Flyover Friday - Timing, tone, and focus

This week's full slate of reviews cover a lot of restaurant criticism touchstones. We see decisions being made on when to publish a review and when to revisit a spot. We see editorial choices being made, leaving certain quirks or phrases in place and creating headlines that may or may not reflect the tone of the review. We see the depth of the critic's analysis and the breadth of his or her experience at a restaurant. If for no other reason than showing the wide variety of the world of restaurant reviews -- and that's even without the newest 4-star paywall-locked Phil Vettel review of Next -- this is quite a week for Flyover Friday.

Lindsay Christians' review of Takara 88 for Madison's Capital Times

I got a lot of "too much," "too heavy," "sagging" describing the food in this review, which makes the takeaway tone unexpectedly positive. I hope it's just a case of the negative standing out.

Dana Moran's review of Lost Lake for Chicago's RedEye

Something of a relief appearance for Moran, subbing in for Michael Nagrant. She describes a very tangled lineage leading up to the opening of Lost Lake, but I guess that all speaks to its sure-thing popularity. The boozy tone of this review makes me think you're meant to forget the wait, and the tiny food menu, by the end of the night.

Kristen Franke's review of Krueger's Tavern for the Cincinnati CityBeat

Either a small budget for dining, or the influence of Franke's anti-Germanic culinary sentiments (explicitly stated at the top with a joke I don't get at the end), or both, contribute to far too shallow a dive into Krueger's menu.

Douglas Trattner's review of Grovewood Tavern and Wine Bar for the Cleveland Scene

From all indications, a worthwhile revisitation of a long-running restaurant. With every menu item described as a pale and overpriced version of the thing it is meant to resemble, I could feel Trattner's disappointment in Grovewood's evolution.

 Jane Slaughter's review of Top of the Pontch for the Detroit Metro Times

A more food-positive review than Molly Abraham's for the News. It still sounds like a slightly absurd restaurant to me. Slaughter capitalizes ras el hanout like it's a Batman villain, which I can understand -- but her editor should have caught it.

C. Acevedo's review of Scenic Route Bakery for the Des Moines Register

The world needs more humble luncheonettes. But more than that, this review needs more...review. Is it me, or does Acevedo only sample one, maybe two sandwiches and a chocolate chip cookie?

Molly Abraham's review of Ciao Bella Ristorante for the Detroit News

This is an unusually in-depth review from Abraham -- definitely a higher word count than most. The restaurant itself seems a but of a mashup, but the world's full of those.

Rick Nelson's review of Third Bird for the Minneapolis StarTribune

That bison burger sounds pretty tasty, though I admit I'm pretty in the bag for iceberg lettuce on burgers. Let's count how many times Wisconsin gets mentioned in this review, and you'll understand why Minnesota's leading the charge to secede from the Midwest and get out from under its neighbors' shadows.

Cheryl Baehr's review of Old Standard Fried Chicken for St. Louis' Riverfront Times

Definitely getting a Honey Butter Fried Chicken (Chicago) vibe out of this joint -- the phrase "honey butter" does actually appear in the review, coincidentally -- but I'm not really complaining there. I'm officially putting Old Standard on the Beersball radar.

Laura DeMarco's review of Tommy's Restaurant for the Cleveland Plain Dealer

Tommy's sounds exhausting, like the entirety of the vegetarian and gluten-sensitive diet plan/lifestyle/thing. Kudos to DeMarco for making it read as a lively and fun venture, but ugh.

G. A. Benton's review of Shish Kebab Mediterranean Grill for the Columbus Dispatch

A detail-rich review, one that could not have been carried off by the previous Dispatch critic, I have to say. It's a slow read, but an informative one. (I don't believe I knew that there was a differently-spelled Turkish version of pita.)

Erin Elizabeth Clune's review of El Burrito Loco for Madison's Isthmus

I'm not super-crazy about making a restaurant look good by slighting comparable fast food. It doesn't really serve either side well. I'd like to know more about how the restaurant compares to the cart, since I don't get to eat there very often. Also, will Señor Peppers in Oregon be changing its name to match the parent operation?

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

I'm never going to be cool with how much Derby writes from her friends' perspective -- try their food and comment for yourself -- but this is a solid review otherwise. Funny how some things line up, though; remember this for next week.

Blade staff's review of La Autentica Michoacana for the Toledo Blade

The weirdly Anglo tone of this review oogs me out. "Pleasantly bland is the quesadilla" is a line from my Mexican food-themed cover of "Jabberwocky."

Mike Sula's review of Izakaya Mita for Chicago's Reader

Amen! Where the RedEye review last week went on about football despite being a "mini" review, this one starts right out highlighting that which Izakaya Mita comes right out and highlights: the fringe menu items. Call me a Bourdain wannabe, but I wanna be eating here.

Carol Deptolla's review of Onesto for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Deptolla glides over one interesting point, that she sat on this review for six weeks on top of giving Onesto twice as much time as a restaurant typically gets before reviews can start. That's respect for owner Joe Sorge, but also a bit of an indictment on the restaurant in general, even if things shaped up noticeably. On the other hand, larger market papers often wait even longer before even starting a review.

Sarah Baker Hansen's review of Blatt Beer and Table West for the Omaha World-Herald

Lots of smoky, dark flavors described here. I can't believe that two locations of this restaurant are supported by the market; I think about the west side supporting a second Old Fashioned in Madison, which seems like a big ask at first and then I picture the Old Fashioned's crowd and I kind of get it.

Ian Froeb's review of Lona's Lil Eats for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

I totally get what Froeb says about this being a Future Restaurant in a very real way -- and I also like the rutabaga line -- but I found myself wishing for a Blade Runner joke. That's me, though. The two St. Louis papers have now voiced their opinions, and the word is good on Lona's.