Category Archives: Commentary

Robin Garr’s musings about food and restaurant matters that don’t fit neatly into the “review” category.

More thoughts from the critic’s table

By Robin Garr

Here’s an existential question about the art of the food critic: Should a restaurant review stick to the simple basics of food, mood, and service? Or does a review gain texture and meaning by bringing in a broader range of history, culture, culinary arts and other trips down fascinating rabbit holes?

If you follow my food writing at all, you won’t have much trouble finding me sitting unobtrusively at a dinner table behind Door No. Two. I love those culinary rabbit holes, and I suspect it shows. Continue reading More thoughts from the critic’s table

We just can’t stop talking about pizza

By Robin Garr

If you’ve long harbored a wish to go viral on social media but didn’t know where to start, here’s a modest proposal: Speak of your undying love for pizza topped with pineapple … and anchovies.

That should do it, and if it costs you a few lost friends and followers, well, that’s the price of fame.

What is it about pizza that makes it such a natural topic for conversation and even debate? Continue reading We just can’t stop talking about pizza

Overcoming food aversions, restaurant-style

By Robin Garr

Refusing to eat a disgusting dish may be one of the first things that we as humans can do to claim our individual agency, our right to yell “No!”

“It’s broccoli, dear.” “I say it’s spinach, and I say the hell with it.” Carl Ross’ classic 1928 New Yorker cartoon captured the concept perfectly. We don’t like it. We say the hell with it. And more often than not, that childhood response evolves into a lifelong aversion.

Until it doesn’t. Continue reading Overcoming food aversions, restaurant-style

Invisible disabilities: A challenge for restaurant accessibility

By Robin Garr

Think about accessibility for disabled people in restaurants and other businesses, and you’ll probably visualize that familiar blue-and-white stick figure in a wheelchair.

That’s not too surprising. The Americans With Disabilities Act, popularly known as the ADA, passed in 1990, is a civil-rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life. Continue reading Invisible disabilities: A challenge for restaurant accessibility

What’s an influencer? Is there money in it?

By Robin Garr

I was putting on my disguise and puffing up my wig, getting ready to go review a restaurant, when a New York Times headline caught my eye: “The 21st-Century Shakedown of Restaurants.” (The Times’ headline is pictured above.)

“This isn’t a joke,” opinion essayist Karen Stabiner wrote. “This is a 21st-century shakedown. Here is how it works: An influencer walks into a restaurant to collect an evening’s worth of free food and drink, having promised to create social media content extolling the restaurant’s virtues.” Continue reading What’s an influencer? Is there money in it?

“Find us on Facebook” Or not. Restaurants and social media

By Robin Garr

In the overall scheme of things, it hasn’t been all that long since Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. And it’s still recent history when Steve Jobs started the process of getting a tiny, powerful computer into everyone’s pocket.

How in the heck did we figure out how to eat before we could grab our smartphone and in a matter of seconds check out everything we wanted to know about where to go for dinner tonight and figure out what to have when we got there? Continue reading “Find us on Facebook” Or not. Restaurants and social media

Let ‘em eat cake: the view from the judges’ table

By Robin Garr

“Uh. Two things I don’t much like: Maraschino and Amaretto,” I whispered to fellow judge Caity DiFabio as yet another slice of cake dropped on our star-spangled table.

She nodded, and then we picked up our forks, and we were like “Whoa.” Whoever made this cake knew what to do with flavors. It was remarkable! Judge Josh Moore agreed, and the deal was sealed. Amanda and Eleanor B…’s almond maraschino cake with Amaretto had won the annual cake contest at the Crescent Hill Old Fashioned Fourth of July Picnic. Continue reading Let ‘em eat cake: the view from the judges’ table

What could possibly go wrong? Oops!

By Robin Garr

One cold day last winter, I joined a group of friends at a popular local breakfast spot. I pulled up a chair, said down, reached for a menu, and … oops! hey now, what’s this? I’m stuck to the chair!

Sure enough, I was literally glued in place. It took an actual effort to pull up and break loose from my mooringswith an audible pop. On closer inspection, the problem became clear: A previous occupant had left a small pool of pancake syrup pooled on the seat.

Silly me for failing to look before I sat down, but still: GRRR! Continue reading What could possibly go wrong? Oops!

Restaurant fame may falter, but we’ll always have our go-tos.

By Robin Garr

Things are changing, and this makes us nervous. We’ve already mourned the loss of Harvest, Decca, and Rye during the pandemic, and their replacement in place if not in spirit by a branch of Cafe Lou Lou and a squadron of Latin-accented Olé Group eateries.

And now James Beard House reveals its annual restaurant award winners for 2023, and once again Louisville strikes out without a sniff of glory.

I just recently lamented about the way Louisville dining lately isn’t like it used to be, and I know I’m not alone in singing this chorus. Is it time for us to accept that our dreams of world recognition as a top-tier restaurant city aren’t to be?

Maybe. Maybe not. Continue reading Restaurant fame may falter, but we’ll always have our go-tos.