Locally Grown

Finally, A Properly Titled Book About Amateur Food Writing
2012/04/12, 3:25 pm
Filed under: restaurant reviews | Tags: , , ,

This month Wiley Publishing will be throwing down yet another “For Dummies” title aimed towards a group of people whom feel the need to share their views on food.  “Food Blogging For Dummies” (how appropriate considering the average food blog is well below average) will drop April 17th, and if you are a current or aspiring blogger it should be worth a look, especially if there is a chapter entitled “For Those Without Service Industry Experience: Please Stop Acting Like You Know What It Is Like” or a chapter entitled “How To React To A Bad Restaurant Experience Without Looking Like An Asshole,” a seriously needed class for the layman food blogger.  Below is a link to Eater Nationals write up on the book.


The Cook

The Critics: Dallas Critic: Yelp Has ‘Contributed to the Mass Murder of True Critics’
2012/04/12, 3:11 pm
Filed under: restaurant reviews

Thought I would get a quick share in here. My commentary may follow as I am currently too busy reading a certain outed critics “final”words.

The Datebook Diner Retires….
2012/03/08, 3:39 pm
Filed under: restaurant reviews | Tags: , , , , , ,

Dearest Tens,

I regret to inform you that the most popular person featured in this blog is stepping down from her food reviewing post to concentrate on other Frenchness.  I mean endeavors…  In true DD style, I will just repost her words for you.

From the Des Moines Register Datebook Diner Blog from March 6th, 2012:

I’m Ready to Pass the Plate!

9:04 AM, Mar 6, 2012 | by W.E. Moranville |
A few weeks ago, I visited a class of third graders to explain the ins and outs of restaurant reviewing. Kids ask the cutest questions, such as, “Has the food ever made you barf?” (For the record, no.)

At one point, after I had mentioned that I had been writing the column for 14-plus years, one kid raised his hand and asked, “So, when will you stop being the Datebook Diner?”

Interesting question. But what it reveals is that even a third-grader sensed that 14 years was a really long time to be doing this job.

And he’s right. In fact, I’d been thinking it was time to move on for a little while now. While it’s hard to give up a gig that combines two things I love to do (eat and write), it’s time for me to—in the lingo of people who move on from jobs—“pursue other opportunities.”

As much as that sounds like a cliché, it’s true. I’ve recently published a cookbook (The Bonne Femme Cookbook: Simple, Splendid Food That French Women Cook Every Day), and I need to continue in my efforts promoting that and possibly following it up with another book.

I also want to focus on more healthful dining, both in my career and my personal life. And let’s face it, that isn’t easy to do when you’re the restaurant reviewer—it’s not the focus of most restaurants.

Finally, I simply think it’s time to let someone else give a fresh perspective on the restaurant scene.

My last review will run next month.

It’s been a pleasure.


There you have it, folks.  WEM managed to squeeze in a few jabs about how long she has been subjected to the grueling lifestyle of a food reviewing person, pimp out her new cookbook in yet another Register forum, throw a subtle punch about how unhealthy it is to dine in DSM (damn portion sizes) ,  and then claim that she thinks it’s time for someone else to bring a fresh take on the scene.

Who should that be?  Any ideas?

Winnie, we are going to miss you here at Locally Grown.  In fact, we may have to change our whole format back to what it was intended now that you are not going to be around…especially Ace Editor Bathory (here’s a picture for old time’s sake)

Gonna Miss Mew.

Next month will be her final review.  I hope there is at least one during that time that is worth an old school picking apart.  Keep your fingers crossed.

The Cook.


He Who Controls The Friday Spice…

Dearest Tens,

So many things to write about, and so little time.  Today we will have fun in a different kind of way.  A way that we have never had fun here at the LG before.  I am going to personally go on record as agreeing with the DD on her review of the newly owner-ized Library Cafe.  It was a nice preliminary visit write up and made me want to go pay them a visit.  I also have it on good information that they have a great beer selection, including a stand alone tap of my personal favorite brew, Pabst.  I may go there tonight in some skinny jeans riding a fixie to get the hippest experience from my long time love of a beer.  We shall see.

Great Job FCP! You did not invoke the French Connection!

