The first time I was faced with writing a negative a restaurant review, I experienced a dilemma. How could I, a woman who until recently could barely poach an egg, criticize someone else’s cooking? A phone call with one of the most esteemed restaurant critics in America set me straight. “Don’t pull any punches!” he told me on the phone — repeatedly. As a food critic, he reminded me, I am on the side of you, the reader, and not a cheerleader for restaurants. I should write the review as if the chef were never going to read it.