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[MSP] Dara leaving City Pages to boost national profile


Well, there ya go. I guess that explains why she wasn't particularly concerned about maintaining her anonymity when Bourdain was at the Triple Rock. I wonder who will fill the void?

Cheers and good luck, Dara.


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  1. NOOOOOOOO! That's the end of that paper.

    1. Yeah, it's kind of shocking she's been there so long. She could write nationally for any number of respected publications, and should. She'd be daft to not "exploit" that with national clips, books, etc.

      First job out of college? Very lucky girl. She kind of drives me batty with the drively cuteness, but I like her nonetheless. She definitely found a style.

      1. Many times we had to get deep into an article to get past Dara-writing-for-Dara and find the meat of the matter, but we always ended up loving the WRITING, as well as the reportage. Good for Dara, and sad for us in MSP, as we lose someone who writes adventurously about food. (Or simply writes adventurously.)

        We'll sorely miss Dara's input in City Pages . Hope Dan Savage can make up for the loss, or City Pages won't be on our pick-up list.

        Best Wishes to one who will be missed from the Twin Cities journalism scene.

        1. No mention of it in her column today. I was hoping for a hint of what her plans are. I recall that she was awarded a fellowship or grant of some sort at the Loft a year or two ago--I think to work on a novel--and I know she's got this very irregularly updated blog on epicurious/Gourmet. I wonder if she'll keep at that? It's national...but, of course, it's about food... http://www.epicurious.com/gourmet/blo... Hopefully she'll give us a hint in her final column...


          Cayjohan, I assume you realize Dan Savage is a syndicated columnist, not local, right? And, of course, he doesn't write about chow. :(

          But, this leaves a giant opportunity for a budding new food writer. I hope they find a promising one. Why not, eh?


          2 Replies
          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            Hmmmm...according to this source, which seems to be affiliated with MPR somehow, she's heading over to MN Monthly http://www.minnpost.com/davidbrauer/2...


            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              Just a point of clarification:

              Minnpost is not affiliated with MPR - it's a separate organization that just started a daily online newspaper with a floating cast of writers. It focuses on Minnesota issues, but has a little national and international analysis thrown in. My take on Minnpost - a little uneven and I wish they'd only write about regional issues.

              David Brauer is a freelancer who edited the Skyway News and the Southwest Journal. Also wrote for Citypages and is (or was - haven't read it in a while) the moderator for a Minneapolis issues listserv. He's a media critic who's on MPR and has bylines all over town.


          2. Well, there goes that last reason I had for reading Citypages. Hoffman must look like a big dumb kid who took his paper mache toy out into the rain. All he is holding is a wet lump of paper and an expression that whispers, "Wha...What happened?"

            I look forward to whatever Dara does next.

            I bet CP could get Kathy Jenkins if they want! She can write about how great the riblets are in the Applebees in Block E.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Foureyes137

              I hope CP doesn't fill the void with Kathie Jenkins--I think they need to find another young, fresh writer to step and in make the job their own, the way Dara did when she came in.

              I think Kathie is fine where she is at the PiPress. She's best when keeps her head down, out of the local restaurant scene/politics, and just focuses on the fundamentals of reviewing restaurants.


              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                I was being facetious. I would certainly hope they would not make a bad situation worse with that kind of move.

            2. Maybe now we can read a restaurant review without first having to endure 3/4 of a page of nonsense. I never really cared for Dara's writing and am looking forward to reading City Pages again.

              4 Replies
              1. re: StPauliGirl

                I've always thought she was a great critic, but her voice always bugged me. It might have been fine when she was just out of college, but it doesn't suit her now that she's a mom, etc. It felt forced and worn out to me. Funny thing is, lately I've noticed she's toned it down a bit, and have found it refreshing. I'm hoping she gets to reinvent herself a little, adopt a more mature voice in her new role.

                I think this is a great move for her. Now that she's a seasoned critic, there's no reason she has to to slog it out week after week at the free weekly paper. It was a great launching point from which she could polish her craft and build a fan base and credibility, but she's paid her dues. It's time for her to move on. I expect big things from her and I'm going to subscribe to MM right now so I don't miss any issues. ;)

                Go Dara!


                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  One of the reasons I don't care for Dara's column is that she is more of a "food writer," and what I'm really looking for is a simple restaurant review. Namely, how's the food?

