The universe was clearly shaken by my resurrection of the Flyover Friday column last week. The RedEye, one of Chicago's three regular food beats aggregated here, announced that it would be A) going weekly rather than daily, B) focusing on food and entertainment, and C) integrating with the Tribune's website in a little while. We'll see what that means for this column. And in Des Moines, the hammer fell on the latest wearer of the Datebook Diner cape and cowl; Karla Walsh is out after two years, and the Register is looking for the hero they need, if not the hero they deserve. Fear not, superfan: this is still your friendly neighborhood Flyover Friday, for the week of January 8-14.
A pair of entertaining reviews emanating from Chicago this week. Phil Vettel's Tribune review of The Heritage is emphatic; lots of unqualified statements of quality, praise, and firm encouragement to do or order certain things. The Heritage sounds like it could be a Madison restaurant, no judgment intended. Also, has every chef in the upper Midwest worked at The Bristol? I feel like I read that name a lot. For the Reader, Mike Sula continues to take minor, semi-playful/semi-rude shots at various Chicagoland neighborhoods, as well as at John Tesar -- a chef whose antagonistic relationship with basically everyone is well-known. Sula's review of Knife shows a restaurant that isn't quite getting it done, but is coming close.
All right kid, don't let me down. I did a little research since last week and found the wee Fort Wayne Journal Gazette and its restaurant critic, Ryan Duvall. Duvall has reviewed Sassafras on Main, and though his style is a little too staccato -- lots of short grafs, not a ton of flow, and almost punishingly detailed -- it's a quality review in that it answers a lot of potential questions. Also, a Hot Brown reference.
No reviews aggregated this week. Womp womp. See the intro, if you skipped ahead.
Detroit's two papers of note when it comes to restaurant criticism both turned out new reviews this week. Jane Slaughter reviewed Café Succo for the Metro Times (more or less complimentary of the frighteningly virtuous two-location operation) and Molly Abraham reviewed Da Nang for the News (approved of the projected slideshow, and I think she maybe ate a mango-papaya salad and possibly tasted the sate chili sauce).
Nothing from the Strib or the Pioneer Press this week (just more Small Bites or whatever from the PP, back to form I guess), so instead we get kind of a glut from the City Pages. I can't ascertain if either are supposed to be something other than reviews, and their length speaks to review style, so let's say Mecca Bos has reviews of Esker Grove in the Walker Art Center (hi, Doug Flicker!) and the St. Paul continuation of Minneapolis' Revival, which only opened on December 26 and shouldn't be reviewed yet if the City Pages are following the rules. So maybe that one isn't meant to be a review. I dunno.
My favorite Southern city of the Midwest is back at full critical speed this week. The Post-Dispatch's Ian Froeb reviews VietNam Style -- lord I hope that isn't a Gangnam Style joke, and Froeb mercifully avoids the thought, but the decor says yes -- and appreciates its breathless brand of joie de vivre. Meanwhile, at the Riverfront Times, Cheryl Baehr triggers every one of my dork genes: barbecue, St. Louis, semi-secret restaurant-inside-a-dive-bar. Baehr's review is for Stellar Hog, a 'cue project located inside Super's Bungalow.
Nothing from the World-Herald this week as of Flyover Friday press time.
Ohio brings game when everyone's got a new review out. Cleveland gets two. One, a review of Chow Chow Kitchen from Debbi Snook, reveals that even paid restaurant critics don't always understand persistent pinking in chicken cooked on the bone. The other is Douglas Trattner's two-fer review of Ribsticks BBQ and Barabicu Smokehouse for the Scene. He's no fan of the immersion bath-started meats at Ribsticks, aggressively preferring the more homey, traditional take on barbecue at Barabicu.
Of the rest, Polly Campbell proves for the Cincinnati Enquirer that all the restaurants in town are still opening in Over-The-Rhine; her review of Please goes nuts over the tasting menus. Not much makes G.A. Benton go nuts, at least not visibly nuts. Benton reviews Press Pub on 5th and praises it more than you'd think a 2.5 star review would praise a place. The anonymous Toledo Blade critic turns in a perfectly fine review of longtime favorite KotoBuki Japanese Restaurant. Today was the first time I bumped up against the Blade's paywall, so thanks, Google cache.
Wisconsin would've matched Ohio's output if not for a quiet week (and this time I double-checked) from the Journal Sentinel. But Milwaukee was still repped by the Shepherd Express. Matthew Prigge reviewed Bee's Cuisine for the ShepEx, and it sounds like Bee's is doing it right.
Here in Madison, Samara Kalk Derby reviews 5 Star Korean BBQ for the State Journal, now that 5 Star finally open for real. Unsurprisingly, the atmosphere is panned. (It's a terrible location.) And in fact, this is a really solid review -- with the exception of the apropos-of-nothing mention of not liking kimchi. From Lindsay Christians at the Capital Times, our first review of the new location of Salvatore's Tomato Pies in Sun Prairie. Both of those reviews got a lot of room to play with, it seems -- though scrolling through the Cap Times' in-line images is always a bit of a chore on desktop. Isthmus' review comes from Candice Wagener; she reviews Lalo's Mexican Restaurante briefly, but efficiently.