The old Dunn Bros on 9th and Nicollet is now Barrio, Tim McKee and Josh Thoma’s new tequila bar. It features a killer drinks menu designed by Johnny Michael, the cities premier mixologist—cherry-lime margarita with absinthe? Pineapple-lime chasers for aged twenty-year-old mezcals or genuine tequila? McKee and his chef, Bill Fairbanks, designed the menu, which is inspired by the street foods of the Latin world. Sounds cool—not your typical derivative junk that has been opening all over town recently. I bumped into McKee Monday night at the State Fair; we all had kids and spouses in tow, and he was very psyched with the results of the test meals and was raring to go. Check it out, and let me know what you think.
In a rare star turn outside of his own kitchen, Heidi’s uber culi-mensch (How do you like that moniker?!) Stewart Woodman, who was named Food & Wine’s Best New Chef of 2006, is teaching a Rosh Hashanah cooking class, hosted at the St. Paul JCC on Thursday, September 18 at 6:30 p.m. The event is open to the public.
Last week’s Wall Street Journal had a Ray Sokolov piece that really burned me up. He was writing a roundup of the convention cities’ dining scene and trashed Cosmos, seemed to be interested in the St Paul Grill, praised Heartland, and loved Lucia’s. But he also failed to go to about a dozen other restaurants that should have been in the mix, but that’s the nature of these types of articles. Out-of-towners never hit all the places; it’s an impossible task. That didn’t bug me. Nor did his take bug me that much, aside from the positive spin on the SPG, which serves some pretty uninspired and poorly cooked food these days. What really ticked me off was this: after lauding some Denver eateries, he segues into our city with this deft observation . . .
“Such a varied, sizzling food scene isn't what the McCain camp will find in the Twin Cities on Labor Day.”
C’mon, Ray! I have eaten my way around Denver, and its top-five restaurants are no match for ours, and our food scene is deeper and more varied than Denver’s is. And as far as ‘sizzle’ goes, we have it over the Mile High City in spades: more Beard nominations, more Beard Awards, more Food & Wine Best Chefs . . . and on and on.
By now everyone has heard, I hope, that Wine Spectator magazine gave an Award of Excellence to a nonexistent restaurant that sent in the required paperwork and the submission fee of $250. The fake eatery, called Osteria L’Intrepido, was the work of wine writer Robin Goldstein, who illustrated, rather well I think, that not only is the award absurdly easy to get but that the recognition lacks the oomph that the magazine seems hell-bent on making us think it has.
All that being said, it’s a pretty cheap trick, sort of like making a lost innocence story out of getting Lindsay Lohan to share a beer with you. Last year, the magazine had thousands of submissions, and 90 percent of them got the award because that’s how the system works, which WS has been very transparent about. Goldstein wasn’t so transparent, and although his prank makes a great point about the inanity of these types of lists and awards, his methodology uses an untruth to unmask an emperor whose clothes were already off.