                  My other beef with her column was how she championed certain restaurants that didn't really deserve it. Like Auriga. She lamented their closing as a harbinger of the Minneapolis restaurant Apocalypse, while in the same column left-handedly admitting that they had inconsistent food and poor service.

                  1. re: StPauliGirl

                    Yeah, I hear you. I think she has been doing a lot of feature writing, which I imagine she needs to do in order to be able to kick out a column every week. It will be interesting to see if she'll need/want to do that at MM. I wonder if she's anonymous enough any more to be simply a critic.

                    I haven't thought much about your second point--it's an interesting one.


                    1. re: StPauliGirl

                      There are about 20 other outlets to get "food hot, service slow" reviews in the Twin Cities, what we really needed (and most wanted) was a good food storyteller.

                      I can find out for myself if the food is good somewhere, what I can't get (or don't care to spend my own time getting) is background on the restaurant, the chef, the concept, the motivation etc. Leave the food & service only reviews to the sidebars and back pages of weeklies and monthlies...if I wanted a story, I always knew Dara was good for it.

                2. Ive seen it mentioned in a few places that her real passion is writing fiction and food writing is how she pays the bills.

                  It will be interesting to see how she does with access to longer form publishing. Will she stick with food writing, or really branch out?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Danny

                    Ah, heck, every columnist and journalist I've ever known thought they had a novel in them. :) It does sound like Dara's novel may have some promise if she's received grants for it, though...


                  2. The only reason I ever picked up Citypages was for Dara’s reviews. Or The Best Of… issues. Then they started using RSS feeds for the reviews and that’s how I’ve read them the last few years.

                    At first I found Dara’s reviews excruciatingly painful to read. Twenty paragraphs about how a place looked followed by two paragraphs about the food. She got better.

                    I’ve been trying to remember who Dara replaced as food critic at Citypages. I remember feeling the same sense of loss I feel now and I’m guessing I’ll regard whoever replaces her as a hack. Just as I did when Dara first started. But now I have a frame of reference to remember I need to be patient with whoever replaces her.

                    For the last year and a half, maybe longer, I’ve had the feeling Dara was getting her ideas of who to review from posts at Chowhound. It’s just a feeling, (with a high incidence of coincidence (and the fact that this is a smallish market and not a whole lot of openings happen every week)).

                    We have others food writers. Still, I’ll miss Dara.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: MplsM ary

                      Though I didn't always agree with her restaurant suggestions and alot of her un- needed politics I will miss her way with words when describing food. She literally made me want to get up off my seat, put down the CP and instantly teleport to whatever restaurant she was describing.

                      1. re: MplsM ary

                        Compare my post in this thread: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/124920
                        To this "Best of" Entry that was printed in April 2006: http://www.citypages.com/bestof2006/r...

                        I'd also sent a very similar email to Dara after her Brunch story in 2005. I wish I'd saved a copy of it.

                        I can't say that Dara writes the "Best of" stuff - it doesn't have a byline. But I do know where some of their material comes from....

                      2. What a bummer! I've loved reading Dara's reviews over the years. Her tastes in food and restaurants are (mostly) similar to mine.

                        A few of her reviews have changed my gastronomic life - especially these:

                        The Spicy Side of the Street - A tour through five of the best taquerias on East Lake

                        Fast, Cheap, Great - Is there anyplace to get a great, cheap meal in this town anymore? Boy howdy, is there

                        An Onigiri Superhero - Midori's Floating World is an island of homestyle Japanese comfort in midtown Minneapolis

                        La Vida Torta - Manny's offers a Mexican version of Minnesota comfort food

                        The Taste of Here - Ames farm revolutionizes the gathering of honey, to flabbergasting effect

                        I'll really miss her City Pages reviews. I hope she continues to write about food on her blogs.


                        1 Reply
                        1. re: AnneInMpls

                          that's a really nice retrospective, Anne. dara did grow beyond her "restaurant reviewer" boots a bit, obviously becoming emotionally attached to certain restaurants and chefs trying to change the local dining scene (auriga, etc.), and taking on the mantle of local food champion. i will certainly miss her reviews, and wish her all the best in her writing career. foodwise, MSP is still in many evolving ways a little village, and it will be interesting to see a fresh-faced new reviewer revisit some of dara's old haunts and report from a new perspective. can't say that i'll pick up a copy of city pages for anything anymore though(i'll stand there, read savage love, then replace it back on the rack unless i'm packing something for shipping-- what a waste of paper it's become!), unless of course dara's replacement is *really* something special.

