The Lucky Cricket is enduring a rocky start to its existence, with some early reviews less than impressed with the offering at Andrew Zimmern's new St. Louis Park restaurant.
Zimmern has expressed hope that his St. Louis Park restaurant will be the first of many, maybe even 200, as he seeks to create a different kind of Chinese-American dining experience from those that came before.
But shortly after it opened last month, Zimmern was mired in controversy as an interview he recorded with Fast Company during the State Fair was published, in which Zimmern said he was "saving the souls" of Midwesterners who currently dine at Chinese-American restaurants he referred to as "horses---."
This prompted an apology after he was criticized from some quarters for suggesting Chinese-American cuisine in the Midwest was in some way illegitimate.
It's not getting any easier for the celebrity chef if some of the subsequent reviews of the Lucky Cricket are anything to go by.
The latest of these came out in the Twin Cities Eater on Thursday, which said the Lucky Cricket "continues to underdeliver" and raises questions about the discrepancies between the meals that were promised by Zimmern, and how they appear now.
The main point of contention was an $18 shrimp salad, which write Joy Summers said appeared with fresh head-on shrimp and a salad mixture that included watercress and lacinato kale "when Zimmern and a photographer were present," but looked somewhat different when she ordered it at the restaurant.
"Frozen cocktail shrimp, carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, and noodles are a salad, but clearly not what was being sold to diners," writes Summers.
Earlier this week, James Norton in the Growler Magazine was excoriating about the Lucky Cricket's fried rice, which he said "tasted strong and unmistakably of cigarette ash," albeit the odor was gone when he returned the next day, when it was simply "room temperature and undercooked."
It was one of several criticisms he had in his piece (it's worth reading his full review here), in which he described it as a "veritable roadkill raccoon of confused service and goofed-up dishes" and said Zimmern's dream of a new Chinese chain won't be realized unless it's "effectively repaired and relaunched."
Similarly underwhelmed was Soleil Ho, the San Francisco Chronicle-bound food critic who wrote this for the Eater, who among other things was confused by the presence of a Tiki bar in an ostensibly Chinese-inspired restaurant.
"If this restaurant were a piece of writing, an editor would call it a 'centaur': two distinct organisms slapped together in an uncanny mess," she writes.
As for the food, there were some kind words for the lettuce wraps and eggplant dishes, but again the restaurant fell short with the rice, as well as the dan dan noodles.
"If Zimmern hadn’t set expectations so high on the realness scale, perhaps one would have forgiven the kitchen for its mishandling of building-block Chinese dishes," Ho writes. "But if you can’t do noodles and rice, maybe try barking up someone else’s tree."