Wow- the Shab Row Bistro and Wine Bar, which I talked about here, got a not so kind review this past weekend by Tom Sietsema in the Washington Post. You can read the full review here, but I think you have to be a subscriber (free) to read the whole article. Some highlights:
[Referring to French Onion soup] …but the bowl’s thin broth, minimal onions and cap of blond cheese distance themselves from the classic.
Even sorrier is the cassoulet, which does a great imitation of a vegetarian casserole. We dig and dig and dig for any sign of meat and come up with just a morsel of shredded pork.
And it wasn’t good. Tom Sietsema didn’t like it very much calling the food “mixed.” In fact he says the best thing is the service: “At Black Hog, a new barbecue joint in Frederick, the service is warm but the food is not.” I can’t confirm this as despite the name (of a heritage breed of pigs) the meat served there doesn’t meet my criteria. In fact I’ve always been a little pissed off at the place. If you look at their home page it seems to suggest that they serve heritage pork: “compared to other breeds, the flavors of the Black Hog’s meat is exceptional.” You have to really parse the text to learn that they just named the restaurant after the breed to “represent the fine quality of food and service that we offer…” One has to assume that they serve modern industrially produced meat then. Am I being too prickly? I don’t know. As always feel free to comment, good, bad or indifferent.
Full review is here, but you need to register to view it.
I had talked about ethics in an earlier post. So it was interesting to see that in early October the Federal Trade Commission ruled that bloggers who made endorsements had to disclose any payments they received from subjects of their reviews. Those that did not could face penalties of up to $11,000 per violation. Of course the first thing that springs to mind is how difficult it would be to enforce this, especially with the millions of blogs that are out there. However I think it’s important that this issue at least be recognized. As noted I’ve been looking to sell out for years, but so far nobody’s been buying so as of now everything I review has been paid for by me.
Full Washington Post article here.
As you know wine is a passion of mine and I really enjoy finding wines that excite me and letting you know about them. I have been really eager to add some more wine reviews up here, but lately all of the wines I’ve tried I really can’t recommend for one reason or another. Generally I only mention the wines I like but I don’t want you to think I’m not trying! Here are the last three I’ve tried:
2006 Saintsbury Pinot Noir Stanly Ranch: very austere with lots of cranberry flavors. Can do much better in the Pinot category at this price point (approx $35).
2007 Peirano Estate The Other. Decent if one dimensional red, could be a tolerable pizza wine, but at $14 a bottle I will pass.
2008 Grotta del Sole Gragnano Penisola Sorrentina. This was interesting and we enjoyed drinking it. A blend of the Aglianico, Piedirosso and Sciasinasso grapes, it is a mildly fizzy (frizzante) red wine that is recommended to be served cold. With its dark purple color it looks very much like sparkling concord grape juice and is what is considered a “new” wine: bottled as early as November following the fall harvest and meant to be drunk young. With fruity flavors and a touch of sweetness this was a fun wine meant to be drunk (liberally) and not thought too much about. More like a soft drink than a serious wine it was worthwhile from a perspective of adding something new to my mental wine database, but at $18 a bottle it out of the everyday drinking price that we felt a wine of this quality should be. Get this around $10 per bottle and it would be a great everyday wine, especially for somone who likes more fruit and less acid.
On a positive note I did really like the 2006 Ojai Vineyard Grenache. This California (Santa Barbara) wine is mostly Grenache (80%) with the rest Syrah. It was a delicious, medium bodied wine with lots of black currant and raspberry flavors. Very drinkable now; it struck me as a terrific Thanksgiving wine. The only reason I hesitate to unequivocally recommend it was at $35 per bottle it’s not in the value sweet spot that I look for.
I don’t think anyone is envious of those poor souls labouring in the newspaper business right now. However one of my favorite abuse pinatas: the Frederick News Post is really plumbing the depths. Yes in their current “In Good Taste” column [Cue announcers voice: “In Good Taste reports on an unannounced dining experience and is not meant to be a critical review”] they review ,excuse me, report on…cue drum roll… the Waffle House. Good God those budget cuts must really be hurting.
Should you have questions about the fare at Waffle House you can see the review unannounced dining experience here. Some highlights include “the portions were generous” and “the prices were modest.” Coming next week: The FNP reviews McDonald’s Value Menu.
Interesting article in the Wall Street Journal about two reviewers from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate accepting trips etc. from winemakers. One reviewer “vacationed and enjoyed lavish social dinners in the company of wine importers whose wines he reviews.” It raises some interesting ethical questions. I think the potential for abuse is especially ripe in the blogosphere. After all who knows where bloggers are coming from? I’ve mulled over what I would do. The closest I came is that I was offered a free bottle of wine from a local winery after one of my reviews. I didn’t accept it,but I thought about what would happen if I was offered a free meal or something like that.
So far this is all just speculation. Fred’s been looking to sell out for years, but nobody has been buying!
Link to the article here.