. For restaurant staffers who do spot her, Shilcutt offered the following advice:

Do not try to comp her meal, do not inform her that she's been spotted, do not challenge her credentials and do not call every other restaurant in town to invite them to stare at her from a distance. All five rules are eminently reasonable and should be easy enough to follow for a restaurateur as experienced as Fegen.

Yet, the reliable Houston Press commenting community seems confused by Shilcutt's prescriptions. Take commenter "mike," who took Shilcutt to task for not attempting to preserve her anonymity. He set off a vigorous debate about whether anyone can remain truly anonymous in the social media age, with Shilcutt's supporters quoting Alison Cook and former Press critic Robb Walsh in her defense.

Then there's commenter Wuwu who thinks all of Houston's critics are too nice to restaurants generally. Shilcutt responded with a list of negative reviews, including a thorough takedown of local institution Mai's.

Finally there's some back and forth about the merits of paid critics vs user-driven sites like Yelp and b4-u-eat that commenters allege remove or suppress critical comments for a fee.

· 5 things not to do if a food critic is eating at you restaurant [Eating Our Words]
· Critic banned from new Houston restaurant [29-95]
· All Liberty Kitchen Coverage on Eater Houston [EHOU]
Liberty Kitchen's Infamous Sign. [Linda Salinas]

Liberty Kitchen

1050 Studewood Street, Houston, TX 77007

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