Oregonian Shakeup, GQ at it again, Frogs and Puffins!

Roe - salmon, olive oil poached with gin botanicals, confit fennel, edamame, tonic gelee and sudachi ponzu Photo courtesty MyNorthwestExperience

Roe – salmon, olive oil poached with gin botanicals, confit fennel, edamame, tonic gelee and sudachi ponzu. Photo courtesty MyNorthwestExperience

You heard it here second! The Oregonian announced a major shakeup today in the way they do restaurant reviews. From now on, instead of the easily understandable, tried and true method of rating restaurants by letter grades, they are switching to the crazy, convoluted STAR system! “What”, you ask? How am I going to understand this overcomplicated method?!

Bear with me; it goes something like this: “N0” stars mean “Not Recommended” – this used to be an ‘F’ grade. Next comes ‘one star’, which they call “satisfactory”, but I call a ‘D’, which is unsatisfactory. If you were in school, and went home with all D’s on your report card, did you get an atta’ boy from your parents? Only if you are in Cajun country! I got sent to the woodshed! Satisfactory my red ass! Then there is the dreaded ‘2 stars’, or “Good” grade. No, no no! 2 stars is a ‘C’ grade. Geeze – it’s like y’all failed school. What a mess! I’m already confused! But wait, there’s more! Three stars is Excellent, which, where I grew up meant “Above Average”. Finally, you’d think we could buy a vowel and get that ‘A’, but no, four stars is Extraordinary! Where is my vowel! But wait, it gets better. Did you read the fine print? “Act now! Buy our four star package, and we’ll sell you our secret “Superlative” 5th star!” Better move fast – the deal is only available until noon today!!!

I’d do it this way to make things simple, following the A – B – C -D – F curriculum:

  • ***** – Already losing it’s luster, it is so good, everyone has been here, and we have no attention span.
  • **** – Boy is this good
  • *** – Civilized, but nothing more
  • ** – Desperately needs work
  • * – Frankly, it will make you flatulent

As I said, this is much simpler, easy to remember, and less convoluted. I say we start a Facebook page.

Moving on. GQ’s Alan Richman has named his top 25 “BEST NEW RESTAURANTS IN AMERICA”.  Roe takes the #3 position on the list and Sweedeedee places 21st . Say what? OK, I’ll give you that Roe puts out some darn fine food, but Sweedeedee? Last time I was standing in line there – and there is always a line, I said to my companion, “Sweedeedee indeed!” The lady in front turned around and slapped me! Well!

Sweedeedee is fine, but really, is our nation in such bad shape that one of the 25 best new restaurants requires:

  1. Standing in endless lines.
  2. Ordering somewhat better than average food from a counter
  3. Standing helplessly with your coffee and a plate of, oh, I don’t know – coffee cake, while you play parking lot bingo trying to time it just right so that you can grab a table that opens up before someone else does.
  4. Once seated, people seem to think that since they had to play the game, they can spend two hours lingering over their limp bacon. They can’t get that from their husbands at home?
  5. Once you sit, you’ll need to endure the crying babies for the seeming eternity it takes the food to arrive.
  6. You need to choke down your breakfast, while being circled by the next group of diners waiting for your table. Last time I was there, I got up to use the restroom and was glared at by a soccer mom for wasting table time instead of eating.

Richman, who has had more than his fair share of controversy on this site in the past for his restaurant choices, all of said restaurants which are mostly forgotten, must have come directly from an all night drinking party at Roe.

I think people like Sweedeedee because it has such a weird name (sounds like something a high school girl says to her BFF on Valentine’s day). What, was Tasty n Alder closed? ‘enough said, except yeah, the food is pretty good.

Finally, A story on NPR says that 1730’s menus prove that royals were extreme foodies, regularly dining on frogs and puffins!

You think 21st century foodies will go to great lengths for a culinary thrill? (Lion meat, anyone?) Turns out, they’ve got nothing on 18th century English royals.

Frogs, puffins, boar’s head and larks and other songbirds were all fair game for the dinner table of England’s King George II, judging by a chronicle of daily meals served to his majesty and his wife, Queen Caroline.

The 160-page, grease-stained collection of royal menus, which details the meals served at Kensington Palace between 1736 and 1737, is up for auction Wednesday. And it contains plenty that might offend our modern, squeamish sensibilities — starting with the royal obsession with eating baby animals, especially songbirds.

It is a pretty interesting article, which you should read if you’ve run out of work, but don’t want to ask the boss for something else to do quite yet.

PS. I’m on some a new medication, and take no responsibility for anything I have said in this post.

Your thoughts are welcome

  1. mczlaw says

    Dude: “Sweedeedee” is a song by one of my favorite local recording artists and musician friends, Michael Hurley. He wrote it about 40 years ago. It’s on his second album, Armchair Boogie. The owner of the current establishment is a fan too. Hence, the name. I think Michael gets to eat for free. Not sure if he has to wait in line though. I wouldn’t, though I keep hearing great stuff about the food. A snippet of the lyrics (modern-day feminists will blanch):

    I remember that old scum-bag coffee shop where we used to hang out at
    The manager there, he’d let us stay without paying a cover
    I was always asking her sometimes, “We gotta leave the city.”
    And I’d say to her,

    “You wash them clothes, Sweedeedee, and hang ’em on the line.
    I can see by the way you wash the clothes your cooking must be fine.”
    I’m with you in the morning, baby
    till the break of day.
    I know you won’t take my heart
    Don’t make me go away
    Seem like everybody got a little hard luck sometime
    And I know one thing for sure, baby: I been having mine
    Baby, I been having mine.”

    I’m sure the O’s new star system will catapult it and its “critic” to robust financial health and enhanced credibility, respectively. I mean, the NYT uses stars, doesn’t it? Here’s my interpretation (Portland-adjusted):

    0-star: Food poisoning likely
    1–star: Recommend to someone you don’t like
    2-stars: Your dog might eat your leftovers
    3-stars: Worth a try if you like beer
    4-stars: No reservations; long lines; surly staff; but great food
    5-stars: Um…in Portland?


  2. garden girl says

    Is it possible for the Oregonian to become more irrelevant? I have some respect for Michael Russell, but the new female voice is terrible. By the way, Food Dude, as fascinating as you are, I don’t think that I’ll “bare” with you over this kerfuffle.

    • says

      If you have to ask, you obviously aren’t cool enough to eat there.
      (I don’t see it either, but I have to use the description from Flickr, and there were few to choose from under Creative Commons)

  3. Steve says

    I just ate at Sweedeedee this morning. I walked in just after 8:00, when they open; I ordered immediately, sat down immediately – there were plenty of open tables – and got my (excellent) food pretty quickly. When I left just after 9:00 the place was still only about half full and no one had come in for quite a while. And that’s usually been my experience in the past too, if I show up for breakfast.

    Obviously if you go on the weekend or at the height of the lunch rush, there’ll be a line, but it’s perfectly easy to avoid that, so why are you complaining?

    (And what’s with the dig about ordering food at a counter?)

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