(Note: This occasional feature laid dormant for several months. Lord only knows if that will happen again but in an effort to make it a semi-regular occurrence, here is another installment of “Review that Review,” where MRPR unpacks one of the local restaurant reviews in order to save you the time of reading anything sub -par (or, on the other hand, highlighting something exceptional)).
The publication: Miami New Times (July 15, 2010)
The place: Racks Italian Kitchen
The reviewer: Lee Klein
♦♦♦ (Three stars)
Here’s a lesson they might not teach in journalism school: Always start with a lie. That is the lesson I take from Klein’s latest review. He begins by painting a picture of the opulent life of the local alt-weekly food critic: Klein pulls up to Racks Italian Kitchen, located along the intracoastal, in his 42′ cigarette boat, brought down to an idling speed so as only to maim rather than murder any passing manatees. He arrives at the dock and, while I’ve perhaps taken some literary license of my own in my retelling, Klein is “able to hop right off my yacht and step to a perfectly set table.”
New paragraph, telling the reader to wait a beat. And at this point the reader, whose boat is actually just a Ford Focus and not a boat at all, resents Lee Klein, the big shot food critic who not only gets to eat all day–a clear violation of one of the deadly sins, perhaps two–but also has a freaking boat. So you’re fuming, and rightly so. How better to diffuse this situation than the following sentence fragment: “Or not.”
Or not? Or not? And just like that you’re in on the secret. There is no boat, there might not even be a dock. Hell, I’m starting to wonder whether the intracoastal really exists. Just like you, Lee Klein drove his Ford Focus to Racks (okay, it’s Miami, his BMW 3 Series) and the review is off to a roaring start.
Klein could just rest on his laurels, given that a top-notch lede already puts this review in the upper echelon of the Miami restaurant archives, but no. He proceeds to shit on Topeka, Kansas and the Spiderman movie franchise. Check and mate. Klein then gives us a tour of the restaurant (conclusion: it looks like an Italian restaurant), a description of the menu (conclusion: hits and misses all covered in parmesan cheese, and great pizzas), and a once-over on the wait staff (like a girl more homely than comely, they mean well).
An entertaining review, even if the last paragraph includes an announcement that Klein is “just kidding” about the boat. Umm, we know Lee.
(Note: Ranking system is extremely stingy and it follows NYT rules. Zero stars = poor; One star = good; Two stars = very good; Three stars = excellent ; Four stars = extraordinary.)