Marty Rosen begins his final column as Courier-Journal food critic with a slightly confusing trip back in time, beginning in 2006 with his assignment to "give attention and respect to every culinary style, whether haute or humble, cheap or dear," jumping forward to the present time to declare the city "jaded," then zooming back to 1996 when "Louisville was just coming to a self-conscious, uncertain understanding that its chefs and restaurateurs were creating something special and distinctive."
The scene was already rich, but the pace of change was astonishing. Openings included Proof on Main and a little taco counter in New Albany called La Rosita. Majid Ghavami, the city's consummate host, had already created a stellar white tablecloth Persian restaurant called Saffron's, but in a little cottage on Brownsboro Road, an upstart place called Shiraz Mediterranean Grill was grilling kebabs over charcoal, and in the back a couple of Iranian Kurds were baking exquisite bread in a barrel-shaped clay oven.After that Rosen's time machine begins crawling back to the future through just about every other restaurant in Louisville, including "the exquisite Mayan Cafe," Jasmine, "the short-lived Bistro New Albany," Chez Seneba and many more.
Rosen says his goal as CJ restaurant reviewer was to live up to the example of his predecessors Greg Johnson, Richard des Ruisseax and Ronni Lundy. (Somehow, former CJ critic Robin Garr did not make the list.) He then describes his view of reviewing as "an act of imagination," or as some might say, "everything's relative."
For every restaurant there exists an imaginary perfect customer — a fantasy customer that the restaurateur and team hope to serve to perfection. And for every diner there exists an imaginary perfect restaurant — the one place that at a specific point in time will meet that customer's every desire in terms of ambiance, service and food. To grasp and assess what a restaurant is striving to do, the critic has to become a surrogate for that perfect customer. … There's a huge difference between the prime beef burger on a pretzel bun at Jack's/Equus and the one brought to your window by the carhop at Dizzy Whizz — but both places offer wonderful experiences. … In that context, rating schemes are little more than a cryptic convenience.Thus, after a dozen years, we uncover a possible reason for Rosen's "cryptic" rating system.
Rosen thanks his wife, Mary, for enduring his "inability to carry on a coherent conversation through something like a thousand meals" and several other friends, including Joel, Nan and Bob (who "let me exploit their kids for things like blind tastings of saltine crackers"), "email informants" and editors. He ends his tenure at the CJ by saying he is "resigning from the column in order to pursue musical interests," and tells readers "if you see me with a guitar in my hand, be sure to say hello." To that end, Eater signs off with this video from Marty (who appears to be singing next to some of Klaus' pretzel buns) and some of his "musical interests," the Hound of the Buskervilles.
· Dining critic Marty Rosen bids farewell[Courier-Journal]
· Marty Rosen shares 12 of his favorite restaurants [Courier-Journal]
· Hound of the Buskervilles [Facebook]
· All Eater Week in Reviews [~ELOU~]