                        2. i nominate TDQ as dara's replacement. how about it, TDQ, time for a career change? :)

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: soupkitten

                            In a heartbeat. But, as I said above, I think they new someone young and fresh, not old and creaky.

                            But, you all saw that she's just going glossy, and moving to Minnesota Monthly, right? She's not leaving the Twin Cities, or even, it appears, food writing.


                          2. *dies*

                            No more City Pages for me. Dara was the main reason I read it.

                            Dara has never steered me wrong (except, perhaps, for the Town Talk).

                            I don't really want to subscribe to Minnesota Monthly, so this is really too bad.

                            1. Her last article is in this week's issue. http://articles.citypages.com/2008-01...

                              Best of luck, Dara.

                              Her replacements are Rachel Hutton and James Norton. who will - sigh - have a daily food blog and weekly podcast. I sure a heck hope they have transcripts of the podcast as I much prefer reading to viewing.

                              "Our new dining section debuts in the February 20 issue. Bridging the gap will be two columns by longtime City Pages copy chief Bridgette Reinsmoen, who will also be a contributor to the food blog."


                              6 Replies
                              1. re: MplsM ary

                                Ah, too bad. I was hoping this would be an opportunity for City Pages to present us with a fresh new writer rather than recycle tired old ones.


                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                  Thanks for the best wishes, TDQ! Here's my CV, in a nutshell: I edited Middle East news during the Iraq war, quit that gig to work with Al Franken during the start-up of Air America Radio, and then shifted over into food writing as Al transitioned into the Senate race. I got my first real start at CHOW's own Grinder in 2006, blogged for Metroblogging in early 2007, and started doing real reviews for MNMO in July or August of last year. At what point, out of curiosity, did I become old and tired? I'm seriously happy to take whatever writing tips you might be able to offer me -- I read and enjoy your posts on Chowhound on a regular basis.

                                  1. re: jrnorton23

                                    No ill will intended, congrats on your new gig, but reread all of the posts I wrote in this thread about what I was hoping for, then re-read what you just wrote about your own background and then Ms. Hutton's CV to understand why I was a wee bit disappointed to read that the "new" names at City Pages are names I already know (and love, even). Maybe it came out harsher than I meant, but it sounds like City Pages and MNMO just swapped instead of City Pages going out on a limb and digging up a brand new writer.


                                    Naturally, I wish you, Ms. Hutton and Dara all the best in your new opportunities. I'll still read MNMO and City Pages--at least, long enough to give you a chance. The place to prove yourself is in your food writing and I am absolutely open to being bowled over. Nothing would thrill me more. As a chowhound, all I care about is unbiased, educated, informed information on the best places to eat in the Twin Cities from someone who has a fresh perspective on things. I don't care about the local media politics (or kitchen politics for that matter), unless the competition raises the tide for all local food writing. (And by fresh, I mean have a new way of looking at things, not just say the opposite of what everyone else is saying just to be a contrarian.) Good writing is helpful, but not even mandatory (though, that's a non-issue with you because you are a good writer). Just tell me where the best food is, and be consistent and accurate in doing so, and I will follow you--chowing in your wake--to the ends of the earth. I know you have talent and the wit. Don't be the new Dara, be the new you. Good luck!


                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                      Very well said, TDQ! The Twin Cities already have too many "trend-over-taste" food writers. Mr. Norton, you can impress us (or me, at least) by writing about good food in less-than-trendy locations, and by focusing on great taste rather than purple prose and pseudo-hip verbiage.

                                      Best wishes for your new gig!


                                    2. re: jrnorton23


                                      Well, as you're on record here as being a "Culver's Butterburger guy" I would strongly suggest one of your first journalistic missions with CP be to build credibility in the burger category. Ha ha!

                                      Kidding. Good luck. I don't know....even though you're an old tired retread, it's kind of fun to have another member of our Chowhound cohort talking about this stuff in the "real" press.

                                      1. re: MSPD

                                        Thanks, everybody -- I really appreciate it. According to the Chowhound moderators, I can't ask you to send me tips by email -- but I'll definitely keep my eye out for whatever you guys post around here vis-a-vis Minneapolis / St. Paul restaurants.

                                        As it is, I'm still getting my "what's new?" meter calibrated... MNMO doled out assignments, but my City Pages work will be mostly self-generated....