Today's announcement that Sam Sifton would be soon stepping down as the Times Restaurant Critic has prompted many to look back over the new National Editor's two years on the food beat. Reuters media critic Felix Salmon was quick to condemn Sifton's record via Twitter, even suggesting that its mediocrity was grounds for the Times to hire from outside this time.
With the end in sight, it seems safe to say that Sifton will not go down in history as one of the Times' best restaurant critics. At his worst, his star ratings felt arbitrary and his prose was overwrought. Our friends at Eater loved compiling his bon mots into slideshows of purple decadence. He never wrote a review as gleefully mean as Frank Bruni's uproarious review of Ninja or as incisive as Ruth Reichl's famous review of Le Cirque.
But Sifton has his moments. The Sifty Fifty, a recurring list of his favorite restaurants, was a reliably useful guide to New York eateries. He can be a deft stylist and has a keen sense of the social currents that define New York's restaurants -- two skills that will translate well into his post on the news desk. At his best, he was as clever a chronicler of urban life and food culture as New York has seen since Joseph Mitchell got writer's block.
Here are ten moments from Sifton's tenure that warrant at least a strong two-star review. They show him at his most scathing and his most glowing.