My wife asked me, "why doesn't Ed eat at Europa Bistro?" So I said, "I don't know, but I can find out."
bbahnsen, a registered user of this Web site
Please let your wife know I have eaten at Europa. I have not reviewed Europa, but I wrote (fairly positively) about the restaurant in my neighborhood dining tour of the Proctor District in February.
Your inquiry touches on an issue I struggle to keep in balance in the South Sound's growing but still shallow dining pond: review widely known popular restaurants or try to spotlight new places and restaurants that have flown under the radar?
I'll admit I've reviewed a number of Usual Suspects Where People Will Eat No Matter What, as well as some established restaurants that were previously favorably reviewed and which are no longer hungry for the publicity that puts butts in seats: The Cliff House, The Lobster Shop, Stanley & Seafort's leap to mind in the first category; Primo Grill, From the Bayou and Fife City Bar & Grill are examples of the second category.
But in the two years I've been on this beat, I've also written about gems that might otherwise get overlooked: Quickie Too (Tacoma's only vegan joint) and Tempest Lounge on Hilltop and Island Style Barbecue in Auburn, among others. I also try to mix in brewpubs, far-flung rib joints and restaurants I'd consider swimming to (Ferrara, on Vashon Island).
I recall one letter a year ago that excoriated me for not reviewing the letter-writer's favorite restaurants (mostly in North Tacoma, Sixth Avenue and Proctor, including seven-year-old Europa). They were all established restaurants that Tacomans were patronizing regardless of reviews. (Many had been favorably reviewed by The News Tribune's previous restaurant critic, by the way.) I showed the letter to my wife, who said, "She just wants you to validate her life."
Earlier this year, imminently quotable brewpub impresario Dusty Trail called and asked, "What did we do to piss you off?" He wanted to know why I hadn't reviewed his 11-year-old place in Puyallup, The Powerhouse.
I told Trail the reason I hadn't yet included The Powerhouse in a pub crawl review was that there weren't enough pubs in Puyallup to crawl around. I wrote about The Powerhouse and The Ram two weeks ago. Before that, I hadn't written a pub crawl in a few months. I've admired Powerhouse beers since I moved to the South Sound. Sure, why not kick-start the pub crawl in Puyallup?
I enjoyed Trail's "What did we do to piss you off?" telephone call. It reminded me that I am fortunate in this job: My editors let me decide what I eat and when I eat it. That's not to say I don't accept and savor guidance and recommendations from them and others. I do.
"Tell me what I need to do to get reviewed," the chef-owner of a five-year-old Olympia restaurant asked me recently.
I'd actually been to her restaurant. I had already put it on my to-do list, along with Europa and others where there have been changes in menus, chefs or ownership. But I couldn't think of an answer. "Just cook good food," I said, hoping it didn't sound glib.
It's said that the holidays are a time of sharing.
I'm working on new and improved ways of doing my job -- which is to serve you, the reader.
Now you tell me which restaurants you think should be reviewed and why. Be specific -– and don't try shilling for your boyfriend's new restaurant.