We got a detailed and pointed feedback on Sunday morning from Doopy Lupree, a local Classic Rock / Neo-soul / House band. Or at least, we’re able to surmise as much from certain data we have access to; suffice it to say, it does not seem like the author is necessarily on the payroll of Naha. The email reads:
I do not like to see such negative reviews for such a great restaurant. I think the way Naha is categorized is misleading. It should be discribed as contemporary American, French technique, Mediterranean influences (chef Carrie Nahabedian is Armenian-American and her cousin Michael Nahabedian is Greek/Armenian-American). There is emphasis on seasonal, sustainable and local ingredients. Carrie Nahabedian has won her 3rd consecutive James Beard award nomination for best chef Midwest. They allow BYOB but the corkage policy is $25/ bottle unless a bottle is purchased from the wine list for each bottle brought, in which case the fee is waived. It can be romantic, however, it can also be very lively (read loud) when seated to capacity. The design of the room has a California vibe, I guess; and Chef Carrie Naha was executive chef for several years @ the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, California. Perhaps this is where the confusion comes in categoizing this restaurant as “California.” Naha is also considered to be a “slow-food” restaurant as few items are pre-made to ensure quality. Naha is also not cheap. Kindly amend your listing so that another user of your site does not leave a restaurant disappointed due to being misinformed.
Well! We’re happy to oblige the public when they ask us “kindly.” Doopy Lupree/Wants-To-Help is referring to, among other things, the cuisine we originally assigned to Naha — Californian (also, Eclectic/International, but that’s not in question). We generally reserve “Californian” for restaurants that self-identify as such, like Caliterra, and, indeed, California Pizza Kitchen. But Naha makes no such claim about itself, so we’ve reassigned it to “American (New),” a catch-all cuisine that describes the slow/seasonal/haute comfort thing that Naha does while also encompassing Charlie Trotter’s, Blackbird, and even Alinea (although just barely). New American is, in many way, an offshoot of the original Californian cuisine movement that began in the early 1970s with the opening of Chez Panisse. We all have a lot to thank Alice Waters for, but you knew that already.
Anyway, in our defense, the price rating was and is accurate, and any serious reviewer could have looked at the menu and ought not be overly swayed by epiphenomenal nomenclature. Still, it’s certainly true that more people should be reviewing Naha in greater number. And now that you know about the Buy One Bottle, Get The Second Uncorked Free policy, you have no excuse not to.
[Photo: a Naha medley, SquarePegsHurt/flickr]