If Westword considers Jason Sheehan a restaurant critic, it is because of the third definition in Webster's: "One who tends to make harsh or carping judgments," not a person who "analyzes, classifies, interprets, or evaluates artistic works" such as food. He is an amateur trying to act like a professional restaurant critic but is falling down as quickly as a soufflé that was removed too quickly from the oven!
Jason's review of Rhumba put me over the edge. Someone made the mistake of putting it on my desk; little did they know about the time bomb they were to set off. Since I stopped reading the restaurant section, I was only a little vocal about my opinions -- just telling my closest friends how disappointed I was with the newspaper. But Jason's "panning" of Rhumba so eloquently shows the lack of food sophistication this writer possesses that I can't sit idly by while the Front Range restaurant scene is dissed by an amateur, foodie want-to-be, professional-restaurant failure.
I have been to Rhumba many times (I have also patronized Jax and Zolo). The kitchen staff is very passionate about their food. Joe Schneider, the person in front of the stove, creates a very sophisticated palate of flavors using innovative ingredients. The food is not for the meek, Black-Eyed Pea market; the food is flavorful, with "in your face" flavors.
I challenge Jason to put his reputation on the line and get back into the kitchen. How about a benefit food challenge: Jason versus the many chefs he has so negligently criticized?
Westword, stop the farce and bring value to the Denver/Boulder restaurant scene by providing the consumers and advertisers with a professional restaurant reviewer.
Cherry Hills Village
The grill next door: Like a scorned schoolgirl, Dave Query doesn't focus on the food or any of Sheehan's pointed criticisms in his review of Rhumba, but on the writer's style and character. Query lashes out with cheap shots and personal attacks. And after claiming to "learn from and...make adjustments" to bad reviews, Query proffers a childish rant that makes me wonder if a man with such thin skin should be working in an industry where the public's opinion -- and, yes, that includes the opinion of a "mildly educated food critic" -- is all that matters.
I, for one, appreciate Sheehan's honest take on Rhumba and other area eateries. Too many food critics seem to be in bed with local restaurant owners and chefs, offering the restaurant-going public over-inflated reviews of mediocre establishments. I'm glad Sheehan hasn't cooked for Query or spent time in every kitchen in Denver. Food critics are paid to objectively comment on their experience at a restaurant -- food quality, service, atmosphere -- and not to tell readers that, despite serving second-rate food in a contrived setting, by golly, the staff sure does work hard. If Query thinks Sheehan's critical yet honest reviews are simply an attempt to create a "bad boy" image, he's obviously disconnected from the people who keep him in business: the customers.
News flash, Query: Discerning readers want an honest, focused restaurant review, not another fluff piece on some hoity-toity restaurateur.
In the future, I hope Query can heed his own advice and learn to turn a negative review into an opportunity to improve his services instead of looking at it as a chance to slam a writer for expressing his opinion. Typically, Sheehan's reviews, whether positive or negative, spike my curiosity enough that I visit each restaurant to form my own opinion. But Query's knee-jerk response changed all that. I'll keep my money out of Rhumba (and Zolo and Jax and Lola) until Query learns to take criticism like an adult and a professional.
Charge of the Lightbody brigade: Regarding Michael Roberts's "Military Matters," in the April 24 issue:
In 1991, I was the station manager of XEK-AM, a Mexican station with studios in Hollywood. Our programming was in English and covered the same market as did the L.A. Times. Andy Lightbody was part of our on-air staff, doing programs on high-tech and military issues. We had many calls from people thanking us for bringing Andy back. Unlike other "talking heads," Andy went out and gathered news and issues from legitimate sources -- his contacts -- that were far superior to what others did.
Andy and I are often on the opposite sides of political issues, but I respect him for his knowledge and acumen. Maybe it is time to review the reasons for this vendetta -- a religious writer against a military one. What would George W. Bush say about that following the Crusades in Iraq? Let it go, already -- no matter what "it" is. Remember Ollie North?