Well, you can't fault me for being busy, what with the 2014 Wisconsin Film Festival in full swing, and me with five movies to see with my wife, over three days. Eight days of curated culture, laid out by folks who know a hell of a lot more about film than I do. But I betcha I got 'em when it comes to where to eat after the lights come back up. Let's all go to the lobby, it's a slightly late Flyover Friday.
"Often super sausage: O.S.S.'s Wisconsin-centric menu goes way beyond bratwurst," by moi for Madison's Isthmus
I'll start by getting the plug out of the way. Here's my hinted-at review of O.S.S. (or OSS, if you prefer) for Isthmus. It has been said on these internets that I didn't indicate whether or not I liked the food, by virtue perhaps of not using phrases like "this sausage tasted good." So let me assure you, they tasted good. But I'm guessing you'll be able to figure that out from the review.
"Chef Lee Wolen reboots Boka," by Mike Sula for the Chicago Reader
In another life, I might have been a minor competitor of Sula's, and would have more exposure to the Chicago dining scene, to better appreciate the new Boka regime he describes. But for now, this review gives proper indication of the restaurant's continued relevance, with former Eleven Madison Park chefs stocking this restaurant's larder.
"From shepherd's pies to chips and jacket potatoes, The Pub in Beachwood launches a tasty British Invasion," by Laura DeMarco for the Cleveland Plain Dealer
I love the term "jacket potatoes." It's so cozily, charmingly British. If you have a similar fascination with Britishisms related to food or otherwise, you'll enjoy DeMarco's review; there are plenty. Seems like a one-visit review, filled out with a lot of kid input, which generally annoys me. But I can't imagine being a critic and a parent, so I guess it's more or less excused.
"Martin City Brewing Co. is getting crafty," by Jill Wendholt Silva for the Kansas City Star
More kiddo-dining, but amusingly, this review includes teenager input, which is kind of hilarious in its rage-against-the-mundane quality (waiting to be seated, the jagged edge of a rustic table). I would have liked to see more said about the beer since this is a brewing operation, but see previous sentence. A lot of drinking in a kid-infused review might not play well.
"At Freehouse, beer and beyond," by Rick Nelson for the Minneapolis StarTribune
I don't recall previous reviews of Freehouse mentioning the portrait of Representative Volstead -- author of American Prohibition -- done up in beer bottle caps, but regardless, that's brilliant. This review continues what I do recall as a mixed bag from Freehouse, with successes and otherwise.
"Westside Local is finally as good as its fans have always insisted it was," by Charles Ferruzza for the Kansas City Pitch
If a $20 pot pie is tasty but neither memorable nor living up to its billing on the menu, then it is not, in fact, worth the price tag; Ferruzza is either too forgiving, or not biting enough. "Luscious, mammary mound of chocolate" is truly a disturbing turn of phrase.
"Stick to your ribs: WildSmoke succeeds at barbecue basics, but stumbles when it goes off-script," by Cheryl Baehr for the St. Louis Riverfront Times
A different west side here, as Baehr turns out another really enjoyable review of a polished barbecue joint opening on a side of St. Louis that doesn't otherwise feature a lot of barbecue. The BBQ Sundae bit is pitch-perfect, and I'll give strong consideration to any place that does burnt ends well.
"Smoked meat, draft beer and big portions: Atlas BBQ adds to downtown Grafton," by Susan Harpt Grimes for Milwaukee's Shepherd Express
Grimes and the Express dip deep into the well for a restaurant that's been around, apparently more or less unchanged, since 2012. It looks to be a primarily KC-style operation, which is (as we've discussed) right up my alley.
"Reborn Park Grill becomes a Detroit dining destination," by Molly Abraham for the Detroit News
Whoa whoa whoa whoa -- only open two weeks in its new, larger iteration, and getting reviewed already? That'd mean Abraham was probably there on or near to (re-)opening night. I've got a major problem with that, even if it is an existing business that is only expanding. Expansion, as she herself notes, is a big deal. That she loves it hardly excuses the rush.
"Cardamom: Inspired Indian," by Noelle Lothamer for Detroit's Metro Times
This is a post-script to last week's discussion of authenticity, with Lothamer hoping to put to rest the presumption that some global cuisines cannot be fine dining. She also lauds the thali, which I know from experience is a terrific way to experience an Indian menu inexpensively.
"Swad's best bet is its foolproof buffet," by Samara Kalk Derby for the Wisconsin State Journal
I'm not as down on Derby for the "we ordered poorly" comment as, say, the commenter who chimed in below the article, but it's still not a wise statement to make in the review following her fairly infamous "So what do I know?" remark. She covers the broad Indian menu adequately, but there's something about all the "we" in Derby's reviews that I'm never really all that crazy about. (Please tell me if I'm being too negative on my in-city competition. You can even use the comments section here.)
"Thai Basil's: Sometimes-fiery Thai dishes overcome fast-food setting," by Jon Christensen for the Columbus Dispatch
Ugh, there's enough misapplication of the apostrophe-S in food talk that when a restaurant chooses to apply it nonsensically, I can only shake my head. I mean, Thai Basil's what? Flavor? Color? Is Basil an upper-crust carpetbagger from jolly old England, who chose to open a Thai restaurant in Columbus? I ask also because this typically dry, rote review inspires little to no commentary.
"Sleepy Bee: Modern, healthy happiness for breakfast," by Polly Campbell for the Cincinnati Enquirer
A breakfast sandwich with locally legendary mystery meat goetta makes me pretty happy. This is a fine enough review in need of a little tidier editing. "Restaurant cakes" is a puzzler, since the flapjacks Campbell praises from Sleepy Bee are also coming from a restaurant. I think I catch her drift, but it's an odd phrasing.
"Out of the ashes: Alex Mchaikhi transforms his old Cumin space into Ash American Fare," by Anne Mitchell for Cincinnati's CityBeat
Mitchell should pitch her leftovers sandwich to Ash, because that sounds pretty terrific. I'd love to know the story behind the burger nomenclature, but she doesn't return for the payoff after introducing the mystery. For a one-stop review, fairly comprehensive.
"Soupremacy: A tiny soup shop on the Circle," by Jolene Ketzenberger
A small review for a small soup shop. But more importantly, my apologies first to Ms. Ketzenberger, whose last name I have misspelled in previous Flyover Friday posts. In checking my error, I discovered that Ketzenberger had been the critic at the Indianapolis Star until the end of 2013 -- which explains why we've heard almost nothing from that paper in this series -- when she was fired for running her own food site (*adjusts collar awkwardly* I'm a freelancer!). Gotta put yourself out there if you want to be an authoritative voice in your city's dining scene, I suppose.