No Barbecue Qualifications

This is in reference to a review that Naomi Wise recently wrote about one of your advertising clients, the House of BBQ (“Smoking or Non?” Restaurant Review, June 11). The review was inaccurate and extremely unfair! My family and many of my friends have eaten at this restaurant and have found the food to be delicious! As a matter of fact, I named my favorite dish, the Heaven on a Bun. The dish is exactly that, heavenly! The family that runs the establishment is gracious and kind. Is this really how you treat your clients? Does Ms. Wise have any idea how difficult it is to run a restaurant and build the business? It is extremely difficult in the best of times. In today’s economy, this is next to impossible! Ms. Wise was careless and thoughtless in her review. Please take some time to visit the House of BBQ and enjoy the Heaven on a Bun! Tell them Renee sent you! And please send someone more qualified to do the review!

via email

Love That Wall O’ Beer

Let me start off with I enjoy the controversy of the Reader, but the offensive, inaccurate “Smoking or Non?” article about barbecue was bordering on insanity (Restaurant Review, June 11). I frequent barbecue places in San Diego. Why was Phil’s not mentioned or the San Diego icon Kansas City made famous from Top Gun? As to the accuracy, does your writer need glasses? I eat at Lil’ Piggy’s Bar-B-Q, as I work on the Island. Walking through the front doors, even to order takeout or pick up food, there are four glass-doored coolers with over 100 kinds of beers creating a literal wall of beer.

As for the food, I’ve yet to be disappointed there. Being from Charleston, South Carolina, spices are made from scratch, certainly not using the cheater’s way out with Creole mustard, as suggested by your writer. Their coleslaw is delicious, the potato salad has a zing to it, and the pulled pork sandwiches are fantastic.

Last question: are you hiring new food critics? As the way to a man’s heart is truly through his stomach and I’m hungry.

Moto GP
via email

Next We’re Reviewing Alpo

I’m calling in reference to the dining review that Naomi Wise put on. She should probably change her last name to “Stupid.” I mean, I could not believe that when she did the review for Frankie “The Bull’s” BBQ that she would actually have the audacity to tell people to bring their stash in a backpack when they haven’t even received their license for beer or wine. How ridiculous. And I’m telling you, you’re going to find yourself with a lawsuit if you continue to allow her to use such outlandish things. That was the most ridiculous, ludicrous, I don’t even think that there’s words to describe the dumbness of this person to put such rubbish.

And then, who’s minding the mint? Is there anyone who goes over and reads what she’s putting out before you even say, hey, this is okay? It’s not okay, and you’re going to have to start being more responsible for the people that you hire. I understand that there’s free speech and it’s a free newspaper, and I really do love the Reader dearly. We’re going to have to make some radical choices and some radical changes because this nonsense will allow people to lose their jobs and lose their businesses if you don’t watch out.

So please, think about it, and to be quite honest, she’s not that great of a reviewer. I think I could probably get my dog Rin Tin Tin to do a lot better than her. And also, I called Frankie “The Bull’s” BBQ and asked if they’d read what was written, and they were very, very upset. You don’t want a lawsuit. You, at least, want to be able to put the Reader out the way you’ve been doing, but not like this. Take care.

Name Withheld
via voicemail

BBQ Needs A Do-Over

About House of BBQ aka Chicago House of BBQ — the ribs do fall off the bones, the pulled pork is heavenly, and the sauce divine (“Smoking or Non?” Restaurant Review, June 11)! We’ve been eating there weekly. Also, don’t forget to try Pete’s daily homemade soups, yummmmmm. We also enjoy the fact that our favorite kind of wine is remembered as well as our names when we walk through the doors. Ms. Wise, give this place another try. You might have been having an off day.

Nanette Lehr
via email

Lies And Slander

I read the Reader today and saw what you wrote about House of BBQ (“Smoking or Non?” Restaurant Review, June 11). I eat there all the time with friends and family, and I always recommend this place to everyone. This place has amazing barbecue. You made a comment about the pulled pork being dry and that it’s so hard you have to cut it because there is no way it was pulled. Well, let me say that we (my family and friends) call it Heaven on a Bun because it is delicious. It is tender. The coleslaw is homemade and out of this world; it is not over mayo. You also commented on paying $3 for bread to have with your dinner. They always give three pieces of garlic bread with all the dinners — never charge for extra bread if you ask — and a complimentary homemade cup of soup with all entrées.

