Critic's Notebook: An Olive Branch to the Residents of New Town

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lolololori
New Town's town hall.

Editor's note: This week, we published food critic Cheryl Baehr's review of the Crossing at New Town. After hearing from readers and residents, we've decided collectively to use our weekly "Critic's Notebook" column to respond directly to some negative feedback to the article. Here it is.

When I took this job, I learned quickly to take online comments with a grain of salt. So often, they are no more than mean-spirited rants. However, when the comments and emails began rolling in regarding my recent review of the Crossing at New Town (3331 Rue Royale, St. Charles; 314-606-3262), I took notice. It wasn't simply the sheer volume of the feedback -- there was a lot -- but the common theme also gave me pause. After reading through every each one and discussing this matter with my editors, I have come to the following conclusion: I was out of line.

Let me be clear -- this mea culpa extends merely to my comments about New Town itself. Residents took major issue with my characterization, and after some careful thought, I've decided that they are right. I should have limited my criticisms to the food at the Crossing. For that, I apologize. My attempt to paint a picture for those unfamiliar with New Town came across as just plain mean, and I regret the insult to the people of the community. Folks have many different motivations for where they choose to live and make their decisions based on what is best for themselves and their families. It is not my place to judge these choices. As one resident rightly pointed out, I am not an urban planner. I'm a restaurant critic.

That said, I stand behind my impression of the food and my overall negative reaction to the restaurant. Regardless of where it was located, I would have drawn the same conclusions. It is my role to judge food, and I will continue to do so frankly and fairly. In the future, I'll stick to just that.

Follow Cheryl Baehr on Twitter at @CherylABaehr. E-mail the author at Cheryl.Baehr@RiverfrontTimes.com.





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34 comments
reallystl
reallystl

Cheryl, it's too late. You have identified yourself as someone so influenced by your own prejudices that you can not be trusted to give a professional and fact based critique of a restaurant. In the future you'll simply omit your prejudice rant about the server wearing a pendant with a Christian or Jewish Symbol or about the owner who publicly supports Republican candidates, but you'll still let it heavily influence your critique. You have lost credibility with most of your readers. You are now as irrelevant as the Riverfront Times.

I don't live in New Town, but I cannot stand these arrogant tools demanding tolerance for the things with which they agree and then displaying total intolerance for things with which they disagree.

gahen5529
gahen5529

An intelligent person like myself would surmise from the spot-on restaurant review that the food has a phony aura just like NT has a phony aura! I wouldn't apologize to those NT clowns!

Bobby Duebelbeis
Bobby Duebelbeis

Why any cultural stories about "New Town" are covered by RFT is beyond me. New Town exists far outside the St. Louis metropolitan area and has absolutely no influence (nor do it's residents desire any influence) over the culture of the St. Louis metro area. I say, leave New Town out of it. I want to hear about them as much as they want me in their restaurant-not at all.

jaco1175
jaco1175 topcommenter

That's pretty much every single one of you snarky fuckheads passing for journalists at this rag, a bunch of hipster loads who sit around and write shit talking about how you are fucking cooler than everyone else. Take your apology to these people and it jam it up your ass, if there is room in there next to your head that is.

Laura Heying
Laura Heying

No need to apologize. Try writing a review on the coffee shop that's never open and takes 15 mins to get a friggin' latte.

Mikey Bones
Mikey Bones

She apologized for talking shit about the lame people who live in NewTown. She didn't apologize for the review of the food.

Deb Woods
Deb Woods

Oh RFT - your LOVE for all things Delmar Loop area-ish and disdain for all things Suburban/County-ish is a tired theme you drag out every week to inflict upon unsuspecting area restaurants. New Town must really pull some weight when THEY get an apology but no one else does. Don't you think that will just reinforce their New Town Exceptionalism and convince them further still that everything they touch is special & turns to gold?

Rob Andrews
Rob Andrews

Just your typical hack RFT writer, at least this one knows it.

