Oh my, what a Pandora’s box the whole Mitch Omer rake.com piece has become. I just got back from a family vacation and only saw the blog last Thursday afternoon when my editor e-mailed it to me to see if I had seen it yet. I hadn’t but read it for the first time by late Tuesday night. I know City Pages is running a story on it next week, and I will be posting something on Monday myself, but to satisfy the gossip addicts out there, here is the short version.
1. Holy crap was that a great read! I really enjoyed it.
2. Omer had some factual errors, but they were all excusable given the format he was writing in. Blogs are fun for that kind of rant.
3. He was misinformed about several Mpls.St.Paul Magazine policies, but no harm, no foul.
4. My blog last Thursday morning was not a response to Mitch—I submitted that blog the day before I saw his piece.
5. Most importantly, I have been advocating for years to see the loosening of the ‘road rules’ for these types of conversations. I applaud them; they are all healthy, and we need more people speaking their minds, not fewer.
6. I no longer write monthly restaurant reviews for the magazine and haven’t for some time.
7. In our print and online media, we consistently applaud many of the items at Hell’s Kitchen, and I have listed them in several roundups I have been a part of. My family loves the lemon ricotta pancakes.
8. Anyone who didn’t think that Aquavit in its prime was worth fellating should have their head examined. When that restaurant was firing on all cylinders and when Marcus and Roger were in the kitchen, the food was the best in town, hands down.
Anyway, more on Monday.
One thing is true: I am a food first kind of guy, and I am ecstatic that one of the Midwest’s best chefs is about to go public, again, in a kitchen that is geared to his talent level. Steven Brown has promised to let me know ASAP about Porter and Frye’s opening, but he did e-mail me last week to fill me in on the crew he has put together and the training/testing they are undergoing right now. He has taken over Mark McGraw’s kitchen at Confluence in Prescott for a few weeks to test recipes and train staff. More restaurants should be approaching opening day the way Brown is—very few can afford it, but the results for opening a kitchen without having the food execution reasonably tested are disastrous.
According to Steven, P and F’s chef de cuisine is Josh Habiger, an alum of Chicago’s Alinea as well as Craft in NYC. Other crew members include Abe Sanchez (112 eatery sous-chef and currently staging in San Fran) and Juliette Lelchuk (an Ecole Lenotre grad who just finished staging for a second time at Gary Danko) in pastry. Other local line cooks and sous-chefs are headed there as well. Potential menu items include veal tenderloin and veal breast paired with spinach, grapefruit, and juniper. Also look for swordfish with apple butter, celery, crescent potatoes, and warm truffle vinaigrette. I am excited to say the least.