Wrapping up a week of teabagging, in her review of new downtown watering hole Silly Goose, the Commercial Appeal’s Jennifer Biggs makes this pronouncement, “they tasted pretty good to me, too — though I’m not a huge fan and certainly no connoisseur of the tube steak.”

It’s a hot dog people! Whether it was innocent or Biggs was furtively slipping in the tube steak doesn’t matter. Either way, it’s just mildly amusing.

What flabbergasted me came a bit earlier in the review:

Additionally, they make a mean chili.

I liked the chili so much that I was astonished to find out it wasn’t house made.

No editing on my part here. These two sentences were back to back in the review. They make the chili. Except when they don’t?

Silly Goose is a bar, a bar with a focus on drinks, not food. That bit was made clear in the review:

The Silly Goose is in the Peabody Place space formerly occupied by Swig, another spot more focused on liquids than solids. Consequently, the kitchen was designed to serve mostly ready-to-eat small plates and that’s what The Silly Goose inherited.

“It’s pretty much a closet,” [co-owner Daniel] Masters said.

What exactly is a “ready-to-eat” plate? Generally, in a restaurant, when the plate gets to the customer, it is ready to eat. When I buy Jamaican meat pies or TGI Friday’s potato skins from Costco, they are “ready-to-eat” too. I only have to apply heat. Not a lot of cooking there.

When I eat in a bar, I expect mostly premade stuff that was heated up on the stove or even nuked. If I want good food in a bar, I’m going to go to a good restaurant with a bar like Interim or Restaurant Iris or Hunt-Phelan.

When I read a restaurant review, I expect some portion of the review to cover the cooking, not the heating. I don’t care if it is the simplest hole-in-the-wall or the most luxurious white tablecloth place as long as they are putting the ingredients together before they put them on the plate.

Opening a box or a can doesn’t count. To be worthy of a dining review, I expect a place to be up to more of a challenge than that. I hope for more from a dining reviewer too.

Silly Goose sounds like a great bar. A bit frou frou for my tastes maybe. When I go to a bar, I generally prefer a dive like Neil’s. To me, a bar, especially one that serves good drinks and “ready-to-eat” plates, is the purview of the CA’s excellent nightlife and music reviewer Michael Donahue, not a food reviewer.

Yes, I am ranting a bit. There are just so many great places in Memphis and so many chefs who actually cook who could really use the bump of business that a Friday review brings in. Call me picky, but I think those are the people who really deserve our attention.

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2 thoughts on “Ready-to-eat?

  • April 18, 2009 at 9:13 am

    Because I’m a glutton AND a drunkard, I don’t mind the occasional review of a place where food is an afterthought, if the cocktails are well-crafted (The Cove comes to mind, if shucking and oyster can be akin to opening a can).

  • June 3, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    WHAT THE???? Jennifer Biggs hit the mark on her review of the Silly Goose Lounge. People go there for a good time, but the owners and management of the Silly Goose take pride in what comes out of their kitchen as well as over the bar. Their potato soup is some of the best I have ever tasted. The staff is so friendly and easy going and the delicious atmosphere is pure relaxation. Really….do we want all the places downtown to be a carbon copy of the next? Way to go Silly Goose, you guys deserve the praises you have been getting…the Silly Goose is a great place to go to ‘get away’! Thanks for bringing it to downtown!

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