I guess with all the bloggers out there, the rush to review has become paramount in the prints, and the lack of return visits may be constrained by shrinking budgets. No one is being forced to try a restaurant during its first week or month, of course. Unlike a performance, it's probably going to be around for more than a limited run (of course there's always 'Cats'). But I'm not going to engage in that argument. Just like anyone who has the skills to read a book thinks they can now become a book 'reviewer'; and anyone who has the skills to walk through and around a building thinks they are now an 'architecture critic', well, you get the idea. The bar is low, my friends, and I'm just part of the crowd rushing to limbo under it.
Enrique Fernandez, in the Miami Herald, reviews a Cuban restaurant. Enrique, you'd better be careful-soon you're going to be typecast. As the, you know, Cuban guy.
"Picadillo is rich enough in flavor to make one forget it is basically ground beef." And imagine that it is...Hamburger Helper?
"...a salad of watercress, avocado, cucumber and scallions is quite refreshing." Did you eat this or splash it on your face?
"All over the country, nay, all over the world..." Nay, ye doth spake?
"But this is a Cuban town." Havana is a Cuban town. Miami, especially the area of North Beach where the restaurant is located (often called 'Little Buenos Aires'), is filled with many immigrants, especially Argentinians, with about a dozen Argentinian, Uruguayan, Venezuelan, etc. eating establishments. Some of them might perhaps be offended at your description. Personally, I find it charming, like Lee Klein's warm embrace of sexism.
Lee Klein in the New Times lets loose on another Italian restaurant, Vita. Man, he really gives it to them for their ridiculous practice of handing the men menu's with prices, and the ladies menu's without prices. Oh no, wait, he swoons over it, like an older, somewhat senile uncle trying to figure out why they don't make the carbeurator cover for his '47 Packard. He also, rather oddly, really lays into women, noting the infrequency, nay, rarity, of those bitches ever picking up a check. Dude, when it comes to women, this poor guy is, as John Stewart would sing in a high voice, "Bit-ter".
"While most people would agree it would be wrong to return to this ritual (dual menus), we thought it kind of neat as a novelty." Like slavery? Neat? I'll bet Mrs. Klein had a headache after that meal. Probably lasted a week. Can't you just say that it's a stupid fucking practice that some sexist Med smoothies think they can get away with as 'charming', and then go on to review the food? Or must every Italian restaurant get nine fucking stars?
Of course the branzino is "flown from the Mediterranean"; that's right-they catch it at an undisclosed location at sea, and then it is flown directly to the US. As opposed to what? Sending it by trawler? Mailing it?
"You can tell how good the food is going to taste just by looking at it." I'm not sure why, but that sentence irks me. You fill in the sarcastic rejoinder.
But his wine paragraph kills me. "...with the now-standard three-time markup..." Three-time markup is NOT STANDARD. It is a rip-off. And Mr. Klein has become a major part of the reason for the shitty, overpriced wine lists at many restaurants here who think they can get away with ridiculously high markups, because high-profile critics like Klein will just slough it off as 'standard'. Well, fuck the consumer, Kleinie's too busy finding 'NO' fault with another perfect Italian joint (amazing that we have so many...).
By the way, where was all the discussion of organic and local ingredients that Lee-seph was demanding from restaurants in the not-too-distant past, sir? Gone like Earth Day, I guess. Especially when your faithful critic wants to smack his lips around another Italian restaurant's hind-gut.
Oh, and a tip-o'-the-hat to Jan Karetnick in 'Florida Travel & Life' magazine. "For a special night out, visit the popular Michael's Kitchen...Chef-owner Michael Blum, who says his place is the "cure for boring food", has a flair for showmanship that entertains children and parents simultaneously. (A candy apple martini and sesame and black bean glazed ribs keep us locals coming back.)" Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure no one, especially "us locals", ever went back...