Not every city can support full-time, full-effort food criticism. Not every paper can afford to put the proper inches underneath a critic's name. Madison's a lucky town. St. Louis is a lucky town. The Twin Cities would be flush, too, if their critics didn't take so many weeks off. Other cities don't have the talent in the lineup, or the budget, to really dig into a restaurant review. Flyover Friday is a reference that implies altitude; let's measure from surface to core this week.
"Namaste restaurant's sticky carpet just doesn't fly," by Carlos Acevedo for the Des Moines Register
I would not call this a proper review. Acevedo appears to be trimming back the word count lately, if memory serves. One shot at an Indian buffet is not enough to do the restaurant justice. His only return trip was to verify that the carpet was still dirty before going to print -- weak.
"VIP Asian Cuisine on Odana Road is an elegant sleeper hit," by Samara Kalk Derby for the Wisconsin State Journal
Based on the dessert (two S's) paragraph, I'm gonna guess Kalk Derby's companion is a rabbit. Right? I could have done with a lot less awed chatter about the space and its history, and a tighter grip on the whole thing by SKD's editor. It's rambling, overlong, and, unsurprisingly, an inch deep. Unwrap yourself from out your comfort blanket, Samara.
"Picking up the torch: The Red Lantern version 2.0 will keep you coming back to West Park," by Douglas Trattner for the Cleveland Scene
Shades of the Tip Top Tavern revival here in Madison. Trattner covers both the history and the now of the Red Lantern adeptly, and I like his (well-informed) perspective on the tap list. Those unsmoked, mashed potato-anchored ribs sound pretty gross.
"High-Flying Three Flags Tavern: Is this the best restaurant opening of 2014?," by Cheryl Baehr for St. Louis' Riverfront Times
Another review that I'm not totally convinced is actually a review. The question of the headline is answered by a one-trip review slash hagiography of the owners; a typical multi-visit review would address in greater depth what makes Three Flags apparently the best thing since Six.
"Small plates and small parties at Ardent," by Jeff Beutner for Milwaukee's Shepherd Express
Here's where I really feel the absence of a dedication to food criticism from the Express. There's a little more length given to this review, but I wouldn't call Ardent a quiet opening, nor would I describe it as a hideaway. Both imply that it's off the radar, and it really isn't. This restaurant was one that received a 4-star review for the Journal Sentinel's Carol Deptolla, after all.
"Lawrence's new Limestone does pizza perfectly - and everything else, too," by Charles Ferruzza for the Kansas City Pitch
Now, I love Cheryl Baehr, but when Ferruzza says Limestone is perfect, he sets that statement in a foundation that justifies the claim, in a way that Baehr's review above just plain doesn't. And as a fella who had a braunschweiger-loving grandpa, too, I'm sold on the house-made version at Limestone, sight unseen.
"Sunday brunch is worthy addition to 4-star Bistro 82," by Sylvia Rector for the Detroit Free Press
Questionably a proper review, but I'll give it the benefit of the doubt. It's mighty brief, though, and my only real thought about the restaurant upon finishing the review is "stop tweaking everything!"
"B Spot Burgers redefines well done," by Molly Abraham for the Detroit News
The place won't do a well-done burger? Good! You can overcook ground beef at home, weirdo. I would, truth be told, LOVE to see Abraham eating a massive, sloppy cheeseburger at this place. My mental image is fork-and-knife.
"Slurping Turtle: Bowled over," by Jane Slaughter for Detroit's Metro Times
Sounds like a lively spot, though the aesthetic doesn't exactly sing to me from Slaughter's description, and the name is really pretty awful. A few quibbles: "unfatty" pork belly sounds depressing; if you can't imagine Japanese food with red wine, try haaaarder; and a mystery shakeable topping that amplifies flavor without altering it? I've got three letters for you, Jane.
"Kohinoor Indian Cuisine offers wide range of dishes," by Jon Christensen for the Columbus Dispatch
So much passive voice. Hard to get excited about anything here.
"At new restaurant Brushi, familiar chef brushes up on creativity," by Sarah Baker Hansen for the Omaha World-Herald
No crispy rice on the bottom? You're damn right it's not a true paella. I'd like to know what Baker Hansen would say Brushi is trying to be, because from the description, it sounds like it's trying to be an only slightly more thoughtful TGI Friday's.
"All day brunch and booze to cure a hangover - or get one," by Casey Arnold for the Cincinnati CityBeat
Oh, come on, man. "This was my second attempt at reviewing Hang Over Easy because on my first visit I brought a vegan friend who could eat next to nothing on the menu"? Really? Who's the critic here? And going to a restaurant you're reviewing twice shouldn't be an accident!
"Brasserie Zentral's new spin on Old World cuisine," by Emily Weiss for Minneapolis' City Pages
As someone who has been known to succumb to the same, there are an awful lot of hyphenated phrases in this review. The plans Zentral's owners have for the building are intriguing, the food sounds exceptional, the praise earned, but Weiss should probably try to trim out some of the Frankenphrases. I feel bad for whatever rabbit Weiss had eaten previously that gave her such a negative preconceived notion on the animal.
"The secret weapon at New Asia? Freshly slaughtered chickens," by Mike Sula for the Chicago Reader
Another rabbit mention? I could have made that the theme. Another good review from Sula, who plumbs the depths of a cuisine that can be a little impenetrable to those who don't speak the language these dishes are named in.
"Lin's on Glenway dishes out top Thai," by Polly Campbell for the Cincinnati Enquirer
This is the review you get when you solicit editorial direction from Twitter, I guess: little 200-some-character bites. It's an interesting idea, but leaves me wanting for a little more, well, depth, not to put too fine a point on it.
"Old Town Inn in Germantown has new look, redone menu," by Carol Deptolla for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"Cafe Bavaria in Wauwatosa gives tradition a new look," also by Carol Deptolla for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Guess who's back / Back again / Carol's back / Tell a friend / Guess who's back, guess who's back, guess who's back, guess who's back, guess who's back, guess who's back, guess who's back... / It's a two-headed monster, 'cause nobody wants / First Impressions no more, and no roundups, they're chopped liver / Well if you want liver, this is what I'll give ya / a little Germany mixed with some rubbed paprika / Nostalgia that'll jump-start your heart quicker / than the shock when you get lachs and I mean roesti like the pancakes that sucked in the 1980's and they're not like the ones that you remember hating (yeah!) ... Okay, I can't keep this up, but welcome back Carol Deptolla; these twin Germanic reviews are quite nice.