Nothing more clearly exemplifies the high-low perspective of the Tribune team than this week’s contributions by Phil Vettel (high) and Kevin Pang (low). The quality of the reporting is there in both; they’re both excellent voices in their own way, and together together they enlarge the scope of their reader’s dining experience.
At the top of the page is Vettel’s review of Goosefoot, and it begins “I’m not awarding four stars to Goosefoot, the splendid new restaurant by former Les Nomades chef Chris Nugent. But I suspect it’s just a matter of time — and not a lot of time — before I do,” which is about as close to a four-star review as a three-star review can get. The suggestion of four-stars comes again later in the review, which contains Vettel’s signature prose: “A plump seared scallop, sporting a soft peak of licorice-root foam, sits in a shallow puddle of poached-lobster ragu with maitake mushrooms, a leaf-shaped dollop of butternut-squash puree gracing the plate’s wide rim. A bubbly sea (actually Meyer lemon sauce dotted with tapioca pearls) supports crispy-edged loup de mer, topped with sea beans and edible nasturtium flowers.” The wide knowledge of food, the unabashed old-school food descriptions, the lavish praise (rather than the snotty and picayune raffishness of some young gun reviewers), are all vintage Vettel. Yet his bare-all love makes make one wonder…why not four stars? Well, it’s not through any fault of the restaurant, but rather because “Nugent is just now moving off his opening menu, and I want to try more of his dishes first.” Phil, bro, why not wait a week or two and then give the place the four stars you seem so eager to bestow? And how likely is it that there will be another Goosefoot review within the next two years or so?
At the bottom of the page, Pang shows his love for The Silo, which offers a “no lose proposition of cheese, meat, starch.” Somewhat tongue-in-cheekily, Pang explains that “Because my middle name is “Adventure,” I seek out like-minded restaurateurs who walk the knife’s edge of culinary thrill,” and I’ve always enjoyed his efforts to push out the circle of acceptable dining to include places that Vettel would probably not want to drive past. Pang’s prose, too, is more workingman-like, the better to appeal to the masses, as in: “The pounded and breaded pork patty resembles a softball mitt, or the planet Saturn when sandwiched between two buns. The fried pork is astoundingly grease free.” You won’t catch Vettel using a softball mitt analogy or praising the fact that the meat is (can you believe it?!) not a mess of grease.
Though our tendencies are more toward the low end, it’s excellent that on one page of a food section, both ends of the culinary spectrum can be represented so capably and, of course, we’d jump at the chance to eat at either Goosefoot or Silo.