This barbecue house has opened in tough times with this economy. God bless them and all the other restaurants that have the courage. Also, they have brought to us a menu with great prices, great-quality food, huge portions, and homemade delicious items on the menu.

I just want to voice my opinion on your review and tell you you’re wrong, and you will be getting more letters from House of BBQ fans emailing you and standing behind this restaurant. You should make an apology to this restaurant for slandering their name that way with lies. You can have an opinion, yes, but if you didn’t believe it was pulled you should have asked the chef to invite you in the kitchen and see for yourself before writing your review.

Also, one last thing, the ribs are not charred like you said; they are tender and fall off the bone. The barbecue sauces — house and spicy — are better than a lot of places’ out there now. (Won’t mention names.) We always ask for extra when we take home our leftovers. I like to end this with House of BBQ, five stars.

via email

Future Freebies

Tokeli is a truly great talent and now a bit of a visionary (“Free-For-All,” Blurt, June 11). Whether or not she is serious about offering her rather significant talents (I was at the show and blown away) for “free” or not, I can tell the readers that those of us in the entertainment business have been there and are doing that very same thing albeit kicking and screaming.

Not only did Napster and others eternally change the way prerecorded music has evolved as a business model a decade ago, VOD (video on demand) is now flirting with the very same concept of “free” with movies and favorite TV series. Check out the story in The Wrap on a new company, Zillion TV, that has just signed up a major studio and will offer their content free of charge. Putting aside the concept that if an artist is truly passionate about pursuing their craft, rewards will follow (with monetary hopes), this concept of “free” is here to stay and for those innovative enough to figure out a way to make that work, they will be the pioneers of the future.

All Tokeli needs is an audience to hear her music, and now there is no excuse for anyone to miss her amazing show. She will survive — go see for yourself!

Steven Galloway
via email

Money No Object

Why in the world would you concern yourself with who paid for what for the Idol return (“Mad World,” Neighborhood News from Stringers, May 21)? That is ridiculous. Adam is a hometown guy and this is the article he gets for working so hard to make his town proud of him? You should be ashamed; it is a disgrace. Keep in mind the teachers salaries are ongoing — Adam was a one-time event. Big deal. If you had some positive articles running about this talented young man your hits on this site would be tremendous. I found this article to be very sad.

Name Withheld by Request
via email

Baloney Sighted Offshore

Regarding “Searching for San Diego’s Sea Turtles and a Job” cover story of April 30, I heartily laugh at all the letters of protest coming in on behalf of author Nasreen Atassi. I can spot a phony baloney a mile away! Last week’s letter from Misty bemoaning the deeper misunderstanding of Nasreen’s story and negative criticism of it was a crock. I bet that was Nasreen herself, writing the letter in defense of her questionable skills. Neil Allen of Normal Heights: Let’s call a spade a spade! Nasreen’s writing sucked — there were no layers of meaning or “unique view and style.” It was just plain bad. The Reader should know better than to publish shit like that when there are so many better authors out there (such as myself) with far better stories to tell. To add insult to injury, the Reader puts this dreck on the front page!

Now I am sure Neil Allen of Normal Heights and If do not wish to beat a dead horse or kick someone when they are down. Let’s suffice to say people are entitled to their opinions. But they should be sincere ones not hiding behind false names or friend’s emails. Nasreen, call off your dopey relatives and friends. Try and write something worthwhile next time. And no more letters that are obviously written, if not by you, then by your cousin!

Gail Powell
via email

Mystery Makers

In reading your article “Eyes on the Freeway” (Neighborhood News from Stringers, March 19), it’s apparent Caltrans may not be disclosing the entire story. I drive the stretch of the I-5 freeway from near the U.S. border to Carlsbad on a fairly regular basis, and these freeway solar-array–powered devices extend all the way to the border on both sides of the freeway, every few miles.

