Tuesday, April 7, 2009


"When the circus wants to run away it visits Miss Vero."

Back from a fabulous little getaway this weekend in Saint Augustine for the Rhythm and Ribs festival, Miss Vero has been overrun, by house guests and relatives and spring breakers, just swarming in like locusts, buttin in to our busy days and interuptin our cocktail hours. Why is it that just because our guests are on vacation, they think that we would like to behave like crazed tourists with them? We have had to endure all manner of indignities, like actually sitting on the actual beach, have waiters take our group picture and worst of all getting up before the crack of noon!
Three cups of coffee at that hour and we became completely and almost permanently sober! A condition so disorienting, that we were fool enough to call into the Rhett Palmer Show at 8:30am! And even though it was fun to say hi to Rhett and his guest Charlie Wilson,
big ole used-to-be-Sherriff, Gary Wheeler, started to scare the beejeebees out of us and we immediately came to our senses! Never again, never again.
Hunneys, when we tell ya'll that we ran to the kitchen for a much needed bloody mary,
well, we ain't lyin!

It all started last Thursday, as Miss Vero was having a very civilized lunch date date, with a very charming gentleman. One of the most charming gentlemen we have ever met in Vero or anywhere else, for that matter.

"Did you see the review of Undertow?" he asked, referring to the Verobeach32963 article.
We had not, but we promised to read it later, which we did, only later was much later, as in the next day. Miss Vero was having such a "grand time" as our Granmammy used to say and we were thoroughly fascinated by our companion and his insightful conversation, that we certainly were not about to focus on anything else.

After our lunch, at a fashionable beach side restaurant, Miss Vero went downtown to see the chimp paintings and the paintings of chimps, very interesting indeed!
Then to Avanzar (we had never been there before) for a quick dinner, which was extremely good, better than we had expected and surprisingly sophisticated. Unbelievable homemade sausage, fabulous artichoke picata! The bartender was friendly, knowledgeable about the wine and we were pleased as punch by the little details like the amuse-bouche.



There, a restaurant review. Our experience, not y'all's or anyone elses.

When we did finally get around to reading the 32963 Undertow review, honestly, we did not think about it one way or the other. We have actually given up believing restaurant reviews from any news source and have found that sites offering "real folk" reviews (like tripadvisor for example), are a clearer snapshot of an establishment. Usually, only folks that have had a real bad experience or a real good experience take the time to write. Even knowing that and adding in menu selection and prices, and we still don't take what anyone else has to say too seriously (something we are very well known for).

But the calls about the Undertow review started coming in. Viviene was furious and wanted to vent and so she did.

And then the emails came in, like this one:

"I was disappointed in the blistering review of Undertow in the current issue of 32963 especially after your uplifting comments about the restaurant. Having eaten there twice for dinner and many times at lunch, it is easy for me to agree with your view.
Far be it for me to comment on what you should do - suffice to say - I hope you defend the restaurant in a persuasive manner. Kitty has not had an easy time the past few years and now the place appears to be going well and doesn't need a review that seems to be designed to stop the momentum."

And this one from Mark Landry of Verobeachrestaurants.com:

"While I like some parts of the 32963 paper sometimes people just don't get it. And I think this is the case with the review of the Undertow in 32963. It takes multiple visits and an open mind to understand what a restaurant is doing, what it is, and especially what it is not. I think 32963 missed it on this one and I would have to say that they just don't get it.

The Undertow is a come-as-you are restaurant that serves great food in an unpretentious atmosphere. There are far, FAR too many disappointing casual restaurants in this area that often offer menus and drinks that look all so similar... burgers, fried food, chicken caesars, fish sandwiches with tartar sauce... on and on. The Undertow is NOT one of these places.

You can always tell a restaurant that is owned by someone who has a passion for food and wine as it is usually reflected in the little things they offer. The Undertow's flavorful, creative Bistro inspired menu, strong specialty beer list, small but eclectic wine list and some solid offerings by the glass all go to enhancing the cool casual vibe at the Undertow. They use big boy tableware and wine glasses that are appropriate for eating and drinking ( cheesy tableware and glasses is a no no in any restaurant and pet peeve of mine).

Yes it is casual but tastefully and that is what is intended. This is NOT a jacket and tie type of place with a county club mentality. This is a casual, cool restaurant with live music on the weekends. So if your expecting otherwise.. go somewhere else. But if you want good food, a nice glass of wine in a casual cool place, then here it is!

