Friday, May 30, 2008
If Lisa Is Right, then the World Is Wrong and the World is Wrongo.
For a number of reasons this week, it occurs to me that maybe Earth is a crummy planet, or at least crummy to the extent it is inhabited by man. Our reign at the top of the food chain is near its end (Three fine examples of why may be found here and here and here) Last night's episode of Top Chef did little to reinvigorate my faith in man, mankind and man's kindness.
Lisa stays. Any creature with a heart and soul must agree that for Lisa, a human being riven with maggoty and fetid misery, to remain on the show for yet another episode does not bode well for our fate as a species. And yet, though it pains me to write it, Lisa stays. If Lisa is right side up, the world is upside down. Admittedly, in fairness, her food didn't seem that bad. (I lay the blame for this whole situation on last week's guest judge Tony Bourdain who axed Dale instead of Lisa in a fit of pique. Had the even-keeled Tom been there, this situation never would have arisen. Goddammit, TC! What charity was so important he had to miss his scheduled appearance on reality TV anyway?!!?!) Spike went home instead. He was always a bit of an idiot but really?. Lisa stays!?!? Ai!
Critics you might say that I only hear what I want to, that I don't listen hard. You might even say I don't understand if you really care, I'm only hearing negative. But no. No. No. There is hope yet. And it comes from the past, what was, and the future, what yet shall be. On this episode, former winners Harold, Ilan and Hung were guest judges. My optimism comes not in the form of Ilan who is still an unctuous twat nor Harold who is nice but boring but in the form of the once-vilified Hung. Shown outside the competition setting, Hung is elegant and smart and kind and charming. All the things that, in competition, he wasn't made out to be. This means two things: Maybe Lisa isn't actually as miserable a wench as she seems. Ah fuck it. She is. But it also means, that good can still win in this world. Indeed, it seems inevitable which is a good thing.
Think about it: Lisa is out next week. She has to be. She took Spike's job at the Manhattan restaurant, Mai House so you know girlfriend didn't win. That leaves Richard, Antonia and Stephanie as possible winners. All three are fundamentally solid people, good people. Sure Stephanie might be boringish; Antonia might be too much like an emo Helena Bonham Carter and Richard is called Blais (and not like Cendrars) and has a faux-hawk. But all three of them seem genuinely kind, enthusiastic, smart and talented chefs. They are mensches (menchiz?). Clinging to the assumption that Lisa is gone next week—an assumption that makes living possible—we can afford to be charitable and magnanimous in victory.Lisa's greatest or rather only contribution to the season is to cast the menschlekeit of her competitors into warmer contrast. That's why we need villains, to make heroes. But now that she's served her purpose, it's time for Lisa to pack her knives, her scowl and her hideous haircut and leave.
The American poet Walt Whitman once portrayed a sunset over Philadelphia as, "...a broad tumble of clouds, with much golden haze and profusion of beaming shaft and dazzle." Pour yourself a bottle of Walt Wit Belgian-Style White Ale and see what he was talking about. A pinch of spice and a whisper of citrus lend complexity to this fragrant, satisfying ale.
Walt Wit - it's transcendentally delicious.
Let us know what you think!
Here are just two thoughts shared with us this past week.
"This place will never make it without bread and butter".
"If you want this place to be busy you have to get Miller Genuine Draft bottles".
No disrespect to anyone at all....but I think we are going to roll the dice on these.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
This is not meant in any way to slam Cody Kendall, nor is it meant to try to excuse any of the review she did on Salt this week....But, I have to share my thoughts about the review here. I know if I were a reader of this I would be sitting back saying "Yikes, I wish I were a fly on the wall in his house this morning".
First let me say that I didn't find the review that bad, 2 stars, not what I wanted or expected, but fair enough and we can fix what she thought might be broken. That being said...."WHAT THE FUCK CODY???" (and I mean no offense by that), but c'mon after 2 weeks of being open you do a review??? Any reviewer worth anything would give a place more time than that to get up and running, to find what is working and what isn't quite hitting the mark. That's my initial reply.....now for addressing the review itself.
I think in her first 2 or 3 paragraphs about English Pubs I saw where this was going. We are not an English Pub...nor English Gastropub for that matter. We are an American Gastropub. Claiming we are really a NJ Roadhouse Bar, she is kind of right...We are a NJ Gastropub, where we take food seriously a use ingredients that people are comfortable with and try to prepare them in an upscale way through technique, presentation, quality of ingredients and service. I think part of the problem was that we were not what she wanted us to be.
I am not going to knock at all the 2 stars nor her problems with the food,like I said, we can fix those things, and prior to this review even coming out most of the "problems" have been fixed. But to spend most of the review describing what we "are not" and not of what "we are" seems wrong. No "why is the bike outside?" "where did the name Salt come from?" "why the domestic wine list?" "why Byram?" "where did the 5ft painting of a salt shaker in the foyer come from?" "what's with the tutu on the wall?" "why classic movies on the two 42" tv's in the dining room?" "are the dessert's made in-house?" "are they hand-cut fries?" "are you supporting local farms and orchards?" (something gastropubs are known to do..keeping local) "what's with the staff uniforms?" Or how about more description of the foods? Did she only try 4 entrees? which would leave me to believe it was just one visit...And a review based on one visit? Is it not typical to come back at least twice if not numerous times to compare visits for consistency, good or bad...
As you can tell I feel we got a bad shake on this one,and it's not sour grapes, or even disappointment in her critique...It just seems we were a "phoned in" review which was a slap in the face to all of the staff who work hard and take alot of pride in their jobs, and that's disappointing. Just as she would expect good things from us because of our reputation at bula, I have come to expect good things from Cody Kendall, and the QUALITY of this review sucked. She should know better than to knock a place for not being what she wanted it to be, or what she thought it should be.....When you come to Salt we want people to enjoy what we ARE, not what we ARENT....And I think if people do, they will "get" us and love us, because speaking for myself, as well as all of our staff, we're proud of what we are doing here!
That's all. Anyone?
OK, so the Star Ledger did their review of Salt this weekend....Was it what I would have wanted? No..but....
As far as reviews, you have to kind of take the good with the bad. You have to take what can be changed or needs to be changed and change it. You smile about the things that they liked, and you say "fuck it" to the things that you feel are what you are just not going to change.
By no means are we going to whine or make excuses for short-comings, like I said, those can be fixed....but as I have been doing all along here on the blog, I will give my take on the review, minus sour grapes, later today.