I have been poring through local food writers’ ‘best of’ lists, which is a sure-fire way to stoke the fires of my small-minded and punitive judgmental thinking. But here is something I really and truly am thinking about these days. Since Dara is now gone from City Pages, Ann Bauer and Jeremy Iggers are handling more and more food writing at The Rake and its online little sister, and the Strib has its all-star food-writing lineup set to handle the work load of Taste (and budgets over there being what they are), does this mean that Stephanie March takes the CP gig? Do they let an intern now handle food writing at the alt weekly? And will Jeremy and Ann take over the monthly print job, or is their task to simply fill pages online each day? They must be getting paid to produce a lot of copy, and they have decades of experience between them. Are we to believe they are just going to log on and blog on? Both are savvy writers. Iggers has more of a workmanlike style honed over many years churning copy at the Stribune. Bauer is a very good writer, more of a craftsperson than I will ever be—I am more of a hack. But reading their columns throughout the last month and finally seeing Bauer’s piece touring us through the highlights of her year of eating was the biggest buzz kill of my day. Sample Room? Kinhdo? Coffee News Cafe? Pizza Luce? Atlas Grill? Anne, you need to get out and eat more!
Someone at The Rake needs to send these folks out to dine at the restaurants in town that are really making some noise. Bauer hedges her list in the opening graph, insisting that many list makers are simply showing off when they compile lists or are trying to impress with their breadth of knowledge . . . or both. Uh, yeah. They are, and they should.
Any food writer, dining critic, call it whatever you like, has to be conversant with the vast majority of the eating scene, especially in a city like ours, which has a relatively small number of quality restaurants to become familiar with. What about La Belle Vie, Heartland, and about two dozen other restaurants in town that are kicking ass every meal period? And if small, cheap Asian hybrid joints are more your style, I could name about sixteen places I would recommend to anyone before I would send them to Kinhdo. Anoush Ansari and his Hemisphere partners (Mission/Via/Kabobi/Flame, which is their new restaurant that will open in May 2008) own and operate Atlas, and they are great restaurateurs and know how to run a business. I am sure they are flattered by the nod Bauer threw their way for their salmon, but I think if you asked them, they would name a dozen places with a better piece of sautéed fish than their own Atlas Grill. So, now that I have that off my chest, anyone have some fun food experiences to share? Mine from last year are below, not in order of importance:
Patricia Quintana week at Masa
Heartland on principle and because I love the ‘everything from scratch’ vibe.
Mike Phillips’ Minnesota prosciutto at Craftsman
Brasa for pork and greens and grits
Krakowska at Kramarczuk’s
Foie terrine at Cosmos
Sautéed fish with pickled vegetables at The Teahouse
Quail with pineapple at 20.21 . . . and brunch as well—the smoked salmon alone is worth it.
Almost anything at Peninsula
Morton’s for a salad, a steak, and some creamed spinach
Oysters at Oceanaire
Striped bass at Alma
Everything I ever ate at La Belle Vie, and each time I go there, it gets better and better.
The vegetable sides at 112
Mussels and a wedge of pate at the bar at Vincent
Homestyle tofu at Little Szechuan
Lunch at Que Nha—you can’t go wrong.
Passion fruit and chocolate dessert insanity at Chambers, and its truffle pizza and the ridiculously good galangal dipping sauce
Steamed walleye with ginger and scallion at Shuang Cheng