Restaurant Reviews by MFA Students

“The menu says this is chicken, but you aren’t making me BELIEVE it’s chicken”

Bouffage reviewed by R. Hemingsley

Virginia Woolf once said, “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” Fortunately for Virginia, she never had to dine at Bouffage.

The problems began as soon as I read the entrée descriptions. Squid ink pasta is so cliché. Why not bull semen pasta? Or Bic-pen ink pasta? Give us something we don’t expect. Also show, don’t tell. Instead of writing “grass-fed beef” on the menu, let me divine the beast’s culinary proclivities by tasting the earthy richness of the field. Let me feel the sun on my hide. Make me one with the cow.

Squid ink pasta is so cliché. Why not bull semen pasta? Or Bic-pen ink pasta? Give us something we don’t expect.

The steak, potatoes and green beans didn’t form a unified narrative on the plate. They were adjacent to each other, but not interacting. It’s like the ingredients were elements the chef wanted to include, but with no real reason why. Let me see the relationship between them. Let me feel the tension, the way they push and pull at each other. Overall, the meal suffered from a lack of cohesiveness. Needs a complete revision.

Olive and Ash reviewed by Quentin Prentice

Olive: round, plump yet firm, with a saltiness that suggests the tears of humanity. Ash: dust carried on the wind for all of eternity. Our waiter said the name came from the intersection where the restaurant is situated, but we think the chef was alluding to the painful arc of human existence, springing forth from fecundity only to become a remnant of destruction.

The first course arrived on an oversized plate with a wide rim. Was the chef saying the food was an insignificant speck floating in a sea of nothingness? A slice of shaved cucumber topped with lemon-caper foam huddled in the center. The foam disappeared when touched with a fork, leaving us to wonder what was real and what we had conjured.

A crackling of crispy chicken skin descended upon our table. But why just the skin? What is — dare we ask — underneath? We invite the chef to go deeper, to delve into the dark realm. True talent lies in not playing it safe.

A crackling of crispy chicken skin descended upon our table. But why just the skin? What is — dare we ask — underneath?

Finally, dessert: cheese and berries served “family style.” But why finish the meal with a shared plate? We enter the world alone, and we die alone.

Taco Bell reviewed by Jay Salerno

What this restaurant lacked in authenticity, it made up for in originality. When I first walked into the Taco Bell on Federal, I was skeptical. The décor was banal and forgettable. The menu had all the elements one would expect — cheese, salsa, guacamole — yet it felt uninspired. I wanted to be transported to Mexico, and I was sorely disappointed. But then I tried the cross-genre hybrid feature known as Nacho Fries. The chef embraced a minimalist aesthetic, presenting the fries in a small cardboard container with a sleek understatement that contrasted delightfully with the gustatory sensory overload. Spiciness. Saltiness. A pleasingly indulgent soupçon of grease. A gooey, rich cheese sauce. The combination was stunning. Leave behind everything you think you know about nachos and fries; this ground-breaking snack is pushing boundaries and challenging our conceptions of the status quo. I believe that Nacho Fries signal the dawn of a new era in the American fast-food canon. What a time to be a gastronome!

I Only Listen to Audiobooks on Vinyl

Bistro on Union reviewed by Clarissa R.

A true work of art is never done. And neither was the chicken.

Mercantile reviewed by Blake Cabot Humphries IV

I hate to brag, but I know a lot about the restaurant business. I ate at the Poolside Grille at the country club all the time when I was a kid, so you could say I grew up in the industry. Here is my informed critique of Mercantile: instead of monkfish with puréed sunchokes, I’d suggest swapping the monkfish for ground beef, substituting a burger bun for the sunchokes, and topping the beef patty with a sliver of grilled onion. That’s how they did it at the country club, and it was great. Just thought I’d share.

I’d suggest swapping the monkfish for ground beef, substituting a burger bun for the sunchokes, and topping the beef patty with a sliver of grilled onion.

Ecru reviewed by Jen Stanton

The portions were super small and some of the things were kind of weird. Beet scarpinocc? Nettle salsa? Pearl tapioca sabayon? Honestly, I only do these reviews so I can tell people I’m a food critic and hopefully score some free meals. I spent $110 last month on lit mag submission fees, and my ramen supply is running low.

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