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The Goldster Calls Pete Wells’ LocoL Review “Ungenerous”

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Everyone has something to say about the NYT LocoL controversy

LocoL, Watts
Wonho Frank Lee

The zero-star New York Times review of LocoL dominated most of food media last week, with many a writer penning their opinion on the controversy. Now finally LA Times critic Jonathan Gold has given his take on all the drama in a piece released last Friday. Here are the five most important lines from the review:

The difference between the Per Se and LocoL reviews

Wells is no stranger to controversy – his pan of Thomas Keller’s Per Se split the food world last summer – but this seemed different. Per Se is a restaurant built around a $325 tasting menu. At Locol, which Choi and Patterson designed to bring fresh, healthy, inexpensive cooking to the kinds of neighborhoods sometimes referred to as “food deserts,’’ you can feed a dozen people for the cost of Per Se’s Wagyu supplement alone. [LAT]

The Goldster gives Wells his due

Wells is a fine writer and an unimpeachable critic. If he said the grain-enriched hamburger patty was dry, the patty was dry. [LAT]

Context is everything

And given: The Watts original is in a neighborhood with few alternatives; the Oakland restaurant, which I haven’t visited, is on a gentrifying block near downtown. Locol’s mission may be less apparent when its dining area is within a few steps of taquerias and an Umami Burger. Context is important: I’m not sure what I would think of the Watts restaurant if it were located within a football’s toss of a decent brasserie. [LAT]

He makes it clear that he has not reviewed the place himself

But are certain restaurants unreviewable? It depends on the critic. (Have I reviewed Locol? I have not.) [LAT]

But considers Wells’ writing “ungenerous”

So should Locol fall in the same category as Homeboy Bakery or Venice’s Bread and Roses Café, or should it be criticized because it fails to come up to the standards of Kogi or Coi? It’s a difficult question. In my opinion, Wells may not have been wrong, but he was ungenerous. [LAT]


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