So here is a link to this ground breaking piece of food writing (it does not mention Star Bar or France even in a remote way) (although in a twitter conversation DD did admit that she wishes it was on Ingersoll, which I just figured out was most likely a humor joke related to the SB thing.  That is funny.  I am a little slow on the uptake some days). (Ever seem like there are too many parenthetical statements on this blog?  I thought so.)

Link To Datebook Diner Library Write Up

Go read and enjoy for yourself.  I bet you feel like going there to eat after you read.  Nice job to the Library Cafe staff and the fine folks of Full Court Press for doing a great job.  Making everything in-house is legit.  I will be there soon for some good times.

I love cats and Frank Herbert. And this picture.

See you next week, tens.  I have a few things half written in the que for you all.  It is sure to piss in many many bowls of round oat-laden breakfast cereal.

The Cook.

Haters Keep Hatin’: The Cook Gets (Not) Served
2012/02/10, 7:55 pm
Filed under: restaurant reviews | Tags:

Lovers love, but all love comes to an end.  Criers cry, but the tears eventually dry up (or they die of acute dehydration).  Huggers hug, but there will always come a time in their hugs when they may have to take care of important business, such as the business of using the bathroom, requiring the diversion of their hugging arms to said um…business. 

but haters keep on hating no matter what.

Everyone has a little hater in them, from something small like pet peeves to larger problems such as plotting murders.  You have a little hater in you…as do I.  I know, you probably figured that out a while ago.

Tonight I had a bad experience at a local restaurant.  It wasn’t terrible, just a little misunderstanding.  A misunderstanding as to whether or not I wanted to get served.  I was pretty sure I wanted a margarita, as was my dining partner.  The bartender, on the other hand, was absolutely positive that we were happy with the waters in front of us and went about serving the more non-homeless looking people sitting around the bar while simultaneously ignoring us.  We sat there for about 20 minutes, five or so of it was spent trying to choose an appropriate drink to accompany our appetizers we were planning on ordering as our dinner.  A nice margarita/small plate dinner seemed like a good end to a stressful week.  Not according to our bartender.  I mentioned my predicament on Twitter, tagging in the restaurant on my twheat, with no response from the restaurant (which is okay, I know the kick ass woman who does their social media, and wouldn’t fault her for not responding to a grumpy man, whom she knows to be grumpy at 5 pm on a Friday).  I decided it was time to pull the plug on the waiting game, and upon getting up from the bar top and making leaving movements the bartender gave us a sincere-ish smile and thanked us warmly.  For what? I said “thank you for not serving us” and walked toward the door.  My dining partner said the bartender claimed they thought we were still looking at the menu.  I sincerely doubt her claim.  We looked like a well dressed homeless couple, or a shabbily dressed homed couple.  Evidently our money was not needed by the restaurant or the bartender. (The spot we did end up at was more than happy to see us and had been following my twitter gripes.  Love those persons at the High Life)  Cool.  I will not be going back to this restaurant again.  Until the patio opens back up and mojito mondays in the sun are in season.  So, shitty service restaurant, I guess we will meet again in April.  I can’t wait. Meh. Thanks, Dos Rios.

Tens, what went wrong here?

1. I felt judged by the service staff.
2. I did not get served. Well, we did get waters. 
3. There was a second bartender whom also ignored us. Completely
4. There was, and still has been, no attempt at righting the sitch.

Am I a hater?  Almost always.  I am always overly critical, but generally keep it to myself if possible.  Was I wrong to broadcast my problem immediately to twitter?  No.  That is what it is there for?  Will I be going back?  Absofuckinglutely not.  Will they miss me? They didn’t even know I was there.  So…no.  Will I go online and leave an annonymous shity review on some stupid restaurant review site?  No, I like to own my words and I see anonymous shit talkers as cowards who should keep it to themselves.  Wait.  I actually did write a bad review, but it is just here and I am sure that no person would ever check my opinion before going to the offending restaurant. 

Anonymous internet shit talkers are cowards. 

But then again, Haters gotsta hate.  Have a great weekend.

The Cook

When UrbanSpork Yelps Wolf
2012/02/07, 3:40 pm
Filed under: restaurant reviews | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Here at LG, we have focused much of our attention and energy on avoiding writing blog posts.  When our energy is diverted and we get duped into writing actual blog posts our attention has been almost solely focused on a small handful (aka one) of people who do a fantastic (aka piss poor) job of reviewing (aka we don’t really know what to call what they do…but it isn’t reviewing) our local DMZ food scene.  With those (that) people (person) currently in France (Dear France: can you please keep her this time, she loves you and belongs amongst your inferior boots,  long, crusty loaves of bread and mini-desserts), our subject base has been truncated at best.

