Saturday, January 15, 2005

Splitting Food Hairs with Ira Glass

The first place I go to look for restaurant options is the Reader. Their "R"-rated spots almost always satisfy, and they frequently identify places I might not have discovered otherwise. So when I read that Lula Cafe received a "RRR" featuring a superlative review by Ira Glass, local-boy-turned-NPR-legend, I headed over there. Yes, the place is truly notable. You must go.

But two things in his review struck me.

First, he writes: "I don't say this lightly: it may be the best neighborhood restaurant in Chicago."

I don't think you can say a neighborhood restaurant is the best in Chicago any more than you can say Pilsen is better than Andersonville. Maybe he means "best restaurant located in a neighborhood." But the adjective where he's placed it suggests to me that the restaurant is particularly representative of the neighborhood somehow. That's hard to find and do. And, I don't think that's what Lula Cafe is, as splendid as it is.

Second, he writes: "I brought a friend who's a professional chef in New York, and he stuck around for hours to order nearly everything on the menu. "

Why use the qualifier "in New York"? It has an unfortunate whiff of cultural one-upsmanship. I'd like to think his including it was a grammatical reflex rather than a hint of the spoils of fame.

For the record: a) I don't know Ira Glass; b) I really love and admire This American Life; c) I suspect everything tastes different on the radio.

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