Lauded food Critic, Ruth Reichl was known for her ability to shape the fate of a restaurant with the clarity of her words and thoughts. But Reichl is so much more than just a critic. Her career has extended itself nearly five decades and is remarkable not only for its longevity, but diversity as well.

Her food journey began in 1974 as an owner and chef of the Berkley collective-restaurant, The Swallow. This same collective brought Alice Waters and Chez Panisse to the American food-stage, a restaurant which went on to inspire chefs and restauranteurs worldwide. The Cheese Board Collective preached local, organic, fresh, and approachable. It helped launch a thousand foodies who would soon transform the American food landscape with “California Cuisine.” It was the burgeoning culinary movement that spurred Jerry Kretchmer in 1984 to open a restaurant on East 12th Street and hire an unknown chef by the name of Alfred Portale. Portale bejeweled the restaurant with his culinary marriage of French technique, California cuisine, and an eye for design.

Serendipitously the same year Gotham opened was the same year Reichl took over as Food Critic for the Los Angeles Times. A decade later she moved back to her hometown to become the Chief Restaurant Critic at the New York Times, eventually reviewing Gotham in 1996. She awarded the restaurant a solid 3-Stars, the fourth time such an honor was given to us.

(Watch this conversation between Andrew Friedman and Ruth Reichl, fast forward to the 45 minute mark, where she shares a terrific story about when she first met Chef Portale. WATCH HERE.)

After six years as critic at the New York Times Reichl left to become the Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet Magazine, a post she held until 2009.  Along the way she penned several best-selling memoirs about food and life in America. Currently she is promoting her eighth book, Save Me The Plums.


Writers live and die by their observations. As a critic Reichl’s writing went beyond a simple thumbs up/thumbs down; she transcended the Times’ star system, seeking to illuminate for readers exactly what it was like to dine at a given restaurant. Her appreciation of food, service, and the joy of restaurants shone through her writing and helped further our city’s sizzling food scene.

That was certainly true of her review of Gotham. (If you haven’t read it before, CHECK IT OUT HERE.)



For 35 years Gotham has offered New Yorkers and visitors alike a respite of great food in a relaxed environment.  Gotham’s welcoming and hospitable service was articulated in Reichl’s 1996 review, “you could walk in wearing blue jeans or a tuxedo and feel entirely comfortable.  Starched men in suits mingle with rumpled guys in blue jeans and nobody looks out of place. It is a very appealing quality.”

Join us this week for the Ruth Reichl “Original Influencer” Menu – a four-course set menu available at dinner for just $84. Space is extremely limited, but you can book your reservation by following the link below:

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Four Course Set Menu