Here is something that has been a hot topic at some recent dinner parties over the last few weeks, and a lot of people keep bringing it up to me . . . so let me just throw this idea out there:
The recent Brix review in the Star Tribune marks the third time in recent memory that Jeremy Iggers has referred to what his dining companions think and feel about a restaurant's honesty and authenticity quotient (Masa and Peninsula being the other two) regarding the food style and quality. And not just a mention either . . . in the Brix review (both he and they liked the place), Iggers's lead graph referenced some friends who spend half their year in Rome and that it was their feeling that Brix could hold its own with their favorite trattorias in that city. Wow! Having spent a lot of time there (Rome, not Brix) that’s quite a bold statement. It seems to me that unless Brix’s chef Cory Henkel is the second coming of Mario Batali, then Jeremy’s friends need to ease up on the limoncello, or find some better restaurants when they are back in bella Roma!
There are many great restaurants in this town, and each year the number of restaurants that are nationally competitive grows, but my experience tells me that there is not an Italian restaurant in our five-state area that is comparable to any of Rome’s best restaurants when it comes to the quality of what’s on the plate. And that's not a knock against restaurants in the Upper Midwest. Rome is one of the world's great food cities! I like Jeremy’s stuff, and have read him weekly for fifteen years, but as a reader I am buying the Strib to glean the dining critic’s viewpoint, not what the critic’s friends think of the place. Is that just me being weird? Does anyone care what my buddies think about their dining experience at a restaurant I am reviewing? If you have an opinion about this I would love some of our blog readers to let me know what they think. Are today's dining columnists going the way of the dinosaur? Is this my La Brea tarpit (copyright Dan Cole)?