When I first saw The Miami Herald front page headline this morning -- "It's Time To Add The 'Spice'", I thought reporter Elaine Walker was copying Short Order's tallying of which restaurants were worth going to for Spice and which weren't. But there was no critical commentary involved -- probably because Ms. Walker doesn't have much in the way of food background. So the first annoying thing about the article:
1. The paper didn't use its food writer -- you know, the person who actually knows about the restaurants being covered. Apparently the Herald is keeping Victoria Pesce Elliott busy writing about the war in Afghanistan.
2. A photo of seared salmon on the paper's front page is labled "hanger steak". A photo of hanger steak is labeled "poached salmon". Meaning the editor who laid out the photos knows even less about food than the writer.
3. The Herald's "Top Five" recommended restaurants (from Miami.com),
are places where the writer claims "Miami Spice price is truly a deep
discount". This short list includes two establishments with the least
impressive deals (Michy's, Mr. Chow) and another two that haven't yet
released menus to the public. So did they just pick 5 well known
restaurants off the top of their heads and decide to steer potential
diners there on a whim? Seems that way, which goes the opposite
direction from what an article such as this is supposed to do: Help
sort things out for the readers and help them make the best choices
possible when taking advantage of Miami Spice. At least that's what
newspapers used to do before the bean-counters took over.
4. The article includes, without mockery, predictable statistical whining from the
National Restaurant Association -- the group that works tirelessly to
keep restaurant worker salaries and the minimum wage as low as possible
so restaurant profits can be as high as possible. The NRA claims that
total restaurant sales growth, adjusted for inflation, declined 2.9% in
2009. This translates to only $27 billion in sales for Florida
restaurants, a number that is expected to increase a mere pittance to
$27.6 billion this year. You kinda have to feel sorry for this industry, right?
5. The Herald piece reinforces the effete, elitist,
could-care-less-about-locals nature of many of these restauranteurs.
Walker writes that Shareef Malnik of The Forge "has tried to dispel the
image of The Forge as a special occasion or expense account meal,
lowering the average check about 25 percent to $85 per person." All I
can say about this is I wish I was making as much money as Walker and
Malnik -- meaning enough that I could take my wife out for a $170 meal
and consider it just another regular weeknight meal. Nicola Siervo,
partner KNR Restaurant Group, which runs Quattro Gastronomia and Solea,
says "This is the perfect program for this kind of economy because
people can still afford a nice dinner." That's a kind sentiment, but
doesn't it imply that once the Spice program ends, residents won't be able
to afford dinner at those restaurants? Why not just say "We're a
restaurant that welcomes the locals in our community with open arms --
for two months a year."
All in all, this Herald Spice article is a lazy, thoughtless piece of
cheap cheerleading -- just the sort of writing that has folks
cancelling their subscriptions in droves and heading towards Internet
sites that at least attempt to get to the truth.
Or maybe I'm just upset because the Herald cancelled Get Fuzzy. I mean just what sort of nitwits are running that newspaper?
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.