"The breast was juicy, cooked rare as it should be. The confit was flavorful, with just a subtle Asian quality."

Week of September 21, 2006

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Cafe, September 7, 2006

Fowl Play

Duck good, Ian bad: I totally disagree with Ian Froeb's conclusion about Vin de Set's duck two ways ["Ready, Set?"]. I am a huge fan of duck and I found theirs to be wonderful. The breast was juicy, cooked rare as it should be. The confit was flavorful, with just a subtle Asian quality. I am not a big fan of lentils, per se, but I found them to be a perfect accompaniment to the duck. All in all, the duck was a delightful dish, perfectly prepared.

You do your readers a disservice by letting personal prejudices get in the way of your judgment. Also, the creamed spinach, which you didn't mention and I assume didn't sample, was wonderful as well.
Alan Buxbaum, St. Louis

Eighty-six the babysitter: Can we please, please have a good classic French bistro in this area? The greater Chicago area has them. I'll even take a Mon Ami Gabi (a Lettuce Entertain You corporate restaurant).

Thank you for your review of Vin de Set. I was hoping for a French food experience worth hiring a babysitter and driving downtown. Thanks for saving me the trip.
Amanda Matheu, Wildwood

Critics' Picks, August 31, 2006

Pretzel Logic

McClanahan still in touch with reality: Congratulations to Kristie McClanahan for being among the few in the media who saw the obvious (or so I thought) absurdity in Steely Dan's letter to Owen Wilson. It seems everyone on the planet took it seriously except Owen himself. And even then, his own absurd reply — "I hope this helps to clear things up and I can get back to concentrating on my new movie, HEY 19" — was viewed in the same light by many. Simply amazing.

I'm glad to know there are some of you media types who haven't lost touch with reality yet.
Chris White, Studio City, California

News Real, August 17, 2006

No News Is Bad News

Bill says it's a woman thing: Chad Garrison and Ben Westhoff were correct in their article about the St. Louis Post-Dispatch being "newsless in St. Louis." The paper's front-page "news" on Sunday, August 20, about college students living in apartments instead of dorms proves the point.

The National Organization of Women editors have turned the paper into a newspaper version of Woman's Day, with all the inane tidbits spread throughout. Thank goodness for USA Today. If they had a comic section, I doubt if I'd continue subscribing to the Post.
Bill Bandle, Manchester

John says it's a fish-wrap thing: Beautiful job, you nailed it. Even before Lee Enterprises took over, the P-D was sliding. You can pick up USA Today and get the same stories and don't have to thumb past so many full-page ads. The fonts are actually readable too.

I have zinged a couple of letters to them. In the first one I asked about the inks used and if they were FDA approved for food contact. Why? I told them the rag was essentially useless as local news and was in fact a giant advertising circular; the only use I could find for it was wrapping fish and chips. No response to that one. The other: a short note telling them I lived in Lake St. Louis and want to buy the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to see what is going on in St. Louis. I mean, that's the point, right? We get the "St. Charles Edition" out here. The Journal suffices for gossip on politics, yard sales, etc., so I want to see what's going on in the city. They did thank me for that one, but said the St. Charles thing started before Lee had the paper. So there.

I don't think that answered the question, but pretty typical, blame someone else. Jeez. The guy who answered [used] total corporatespeak. Probably had a canned response from a consulting company.

Anyway, great stuff. Keep the heat on 'em.
John Dameron, Lake St. Louis

Letters, August 10, 2006

School's In

Creg Williams' brilliance: I'm confused by Pauline M. Lee's letter about Kristen Hinman's July 20 story, "The Execution of Creg Williams." Is the Creg Williams she refers to as "brilliant" the same one who for months insisted that Metro, a school built to house 275 students, could actually hold 550? Only after stuffing it to overflowing did he realize his mistake. Then he went to the parents who had warned him saying, "Oops, what do we do now?"

Is it the same Creg Williams who had the brilliant idea to have nearly half the teachers in the district reapply for their jobs, without deciding who was going to interview them or figuring that maybe he needed more than one person reviewing résumés and checking 3,000-plus references? The Creg Williams who couldn't find time to order textbooks by July that were approved in April so that they could be in classrooms by September? The brilliant strategist who fired the whole staff responsible for administering $70 million in state and federal funds? The person with the media-hyped plan that would only cost taxpayers an additional $500 million when he couldn't present a balanced budget of $384 million?

In some districts, it may be fine if the superintendent doesn't understand numbers, as long as he has people around him who are good enough with numbers to make his plans workable. Unfortunately, none of the Chicago mafia he brought with him seemed to be able to count to ten, either. Williams might shine somewhere else, but here, we needed someone with the ability to count.

Or maybe you're talking about a different Creg Williams.
Carolyn Recke, St. Louis

The school board's treachery: Letter writer Daniel Romano wants "evidence" that the Diana Bourisaw plot was afoot long before it came about? How about the fact that when Bourisaw was brought in to "audit" the district, the budget was "cushioned" with the exact amount she is now being paid as "interim" superintendent?

Mayor Slay's political machine choked on this election because they didn't think the opposition would garner enough support to unseat the incumbents. Now my children are paying the price. Romano continues to bellyache about interim superintendent William Roberti closing sixteen schools. Could someone please turn on the lights for this guy? We now have 90 schools in the district and enough students to fill 70. Not only was closing sixteen schools the right thing to do, we still need to close twenty more!

Romano goes on to say that Roberti "oversaw the decline in test scores." Has he forgotten why Slay's slate for the board was put together in the first place? The district had lost full accreditation and the state was threatening to take over. Because district employees opposed the Slay slate's initiative so strongly, the only major benefit the district derived from the former majority was the appointment of Creg Williams. If Williams was so bad that he had to be forced to resign, then why did Bourisaw implement 99 percent of the reform initiatives he'd put forth?

Romano closes his letter by begging for a "fair chance" for Veronica O'Brien. I gave O'Brien a fair chance. I was temporary executive assistant to the board when Williams came onboard. I was convinced O'Brien was on the same page as the Slay majority and Williams. What a fool I was! O'Brien never truly supported Williams and planned from the beginning to get rid of him at her earliest opportunity. She is a two-faced liar. She talks about it all being "about the children" and then plots and plans moves that are designed only to enhance her political power.

We can't recall any of the current board, but trust me, come election time the voters of this town will do to them what they did to Floyd Irons and Creg Williams. We parents can only hope the next election comes before the bus from Jefferson City arrives.
Frank Martin, St. Louis

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