Flyover Friday - Face it

Well, another one bites the dust. No, not another print newspaper going under -- I feel like we've leveled off on that front, thankfully -- but rather another restaurant critic shedding the mask of anonymity. This time, it's Rick Nelson of the Minneapolis StarTribune. He's been rather quiet on the review scene lately (the Kansas City Pitch's Charles Ferruzza and Carol Deptolla of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, too, but his face is already out there, and her anonymity's not going anywhere), though he did swing through Wisconsin not too long ago. Revealed faces, facing facts, busting chops -- the face, literal and figurative, is on my mind in this week's Flyover Friday.

K.L. Lorenz's review of nines American Bistro for Milwaukee's Shepherd Express

I don't know where Lorenz lives if a golf course view is homey, but good livin, K.L.! This is one of those small reviews that reads way too promotional in its praise. Also, with a goofy name like "nines" getting easily lost amidst the regularly-lowercase nouns, grammar and punctuation are key -- and I feel like the editing on this one is a bit lax.

Douglas Trattner's reviews of Cafe Bon Appetit and Black Box Fix for the Cleveland Scene

A perfectly cromulent mini-roundup review, if a little bit adrift in the front half; three deployments of the word "decided" in the course of five sentences. Could have used an additional paragraph or two per restaurant.

C. Acevedo's review of Blue Tomato Kitchen for the Des Moines Register

This review's a bit of a mess, but it's not all Acevedo's fault (though "review" is used where I think "revue" is meant): "Michelin-trained" is an odd way to describe a chef's experience, it's "la dolce vita," and both Acevedo and Blue Tomato biff the sausage name "n'duja." The menu was a key away (n'duka), and Acevedo misses in a different direction with "n'duma." Acevedo leaves too many internal monologue wonderings in the review where there should be definitive statements instead.

Michael Jackman's review of Zeke's Rock and Roll BBQ for the Detroit Metro Times

I love that Jackman and his guests razz this restaurant on its positively Fierian name. And there's nothing like an exhaustive barbecue review; this one goes on to mouthwatering lengths.

Molly Abraham's review of Garrido's Bistro and Pastry for the Detroit News

Okay, here's the thing. I give Abraham the business for being too brief, but it's not just length that I'm missing. It's this feeling that she could have walked in and looked around for a few minutes and written most of these comments, never having touched an arepa or forked a lime-marinated shrimp. Readers deserve a little more from a critic.

Lindsay Christians' review of Waypoint Public House for Madison's Capital Times

There's a little more room between the four-week marker and the date of this review's publication than there was with the State Journal's review last week -- but only a little. I still want to know what the rush is.

Cheryl Baehr's review of Taco Circus for St. Louis' Riverfront Times

Austin sneaks into everywhere, including St. Louis. Sounds good though -- but how does a place like this make everything from scratch but not the tortillas? Isn't that, like, the easy part? I don't know. I don't run a restaurant.

Polly Campbell's review of Cinque Restaurant for the Cincinnati Enquirer

Some editing mishaps in here, but this review clears the bar. I don't know that the rating echoes the text, though, unless it's four out of five.

Beth Segal's review of Momo's Kebab for the Cleveland Plain Dealer

A very conversational review. Reading about Moroccan food will never not make me miss Faouzi's here in Madison.

G.A. Benton's review of Bonchon Chicken for the Columbus Dispatch

I actually saw this review pop up in my Facebook feed, which is unusual. Even more unusual: I'm fairly certain I'd never heard of Bonchon before, and it's apparently a Thing. Benton's unmoved but satisfied; I kind of wish I could see the old fuddy-duddy critic that Benton replaced review this place.

Andre Darlington's review of El Sabor a Puebla for Madison's Isthmus

There's something about this review that doesn't read like a typical Darlington review; I think it's the lack of a statement placing this restaurant not only in a Madison context, but also a national one. This is not necessarily a complaint, just a statement on something he does frequently. I'm also sent down memory lane with this review, to Cortadito Express and the erstwhile presence of actual Central American street food on the near-near-east side.

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

I suppose I should stop complaining about the State Journal's one-visit policy. Funny story: when I last visited Willie Ty's for my review of it, a couple next to us at the bar was talking with the bartender, who mentioned that they'd been written up once or twice, but that they'd never had a real, full review. I figured the place would be excited when the Isthmus review came out, but the review never got posted on the restaurant's Facebook page. But of course, this sort-of review did. Oh well.

Niz Proskocil's review of Nicola's Italian Wine and Fare for the Omaha World-Herald

Proskocil isn't the regular OWH critic, but there isn't too much of a sense of just-filling-in-itis. A couple trips, a fairly broad view of the menu -- yep, this'll do fine.

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

It makes me happy every time someone gets to experience pelmeni for the first time, even though I question whether any pelmeni is as good as those at Paul's Pelmeni here in Madison. That they share a menu here with a banh-mi (misspelled in the most common way in this review) is a very odd but intriguing bit of synthesis.

Blade staff's review of Topside Restaurant and Lounge for the Toledo Blade

Double oof. An almost universally negative review (Oof No. 1), that isn't nearly as much fun to read as, say, a Pete Wells skewering usually is (Oof No. 2). As with a previous review this week, I'm unsure how this even rates a two-star review -- and this scale is out of five.

BONUS: Mike Sula's review-ish of Taco in a Bag for Chicago's Reader

The Reader doesn't label this as a review, but Sula himself refers to it as such in the post-script. It's short, and maybe the place just opened. I don't know. I do know there's a little bit of looking-down going on here, and I sort of get that -- it's semi-homemade fare done very tongue-in-cheekily -- but it's not like the walking taco just showed up on the scene a month ago. If it had been me writing this, I might have mentioned the idea of food-shame solely to discourage it; I certainly wouldn't have employed the "avoid eye contact with your one-night-stand" tone that Sula does.