There's no sneaky theme to this week's post, no subtle through-line. There's just a relative shitload of Middle Eastern joints getting reviewed this week, including the same one twice by different papers. The area's one of my genealogical home teams, so it feels right to come back to Flyover Friday on this note. Flyover Friday on three...break!
“Meet Logan Square's new Middle-Eastern paradise, Masada,” by Michael Nagrant for Chicago’s Redeye
I’m just not totally sold on the segmented format of Nagrant’s reviews. It’s very choppy, and I like reviews that have a center of gravity. That combo meat platter’s got gravity, anyway. Ooft.
"Osteria Langhe: Piemonte in Logan Square," by Mike Sula for Chicago's Reader
I'm going into cardiac arrest just reading about all of those eggy, creamy, gooey, cheesy, richly-sauced dishes. Must've seemed like a great idea in the polar vortex, but hitting your restaurant's critical window in July with that kind of menu? Rough, man.
"Corvid's Cafe brings a neighborly spirit to North Hampton," by Ian Froeb for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
That Crabwich is kind of hilarious, though a $15 sandwich is no laughing matter. It had better be good. Froeb wisely highlights the dangers of...overfamiliarity? Chumminess? The service level, the "Best Grilled Cheese Ever," that kind of thing. Make it feel professional, guys, not like a dorm common area.
"Pizzology: To Mass Ave and beyond," by Jolene Ketzenberger for Indianpolis' NUVO
Caprese via fried green tomatoes is a cute mash-up. That pictured quote wall, however, makes me think of the Simpsons' spoof of The Shining, which both amuses me and creeps me out.
"Bishop's Post serves "classic comfort" food - but for whom?," by Cheryl Baehr for St. Louis' Riverfront Times
The interior shots of Bishop's Post made me think "country club" exactly, so I was glad to see Baehr pick up on the vibe, too. The presence of a "Budweiser bacon gravy" on any unironic professional menu makes me very sad. Baehr's policy of not ordering to-go food for critical consideration is interesting.
"Nick and Jake's on Main: a location with a curse, a menu with potential, servers with an itch," by Charles Ferruzza for the Kansas City Pitch
"Irish nachos" for potato skins feels vaguely inappropriate, don't you think? I've definitely become a Ferruzza fan. He can be a real bitch, in a smart and fairly subtle way, and I dig it.
"The European-Style Baltica Tea Room and Gift Shop," by Amanda Sullivan for Milwaukee's Shepherd Express
Nomenclature -- the restaurant's actual name -- is confusing for the reader, as it appears to confuse the writer (or editor) as well. I'd actually like it if this menu stuck to its ethnic roots a little more. A Southwest wrap is not on my radar if I'm visiting a loosely Polish tea café.
“Mazah Mediterranean Eatery: Middle Eastern dishes shine in vibrant new surroundings,” by G. A. Benton for the Columbus Dispatch
Oh, it’s good to read a review like this in the Dispatch; the usual critic is off this week, and Benton is a breath of fresh air. Nice to see a specific mention of beer from Mazah’s tap list. That doesn’t happen often, and I like that it’s my buddy Lydia’s wares getting some hype.
"Tiny Diner has big dreams in Minneapolis," by Emily Weiss for Minneapolis' City Pages
Now, I'm all for self-sufficiency and eating local, and I want more effort going into rehabbing our world's bee population, but is a restaurant rooftop beehive operation the smartest way to go? Is there a big sign out front reading "PLEASE DON'T SWAT OUR STAFF"? Weiss' description of the Deluxe burger is superbly evocative. This spot is going on my must-visit list for the Twin Cities.
"El Kefon Puertoriqueno: big Creole flavors at budget prices in Lorain," by Beth Segal for the Cleveland Plain Dealer
I'm not entirely sure where Segal's getting the "big Creole flavors" except maybe as a corruption of the "criollo" of Puerto Rico. The term is never mentioned outside of the headline. I like that the Plain Dealer is reviewing a place like this, though.
“Atwater in the Park turns a church into a tasty biergarten,” by Molly Abraham for the Detroit News
Man, even churches can’t stay in business in Detroit? Schnitzel saves.
“Ground for glory,” by Jane Slaughter for Detroit’s Metro Times
Bad name or not, this shasha sauce sounds kind of wonderful. Not sure why Slaughter puts ghost chiles in quotes. And what’s with the “three days in jail” buried lede? C’mon Jane, spill.
“Nuvo at Greenup and its sister restaurant present two creative dining destinations under one roof,” by Pama Mitchell for the Cincinnati Citybeat
The menu Mitchell describes at this very unconventional restaurant – especially for one located in a Kentucky bit of the Cincinnati metro area – defies a flowery review. It’s full of familiar concepts thrown into the air and quickly reassembled as they land. Fun stuff, and Mitchell covers it in an appropriately businesslike fashion.
“Palmyra Mediterranean Grill offers the greatest hits of the Middle East,” by Linda Falkenstein for Madison’s Isthmus
The difference between a mighty meat platter in Madison and one in Chicago? About twenty bucks, apparently. Sounds like the Chicago one (above) came off better. Actually, sounds like almost everything comes off better elsewhere compared to Palmyra, according to Falkenstein…
“Palmyra Mediterranean Grill winning fans on State Street,” by Samara Kalk Derby for the Wisconsin State Journal
…and Derby basically agrees, though she tends to include a bit too much of the staff’s input and perspective, and I’m not interested in that. I’d also rather not read twenty words on the Greek salad.