So I hope 32963 doesn't fall into the Press Journal Restaurant Review mind set. A restaurant review should NOT be based on a single visit. Please try it again and open your eyes wide. And, while I'm at it, a note to the PJ - PLEASE look beyond the rim of your plate! A complete dining experience should include food AND wine. Tell me what you had to drink. Offer me a suggestion from the wine list that you found of particular interest or value, How is the wine service, drink quality, tableware, wineglasses. A restaurant review should be more than just the what you had for dinner and the decor.

And a couple others, let's just say, not so nice.

And, of course, there was the comment section, on the "Dirty Fork" post, which we never censor and y'all can look up for yourselves.

Now here's the thing kids, it's Ok.


It's just one opinion.

It's OK, if the reviewer didn't have a good experience and wanted to tell y'all about it. Maybe she didn't know that there was a wedding on the patio (quite unusual), going on at the same time her party arrived, but that shouldn't have mattered.

Maybe she forgot to tell y'all that her party didn't all arrive on time making it seem that the appetizers took forever for those that sat down first.

Maybe she's just really good at writing, but has never cooked for 120 people at once, cheerfully waited on obnoxious self important people, washed dishes or had to smile while mixing drinks and listening to the horrendous jokes of the slightly inebriated - experiences that we feel all restaurant reviewers should obtain as a prerequisite to their chosen profession.

Maybe she forgot that Miss Kitty Wagner is indeed a chef and should be referred to as Chef Wagner, and not "Kitty" as in the familiar, or the cafeteria lady, or one of the help, or in some other condescending beachie way - a mistake that no male chef would let pass.

So if y'all have been payin attention, and we certainly hope y'all have, why don't we just invite the reviewer to an evening at Undertow with Miss Vero and cohorts? We think that the friends she brought with her probably wouldn't swap shoes, pop their eyeball out, dance on the table and that just might have been the problem.

Or better yet, why don't we just stop reading now and go have a cocktail. There's Karaoke at What-a-Tavern tonight...

Drag show at Cosmic Charlies...

And of course there's always The Epicenter of Cool -Undertow, because that really hasn't changed, has it?




Viv said...

Looks like ya have a buncha genuine people behind ya Chef! But honestly, it could've been a blessing looks like we don't want those people around our siorees anyway!

Jethro Bovine said...

Miss Viv,
I think that Miz V is tryin' to tell us that there is room for all opinion, even those with which we happen to personally disagree. We LOVE the Undertow because we get it. Chef Kitty is a wiz at puttin' unique combinations together and THEN pairing them with the perfect wine. But the Undertow is much more than the food. It is the ambiance, the setting, the people, the cool staff, the excellent entertainment, the eye-poppin' visuals (pun intended) and so much more. Miz V is a true Belle of the southern persuasion as she has demonstrated with her diplomatic dealin's here in what will become known as the "Review Incident."


Max Newport said...

Sorry I missed your radio chat with Rhett, Charlie and the Wheelman. For some reason, I don't have a radio in my office. I think "The Miss Vero Radio Hour" has a nice ring to it.

As far as these highfalutin restaurant reviews are concerned, I don't read them. We either like the place or we don't and the Newports are always open to new culinary adventures as long as it doesn't interfere with cheeseburger nights at The Golden Arch. Lord knows that Mickey D can slap together a burger.

I think the Lemmon and the Foote should switch jobs for awhile. Lemmon is always asking us to nibble on some thing or another and Foote can push out quite a toot when she's not writing about food.

Give the radio hour some thought. The next step in the Miss Vero media empire.

Viv said...

Max, funny you talk about the media empire... I like it too. lately im on MVBH more than Perez!

Lola said...

Just think Miss Vero. If you put on a few pounds over the next year you can use the buttocks law so you don't have to go sit on the beach with your company when they come next year. Yep, just tell them your bathing suit doesn't fit right and you don't want to be arrested.

And oh good lord, just when I was getting in shape to get in the ring they go and ban Jello wrestling too. My my, Vero Beach is more conservative than I ever imagined. I don't know how they expect a girl to make it in this town if she can't even arm wrestle the boys for her drinks. :-* :-*

Anonymous said...

Dr. John asks "What are the qualifications for one to become a Restaurant Reviewer? Surely there have to be some!

Jethro Bovine said...

Dr John,

Apparently the requirements do not include a palate or a grammar-checker.


Anonymous said...

Ms. kitty wagner also recently got a d.u.i. and a great picture on the I.R.C. sherriff's whos who list of arrest.

Miss Vero said...

...there but for the grace of the IRCSO go I...

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