A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from June 17, 2013
Restaurant Critic

The term “restaurant critic” has been cited in print since at least 1922, when “Advice to Restaurant Critics” was published in the Hotel Monthly. New York City newspapers hired some of the first regular restaurant critics in the United States. Clementine Paddleford (1898-1967) wrote regular columns for the New York (NY) Herald Tribune and This Week magazine, G. Selmer Fougner (1885-1941) wrote for the New York (NY) Sun, and Craig Claiborne (1920-2000) wrote for the New York (NY) Times.

Similar to a restaurant critic is a food critic, who may or may not be a restaurant critic but who writes other food reviews as well (such as supermarkets, bakeries, food delivery, etc.).

Wikipedia: Food critic
The terms food critic, food writer, and restaurant critic can all be used to describe a writer who analyzes food or restaurants and then publishes the results of their findings. While these terms are not strictly synonymous they are often used interchangeably, at least in some circumstances. Those who share their opinions via food columns in newspapers and magazines are known as food columnists.

“Food writer” is often used as a broad term that encompasses someone who writes about food and about restaurants. For example, Ruth Reichl is often described as a food writer/editor, who in the course of her career served as the “restaurant critic” for The New York Times and for the Los Angeles Times.] R.W. “Johnny” Apple was also described as a food writer, but never served as a designated restaurant critic. Nonetheless, he wrote frequently about restaurants as he traveled in search of good eats. Calvin Trillin writes a great deal about food (among other things) and has been known to write occasionally about specific restaurants, e.g., Arthur Bryant’s and Diedee’s. But restaurants figure less prominently in his writing than in Apple’s. Finally, Richard Olney was also a noted food writer, but rarely if ever wrote about restaurants.

Food critics and “restaurant critic” are synonyms, in practice, although there is still a distinction to be made. Both suggest a critical, evaluative stance that often involves some kind of rating system. The distinction, if any involves the range of possible investigation. “Food critic” has a more contemporary vibe, suggesting that restaurants, bakeries, food festivals, street vendors, and taco trucks are all fair game. Jonathan Gold, of the L.A. Weekly, exemplifies this trend. “Restaurant critic” is the more traditional title and can connote a more restricted sphere of operations — traditional restaurants, with perhaps those serving French cuisine being the examplars. The change in practice, if not in terminology, is often attributed to Reichl’s arrival at the New York Times, replacing Bryan Miller. In a series of well-documented incidents, Miller complained that Reichl was “giving SoHo noodle shops 2 and 3 stars” and destroying the rating system that had been built up by Craig Claiborne, Mimi Sheraton, and Miller.

(Oxford English Dictionary)
restaurant critic n. a person who reviews restaurants, esp. professionally.
1922 Hotel Monthly Jan. 49/1 (heading) Advice to restaurant critics.
1969 Guardian 5 Apr. 7/6 As a restaurant critic, Claiborne is severe but impartial—which is just as well, considering the potential destructive and constructive power wielded by the ‘New York Times’s’ monopoly.

Google Books
January 1922, Hotel Monthly, pg. 49, col. 2:
Advice to Restaurant Critics
The critics of restaurants and restaurant prices are advised by a restaurant man answering them in the Paterson (N. J.) Call, who writes sarcastically: “Let the critic of restaurants open a restaurant himself.”

6 September 1928, Emporia (KS) Daily Gazette, “Tragedies Do Not Bother New York” by Clark Kinnaird, pg. 10, col. 2:
Lunches at a place in 48th street where one may mak up one own’s gorgeous variety of ingredients, and ruminated that New York newspapers and newspapers elsewhere, too, should have restaurant critics.

27 December 1961, Seattle (WA) Times, “The Three M’s,” pg. 8C, col. 1:
A leading restaurant critic once said that a fine restaurant was characterized by the three “M’s”—Management, Meat, Motif, in that order.

29 December 1966, The Christian Science Monitor, “‘I grew up knowing how good food tasted’” by Marilyn Hoffman, pg. 12:
Man-in-the-kitchen here is Craig Claiborne, food editor of the New York Times, and and one of the most influential cooks and restaurant critics in the United States.

Google News Archive
16 July 1970, St. Petersburg (FL) Times, “Beard on Food:Tomato Tells The Tale” by James A. Beard, pg. 20-E, col. 1:
A great French restaurant critic who has been known to write blistering reviews of any he finds faulty says that he tests a new place by or dering a salade de tomato, or tpmato salad.

OCLC WorldCat record
Restaurant Critics’ First-Amendment Protection
Author: R L Spellman
Edition/Format: Article : English
Publication: Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly, v26 n3 (19851101): 15-17
Database: CrossRef

OCLC WorldCat record
Fay Maschler, Evening Standard restaurant critic for 20 years, reveals her opinions, formed over thousands of meals
Edition/Format: Article : English
Publication: HOTEL AND RESTAURANT MAGAZINE, (May 1996): 19
Database: British Library Serials

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityRestaurants/Bars/Coffeehouses/Food Stores • Monday, June 17, 2013 • Permalink