You may be aware of my taxing weekend of sink installation. This actually started on Friday, which is as much excuse as I can offer for being late with another Flyover Friday. But this week -- today, in fact -- is the first birthday of ironyormayo.com, so I might as well cram a bunch of content into the week to celebrate. And this week will be a Madison-centric one in a lot of ways, as the Madison episode of WBEZ's Strange Brews podcast -- in which I appear -- is scheduled to come out by week's end. "How do you welcome newcomers to your city?" will be a key question. Here's Flyover Friday, with some welcomes of its own.
"Get Some Burritos offers 'San Diego-style' burritos in Madison," by Samara Kalk Derby for the Wisconsin State Journal
Let's start out with a review I somehow missed last week, a decent one from SKD. You know it's hers because it starts out with thoughts offered by people other than the reviewer, but the bulk of the opinions here appear to be Samara's, and that's a good thing. As for the burritos, I think I must be a Mission burrito guy. An asada burrito that big with no rice or bean sounds like a steak in a wrapper, and that's not what I'm looking for in a burrito.
"Beautiful presentation, uneven preparation at west Omaha's Mai Thai," by Niz Proskocil for the Omaha World-Herald
Welcome back, Omaha! This is the first new review since early January; Omaha deserves more coverage. It sounds like Proskocil's nostalgia for Omaha Thai couldn't prop up a cruddy experience at Mai Thai -- a name that augurs a too-sweet Americanized palate. An owner bad-mouthing his own dishes and hamstringing others by withholding key ingredients? Recipe for failure.
"Another right turn at A10," by Phil Vettel for the Chicago Tribune
And what's this? A Phil Vettel review that isn't behind the paywall? Let's hope this is a sign of things to come. We visit A10, run by a fellow out of the late Charlie Trotter's lineage, and Vettel is well-pleased. Those desserts sound great, and remind me that I need to break into the jar of Luxardo cherries I got for Christmas.
"Make the drive to Chicagoland's only Lao restaurant," by Mike Sula for the Chicago Reader
A slimmer, trimmer, more personal review from Sula, but not lacking in information and opinion. A nice little signpost for an atypical restaurant locale. Honestly, this feels like a review for a Madison restaurant; I'm used to Sula getting the big Chicago openings.
"The Standard on East 185th Street in Cleveland serves up urban grit with downtown glamour -- and a whole lot of good food," by Beth Segal for the Cleveland Plain Dealer
The CPD packs a whole lot of wordage in its headlines, man. That said, this is a smart, well-composed review that has a good grasp on the Standard's operation what works and what doesn't. I like the reference to the views behind the curtain, both the man-bun line and the "I don't need to see that" of the washing area.
"Court Avenue Brewing Co.'s crafty chef instills tasty beer into food, sauces," by Carlos Acevedo for the Des Moines Register
A beer review! Now you're singing my song, Carlos. Unfortunately, it's a review light on criticism, with only two beers and two dishes discussed at any length. Empty calories.
"Four Seasons makes Sicilian pizza fit in Lenexa," by Charles Ferruzza for Kansas City's The Pitch
Ferruzza downplays the importance of his review, but well-crafted Sicilian-style pizza is always worth mentioning. Rocky Rococo only carries the torch so far. The barbecue brisket pizza roll and "three kinds of gyro sandwiches" are somewhat less enticing in a Sicilian joint.
"Little DeMarinis brings back the original pizza," by Susan Harpt Grimes for Milwaukee's Shepherd Express
This one looks a little Sicilian, too, frankly, but going by the Serious Eats pizza style guide, I guess it could be Midwestern-style. Regardless, from the pictures on this and other reviews, "thin crust" doesn't do it justice. Nice to see an old joint get back in the game.
"La Fresca is Grand Avenue's latest star," by Emily Weiss for Minneapolis' City Pages
A somewhat rambling review, but it covers the right ground. I find it sad that Weiss has the (not unfounded) impression that restaurants are starting to move away from small plates-centric menus, but that it's still a good way to experience the menu at La Fresca. If it works, why must we (or restaurants) move away from it for trend's sake?
"Dining in the skyways of Minneapolis, St. Paul," by Rick Nelson for the Minneapolis Star Tribune
This is, I believe, our first roundup-style review featured in Flyover Friday. Appropriate, considering the establishments profiled blend into each other so that distinctions become picayune. A sandwich spot, a soup counter, a chopped salad place that'll also turn your salad into a sandwich! It's business lunch-on-the-go, but Nelson's got it right to focus on indoor lunch rush spots in this patience-taxing winter.
"Evangeline's cooks up sinful Cajun cuisine with soul," by Cheryl Baehr for the St. Louis Riverfront Times
Lucky for Baehr and the RFT that a New Orleans review was available to cash in on some Mardi Gras SEO. Another tight review for Cheryl; I hope you're all digging her game as much as I am. It's not necessarily flashy, but it's really solid, and consistently so.
"El Asador Steakhouse: Detroit Mexican restaurant has something for everyone," by Jane Slaughter for the Detroit Metro Times
Slaughter unintentionally rescues her Detroit colleague at the News, pinning down El Asador's opening date as some time in October. Molly Abraham had estimated in January that it was a few weeks old. Not quite, Molly. As for this review, it's fine. Slaughter drops an "IMO," which is an off-note in a professional review that isn't going for put-on hipness, IMO.
"Casablanca Grill: Moroccan flavors make delicious debut," by Jon Christensen for the Columbus Dispatch
Boring, this review almost reads like a bulleted list -- but it's actually an improvement over previous Christensen efforts. He describes foreign concepts well enough for rookie diners, and has sampled what looks like a representative portion of the menu. Let's keep it going, buddy!
"Brew Brothers offers unbeatable tap beer selection," by Samara Kalk Derby for the Wisconsin State Journal
Getting back in sync with SKD's review calendar, here's the most recent one to close out this week's Flyover Friday. Yes, 48 taps is an awful lot for one, new joint, but you wouldn't know how deep it runs from the sampling in this review. Shock Top is "from St. Louis"? Well, sure, in the same way that Microsoft is "from Redmond." (It's an Anheuser-Busch beer, if you weren't aware, from the same company that brings you Bud Light, which is only slightly better than the Lexington Brewing and Distilling Company that makes Kentucky Bourbon Ale...and gastrointestinal yeast supplements for horses.) I'd say "Welcome to Madison!" with this review, but Brew Brothers is in Middleton.