Flyover Friday - Restart

Been a little while, hasn't it? I would have liked to have been a little more on top of this column -- especially going into the James Beard weekend in May -- but there were six weeks or so there that were, like, nonstop. Anyway, I'll be talking about being a food writer with CHEW (Culinary History Enthusiasts of Wisconsin) at Goodman Community Center this coming Wednesday, so I'd better get some new content up in here. My delayed Month of New conclusion will be coming in the next couple days; in the meantime, here's a fresh Flyover Friday.

Lacey Muszynski's review of Double B's BBQ for Milwaukee's Shepherd Express

Good job on Muszynski for pointing out that you really can tell when a place cheats on smoke and when it goes all in. I wish Double B's would just stick with a style -- the serving method signals Texas even if the sauces don't -- but it seems to be working so maybe I should let it go.

Katie Holocher's review of Revolution Rotisserie & Bar for the Cincinnati City Beat

A new critic for me to discuss! This appears to be Holocher's fourth article for City Beat since March, and her first review. It's an easy start, nothing too complicated, and Holocher does fine with this assignment. I notice that nothing has changed in Cincinnati since I took a Flyover Friday break; OTR is still the happening hood.

C. Acevedo's review of Johnny's Hall of Fame for the Des Moines Register

Listen, I don't know everything. I've definitely googled some menu items in my time doing restaurant reviews. But how can Acevedo, even in Des Moines, never encountered peanut butter on a burger? And what kind of Google-fu are we talking about here that nothing came up under "is peanut butter good on burgers"?

Michael Jackman's review of Cheesesteak Institute of America for Detroit's Metro Times

Hey Madison, who'd like to see a crossover between Detroit's CIA and our own espionage-named OSS? Across the Atlantic, across Lake Michigan, potato potahto. Jackman is far too charitable with his cheesesteak theory; chopped onions and Cheez Whiz are the only right way. Sliced onions just sounds like a bad idea.

Molly Abraham's review of Brooklyn Street Local for the Detroit News

Abraham is definitely one of the old guard in Midwest food writing, but it's probably about time I started putting "review" in fingerquotes here. It's a fine little feature she writes, but I seriously question whether she should be putting star ratings on these stories. If Abraham doesn't have the inches or the stomach to process a full review, the stars should be left for a different critic to hand out. Just my opinion.

Cheryl Baehr's review of the Gramophone for St. Louis' Riverfront Times

I typically enjoy reading Baehr's reviews, and I always enjoy reading St. Louis reviews for Beersball scouting purposes, so this one's a perfect fit. A sandwichy bar in the Grove is probably going to be right up our alley at the end of the month. The risk the Gramophone took in rebranding is impressive. Trigger warning: Provel mention.

G.A. Benton's review of Mojo Tago for the Columbus Dispatch

A review as laden with adjectives as the restaurant it describes is laden with kitsch. (And this is coming from someone who does indeed love an adjective or two.) Benton appears to have good perspective on the context and ambition of a restaurant like Mojo Tago -- though Benton misses the opportunity to explain (or even properly stylize for purposes of clarity) the "TaGo" half of the restaurant's name.

Andre Darlington's review of Mezze for Madison's Isthmus

Man, is Forequarter quickly becoming a lineage-maker in Madison, or what? I like a menu that has divisions entitled "Hot," "Cold," and "Pizza." They're the three main divisions of all food, aren't they? In general, Darlington does a fine job of describing Mezze and its place in the Madison scene. There's a bit of the State Street Landlord Homogeneity Blues that some folks in town love to sing a little too often at Madison Karaoke, but it's fine.

Ian Froeb's reviews of Monty's American Grill and Walnut Grill for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

A two-fer from the other St. Louis paper we follow here at Flyover Friday. It's a lucky city to have two such reliably valuable food writers putting out weekly reviews. Froeb's got great tone control, and this split review is a pleasant and informative read.

Blade staff's review of Palacio Maya Mexican Bar and Grill for the Toledo Blade

The Blade continues to roll with the anonymous reviewer routine, which really only matters if anonymity confers something useful to the review, and I continue to question if it does. I continue to question the editorial decisions at the Blade as well; poor grammar and awkward phrasing abound.

Heather Schroering's mini-review of Pub Royale for Chicago's RedEye

So yeah, it's all broken out into bullet-pointy sections, and sure the default text size is pretty huge, but RedEye uses "mini" a bit too casually. Molly Abraham had just shy of 500 words for her latest starred review. Isthmus reviews are typically around 750-800. This MINI-review is over 1,200 words. It's a fine review, but let's call it what it is.

Samara Kalk Derby's review of Takara 88 for Madison's Wisconsin State Journal

If you're coming to Flyover Friday for the first time, you've got to understand that I'm not trying to be petty with the criticisms I level. I'm trying to deal from the top of the deck. And it's not Derby's fault that her paper only requires her to visit a restaurant once for her reviews. But goodness, is that a sloppy, low-standards way to review a restaurant. She should have gone back with her friends before she finished the review. (And unless her friend is trained in feng shui, maybe that comment should have stayed out.)

Sarah Baker Hansen's review of Astoria Biryani House for the Omaha World-Herald

The reviews out of Omaha are fun because I see Omaha as a Midwestern community that has no reason but its own sense of horizons to really embrace a more global cuisine. There's a lot of international immigration into Nebraska, and the obstruction against that trend is no better highlighted by the ban on immigrant youths' driving privileges that was just recently overturned. Those horizons are definitely starting to expand, and this review of a biryani joint is a fine example. Also, its subject matter is a little coincidental, but you'll have to read an upcoming Flyover Friday to know why.