Flyover Friday - Filling a void

We're a few weeks into 2016 and there are still a couple papers that haven't quite gotten the machinery churning out new reviews yet. In particular, the Omaha World-Herald has been silent since Christmas (though, spoiler alert, a new review posted today, which will show up in the next Flyover Friday). Right now I'm thinking about a different kind of absence, though -- that of my dad, who would've been 73 today. He's been gone for just shy of 20 years now, which is entirely surreal to consider. The acuteness of his passing isn't always sharp, but there are times. He'd dig that I'm writing criticism, and I wish he could've read some of my stuff. Somber closing note, but it's all good. Here's your new Flyover Friday.

January 11

Jess Fleming's review of The Commodore for St. Paul's Pioneer Press

Closed for a decade between original life and rebirth? Well okay, The Lexington, I guess you've earned a little slack. Must be a St. Paul thing. Readers of last week's Flyover Friday will note that the phrase "supper club" is uttered here. Upper Midwest represent.

January 12

Lindsay Christians' review of Pasqual's Cantina for Madison's Capital Times

Well okay, the old Fyfe's space was closed that long, too, before becoming Pasqual's Cantina. It's hard for me to get excited about Pasqual's, though, even with the big shiny new HQ.

Susan Harpt Grimes' review of Key Westconsin for Milwaukee's Shepherd Express

I don't know if I could endorse a restaurant that deploys Margaritaville signage without even being affiliated with Jimmy Buffett Conglomerated Beach Bum Enterprises (TM), or one that unintentionally encourages the common WES-consin mispronunciation.

January 13

Mike Sula's review of Dos Urban Cantina for Chicago's Reader

Sula's right, it's an awful name. But oh, man, the dishes he describes sound serious as hell. There's definitely some Bayless drifting around in there, but some of those combinations are totally new and pretty exciting.

Pama Mitchell's review of Live! at the Ludlow Garage for the Cincinnati City Beat

"On our visit" -the best way to start the food criticism portion of your review if you don't want me to take the rest of it seriously. Sorry not sorry.

Douglas Trattner's review of Sarita for the Cleveland Scene

I don't know if the phrase "Pinterest-worthy silverware chandelier" is meant to be neutral, a compliment, a left-handed compliment (as one commenter notes the review may be full of), or a straight-up dig, but it's evocative, that's for sure.

Karla Walsh's review of Open Sesame for the Des Moines Register

Pickles: a pretty common inclusion when it comes to a lot of Middle Eastern food that I've encountered. A slight review, but fine.

Serena Maria Daniels' review of Huron Room for the Detroit Metro Times

That first graf is a pretty flowery way of saying "gentrification." The restaurant sounds like a good deal on real estate that needed a concept, which isn't to say that it can't be tasty, but it does come off as something of a stretch.

Mecca Bos' review of Saint Dinette for Minneapolis' City Pages

Now this sounds like a place that needs to exist. Indeed, it landed on the Eater Minneapolis Essential 38 list that just came out on January 5. And it's even in St. Paul!

Cheryl Baehr's review of Retreat Gastropub for St. Louis' Riverfront Times

Baehr's on the same scent I am with those last two reviews: what's essential, and what's trend-humping fluff (or "trend-chasing caricature," in Baehr's more polite terminology)? A good review fights through preconceptions and finds a truth. In this case, Retreat ain't bad at all.

January 14

Polly Campbell's review of Anea Bistro for the Cincinnati Enquirer

"The night I was there": see "On our visit."

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

I guess Italian and American South can mash-up okayyyy, but if a critic ever needed to show more awareness of what was reaching for hotness and what was effortly achieving it, it's probably Benton with this review.

Molly Abraham's review of Parkside: A Modern American Bistro for the Detroit News

I'm not sure I'd call a "government cheese" joke indicative of a welcome sense of humor, considering the context, but okay. Abraham at least appears to have eaten a bowl of soup at this ridiculously-named restaurant.

Linda Falkenstein's review of SoHo Gourmet Cuisines for Madison's Isthmus

I suppose it's time for me to let go of the notion that SoHo's brick and mortar is going to be a dumpling restaurant. Falkenstein hits a lot of specials, which is smart, because I think those are going to reflect the future everyday character of the menu.

Samara Kalk Derby's review of Jeng's Asian Kitchen for Madison's Wisconsin State Journal

Way too much owner profile going on here. Spend more time eating!

January 15

Phil Vettel's review of Swift & Sons for the Chicago Tribune (and handy Google link)

I want everything about this restaurant. Been missing these acutely-tuned Vettel reviews.