Flyover Friday - Happy new year!

It's 2016, and here's a big ol' two-week hunk of Flyover Friday content teetering on the cusp between years. I missed one from the mega-edition last time around; sorry, Indy Star! In more recent news, we had a defensive and poopy column from the Toledo Blade's food editor, who has nothing -- nothing? -- to do with the anonymous Bill of Fare review column. SHE DOES NOT HAVE OPINIONS, understand? Her perspective on food criticism is gross and doesn't make me want to run out and subscribe to the Blade in any way. I sincerely hope you find enjoyment and value in reading this edition of Flyover Friday.

December 28

Michael Nagrant's review of Oyster Bah for Chicago's RedEye

The restaurant's name grates on me, but Nagrant argues Oyster Bah isn't the schlocky slog you'd think it'll be.

December 29

Mike Sula's review of Appellation for Chicago's Reader

Cheese deserves better than what Appellation is apparently doing to it. Sula is uncharacteristically soft-spoken in his critiques.

Laura DeMarco's review of ClubHouse Pub and Grub Restaurant for the Cleveland Plain Dealer

One of those reviews that reminds you (well, me) that you're dipping ever so briefly into foreign cultural waters. I don't get any of the references DeMarco drops, but I'm probably not supposed to.

Charles Ferruzza's review of Dempsey's Burger Bar for the Kansas City Pitch

This is Ferruzza being gentle and I'd still hate to earn this kind of review from him if I was a restaurateur. The opening lines are only a few characters beyond a deft Twitter review.

Franklin K.R. Cline's review of Company Brewing for Milwaukee's Shepherd Express

That makes positive reviews from the Shep and the Journal Sentinel as well. Time to put Company Brewing on the #wibeer road trip map.

December 30

Karla Walsh's review of Lucca for the Des Moines Register

I know that it's the conceit of the restaurant, the back-and-forth, but a restaurant that is so schizophrenic just can't lean toward pro over con. Sounds like a stopped clock, right more by accident than purpose.

Mecca Bos' review of 4 Bells for Minneapolis' City Pages

Surprising that Bos neglects to mention the heritage of 4 Bells, a spinoff as it is of the wildly popular and successful Butcher and the Boar. I'm sold for the fried chicken window alone. Those collards with blue cheese sound really gross though.

December 31

G.A. Benton's review of Sweet Carrot for the Columbus Dispatch

Cute story with the anagrammed name, but I really don't get this restaurant. Benton doesn't do much to help me in that regard.

Samara Kalk Derby's review of The Cheesecake Factory for Madison's Wisconsin State Journal

So many words with so little to say about so long a menu. The State Journal reviewed Cheesecake Factory. My response: So?

January 5

Alisa Malavenda's review of Rice N Roll Bistro for Milwaukee's Shepherd Express

Like the Journal Sentinel review back in July 2015, this review doesn't inspire a lot of interest. The Thai restaurant that doesn't feel like its market can support it without sushi isn't all that uncommon, and it's not particularly reassuring. At least Malavenda shows a little more enthusiasm than Deptolla did. Not that I share it.

January 6

Mike Sula's review of Latinicity for Chicago's Reader

At least Thailand is relatively close to Japan. I can only assume (hope?) that the reason there's a sushi stand at a pan-Latin food hall is the connection with the western coast of South America. But that's a stretch. Nice coverage from Sula, though, knitting it all together.

Polly Campbell's review of E + O Kitchen for the Cincinnati Enquirer

"(T)our through the flavors of Asia, harmoniously combined with some Latin American styles" -- what the hell is going on around here? I don't know how food works anymore, clearly.

Douglas Trattner's review of Cafe Miami/Sabor Miami for the Cleveland Scene

Here we have Cuban mixed with American diner standards. Okay, fine, it's the least weird of all of these combos, and it works considering the history of the space. The review's got a lot of the proprietor's voice in it, which I'm not super crazy about, but that happens.

Serena Maria Daniels' review of Au Cochon for the Detroit Metro Times

Maybe every reader knows that a "flat iron cut of meat" is beef without the critic saying so, but it's still an odd phrasing when you're trying to describe "steak."

Molly Abraham's review of La Strada Caffe e Dolci for the Detroit News

These reviews shouldn't be enough to satisfy an editor, to say nothing of the Detroit News readership. I don't get the appeal of a review that says almost nothing, at most, about the quality of what's on the plate.

Rick Nelson's review of 4 Bells for the Minneapolis StarTribune

Second 4 Bells review, and in the second graf, Nelson references the restaurant's heritage. What I don't get from this review is why Nelson seems to think that seafood isn't part and parcel of Lowcountry cuisine. (I mean, I guess ceviche doesn't quite fit, but.)

Cheryl Baehr's review of J McArthur's for St. Louis' Riverfront Times

I'm not super thrilled with this review. It's a bit rote. What really bugs me is the Wagyu burger. A) WHY BLEND WAGYU. B) WHY MIX IN DUCK FAT. It's a cheat that feels like it's just employed to justify the price.

January 7

Beth Segal's review of Helio Terra Vegan Cafe for the Cleveland Plain Dealer

This review doesn't do it for me, either. Trying too hard to sell the reader on the vegan concept, it comes off as promotional. Why is a sauce heated to 112 degrees not technically "cooked"? Describing the zucchini bun as "overly dehydrated and dry" is repetitive; to follow it with another description, "dehydrated and looking disconcertedly (sic) like dark leather," is just sloppy. And why do vegans take desserts seriously "for good reason"? What does that mean?

G.A. Benton's review of Schokko Art Cafe for the Columbus Dispatch

Every paragraph reads the same, like there was a Mad Libs template that Benton filled in for each dish discussed.

Linda Falkenstein's review of Madistan for Madison's Isthmus

An excellent street-level review of a place that might go un- or under-explored by the average passerby. This is not a critic's review, aerial and distanced; it's written in the way people experience a restaurant, and that's definitely the right way for this one.

Samara Kalk Derby's review of Naf Naf Grill for Madison's Wisconsin State Journal

Similarly, Derby's review this week takes a populist approach -- but instead of focusing on the dining experience, she pins the operation to the metaphorical wall for A) making (inarguably false) claims of Middle Eastern exclusivity in the Madison market, and B) existing in the development that displaced a couple well-regarded restaurants of that very genre. One of the rare Madison reviews to get the attention of the local Reddit community.

Ian Froeb's review of Byrd & Barrel for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

There we go; I wondered recently why Froeb had refrained from mentioning the St. Louis fried chickensplosion in a discussion of food trends, but perhaps this was why. And oooh, burn on Popeyes, with a good, local fried chicken joint opening in your discarded husk. St. Louis must have a thing for junk food kwee-zeen; I swooned over the Provel/Red Hot Riplet sandwich back in December, with the RFT's review.

Blade staff's review of Jim Shull's Rib-Cage for the Toledo Blade

The name of this restaurant is just kind of oogy. Funny, sure -- but oogy. This review seemingly falls apart near the end, with individual sentence-graf after individual sentence-graf. Wisconsinites will note that at no point does this review use the term "supper club."

Carol Deptolla's review of The Brass Alley for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Gah, more single sentence grafs! Choppy, unfun to read.