December 2, 2001
I was shocked when I saw S. Irene Virbila's four-star review of Ginza Sushi-Ko ("Essence of Excellence," Restaurants, Nov. 11). Early on, she wrote, "Every time I've eaten at Ginza Sushi-Ko, [sushi master Masa Takayama] has come up with something new and startling." Imagine going to a place where there is no menu, you eat what is put before you and pay $300 or more for the privilege. And Virbila apparently has done this frequently. What does the initial "S" stand for? "Snob"? Norman McCracken Northridge I respect Virbila's technical skills as a restaurant critic, but I think there is a thin line between a fine dining experience and being taken as someone's patsy.
September 12, 1999
As a corporate concierge who handles three Los Angeles office buildings with a population of 3,000, I am always interested in restaurant reviews, but the report on the Tahiti restaurant ("A Tropical Hideaway," by S. Irene Virbila, Aug. 8) really got my attention. That was because the Los Angeles Society of Corporate Concierge was scheduled to have its Aug. 16 meeting at the restaurant. Under normal circumstances, I do not write to newspapers, but the difference between what we experienced and what Virbila observed and tasted was like night and day. The service was great, the food was delicious and the decor was fun and pleasing.
January 31, 1999
I applaud S. Irene Virbila's review of Lucques ("Lucques Is No Fluke," Restaurants, Jan. 10), not just because she was good enough to explain to us outlanders that the name is pronounced "Luke" but because it was a classic review. When I taught journalism at USC and Cal State L.A., I thought I was giving my students a wide view of possibilities, but I don't think I ever talked about restaurant reviews. Virbila touched all the bases--from service and tastes to decor-table aesthetics and the two bright ladies behind it all. I also appreciated her mentioning one or two somewhat negative elements, which gave the whole review a ring of truth.
August 4, 2002
Having dined recently at Zucca, I must take exception with S. Irene Virbila's review ("Changing His Tune," Restaurants, July 7). Our table had several appetizers and entrees, and other than a lamb shank that felt a little tired, the food was both creative and beautifully executed. My principal complaint with the review is that Virbila seemed to dislike the restaurant mostly because it wasn't what she thought it would be. It would be more helpful to readers if she would review the restaurant she went to rather than the restaurant she envisioned.
May 31, 2006
I write to comment with respect to [S. Irene] Virbila's review of Dan Tana's restaurant on May 17. I was disappointed that her review was so negative. I am a New York-born Italian and frequent Dan Tana's when I crave veal and peppers like my mom used to make. The veal and chicken dishes are excellent and I continue to frequent the restaurant because the sauce and quality of meat is always perfect. My regular host, Vladimir, is one of the best in the business. I encourage your readers to try Dan Tana's, notwithstanding the negative review by Virbila.
March 15, 1997
I was truly appalled by the review that S. Irene Virbila wrote concerning Crustacean ("Shelling Out," Feb. 13). Ever since the restaurant opened in Beverly Hills, and because my office is very close to the new gourmet spot, I have become a devoted fan. I have had lunch there at least a dozen times and had dinner there more than half a dozen times. Let me refute the statements Virbila makes: 1. Except for the two dishes described, namely the roasted garlic crab and tiger prawns, the prices of the large dishes are very moderate.
October 16, 1994
I was surprised by S. Irene Virbila's review of Eclipse (Sept. 18). Its tone suggests that when a restaurant has such an impressive lineage (the former owner of Spago, the space formerly that of Morton's), it is merely a bigger and better target for the clever quips of the critic. Also, Virbila treats the success of the "A-list" patrons as a source of embarrassment or a subject of ridicule. Call me crazy, but I still get a thrill when some of the most accomplished people in town are shoulder to shoulder with me at dinner.
May 7, 1995
I hope S. Irene Virbila is happy, now that she has most likely put owner-chef David Slay of La Veranda out of business, ("Baffled in Beverly Hills," Restaurants, March 19). Four of us went to La Veranda on a Saturday night, a few weeks after her review was published, and what had been a bustling, buzzing place had only about eight tables occupied during prime time. I have loved La Veranda since it first opened. My family has dined there three or four times a year, usually on special occasions, and the food and service has always been exceptional.
October 1, 2000
When I was in college, a crusty, curmudgeonly political science professor wrote on my midterm essay, "Excellent!" And then he gave me a "B." I appealed that grade, arguing that "excellent" merits an "A"--not a "B"--and he actually changed the grade. Reading S. Irene Virbila's restaurant reviews reminds me of that long-ago "B." Her review of the new Restaurant Katsu in Studio City ("The Shakespeare of Sushi," Sept. 3) is filled with praise, yet she only rates it two stars. What the hell does it take to get an "A" from your crusty, curmudgeonly critic?