I hope the Reader will follow up on this story by contacting Caltrans and obtaining a list of venders (and their contact information) supplying the various components of these vehicle-detection devices. Perhaps then we will be able to ascertain for certain whether the information Caltrans is supplying the Reader is actually true. I have my doubts. I have photographed these devices numerous times and have noticed a company logo on some of what appears to be transmission units (as opposed to detector units): it is a stylized globe printed on a blue foil background of the earth outlined in white with white lines of latitude and longitude. Printed across what would be the equatorial region in bold white letters is “EIS” — maybe this information will be helpful in trying to identify what the actual purpose of these freeway devices are.

I would be pleased to supply any photos I have.

Owen Burcham
via email

Gastro Geography

Normally, I love Naomi Wise’s well-written, thoughtful, and often entertaining reviews. However, this time I had to agree with her that “the state of local North African restaurants [in San Diego] came as a shock” (Restaurant Review, March 19). In fact, I am not surprised at all, since she seems to think that North Africa includes Ethiopia. I’d be shocked, too, having lived in Morocco, if I had gone to an Ethiopian restaurant expecting couscous bedaoui or chorba. North Africa is generally considered to include Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, and the Western Sahara, with Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya making up the Maghreb. While these countries have some dishes similar to those of Ethiopia, North African cuisine is quite distinct. If Ms. Wise is looking for a good local offering of Moroccan food, she need look no further than Kous Kous on Fourth in Hillcrest.

Geography aside, the review of Muzita Abyssinian Bistro is very informative, and we just might wander a bit out of the Maghreb for dinner soon.

Rebecca Romani
via email

Naomi Wise responds: Thanks for the input. You make a very valid point. I took the lazy way out under deadline, trying to lump in the Horn of Africa with the area north of the Sahara, when what I really meant was “northern sub-Saharan African.” (That’s too much of a mouthful.) Probably should just have said “African restaurants,” since as far as I know we don’t have any eateries from Nigeria, Kenya, etc., and our delightful, one-and-only South African restaurant regrettably closed a few years ago. And yes to Kous Kous — I am also a raving fan of their Moroccan food!

Help Us, Jerry

Re: “Black Canyon to Pamo Valley,” "Roam-0-Rama," February 12)

Jerry Schad, I noticed a story in today’s U-T about some of the squabbles surrounding completing the Coast to Crest trail in San Diego County. A trail like that would be a wonderful thing to San Diegans who are looking for long-distance trails without having to drive through the dreaded Inland Empire. Can you please keep us in the loop about its progress? What can we do to make it happen? I would love to hike it start to finish to commemorate its grand opening!

via email

Jerry Schad responds: The squabble has to do with a section of the Coast to Crest Trail through the San Diego Polo Club at Rancho Santa Fe and centers on the exact usage of a section of public trail that is also used as a pony exercise track by the polo club. For information and construction updates on the entire 55-mile-long Coast to Crest Trail, which belongs to the San Dieguito River Park, visit sdrp.org/ trails.htm.

Incidentally, San Diego County has long been the home of the southernmost piece of the 2600-mile Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail (Pacific Crest Trail), which starts at the Mexican border at Campo and stretches north through California, Oregon, and Washington to the Canadian border. The last piece of that trail was completed in 1993.

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I agree about Naomi Wise being extremely unWISE in her choice of using one of your clients in her negative review. The only thing that should be "canned" is her ass. I've stopped reading her pretentious reviews.

MsGrant, I am surprised that someone as usually thoughtful and measured in response as you are would resort to the same old same old cry of "pretentious." Why, in this publication, are the writers who exhibit the most seasoned control of the English language, again and again called out as "pretentious?"

When I read Ms. Wise, I sense a playfulness, a willingness to dip here and there into brief digression with cheesy but appetizing puns, or indulge in some fun with onomatopoeia or alliteration--she isn't afraid to play with either her food or her language,and she plays seriously. Again, people--these are serving "suggestions." Same goes for Duncan, whose sometime curmudgeonliness adds some character to his coverage of film on screen and DVD. It is astonishing that the average Reader reader seems to think that a review must agree with his or her own opinions, or with some popular concensus, in order to be worthy criticism. Reader readers who hate need to expand their critical horizons--and their definition of criticism.

