Flyover Friday - For better or worse

There's a lot of strongly positive commentary happening in this week's set of reviews but I'm not going to sugarcoat it: I'm writing this after the Packers lost their NFC title match with the Seahawks, so I'm in a bit of a mood. Folks'll say that it's a great accomplishment for your team to make the conference final, but it hurts all the more to see 'em lose. When the stakes are highest, when the prize is greatest, the difference between success and failure cuts the sharpest. See whose grades make the grade in this week's Flyover Friday.

Joe Crea's review of Urban Farmer Steakhouse for the Cleveland Plain Dealer

I'd hate to be Crea's editor, having to submit the reimbursement request for the pricey-as-hell meals he put away at Urban Farmer. Though the tone is clipped and stilted at times, it's an exhaustive breakdown of a luxe-seeming spot.

Lindsay Christians' review of Salvatore's Tomato Pies for Madison's Capital Times

God I love Salvatore's. Can't wait to get to this new location, and I'm extra excited that my friend Lee Davenport is doing the desserts. As for the review, it's a bit light on analysis in favor of more chef input -- but she did the hard, hard work of ordering a lot of pizza and I'm not exactly left wondering if it's any good.

Alisa Malavenda's review of Wolf Peach for Milwaukee's Shepherd Express

A year after the Journal Sentinel reviewed Dan Jacobs' Wolf Peach, he left to head the kitchen at Odd Duck. Sous chef Cole Ersel took over, and now the Shepherd Express reviews the new regime without mentioning the old. That's okay, I guess, and the review's pretty good, but it was a high-profile opening and a little history would have been in order.

Pama Mitchell's review of Barrio Tequileria for the Cincinnati CityBeat

Incarnation. Meats. Get it? This review highlights the transition from old to new in ways the Wolf Peach review should have. It's a bit brief, though, a shallow-draft journey through the Barrio menu.

C. Acevedo's review of Hole in the Wall for the Des Moines Register

No shrugging this one off: a five-star review is a five-star review, even one that races headlong to the punchline with relatively few details.

Jane Slaughter's review of Cucina Medoro for the Detroit Metro Times

This restaurant strikes me as just kind of odd, like a place as ITALIAN as this one seems to be in so many ways shouldn't be as slung-together and casual. And I guess that Italianness excuses the multiple mentions of packaged Italian sparkling fruit drinks.

Molly Abraham's review of Top of the Pontch for the Detroit News

Gotta say, I'm feeling Abraham's sense of mishandled expectations here. The name seems jokey, the menu items too disparate for such a brief list. Probably a great place for singles of a certain socioeconomic class to impress each other and hook up.

Cheryl Baehr's review of Cooper's Legendary American Pub for St. Louis' Riverfront Times

St. Louis-style pizza and Provel mentions in one paragraph? For a review that barely covers either, that's quite an output of St. Louisian tradition in a few sentences. Baehr wishes for corn tortilla'd fish tacos, but they come with flour tortillas by default, don't they?

Polly Campbell's review of Bangkok Street for the Cincinnati Enquirer

A comprehensive, helpful review with good tone and pacing. Also, fried salad.

G. A. Benton's review of DareDevil Dogs for the Columbus Dispatch

It's never easy to review a menu that only has one kind of food on it, but Benton spends way too long describing everything but the food, and doesn't go more than menu description-deep in discussing each of the dogs.

Adam Powell's review of Bonefish Grill for Madison's Isthmus

From Powell's usual tone on Twitter as it relates to chainy, franchisey restaurants and mass-market dining, the downright warm and complimentary content of this review is quite a surprise. And I won't pretend to deny that that huge bowl of crispy shrimp doesn't sound inviting.

Samara Kalk Derby's review of Salvatore's Tomato Pies for Madison's Wisconsin State Journal

Unlike Christians, Derby hadn't been to the original Salvatore's location -- and it shows. (As does this review's singular visit to the restaurant.) She didn't even have the tacos, which one could argue is the defining difference between original location and Johnson Street. What's there isn't bad, but it isn't enough.

Sarah Baker Hansen's review of Twisted Cork for the Omaha World-Herald

Another stunningly positive review -- there's a lot this week. Twisted Cork's adherence to the Pacific Northwest is interesting; that's not a culinary reference point you see deployed across the board like this.

Ian Froeb's review of the Peacock Loop Diner for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The Riverfront Times liked this place all right; Froeb does not. If I'd been served the slice of pie he describes, I'm not sure I could forgive anything Peacock Loop did well. It's claiming to be a diner; pie is non-fungible.

Blade staff's review of Rock 'n Whiskey Saloon for the Toledo Blade

Listen, I know it's a paper serving a city that isn't exactly a food destination, but readers in Toledo or anywhere deserve better than grainy photos of half-eaten food, subject-verb disagreement in the very first sentence, or the description of a dish called "Southern Style chunks" that fails to clearly indicate what's being chunked.

Mike Sula's review of the Franklin Room for Chicago's Reader

Sounds miserable, almost all around. Fried cauliflower florets? Yum. Fried steak? Pretty much in no-thanks territory there.

Peter Chakerian's review of Ninja City for the Cleveland Plain Dealer

I'd call this review a little too forgiving of chef Bac Nguyen's social media freak out a couple months ago. Chakerian almost seems interested in currying favor with the chef. Skimpy on details, this is the Plain Dealer's second of the week.

BONUS: Joshua Page's review of Spoon & Stable for Minneapolis' Heavy Table

Minneapolis is lighting up over Gavin Kaysen's new restaurant, as it opened with about as much fanfare as any Midwestern restaurant of recent memory. Heavy Table is web only, but this is one of those reviews where even a food website holds to the conventions of print criticism because it's just that big a deal.