I've been listening to The X-Files Files podcast pretty well non-stop lately. The show triggered the same gene in me that comic books do; I love a long story, a mythology. I like references that pay off in three seasons. And thus, for its weaknesses, I like the podcast, too. Haven't been happy with the Wisconsin/Midwest references so far (dismissive and a little snide) but hey, we live with that every day. Not just on Flyover Fridays.
"Food trucks rev up downtown's variety," by a secret critic or critics for the Toledo Blade
Bringing in a new paper this week, by virtue of Madison critic Lindsay Christians' suggestion. We get no name on these reviews, only a feature title. And I have to say, the website is straight out of 2004. But I like the review this week, a food cart roundup; good detail, broad scope. A Cuban truck called Displaced Chef? Brilliant.
"Más makes Mexican with more and more and more . . . :. . . but more isn't better at this new West Loop spot," by Mike Sula for Chicago's Reader
See, THIS is the kind of review I could see a chef flipping out over, banning the critic from this and all future restaurant projects. Unlike the Dallas situation -- where Tesar, a male chef, lashed out at the more-or-less-okay review of a female critic, as opposed to, say, having no comment at all for similar criticisms in the review of a male critic from the Dallas Observer -- this is a really bad review, in that Más does not fare well here. Sula's tone isn't mean, though, just kind of bummed -- which is fair.
"Ballpark Village isn't ready for the restaurant big leagues," by Ian Froeb for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Poor guy. Essentially two restaurant reviews in one, and both restaurants stunk. But as always, Froeb delivers a fun, readable review. "The tuna is 'sushi-grade' in the sense that these days you can buy sushi from a gas station's convenience store." Zing!
"Michael's Pizza built on a strong foundation," by Carlos Acevedo for the Des Moines Register
I would imagine people would know they were in the right place by virtue of the pizzas and total lack of laundry machines, but that's just me. Acevedo's reviews are typically breezy and bloggish, but this one's critically brief. Tell me about more than one pizza, for crying out loud.
“A newcomer chef makes a name for himself at Bohemian House in River North,” by Michael Nagrant for Chicago’s RedEye
Nagrant’s long-form review style can be a bit of a slog, for this feature anyway. Cut to the spaetzle, buddy! Though I did learn that apparently the Obamas hate beets…?
"Happy days are here again at Heyday," by Rick Nelson for the Minneapolis StarTribune
I tell you, man, when Rick Nelson likes something, he REALLY likes something. I saw Twin Cities food critic Jason DeRusha wondering on Twitter if Nelson was too generous with the 4-star reviews. This place sounds pretty bleeding-edge for the upper Midwest, but one question: Is there a meat more often paired comically than rabbit? I mean, even I am guilty of this and I'm barely a home cook. CARROTS, I get it.
"Union Depot Taverne in Berea offers American pub throwback to Pufferbelly venue," by Peter Chakerian for the Cleveland Plain Dealer
The direction the Plain Dealer is going with regard to restaurant reviews is not a good one. Shorter, seemingly less frequent, and with less detail. I didn't really get the reference to Browns quarterbacks, though I think Bernie Kosar owns a restaurant or two in Cleveland. Chakerian -- or his editor, or maybe just the webmaster -- deploys italics in weird ways.
"Come on back: Crumb and Spigot offers plenty of reasons for diners to return," by Douglas Trattner for the Cleveland Scene
Haven't had a good ampersanded restaurant for Flyover Friday in a while, I think. Sounds nice, and a solid review from Trattner.
"OSS Madison does world cuisines 'sausage style' on Regent Street," by Lindsay Christians for Madison's Capital Times
A sausage review dropped on National Hot Dog Day? Timely! I'm a big OSS fan, and of their curds in particular (Maple Leaf, though, not Leave, FWIW), and I will definitely try to get in there for the tikka masala sausage. A light sorta-review from the Cap Times, but with a one-service-window-only review over at the State Journal, Madison.com's covered for the week, I think.
"The world is your oyster at Tempest brunch," by Samara Kalk Derby for the Wisconsin State Journal
So choppy. Very staccato. Much awkwardly phrased. Wow. I will say, in seriousness, that it shouldn't be a mystery why restaurants on that stretch of Wilson go under-appreciated: It's a drive-through corridor, with pedestrian traffic drawn away from or past the front doors of Tempest and Osteria Papavero. People who take the time to know, know.
