Readers Roast Our Restaurant Critic's Pan of Kann – Willamette Week

The critical consensus on Gregory Gourdet’s luxe Haitian restaurant Kann is that it is one of the best new restaurants in Portland, if not the nation. In recent weeks, it’s received such superlatives from The New York Times, Portland Monthly and Esquire. Our reviewer, Michael C. Zusman, disagreed. He found Kann’s dining room oppressively loud, the dishes monotonously spiced with habanero, and the preparations uneven (“The Wrath of Kann,” WW, Nov. 16). His dissent was met with an immediate outcry. Here’s what our readers had to say:
Bill Millions, via wweek.com: “Printing a review like this absolutely ruins the credibility of this newspaper. The writer may get off on trashing a popular restaurant, but why does this make it to print? This review sounds like it was written by a cranky grandpa. Calling the creation of a menu open to all diets ‘limiting’ and not ‘appetizing’ is embarrassingly antediluvian thinking. I’ve eaten there twice and it has been wonderful both times; I’ve tried about 12 dishes (sharing with friends) and 11 of them were outstanding. Everyone I know who has eaten there has loved it, including many of this critic’s more accomplished professional colleagues.
“But the problem isn’t so much that the writer didn’t enjoy the restaurant that others liked, it’s the nature of the complaints. There is a bias evident throughout, calling Departure ‘lightly regarded’ (it regularly received raves), calling people supporting Gourdet ‘local sycophants,’ calling a national rave in The New York Times ‘behind the scenes machinations,’ saying that what is missing here is ‘subjugated egos’? This is not a restaurant review, it’s a hit piece. It’s beyond ridiculous. Kann is deservedly keeping Portland on the national food scene. I won’t take any future food review from this paper seriously.”
Jason Notte, via Twitter: “This is the single worst review this publication has produced since the [Martin] Cizmar era. Seven paragraphs before the actual review, nine before a mention of food, none indicating familiarity with the cuisine. I couldn’t show up at my high school the next day if I’d written this.”
Rezzone, via Reddit: “My god, man, were you not expecting a lot of bonnet peppers? Your twice deep fried plantains were oily? Heaven forbid someone serve actual Haitian food.”
Eric Rivera, via Twitter: “How fucking absolute dare you write some shit about plantains. Go to hell.
“This fucking area is so fucking white, then you have dipshits like this dragging down a chef because they are uncultured assholes wanting everything to have Eurocentric cooking techniques applied.
“This is about to be a really widely read review. You should pull it soon and issue an apology to the chef, their restaurant, and anyone else that feels hurt by this bullshit you hit print on.”
Cleopete, via wweek.com: “I used to say the only reason to read Willamette Week was for the restaurant reviews. Apparently even that’s no longer true.
“I was not familiar with Gregory Gourdet and went the first time with some misgivings, knowing nothing about Haitian cuisine. I’ve dined at Kann and its adjacent bar, Sousol, twice now and surely will again as it easily ranks with establishments like Tercet, Jacqueline, and even…Lang Baan/Phuket.
“The Akra made me appreciate taro in a whole new way, the muffins disdained in this review paired perfectly with what may be the finest soup I’ve ever tasted. The red herring and smoked cabbage still haunts my dreams.…Everything about this piece is a complete detachment from reality.”
Casey Holdahl, via Twitter: “Haven’t been and it’s hard to figure it’s actually THIS bad, but arts and culture reporting tends to be so fawning that it’s refreshing to read a review that is basically ‘Yeah, this sucks.’”
pursenboots, via Reddit: “Wait, really? I went to Kann with three friends the other night, didn’t know it was a celeb chef, wasn’t aware of the hype, just had an appetite and good company…
“…and I think I saw the face of god on that first bite of humongous smoked beef rib.”
LETTERS to the editor must include the author’s street address and phone number for verification. Letters must be 250 or fewer words. Submit to: PO Box 10770, Portland OR, 97296 Email: mzusman@wweek.com
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