“Expectations will only get you so far,” or so says Bryce Crawford in his recent review of the Rabbit Hole for the Colorado Springs Independent. Armed with his Thomas Keller Desk Reference Set and his magnifine glass he set out to review a fledging establishment that is attempting to do something unique in a city crowded with Applebee’s and Olive Garden’s. Not so long ago, when I was in culinary school I would whip out chocolates flavored with sake and lavender or rum and banana, and when my instructors would turn up their noses to that which my partner and I had created, we would quietly joke, “These people have noooo palette.” Well, Mr. Crawford, if I may, has no palette. What he calls “candied ginger” a more discerning tongue would call candied chives. What he calls “onion dip” is sour cream with herbs, not onions. Perhaps he is a smoker and has lost his ability to tell flavors, textures and colors apart? That would make sense to me. Furthermore, I feel that Mr. Crawford has lost the plot to some degree in his estimation, nay accusation that the Rabbit Hole is misleading the public by proclaiming that they serve locally sourced foods. Has Mr. Crawford even climbed off his desk chair to place an order with Sysco or worked directly with a farmer to ensure that they are growing that which his establishment requires? I’m guessing no, that the extent of his ordering at work centers on barking for a latte as the intern walks out of the office.
As someone familiar with the ordering of food for a restaurant and also with that which Colorado has to offer, I can tell you that it is not so simple as walking over to the window and yelling “I WANT LOCAL GOODS!” Far more complicated. In fact, Mr. Crawford’s hero du jour, Thomas Keller, has often taken heat from within the culinary community because he believes anything that can be gotten to his restaurants within 24 hours is “local,” making Maine lobster a local dish in the eyes of the French Laundry. In this day and age of industrially produced meats and vegetables it is next to impossible to offer all “local” goods without passing the expense onto the customer. What the Rabbit Hole does is sets its margins and allows the food reps to do their jobs. Is the rabbit in the rabbit meat loaf always from Colorado? No, often it is from Montana, which is still within the Rocky Mountains and, therefore more or less, local. The same is true for most of the dishes on the Rabbit Hole menu: they are as local as is humanly possible. It is a goal to be local, not a religion. Shame on Mr. Crawford for somehow implying dishonesty on the part of Mr. Campana and his associates. Maybe he could’ve made an appointment with the Mr. Campana and Chef Beemer, instead of playing phone tag?
In closing I would like to remind Mr. Crawford that what Joe Campana is trying to do is no small task: Open a hip joint in a down economy where one bad review can make or break you. Honestly, I get the feeling that there is more at play with Mr. Crawford’s sour attitude than just simply disliking his hovering waitress or his cold coffee (Maybe tell said waitress that your coffee is cold?). It’s a pity because if the Rabbit Hole sees success than it’s likely others will try their hands at opening an eatery that does more than serve bottomless piles of breadsticks and then Mr. Crawford will have more to do than try to sell ad space to MMJ dispensaries. But who am I? He’s got a copy of the French Laundry at home, so he must know what he’s talking about…right?
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