During his 6.5 year tenure as the Sac Bee's restaurant critic, Blair Anthony Robertson left his mark on the Sacramento dining scene. (Cowtown Eats reported first last night that Robertson was no longer the Sac Bee's restaurant critic.)
Readers seemed to either love him or hate him, but either way, he had people talking on Monday morning. These are five reviews that stood out, either for the effect they had on the dining scene, or for the reaction they provoked.
1. Chando's Tacos
Robertson introduced Chando's Tacos to the masses in February 2011. "Chando's Tacos does one thing exceptionally well. It cooks up the most flavorful meat you could possibly imagine and plops it down onto fresh tortillas. Order three of those tacos, add a drink, and you're on your way to the meal of your dreams – for all of $6," wrote Robertson. The day after his review, there were hour long waits, and Chando had to restock midday. Since then, Sacramento has fallen in love with Chando's mulitas, its burrito was recognized by FiveThirtyEight, and the restaurant now has three locations and a taco truck.
In a review that sparked a rebuke from his another former Sac Bee reporter Rick Kushman, Robertson, some say, unfairly ridiculed a waiter for speaking in a voice that reminded him of a "Sesame Street" character. Fellow Sac Bee reporter Chris Macias was quick to point out that Kushman is "good friends" with Lucca's Owner.
In 2009, the Robertson eviscerated popular East Sac brunch spot Orphan, saying that, "Orphan badly needs to adopt the idea of flavor - I thought I once read about an affliction affecting, say, 0.00012 percent of the population whose taste buds are so hypersensitive to flavors that they cannot handle anything, food-wise, more exciting than waxed paper or Wolf Blitzer. I found the restaurant that will appeal to this woebegone niche." After that review, Orphan owner Chris Pendarvis told Robertson that, "If I find out you are in my restaurant, I am going to have you thrown out."
Robertson, to his credit, revisited the restaurant in late 2013 and said it had "grown up into a reliably good restaurant with polished service and consistent cooking." The former Sac Bee critic later visited Arthur Henry's in Oak Park also owned by Pendarvis. He called it "possibly the clumsiest restaurant concept we have ever encountered."