A snippet of a recent conversation of Heidi and I determining where we should eat next.
It starts with me holding up the latest issue of MSP Magazine; “I am so freaking excited to read that Heartland got a 97, 97 out of 100 can only mean that Heartland is world class, I mean how many restos are that close to perfection? Let’s break the six month rule and get over there as soon as we can.”
Heidi said, “wow, I think your expectations might be a little out of whack, she [Beth Dooley] was…”
I jumped in, “It just got a 97 points, they are clearly operating at an extraordinarily high level, at least as high as Le Bernardin or Alinea, I, we have gotta get there. 97 points is nearly flawless, there are not two 97 points, their is only one. 100 represents perfect, and a 97 rating means that Heartland according to MSP is up their with the great restos of the world.”
“Well.” She said “I think you should lower your expectations a tad, not that Lenny and Mega aren’t wonderful, and by all accounts Dara’s review is warranted, but if you’re expecting Alinea style or level you might be let down–that is a very high expectation. I think what Dooley was extolling was also that Heartland is “grounded in sustainable values “.
“Heidi, it’s not about style, it’s about getting 97 points, no critic worth their salt would give out that kind of rating without knowing what it means to the consumer, almost perfect is almost perfect, there is not much room for the level of execution to balloon above that. As far as the values aspect, you can’t possibly mean to suggest that Dooley is reviewing and rewarding a resto based on it’s values or what it purports to be–that would be astounding, and mean that her restaurant criticism is more about the “who” than the “what”–a wholly immoral proposition, and one that I am certain MSP Magazine would never take!”
She countered, “Babe, I know you didn’t go to college in this country so you probably are not familiar with the “bell curve”, but it goes something like this, not everybody is judged in the same way, from the same set of criteria, allowances are made for differences, this is Minnesota not New York, that has to be considered.”
“Say what, are you suggesting to me that critics are grading Minnesota restaurants differently than they would grade them if we were in larger market? That is so CYNICAL! Basically if that were true they would be saying that we–the restos–are a bunch of flunkies that they could not possibly compare us to New York or SF restos, that we are being held to a LOWER standard!”
I continued, utterly flabbergasted, “That is an outrageous suggestion Heidi, no other Minnesota industry is treated that way by the media. Not Target, not the Twins, or 3M, why would it be different in the resto business? Listen, we have the same ingredients. We have the same equipment. We have the same opportunity. Surely there are disadvantages to working here, but you can’t deny that there are also real advantages, so why would we be graded any differently?”
Exasperated I continued, “A three star Michelin is three star no matter where it is. So is two star and so is 97 out of one hundred! There is no three star rating for Lyon, and a different one for Paris, the French have understood that the “bell curve” does most assuredly NOT apply to restos, and they haven’t used it for rating restaurants for over a HUNDRED years!”
“No”, I concluded, “We are making reservations to go to Heartland in the next couple of weeks, a 97 is a 97, my expectation is for a nearly flawless experience on a world class level. As far as your “curve” is concerned, we can only accept that restaurant criticism allows for a “bell curve” if we are prepared to start telling our kids that because they live in Minnesota the world has lower expectations from them–not something I am prepared to do, is that something you are going to do?”
Then I apologized for critiquing her suggestion, and rubbed her feet.