There was a story on NPR yesterday about frog sex -- bear with me. The story was about how frogs choose mates, and the way preference is displayed when there are two roughly equal options. The story specifically discussed what's called the decoy theory, which is when a shitty-ass third option is introduced, and the net effect is that it completely reverses the prior preference between the first two options. No one ever picks the shitty third option, it just totally mucks up the decision-making process related to the two reasonable options. This story was three minutes and fifteen seconds long, and I don't know how this happened but the hosts never once said the word "Trump." It's the words we say and don't say, today on Flyover Friday.
Kevin Pang's review of Sink|Swim for the Chicago Tribune (or the helpful Google link)
Say what you will about affected menu descriptions: How many places are doing pipe-delineated names instead of plus-signs or ampersands? This is a very good review, placing the restaurant in its proper context and talking about the food in useful ways.
Sula resists the urge to bring heat against the Indian neighborhood of Bengal -- kidding, kidding -- delivering instead an instructive and well-paced review. The dual samosa presentations both really pique my interest.
This isn't billed as a review, exactly. There's no exclamation mark rating, but Nagrant references multiple trips, and he discusses numerous dishes. The restaurant has been open since May. I'm calling it a review. And this is how I want his reviews to read: no headings over single paragraphs, not a mile long. Tidy, personal, natural.
The State Journal published its one-visit review last week (surprise surprise) so now we really get down to it. Up first, Lindsay Christians with a pretty down take on the burgers, fairly upbeat on the beers. (I'M CONVERTING YOU, CHRISTIANS.) Wherever the reviews disagree, there's a common thread of carbs being carbs when you talk about HopCat's food.
This might be the ideal Shep review, considering its general space constraints. It doesn't faff around with the restaurant's ad slogan, it doesn't get caught up in the history of the space -- there's no room for that here, valuable as it might be in longer formats -- and it doesn't talk too much about the owner's love for cooking. Again, in a longer review this might be fine, but these reviews need to be tight and tidy, and this one is.
TELL US HOW YOU REALLY FEEL ABOUT BABA GANOUSH, DOUG, jeez. Maybe it's because I just ate at Banzo the other day (Madison's best Middle Eastern restaurant according to the 2015 Isthmus Madison Favorites poll) but this review is killing me as I'm reading it at 8:30 AM. Craving chicken shawarma now.
This review features a couple odd phrases that I think probably sound totally normal in Acevedo's mind but ring a little goofy, for me at least. "Poultry snacks." "Tasty minglers." It's a fine review (a one-visit review if I'm not mistaken, but what are you gonna do) otherwise.
A breezy sort of review, a little light on detail but pleasant enough. If the fruit smoothies taste of nothing but the fruit in them, I would propose that it's not a sneaky way to get fruit into your diet at all. Kind of screams "IT FRUIT."
"Sunburned nipples" is not a phrase you expect to read in any food article. The title here begs you to click, thinking the answer will be yes, but it reads more like a "mmmmmmeeeeehhhh..no." Bos uses the language of a broken spell twice, and I'd say that just about pegs it.
Interesting that Vettel discusses the "care" and "love" that go into certain dishes at the Blanchard, which I normally disdain; he does so because the chef (goofily) includes those words in the description of some of his dishes. This is the kind of coverage you get at a major paper like the Tribune. A reimbursement fantasy.
Two of Chicago's three reviewing papers doubled up this week, with Sula himself crafting two reviews for the Reader. Not a particularly positive one here, and some curious choices of descriptors with sauce/salad dressing. "Sheathed," "enrobed" -- do these words mean the solids of the dish are literally covered in all three dimensions with sauce? That seems like it would be way too much. "Blanketed," I could get, but I worry this is a case of thesaurusitis.
In two paragraphs, DeMarco uses the words panache, spirit (twice), flair (twice), and magnificence, so I'm thinking this restaurant is going for the high scores in the artistic program. That, or DeMarco is a drama coach on the side.
Oddly, about a third of this review discusses happy hour snack-dining. I guess "Bar" is the second word in the name, but it seems to me Benton could utilize happy hour to try a lot of dishes for less cost to the paper, and then not pull that curtain back for the reader. There isn't enough time spent talking about the merits of the dinner dishes that do sound genuinely interesting.
I had to google whether you could make schmalz with pork, since I was only familiar with the Jewish cuisine version that would not exactly welcome a porcine ingredient. Lo, there is indeed Griebenschmalz in the German culinary lexicon, made exactly as described with pork and apples.
Okay! So you've now read SKD's review, Lindsay Christians' review, and mine. What you should be taking away is that there are some consistency issues in HopCat's kitchen, but that it might not be the greatest place for a meal regardless of whether they can iron things out in there.
Seven paragraphs on getting a table? Also, this a return to the "white meat is the right meat" SKD of olde, with an apparent complaint of tail- and skin-on, bone-in fish cookery. We hadn't seen this kind of finicky palate from her in a while. (The only commenter to-date does call her out on it, FWIW.)
The references to the storefront are confusing, as it's not entirely apparent whether or not you can actually dine there without the presence of the truck itself. Good menu exploration though.
Legit LOL at the parenthetical aside about chess puns. Froeb doesn't seem to be quite as enamored with Kingside as fellow STL critic Cheryl Baehr was a couple weeks ago, nor as much as Team Beersball was when we visited. But as usual, it's a well-written review from Froeb.
I think St. Louis, and America in general, deserve maybe a little more credit than Baehr seems willing to give in regard to differentiating and appreciating traditional Mexican versus Tex-Mex. "If it's not a combo platter, we don't know what to do with it" is a bit condescending and overly harsh.
Aside from the name "Gastropub," which doesn't really seem appropriate for Two Foxes' menu, and aside from what I think has to be a homophonic error between "site" and "sight," let me just say: Nice job on the art, Blade! It's been tiring having nothing but bad things to say.