Dave Cross
Dave Cross

Had not seen this... But why would I? ...Being an uniformed yuppie with no taste that lives in a cornfield, 'Our type' typically don't read the RFT

Jessica Rost
Jessica Rost

I think the writer says what a lot of people think when we go to New Town. That place is like creepy Pleasantville!

Barb Tumbarello
Barb Tumbarello

Call it like you see it! Don't sugar coat it! Thanks for your honesty!

Matt Thomas
Matt Thomas

Having read the first article, I'm not sure why anyone needs to apologize for pointing out the obvious.

Laura Daniels
Laura Daniels

I though the first article was some sort of joke? Very mean spirited. Glad the writer apologized for her mistakes.

jzavist
jzavist

I don't think an apology was needed.  I've lived many places, and every one of them has had its stereotypes.  What Cheryl wrote is what many people believe, rightly or wrongly, and the need to "defend" New Town against any and all perceived criticism fits perfectly with this stereotype.  The residents of New Town, Ferguson, South City, Oakville, Ladue, Chesterfield and Edwardsville ALL have have made the choice to live where live, for many subtle and not-so-subtle reasons.  They think that their choice of that community is the best combination of safety, schools, neighbors and real estate, that they can currently afford, in spite of, or because of, any stereotypes.  Just accept that you and your (and my) neighbors "get it".  Those that don't probably won't, ever, and the stereotypes just reflect a combination of reality, insecurity and imagination.  Bottom line, this restaurant is inextricably a part of its community, no different than one in Clayton or Soulard.

YoureJealousOfNewTwn
YoureJealousOfNewTwn

Thanks Cheryl, that shows your character and class. We appreciate the follow-up, as you can see we are very proud of our town! If you ever get dragged back, try Padavans or the wine bar!

NewTownProud
NewTownProud

Cheryl,


Thank you for recognizing that your comments about New Town were out of line.


We, the residents of New Town are committed to building a community where none existed. Just like Lafeyette Square which went through a rough patch in their history, as well as, the Loop or Washington Avenue, it takes time to create a "Destination" for others to enjoy. 


The Loop wasn't built overnight. The Grove wasn't built overnight and neither will New Town. But with vision and commitment and time you will see the progress we have made and will continue to make. Hopefully you can see the passion of our residents. This is is NOT a facade or manufactured. Our passion has and will continue to move mountains.


We have many obstacles to overcome before we can be the destination that we are trying to build, one of which is the constant misperceptions of what our community stands for. Others include creating the shops, events and restaurants that the rest of St. Louis will want to patronize. We will continue to improve these areas to draw in the visitors we want to attract.


I challenge the RFT to do a follow up story to the one it published in 2009. Point out the growth New Town has made and give us some positive press to help us quell the misperceptions. 


Again, thank you for your apology and please ponder my request.

Timmy
Timmy

That is the proper way to grovel and appease the residents of New Town. Keeps them from rioting over your story. (your description of the restaurants ambiance was spot-on and valid? ----if the eatery was next to a dump or sewage lagoon , would you not make a note to readers?)

We do not need another week of 3, or even 4 , angry New Town residents throwing their hands up and screaming "Hands Up Don't Stereotype Us As Stepford Yuppies, Even Though We Bought Into That Sales Pitch"

So the food was as fake, pretentious, and as veneer-like as the the rest of the Towns' stage prop structures...

At least I hope this keeps Martha Stewart from protesting on the pseudo courthouse steps.

John
John

@NewTownProud It seems pretty manufactured to me - it is, after all, a planned community.  It's just too bad all that money and effort weren't dedicated to revitalizing another Lafayette Square or Loop, which would help the City, instead of doing it all in a cornfield far from anything useful.

truckerhat
truckerhat

@Timmy Timmy is just upset that there is a world outside of Cherokee St that people might actually find acceptable to invest in and raise a family. Hipsters tend to forget the whole failing public school system, rapes, and muggings. Let’s not also forget all empty dashboard spaces of all the street parked Honda Civics where the car stereo’s once resided. I bet He Rents a Sheik abode littered with old Pabst cans and tattered flannels, taking only menial work when he can find it. He lambasts anything that does not involve his hipster way of life…not because he chooses to, but rather because that’s what others have told him to believe. Rock on with your Trucker hat dude.


