Flyover Friday - Connections

The last week has, for me, been full of odd new engagements. A chef reached out to me after a mutual acquaintance (surreptitiously) passed along a Facebook comment. Another restaurant cold-emailed me to promote its new menu. And with a third restaurant, I tried to make a reservation that I was told wouldn't be necessary, and then by the time I arrived, it was clear it really kind of was. The restaurant world is full of connections -- between chefs, with critics, with diners, with cuisine itself. They don't always work, but bless 'em for trying. Plug yourselves in to this week's Flyover Friday.

Peter Chakerian's review of Ironwood Café for the Cleveland Plain Dealer

I'm not actually sure what a "Taste of the Town Review" is, but that probably makes more sense to the locals in Cleveland. A breezy review, good enough in spite of the flurry of "spot" drops in the first couple grafs.

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

This is a great review, addressing everything you'd want a review of a joint that's tapping into the Torrisi Italian Specialties vibe from over on the East Coast. It would be a shock if Sula missed the odd appearance of foams and cubes and other modernist flourishes, and indeed, he doesn't miss them at all.

Lindsay Christians' review of Brasserie V for Madison's Capital Times

Brasserie V is a favorite in my household, so it's nice to see this revisit-review happen. (If it comes on the heels of my Heatmap mention of Brasserie V, hey that's cool with me). I also love seeing Christians getting into the beer scene more and more. My wife will miss the former chef's waterzooi.

C. Acevedo's review of Rolling Wok Café for the Des Moines Register

I actually hit my limit on the Register's paywall from my desktop the other day. On my laptop, I get a pop-over ad, then a survey schibboleth, before I finally see this review -- which at least is of a good length, and more detailed than others from Acevedo have been. Still, such is the state of print media online these days.

Charles Ferruzza's review of Paradise Diner for the Kansas City Pitch

Ow. Again we meet with that awkward feeling when Charles Ferruzza truly and gloriously lays into a place but you kind of feel badly for the restaurant all the same. I suspect he tried to end that last line with a bit of diner/DNR wordplay but editorial concern made him spell it out. Still, a fun read and fair in its criticisms.

Susan Harpt Grimes' review of Meraki for Milwaukee's Shepherd Express

New website for the ShepEx! Nice and glossy, colorblocked and active. It's at odds with this passive voice-plagued review from Grimes, which covers a lot of ground but is undermined by its constantly tepid tone.

Douglas Trattner's review of Al's Deli for the Cleveland Scene

This is an odd review; it fills the slot typically taken up by more reviewy reviews, but feels like a restaurateur profile more than a restaurant review. But then, it's an odd restaurant being reviewed, with American diner + Middle Eastern cafe + New American fine-casual fare.

Michael Jackman's review of Iron Horse for the Detroit Metro Times

Another jumbled restaurant concept, and a review that basically calls it out for the mess -- and then the last graf arrives like a turd flung over the backyard fence. It reads like a not-so-subtle shot at the restaurant and its patrons. "This place might be a mess, but you'll all be so drunk it won't matter as long as you can blunt the buzz with these odd ribs!" I dunno, man.

Molly Abraham's review of Mandaloun Bistro for the Detroit News

Abraham, as usual, has very little to say -- or very little room to say what she wants. I've got all the room I want, but not much to say about this review.

Cheryl Baehr's review of Ferguson Burger Bar and More for St. Louis' Riverfront Times

I think I'll dedicate a little bit of the Detroit News' space for this review. Talk about a freighted damn assignment. Ferguson Burger Bar and More opened two days before Michael Brown was killed. It's been a central figure in so much footage. Baehr describes it as a "simple soul-food joint," but I think it's got more going on than that -- and that's especially true considering the fact that the operators are restaurant novices. I would hit this spot weekly if I was a local, or even if I wasn't. One thing it's got that the best soul food joints definitely do have is the sense of being a community center. Something more than a restaurant.

Polly Campbell's review of Lima Limon for the Cincinnati Enquirer

It's easy to forget that Peruvian cuisine is still soaking into all corners of the Midwest. Slightly weighed down by exposition, this review does a fine job of explaining a nationality of food that is unknown to many of the Enquirer's readers.

G. A. Benton's review of Ying's Teahouse and Yum Yum for the Columbus Dispatch

THAT. Is an awful restaurant name. And boo on Benton for not venturing into the "weird" part of the menu. I grant that kidney's pretty far out there from cumin lamb, but dude, take a chance.

Blade staff's review of Jamaican Spice for the Toledo Blade

For this week's Blade Artwork Criticism, I turned the computer to my wife, and said nothing. Her face scrunched up. Yeah. The review is clunky, and I don't get (or maybe just don't want to get) the jokey opening line about Ting. I mean, there's only one kind of Ting, right? It's a brand; the place doesn't make its own, does it?

Michael Nagrant's review of Intro for Chicago's RedEye

While one might think the rotating chef concept of Intro a reference to the rotating menu idea at Chicago's Next, I think it's as much a winking reference to the abrupt departure (and total decampment from Chicago) of L2O's most famous former chef, Laurent Gras. L2O is now Intro, and CJ "Mr. Broccolini" from Top Chef is up at the plate first. Nagrant makes it almost to the end of the review before mentioning Next, though, so maybe it's not what people think of first.

Laura DeMarco's review of Cleveland Vegan for the Cleveland Plain Dealer (again)

This review has no "Taste of the Town" modifier, but it reads more or less the same. Who knew that the DJ scene was so full of vegan restaurateurs? (Well, there are two, at least, but still.) That French toast sure looks gluten-free and vegan, all right.

Samara Kalk Derby's review of Rosie's Coffee Bar and Bakery for Madison's Wisconsin State Journal

I think I've mentioned that one of the problems with a one-visit review is that it reads more like a blog post than a true review. Too chronologically narrative, too thin, too flip. This is true of this review, but I will agree over all with the point Derby's companion makes: Rosie's pales in almost every way to its Monona Dr. neighbor, Crema.

Ian Froeb's review of Whitebox Eatery for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Froeb is back on the review horse after a few weeks off to write his STL 100 magnum opus. He wastes no time getting into his groove with an extensive and just-fun-enough review of this fast-casual operation.

Mike Sula's review of Kokopelli for Chicago's Reader (again)

I wonder how it works in print when one critic has two reviews go online in the same calendar week; any Chicago readers have illumination to share? "Flute-tooting Hopi trickster fertility god" would make a hell of a Twitter bio. In fact, that's one hell of an opening graf. Lots of fascinating takes and interesting menu items (executed well or otherwise) in here.

Sarah Baker Hansen's review of Sisters Cafe for the Omaha World-Herald

German and Turkish? That I can understand. But German and Thai? Now I'm afraid you've lost me. Actually, I'm a firm believer that anything can be mashed up if you know enough about what you're mashing -- and these two certainly seem to.