A Tribe Called Lucy

The rivalry between Matt's and the 5-8 is rather charming. "The Juicy Lucy has been around for many, many years, and there's always been a dispute that exists between Matt's and ourselves as to who invented it," says 5-8 owner Jim Emison judiciously. "We try to outdo them, and I'm sure they try to outdo us." Not so, says Cheryl Bristol. "I haven't eaten their burgers so I don't know what they're like."

Which is the better Lucy? I could tell you what I think, but then I'd have to leave town, because offended Lucy partisans would surely rip me to shreds. And I'm not ready to go back to New York, the obnoxious homeland that fills me with such alternating bouts of love and horror. Thankfully, though, my headache's gone. With a gut full of beef, onions, and cheese, thoughts of the East Coast dissolve like tears in my 3.2. Such are the pleasures of life in Mindianapolis.

Christopher Peters

Location Info

Map

Matt's Bar

3500 Cedar Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55407

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Powderhorn

TABLEHOPPING

NEW DING-DONG, ER, DINING, GUIDE: Have you seen the new national Zagat guide with the Twin Cities section? It purports to capture "the real flavor" of America's cities by summarizing the opinions of local eaters, gathered through surveys. But the real flavor here is distinctly off-putting.

First there are the mistakes. The guide complains that Broders' Southside Pasta Bar doesn't have a wine list (untrue) and describes both Table of Contents locations as being housed in bookstores. From there it devolves into descriptions that are so wildly incongruous with reality that they may as well have been written by Martians. At the Bryant-Lake Bowl, Zagat promises, you'll dine among "lumberjacks" (!); the reasonably slick and regionally famous Origami, which, as anyone who's been there in two years knows, is nestled against a brand-spanking-new Federal Reserve Bank building, is called a "back-alley sushi-bar"; and both Gallery 8 at the Walker Art Center and Cafe Latté are decried as "trendy." Trendy with whom? Admission-paying art patrons and St. Paul moms, respectively?

Also, although this guide says it's aimed at the best "meal deals," prices in the New York section range all the way up to $36 per person, which would certainly encompass all of our white-tablecloth haunts (for one person's entrée plus one drink and tip, the criterion here)--so where are Café 128, the No Wake Cafe, the St. Paul Grill, the Vintage, Goodfellow's, D'Amico Cucina, café un deux trois, Auriga, and countless others? And where are any of the real meal deals, places where you can eat very well for under $10--like El Burrito Mercado, the Phuong Cafe, Jitters, Pizza Lucé, the Royal Orchid, Rainbow Chinese, Sawatdee, or any of our prized barbecue joints?

Perhaps most tellingly, in a guide purporting to represent 1998 findings, there's a note in the Loring Cafe's entry asserting that "post-survey" the Loring had added a "new" dining room. What? Again? Where would they put it--up on the roof or out in the parking lot? Well, guess what: That would be the "new" dining room the Loring added in 1994.

I called Zagat representative Andrew Sprung in New York and asked him what the deal was. After rifling through his notes, Sprung admitted the results may be from "a survey done in 1995 at the earliest, so the questionnaires may be from 1994. I can see your point--you're looking at a market that's got one of the two or three oldest [Zagat Survey] books."

Maybe the section on the Twin Cities should be subtitled "A time capsule--what people in the Twin Cities remembered about their 1993 dining experiences in 1994, for historical reference and fond memories." Personally, I find this guide not merely useless but actually insulting. It perpetuates the myth that we're a Lake Wobegon tundra of mashed potatoes and toast, it insults the dining public's taste, and it denigrates the achievements of hundreds of restaurateurs. Maybe I'm overreacting, but I'm going to pull a Sally Struthers: Only you can make a difference. Send a self-addressed, stamped, business-size envelope to Zagat Survey, P.O. Box 582326, Minneapolis, MN 55458-2326, or call (800) 333-3421. Tell them you want to be a surveyor in the next Minneapolis/St. Paul go-round, which is coming up. If they're going to publish guides about us, they may as well get it right.

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