Baehr: Little Fox and the Review That Never Happened | Cafe | St. Louis | St. Louis News and Events
Looking back, I wonder if I knew deep down that this was the end. As I sat in the Little Fox dining room on the evening of March 14, 2020, everyone in this crowded house probably had the same idea. The room felt like one of the salons on board the Titanic, where music was playing as the water flooded the steam room: we understood that we were on the verge of sinking, but hadn’t fully come to terms with it.
That evening I met three friends for a typical review dinner. We got to our reservation and sat in our seats, preparing to be methodical about the food, as is customary for a restaurant review, considering who would order which starter, salad, dinner and dessert. What wasn’t typical was how we looked with suspicion over anyone who even cleared their throat. We knew deep down that we shouldn’t be eating out. Northern Italy was a hell of a landscape; New York City wasn’t far behind, and as the number of COVID-19 cases in St. Louis began to rise, we could feel that life as we knew it was about to change. So we drank. A lot of. And ate. A lot of. And as we stumbled out of the restaurant into our Lyfts, I looked over my shoulder at Little Fox’s storefront, absorbing its warm glow and absorbing the energy of the numerous diners in various states of amusement, burning that moment into my mind Because I knew I wouldn’t be back anytime soon.
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What I didn’t quite understand was what that meant for my job as a restaurant critic. For seven years I had been reviewing restaurants for the RFT, assuming the train would continue indefinitely. However, after going through my notes on the Monday after that visit to Little Fox, I felt the need to pull the emergency cord. After texting a few colleagues about the problem, I emailed my editor informing her of my inconvenience in submitting a review and asking her advice. When I didn’t hear from her right away, I was concerned because she was always so quick in her replies. The next morning I found out what it was about: she was on leave. And me too.