Eight years as the dining editor and restaurant reviewer of this magazine was a pretty sweet gig. But at the risk of sounding too bloated with self-importance, eating for a living catches up to you—wreaking havoc on your physical well-being that no amount of stretchy pants and digestive aids can soothe. So earlier this summer I handed over my fork and pen to the next wave of hungry writers and set my sight on new adventures.
Because a good portion of my job included critiquing restaurants, we thought it would be fun to turn the tables and invite chefs and restaurateurs to critique me. So, in partnership with local beer artisans MadTree Brewing, we created a Sunday night pop-up dinner at Pallet 23 in Northside, invited a few dozen restaurant industry folk, charged them money, and handed out score sheets.
Pissaladiere: caramelized onions, anchovies, Niçoise olives
Pâté: pickled cherries, sage crostini
Salad: tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, olive oil, basil
Main: Pork roulade, chimichurri, roasted corn, garlic beans
Sweet: gelato spazzacamino, biscotti; vanilla gelato, Axis Mundi, ground espresso
We asked our guests to be honest. They were. See for yourself:
Thanks go to Brian Mulroy and the MadTree guys—Kenny, Brady, and Jeff—for partnership, support, and damn fine beer. To Laura Chenault for her great event space / urban kitchen, Pallet 23. And to my adventurous sous chefs and servers, who sat at the tables of many a restaurant review with me over the years and—because they are friends first and foremost—were willing to jump into this fire: Jon Powell, Courtney Tsitouris, Dustin Tsitouris, Doug Pentz, Ryan Adams, Barbara Hauser, Keven Speece, Teresa Hoelle, and Scott Provancher.
And finally, to chefs and restaurateurs here and everywhere, we humbly bow. Our experience, while fun, was a great reminder of the passion, hard work, consummate skill, and commitment it takes to do what you do. Every day.