So with no recent reviews deserving of our heavy handed attention leaking forth unto your eyes through the soy ink stained pages of the Register, our attention was turned to the hundreds of fine folks who share their opinion with other fine folks via the really awesome user-review sites found all over the splinternet.  I registered on the UrbanSpoon web site (and yes, you can find me there under the name of “the cook,” go ahead and be my friend there.  I have already posted some poorly written reviews of a couple spots) and took to the virtual streets, looking for the real jems, those with that certain little something (isn’t there a French phrase for that?).

(this is getting way to long and pointless again. thanks for following along if you made it this far)

It always meh-mazes me how much opinion people are willing to spout out with an adjoining small bit of thought.  So many of the reviews that were encountered  were just knee-jerk-off reactions to one specific event involving a disgruntled customer and a misunderstanding.  So many of the misunderstandings/situations seem so easily remedied.  Sometimes just talking to the staff like a human being can go a long way.

Okay, this is going to have to be continued tomorrow.  I am losing track of the subject matter…seems to be a constant problem around here these days.

The Cook

A REAL Restaurant Review
2012/01/28, 6:26 am
Filed under: restaurant reviews | Tags: , , , ,

This is what a good restaurant review looks like. Read it and enjoy. We will return to this subject soon.

The cook

Got crepes? The Awful Waffle doesn’t live up to its name


And The Smoke Was Blown
2012/01/27, 1:25 pm
Filed under: restaurant reviews

Good afternoon, Tens of Awesome People.  I would like to take a portion of, what was supposed to be, this Friday Funday post to thank you all for coming back to the LG fold.  I am thuper exthited to be back ranting for your pleasure, and I feel that your all are getting just ath exthited.  More and More people are coming back each day, and I feel that soon we will all be back together joining our forces against the evils the cloud the local dining experience.  Thweet.

(I have had a cold/something of some kind of sickness all week and am just trying to portray my stuffed nose inability to enunciate my “S’s”)

Now, as I had mentioned at the beginning of the last paragraph, I have come up with a fun new formula for us to wind down together every Friday. Yes, I plan on us being together every Friday.  BUT this week there is business to attend to and the last thing I want to do is be a business not-attender.  Next week we will have fun, today is business.

Has Our Beloved DD fallen out of love?

Yesterday it was brought to my attention that this person who shall be continually referred to as the DD had leveled her sights on new French (ooooohhhhh lalalala!) restaurant Tartine out in the western portion of Our Fair City.  Tartine is a small, lunch-centric bistro located in a …well, it doesn’t matter.  To escape redundancy you can just go to the REVIEW read all the pertinent location blah blah blah.  Tartine was founded by Baru 66 Chef (and possibly the love of DD’s life) David Baruthia as a more financially accessible outlet to taste his creations.

You know, I am sitting at the bar at Zombie Burger with some good friends.  so for your assignment this weekend I would like you to all read the review and tell me what you think.  Personally, I think that it’s a load of shit…or is it?

The Cook

LG Two Cents On Two For $20

Hello, Tens.  I have once again made a small clearing in the haystack of my precious-esque time to bring you a little gripe regarding a poorly performed food review job-type-thing.  It has been a while since I have had a complaint about food writing that I deemed worth the energy to spout forth towards your internerd browsing ocular apparati, a fact to be taken not-so-lightly when the news about to be broken to you is finally broken to you in the next paragraph, just after this upcoming title thing. I present to you:

The Great Datebook 2 For $20 Debacle Of Ought 11

Let me re-start by saying that the staff of the Des Moines Register (save for the Illustrious Datebook Diner, who is most likely too busy planning her cooking-book promotional tour of the Greater DMZ this fall to stop by the Farmers’ Market and visit my booth) and DSM Register published Juice magazine have been more than amazing to me during the last few weeks of my fledgling foray into chef/ownership.  Thank you to all who have become friends and regular stoppers-by.  This debacle has nothing to do with you.  Unless one of you happens to be Trevor Fisher.  If one of you happens to be TF, please accept my light backhand slap to your face for your writing infractions and continue on with your taco liking.