NewTownProud
NewTownProud

@Timmy Thanks for providing an example of a mean-spirited rant that Cheryl references in the first sentence.

reallystl
reallystl

Number of victims of violent crime in New Town in the last 10 years: 0

Number of victims if violent crime in the city in the last 10 years: too many to count

Number of segregated areas by race in New Town: 0

Number of segregated areas by race in the city: Several

Number of schools struggling with accreditation issues in New Town: 0

Number of schools struggling with accreditation issues in the city: Many

So if you want to live in an area where you're many, many times more likely to be a victim of violent crime than anywhere else in STL Metro Area; you want to live in an area where Black are segregated for the most part to one area; and you don't care about your children's education, then the City is for you!

YoureJealousOfNewTwn
YoureJealousOfNewTwn

Werent all neighborhoods "planned" at one point? How do you think the Loop started? Think it just miraculously appeared and thrived?

jeff
jeff

@John @NewTownProud 


John:

"Far from anything useful"-   Is agriculture useful?  Do you think your organic arugula just springs up in the Whole Foods parking lot?  

NewTownProud
NewTownProud

@John @NewTownProud The town is manufactured, the passion and pride of our community is not.

TinafromNewTown
TinafromNewTown

@John @NewTownProud

It's not really , well , "manufactured" is it?

New Town has just enough space for a TGI Fridays, a Ruby Tuesdays, and McDonalds too. Yummy.

That would make our community just fantastic-licious ! 


AnthonyCumia
AnthonyCumia

@John @NewTownProud And there it is. John...I consider my kids education pretty useful. I consider the fact that I can walk down the street at 3 am on Saturday safely useful. If large scale investment in the areas you suggested made sense, it would already be done. People are leaving these areas in favor of a more stable,secure environment to raise a family. Rather than getting mad because they chose to invest their money in areas that you don't occupy,I suggest you change your neighborhood and make it more attractive for investment. I am all for investment in STL, but the reality is it needs to sell to the public. 

sruprect
sruprect

@truckerhat, I think you mean "chic" abode. I'm pretty sure a "Sheik" abode would be a tent in the desert.

theconceptworks
theconceptworks

@NewTownProud @Timmy The families that live in New Town are the same as the families who live in any community in st. louis. They go to work, raise their kids, and enjoy their neighborhood. The people who live in New Town are the same people who were raised in North County, West County, South County, and St. Louis City. What they really bought was a great community with an equally great school district and the ability to enjoy the company of neighbors. People who do not live in New Town would understand if they spent any time here. It's a fabulous place to live, but more importantly, it's a wonderful place to raise children.

Timmy
Timmy

@theconceptworks @NewTownProud @Timmy

Shouldn't you New Towners' be celebrating the fact that you left NoCo before your former neighbors decided to burn it down? I mean, so your mortgage is underwater, and your developer ran away, and your local tasteless cardboard themed restaurants come and go as fast as kiosk vendors at the Mills Mall.

Your restaurants are simply targeted for YOUR demographic... not mine, nor is it reviewers fault if the shoe fits (or taste like it does).


I suspect the local NTowner sales staff does damage control for NT on the internet, slow sales huh?

NewTownProud
NewTownProud

@Timmy I am a resident and business owner in New Town. My comments come from my first hand experience with the community and my commitment to building a long-term neighborhood that the residents and visitors alike can enjoy. 


I know of several of the other people who are commenting on this post and the review from Cheryl, all of them are residents who are proud of the community in which we live. I formerly lived in Lafayette Square, Webster Groves, South City, Maplewood and the Bevo Mill. New Town by far is the best of the bunch, and I loved every one of the other communities I lived in.


Your opinion is valid, but not well-informed.

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