"I've stopped reading her pretentious reviews." - Just like you've stopped reading Board's blogs over and over...right? Why not stop completely flipping out and actually explain your thoughts like a civilized educated person (one that you usually appear to be). Going around name calling these guys then saying you're never coming back, only to return is a couple weeks is just plain silly.

Blah, blah, blah. I've said this before and I'll say it again. It is a woman's inherent right to change her mind. Beside, I enjoy the Reader blogs. Okay, here we go. She panned The Red Sails in Point Loma a couple of years ago. This upset the owners and its patrons so much that I think it actually increased business, which is a good thing. But anyone who knows Point Loma knows The Red Sails is a local, casual dining establishment that is not known for really fine dining, but for a nice meal with your local folks who have been coming there for years. Yes, I understand it is her job to critique the food. She slammed them with a vengeance. Pretension is the perfect word for someone who moves around in a world she cannot necessarily afford, but gets paid to. Her salacious reviews of restaurants in affluent areas does not apply in Point Loma. We had a dearth of restaurants here, with the exception of the fabulous Roseville, and now Liberty Station, with its assortment of choices. Not fine dining, but better than before. I am not taking into consideration Ocean Beach, with Thee Bungalow, Third Corner, and The Kaiserhoff. These are all wonderful eating establishments with a loyal clientele. But they are on the other side of the hill. I live right in the middle of the Peninsula, but you would be shocked at how many people go to one side or the other. Living in a microcosm makes you lazy. She has to understand the culture of a community before passing harsh judgement. Food is not the only reason folks go to certain restaurants.

Yes, but food is what people want to read about in the reviews. I understand atmosphere and neighborhood connections but to be quite honest, I've been to Red Sails three times with a friend of mine who simply adores the place. She's lived in Point Loma for over 25 years and so like you, I think she feels a big connection to Red Sails. I've only resided in San Diego for ten years and like I said, have only been to Red Sails three times but each time there was nothing about the food I found worthy of any praise. My friend is obsessed with their crab sandwich, which I gave a shot and was highly disappointed with. I'm no crab coinsure and I'm no food snob, I just know when something isn't that good. The last time I was there was the final time I'll ever go because our waitress basically left us on our own as she did with the few other tables in her section. It was a terrible experience. I will tell you that the bartender and manager working (possibly an owner) were both very cheerful and helpful. They came to our rescue when trying to pay the check. We had waited a total of 15 minutes for the waitress to return to pick up the bill which we initially had to chase her down for but it never happened. Maybe I should only sit at the bar from now on. However again, since the food isn't that good and since I'm not a drinker, it just doesn't make sense for me to go. I agree there are plenty of great places in Point Loma for eating and it's a great community in San Diego. I figure a food critic has got to be pretty harsh. There are a lot of places out there that leave a lot to be desired once all is said and done. It's good to read your explination, it shed light on why it is you felt how you felt and I think sounded a little more grown up (besides the start of course). However, I think you should reconsider your excuse that "all women have a right to change their mind as they choose". Sure, anyone has this right and it's a great right to use. Yet the situation should be sensible for it to come into play. Man or woman should not just stomp off in a furry everytime they're disappointed or upset with something. That's equal to couple's who are on again, off again for the entire time you know them. Those types of reactions are something people usually outgrow by the time they're twelve, or at least should. I think most women are logical enough to realize this and don't react in such ways on a normal basis because according to your reasoning, you would have no problem with someone just saying the phrase "well, she's just being a woman" when someone stomps away or overreacts to something. To me, that seems highly demeaning and just wrong. It seems that bad reactions shouldn't be categorized by gender, but by individual.

Re: Red Sails: Hmm, I'm looking at last year's Zagat guide for SD -- yes, just as I thought: Red Sails, with a food score of 13, is the lowest rated restaurant in the entire book, tied with Hard Rock and Joe's Crab Shack. And Zagat ratings come from the eaters, not from restaurant critics. So go ahead and love Red Sails, but be aware that most people (at least those who post on Zagat because they care enough about food to want a free copy of the guide) do not share your love.