(Finally) The story: This past Friday I was enjoying a sub-standard breakfast during the course of an unplanned “ride of shame” brought on by hanging out with a very good chef-friend until the wee hours, when I spotted the day-old-doughnut Datebook in the newspaper rack at the never-to-be-named restaurant of choice.  It has been a number of weeks since I have peeled apart the pages of DSM’s # 1,2,or3 weekly events magazine, so I said “What the heck.”

I opened up directly to an article written by TF (who I don’t know or recognize, is this guy a regular contributor?) entitled “Two for $20″ which is meant to outline a good place to get lunch/dinner/a meal for two human adults for around the $20 price point. TF chose/had chosen for him the task of reviewing American/Bosnian cafe Kula Grill.  Here is a link to the original article, in case you are into that sort of stuff.

TF opens up with the standard review fare, and the writing is solid (no Matt Miller-isms here), then we get to the food.  Now, before we go forward let me axe you a question.  If you were going to review food from a cuisine of which you had no knowledge whatsoever, in the Year Of Our Gourd 2011, the age of Interdork Information Searches, for an ACTUAL PRINTED PUBLICATION WITH A SERIOUS DISTRIBUTION, would you not at least do some research as to what the basics of said cuisine entail so as not to be the one bringing the pointed stick to the gun fight?  Not TF.  TF don’t need no posse of information, as shown by this excerpt from said infractuous artice:

Possessing no knowledge of, or experience with Bosnian food, we deferred to the waiter, who suggested the goulash if we craved genuine homestyle Bosnian. When in Sarajevo, right?

Un-f’ing-believable.  This is just stupid. But it doesn’t even scratch the surface of what comes next, which is the description of Kula Grill’s goulash:

The first thing you notice about Kula’s goulash — mashed potatoes and hunks of beef smothered in a thick gravy — is it resembles prison-cafeteria slop.

What?  Seriously?  This is printed in our #1 newspaper?  NOBODY along the chain of writer-to-printer read this and found anything wrong?  Nobody said “um…why does TF know what prison cafeteria slop looks like, and why is he invoking its visual vehemence in the confines of a restaurant review?”  Maybe the summary line softened the blow?

Sounds gross, looks worse, tastes great.

Clearly, TF should forego the attempts and restaurant reviews and slip directly into a comfortable marketing executive position.

Bosnian Goulash at Kula Grill: Sounds gross, looks worse, tastes great. (photo by actually awesome photo editor Eric Rowley)

The rest of the review is of equal tragedy to both the restaurant and to the credibility of TF’s writing career.  If you haven’t read it, check it out for yourself.

As a restaurant professional, if I were to read a review of this caliber in a print publication of the food I was serving to the public, I would probably

A.  Call my lawyer to ask for legal advice

B. Call the editor of the register and lodge a formal complaint, and request the reviewer be tossed from the nearest window accessible from his/her cubicle.

C. In the words of N.W.A., Start some shit.

I can not believe this review  written by someone who possesses even less candor and skill than even the most amateur of amateur food blogists was allowed to be printed in an actual paper.  I would expect those words from maybe a cast member of Jersey Shore.

Kitteh Want To Smush-smush! (I was going to post a picture of the JS cast with a funny line, but realized that nothing in the world makes JS funny or worth promoting. They are kind of like Prison Slop)


Trevor Fisher, you have just landed yourself an award from Locally Grown.  I just can’t remember what we used to call it.

The Cook

The New Best Banh Mi In The DMZ
2011/04/22, 5:52 am
Filed under: restaurant reviews | Tags: , , ,

Hello, tens.  I don’t usually review food, but I just had a sandwich so good that I had to stop what I was doing and write a post about it. 

I didn’t even get a picture of it, couldn’t put it down long enough! 

Vietnam Cafe is located inside the Merle Hay Mall, in the FOOD COURT, and serves up some great Pho in beef, chicken, pork, or even Vegetarian varieties.  They also have a small menu of noodle dishes, spring rolls, and chef specials.  All good. 

But the Banh Mi… perfect bread, perfect roasted pork, spicy mayo, pickled daikon and carrot, cilantro, and cucumber add up to the best sandwich I have eaten since Pho All Seasons closed down.  And it is a very traditionally priced $3. 

Tens, if you are a Banh Mi fan, you owe it to yourselves to visit this oddly placed hidden gem inside the Merle Hay Mall. 

The Cook


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