Friday, April 29, 2005

The Stephen Lemons "WTF?" Of The Week

If you've read the Phoenix New Times lately, you may have found that the guy doing the food reviews, Stephen Lemons, does not exactly have a gift for pleasant prose. Indeed, he goes into overzealous metaphor so much that you start to wonder if he's trying to paint a picture with the words, or just assault your senses into total numbness. Here's a doozy from this week's review of a Colombian restaurant, where he waxes overly poetic about a Colombian dessert called brevas con arequipe, candied figs with caramel: "And figs are one of my many gustatory passions, right up there with marzipan, green tea ice cream, and persimmon pudding. I could gobble a freighterload of figs and a volcano full of caramel, for the largest brevas con arequipe ever!"

Clever use of alliteration talking about the figs, but a volcano full of caramel? And that exclamation point worries me; I'm almost expecting him to go into Valley Girl dialect. "It was, like, the largest brevas con arequipe ever! Like, Oh my god!" Another thing I find funny is how he does his best to throw bonus-point words* into his reviews whenever possible, but tosses them about like a junior high school student who just discovered what a thesaurus does.

Then there was last week. Lemons showed his utter ineptitude at food reviewing by going to the freshly re-opened Stockyards restaurant less than a week before they opened. It's one of my many Chowhound Rules of Thumb (and yes, I really should index those... just as soon as I figure out what Rule Number One should be, it has to be something that oversees all the other rules, standing mightily on their shoulders as it looks off into the distance at the setting sun... oy, where the hell did that last part come from?)...

Do Not go to a restaurant within 4-6 weeks of their grand opening.

You see, restaurants are incredibly complex operations. Even a well established restaurant runs at a breakneck pace that feels like it's on the verge of complete, utter chaos. When one just starts up, there are many things that need to be figured out and settled. All of this has to be done while the restaurant is operational; if you don't have actual customers, you won't be able to predict what will happen. As a result, the servers are much less than on the ball, the food takes FOREVER to come out, and may not even be all that good. Going out to a brand new restaurant may be exciting in theory, but when it's all said and done, you really should wait until they get the kinks out. Lemons went exactly against the Rule of Thumb, and then bitched about things like spotty service and dishes that needed tweaking. What the fuck did you expect?

*Bonus point words are known in some circles as five-dollar words. I prefer calling them bonus point words after an acquaintance I was chatting with gave me 50 bonus points for using "dreck" to illustrate a point. I have no idea what these points are good for, but hey, bonus points are bonus points, I'll take 'em!