Reason I ate there was, my Reader colleagues were urging me to do so because it's supposedly the oldest surviving restaurant in SD (Waterfront being supposedly the oldest bar). And I love eating at waterside. So I went. And wrote a nearly-kindly review, given the quality of the food. Remember, I liked the raw shellfish. Maybe because it wasn't cooked there.

Other thing is about community restaurants. At any community restaurant -- places where locals run into their neighbors -- locals are going to have a very different feeling about them than a stranger will (and of course, a stranger may not feel all that welcome there, either.) When I reviewed Red Sails, the review wasn't for people in the in-group there, it was for fools like me who were direly tempted by an attractive, funky-looking waterfront joint, visually resembling the "seafood shacks" I used to eat at during vacations in New England. I really wanted the food to be better, so I could like the place. (Later, I heard the place to be at Red Sails is the bar -- that the drinks are strong and good. Skoal, MsGrant!)

MOTO: Too bad the powers at the paper didn't give me an opportunity to respond to your post when it first appeared in the Letters. The others are all "matters of opinion," but in your case, the factuality is challenged. First: I did mention Pete's in the piece. I said specifically that Pete's is a grill, not a BBQ. (That is, there are hundreds of forms of BBQ all over the world, but in the US, when you go to a restaurant calling itself a BBQ, it is nearly always a restaurant that smokes its meats, rather than merely grilling them.) Second, I didn't mention or review KC or Abby's or Tyler's or (best of all) Barnes BBQ because all of those HAVE ALREADY BEEN REVIEWED! I was specifically reviewing three brand-new BBQs that opened all within a month or two of each other.

As for the wall of beer, I do need glasses (and wear them) but the main thing was, I wasn't looking for beer, I was looking over the menu to decide what to order. I knew I'd be phoning the place to ask what kind of wood they smoked over, and would ask about the license then, too. Unfortunately (and this WAS dumb) I phoned on Memorial Day, forgetting that it was a holiday (writers for weekly papers don't GET holidays!) The place was doing land-office business, and was so noisy, the gal I spoke to probably didn't hear the question right and said "no." When I called back to talk to the manager the next day, when it was quieter, I didn't think to ask the question again.

BTW -- A new website posting indicates that Frankie's has got its license now, and is advertising happy hours! Yay!

MsGrant, your rants here are just plain ridiculous. You start things off by saying that a review got the owners and patrons so mad it actually "increased business." That's one of those lame lines, like when a person gets mad and threatens to "contact their attorney." Yeah, right. I'm sure movie critics that pan bad films also get people so angry that they....they...go to the movie immediately, just to prove them guys wrong! Let's go see a bad movie, just to show those stuffy, pretentious critics we will!

Yeah, that's what people do when they see bad reviews. They immediately flock to the place, just to prove the reviewer wrong.

I've eaten at Red Sails five times. None of the experiences were good (although I loved the view). I asked my friend, who at the time was the head of the Harbor Police (right down the street). I asked if he liked Red Sails (as I didn't want him to be influenced by me saying I hated it). He got a weird look on his face and he said, "I really don't know." I laughed, before he explained that he ate their often, and never once got a sandwich he liked. But he enjoyed going with his co-workers, and he got to know the staff and liked them.

Now, how does one mess up a sandwich at lunchtime? Well, Red Sails found a way to do that.

I wouldn't chalk up my opinion on their food to anything, though, since I rarely order sea food (or...as you said in some insane rant, "I only eat at Fridays,"....I'm still not sure where you came up with that one; it would be news to the folks I ate with at Marine Room the other night).

On a side note, I was once eating there and bought my mom a gift certificate for Mothers Day (as I had gotten her tickets for the Neville Brothers at Humphrey's and thought that would be a nice little thing for her to enjoy).

She had problems when she went there with them giving her the proper change and even accepting the thing (although, in full disclosure, when I contacted them a few days later to complain, they totally hooked me up with a free meal, and offered my parents another free meal, too).

They declined.

They said the food there wouldn't be worth it, even for free.

So, I believe this shows that you were wrong on Red Sails. Tell your friends that own it you're sorry, you tried your best.

(although, using your logic...the place will now be packed this weekend)

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