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The Edible Web

Bon Appétit's 10 best new restaurants in America, the no cell phone discount, and considering the Sidecar on today's web roundup. 

Bon Appétit released their annual Hot 10 list of America's Best New Restaurants, including Nashville's The Catbird Seat and Cakes & Ale in Decatur, GA. 

Today in food items that no one asked for: alcoholic sandwiches

There can be only one: Chicagoland burger enthusiasts were baffled by erroneous internet rumors that Kuma's Corner would open a second location in the Woodfield Mall in Schaumberg, reports Serious Eats

Los Angeles restaurant Eva offers a 5% discount to diners that check their cell phones at the door. The real cost: depriving the Instagram community of your old-timey food shots. 

Esquire interviews the barkeep at Hollywood institution  Musso & Frank Grill. Among topics covered: the virtues of the Sidecar, celebrity guests from Rock Hudson to Harrison Ford, and dolts who order cognac with coke (they exist). 

Sidecar Cocktail

Know your classic cocktails. The Sidecar: brandy, triple sec, sweet and sour, and sugar rimming the glass. 

The Edible Web: Painfully Spicy Foods, Twinkie Grieving and Portlandia

Huffington Post Food counts down 9 "Foods So Spicy You Need A Waiver." Among the tongue-torching dishes are the Pasta Plate from Hell from the East Coast Grill (Cambridge, MA) and Phaal Curry from Brick Lane Curry House (New York). The slideshow even includes a few videos of Adam Richman of Man vs. Food sweating and breathing heavily over his plate, as per usual. How appetizing. 

Shutterfly gives some solid tips on taking pictures of your food. No advice on how to keep your waiter and dining companions from rolling their eyes as you whip your phone out at the table.

The return of Portlandia means more fun at the expense of locavores, high-falutin cocktails and confounding theme restaurants, via Eater

Elizabeth Gunnison of Esquire writes that we shouldn't mourn the loss of Twinkies just yet, after Hostess filed for bankruptcy Wednesday. Just to be safe, you might want fill your pantry with Ho Hos, Sno Balls, Ding Dongs, and Zingers. It is 2012, and these indestructible foods may prove useful during apocalyptic events. 

Twinkie The Kid

Twinkie the Kid may be looking for work soon.

Friday Web Edibles

Grub Street New York explores the recent phenomenon of chefs starting with a casual dining concept before expanding with one or more upscale dining establishments. This stands in contrast to the more common path of upscale dining restaurants franchising their brand into numerous more accessible spots. David Chang's Momofuku empire is the poster child for the new model.

The Huffington Post lists 7 Hot Boozy Drinks for Cold Weather Sipping. There is nothing quite like a hot pot of Glogg at a holiday party. Just be forewarned that your friends might be strewn about your floors in the morning. And Glogg tends to stain carpets and clothing.

I was too busy stuffing my gullet with tacos on my birthday to notice that it was actually National Sandwich Day, so sayeth Serious Eats anyway, with a list of 31 Sandwiches [They] Love in America.  Sandwiches on the list include ...

The Tipsy Texan from Franklin Barbecue (Austin)

The Paesano at Paesano's (Philadelphia)

The Cuban Roast Pork at Paseo (Seattle)

The Reuben from Jake's Delicatessen (Milwaukee)

Chopped Pork Sandwiches from Payne's Bar-B-Q (Memphis)

The Muffaletta from Cochon Butcher (New Orleans)

On a personal note, I'd eat just about anything presented to me at Cochon (or their butcher shop) in New Orleans. From braised pig cheek to head cheese and a surprisingly fantastic housemade bologna (the boucherie plate is a must), curiosity always pays off with the offbeat swine-centric menu. 


On Frank Bruni and "Food Psychosis"


After one particularly insufferable, exorbitantly expensive meal, a fed up  Frank Bruni asserts that our culture's "food madness" has become "food psychosis" in this  New York Times op-ed. The former NYT head dining critic reached a breaking point following an 11-course meal in which each course was paired with a different flavored water -- a wordy flashcard accompanied each dish as well. So the question is: has our dining-obsessed culture gone off the deep end? Or is Mr. Bruni's perspective perhaps colored by the fact that his occupation frequently exposes him to the worst offenders? I can't help but agree with him to an extent that the dining experience has become too precious and that at times, "we've tumbled far, far down the organic rabbit hole."

I recently waited an hour for a cocktail at a speakeasy-style cocktail bar/restaurant, where they make all the mixers in house and they smash, muddle, strain, ignite and molest the hell out of every artisanal ingredient. When inquiring about my drink (at the 30 and 45 minute marks), I was told by multiple suspender-clad servers, "We take a little more care with our cocktails, so naturally it's going to take a little bit longer than at most places." Clearly there was a mix-up in the line of communication, which happens at restaurants all the time. I have no issue with this, but being shrugged off with the same long-winded spiel was a bit much. When a restaurant favors lofty production and paragraph length descriptions for entrees, they often lose track of some very basic principles of hospitality and competence.

It's hard to argue with Mr. Bruni's exasperation, as high production restaurants get more ridiculous, foodies more obsessive and farm-to-table menus more self-congratulatory, but I find there are also a few encouraging trends that seem to have their roots in real food. Burgers, pizza and tacos are among the most talked about foodstuffs on the internet. Barbecue restaurants outside the South, though seemingly more trendy than legitimate at first, are starting to finally get it -- realizing that it's about the smoke, not having 10 kinds of sauce and cheeky side items. The food truck movement has created a resurgence in street food. Sure, it's occasionally silly -- $8 for a grilled cheese is steep -- but cheesesteaks, burgers, tacos and noodles are all unpretentious foods at heart. It just makes more sense to pay street prices rather than sit down for "upscale pub food" or "contemporary Mexican" with a $12 bowl of guacamole. Our food obsessed nation should probably get a grip and just enjoy a meal without taking pictures of it (I'm 100% guilty of this), but at least there are positive signs indicating our food fixation often rewards purveyors of real, down-to-earth food.

(Sadly, this is not a farfetched scenario for those afflicted with food psychosis)

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