The Sun's Erik Maza reviewed the relocated Frisco Tap House on Dobbin Road in Columbia, and he liked the place. He got in a clever dig about Frisco looking like a Chipotle, but then he paged through the Sun's manual for writing about Howard County and whipped out this paragraph:
Though there's not much near the bar — The Mall in Columbia is about five miles away — a drive here is worth it, and for Columbia residents, it's unlikely there's anything remotely as comprehensive around.Seriously? Two blocks from the new Frisco Tap is Sushi King, which is as good or better than any sushi in Baltimore, and, from the city, you have to drive past spectacular Indian. You can pass an Akbar's, but that's fighting to be the third-best Indian in Columbia -- rather than being the top Indian on the Sun's Top 50 in Baltimore. Anyone driving to Frisco should really stop for dosas at Mango Grove if they come from Rte 175 or House of India if they come from Rte 32. That's not even mentioning the simpler sushi at Hanamura or sandwiches at Bon Fresco or the up-and-coming Indian at Royal Taj.
That's all within blocks of the new Frisco Tap.
My real complaint is that Maza appears to know that he's just fabricating. He doesn't know if there are any other comprehensive beer bars for Columbia residents. So let's just write "it's unlikely" that there are any.
Seriously? Why not just designate Richard Gorelick as your driver and stop at Victoria Gastro Pub on your way to Frisco. (They're running similar taps and selling growlers soon.) Then pick a third craft beer stop of the night from Judge's Bench, T-Bonz Grille, or Kloby's Smokehouse. Or try the newcomer River Hill Sports Grille. These aren't hidden joints. Most have been written up in the Sun. You'd actually be irresponsible to drink at all the local places that are "anything remotely as comprehensive."
But you'd have to actually look around to know what's going on.
Thanks to Trip Klaus for the first tip about the review.
Let's be clear that expertise in Howard County restaurants is a freakish and unhealthy trait, and I wouldn't expect Maza to know all these places -- although he could with a single Twitter feed about local beer joints. But I was a newspaper reporter long enough to know that these factually-wrong insults can spring from knee-jerk condescencion. To our urban food writers, restaurants opening on rundown/industrial blocks in Hampden or Harbor East were pioneers and heroes. Frisco Tap opens next to a battery shop, and it's a Chipotle with "not much near the bar." (Of course, these pale in contrast with the assumptions that I made about retirees in Hallandale, Florida in 1992. At the time, I thought 35 was ancient. I can only imagine 70-year-old readers groaned, "Enough with the shuffleboard references.")
On a practical matter, is there an editor at the Sun who wants to delete from future reviews the shock that Restaurant X is in a strip mall? Are reporters really shocked to eat good food that isn't in a 19th Century building or a Harbor East tower?