“Cabana on the River surprises with fresh food, great views and craft brew,” by Casey Arnold for the Cincinnati CityBeat
I don’t know, man. Have I commented on vegetarian food critics before? Seems dodgy. I’m glad your boyfriend liked the steak, and your mom her fish, but I don’t think they’re the ones getting paid for their opinions. Also, that has to be some of the least impressive food photography this side of Martha Stewart’s Instagram.
“Front Street Cafe offers a nice small-town trip,” by Polly Campbell for the Cincinnati Enquirer
The number of petite reviews is going up in this feature, seemingly monthly. This is nice, quaint, but barely a review – one visit, too personally contextual.
"Giovanni's Kitchen has quality of the Hill without the bill," by Cheryl Baehr for St. Louis' Riverfront Times
Some of those dishes don't sound all that casual, and I think for once I actually would like to see prices within the review. (Normally I find that practice a little obtrusive.) At the very least, a typical price range? It's a fine review, if a little rote, but for so prominently noting the difference between formal and casual, the cost should be specifically mentioned.
"Alex Pope's Preservation Market is reason enough to frequent Bridger's Bottle Shop," by Charles Ferruzza for the Kansas City Pitch
Prominent Wisconsin mention alert! Always good to see Badger State kids making something of themselves, and embracing their roots (AHEM, Willem Dafoe). $9 doesn't seem steep at all, especially considering how good Ferruzza finds these sandwiches to be. A bottle shop that serves excellent sandwiches sounds like the kind of place I'd wish was on my daily work commute.
"The North End Barbecue & Moonshine," by Jolene Ketzenberger for Indianapolis' NUVO
That head photo of North End's ribs sure made me hope that Ketzenberger liked them, and I was happy to see that she did. Here's a mashup barbecue joint that appears to have stuck the landing. Gimme a fun headline, though, NUVO!
“Kraft House No. 5: Gastropub's take on Southern, comfort fare crafty,” by G.A. Benton for the Columbus Dispatch
Looks like Benton and Jon Christensen are trading reviews for the Dispatch. In football terms, this is quarterback competition. As I believe I’ve said before, this can only be a good thing. A decent review of a true-to-form restaurant.
“High quality, but high prices, at west Omaha gastropub,” by Sarah Baker Hansen for the Omaha World-Herald
I may just be writing while hungry, but this place sounds great. Well, the food sounds great anyway. Prices do seem a bit steep, for cattle country at that. SBH continues to generate pleasant reviews.
"Taking salads seriously: Mequon's Salotto Zarletti also serves pasta and pizza in an inviting setting," by Jeff Beutner for Milwaukee's Shepherd Express
Arancini are a fun callback to Flyover Fridays of old, and a casual spinning off of a more formal Italian joint brings to mind the RFT review above. For a brief review, a good value proposition here; a fairly high degree of detail and coverage.
"The Copper Hen brings country charm to Eat Street," by Emily Weiss for Minneapolis' City Pages
This review starts out landing a lot of jabs right to Copper Hen's midsection, then backs off like it didn't just leave the café bent over and wheezing. And then comes right back in for another flurry. Tone is an issue here, and I'm left wondering if the closing plaudits are really to be believed.
“Unpretentious Rose's Fine Food offers diner fare with unique flair,” by Molly Abraham for the Detroit News
I kind of envy critics like Abraham, or markets like Detroit, where such a slim little review can generate 28 comments. But then, knowing the internet as I do, it’s probably for the best that I almost never get any.
“Tony V’s Tavern: A classic reborn,” by Jane Slaughter for Detroit’s Metro Times
Smack dab in the middle of Wayne State but more for hippies and artists than students? Clearly Slaughter never met my dad, the hippiest, artsiest guy to ever attend Wayne State. Also, another Wisconsin reference!
"Beer-geek oasis: Showboat Saloon brings sanity to Wisconsin Dells," by me for Madison's Isthmus
My first review for the new Isthmus. I don't like how the place serves up live lobsters as an amusement, but I really like how Showboat subsidizes the locals with mid-week and Sunday pricing specials. And at the end of my visits, I learned that Double S BBQ in Cambridge just opened a brisket counter across the street. Just when I think I'm out, the Dells pulls me back in.