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Melody Baetens named Detroit News restaurant critic

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News
Melody Baetens, the longtime Detroit News staffer, will add restaurant reviews to her beat, following Molly Abraham's late 2018 retirement

After years of reporting on the entertainment and dining scene in Metro Detroit, I’m ready to dive even deeper as The Detroit News’ new restaurant critic. 

Replacing our longtime expert Molly Abraham who retired in late 2018, I will be adding restaurant reviews to my beat. 

I got into writing about food and restaurants by way of music. When I was hired at The News as an editorial assistant nearly 20 years ago I covered local bands and compiled the entertainment calendar (which I still do). That led to writing about bars and clubs, and as the craft cocktail and beer scenes began to take off, I launched my "Cheers" column, which started as drink recipes and bar news.

Over the past 10-plus years, as new bistros, gastropubs and cafes debuted one after another, and as illustrious chefs started to open up shop here and “dining in Detroit” became a thing again, I started focusing more of my coverage on dining and restaurant culture. 

As your new restaurant critic, I want to feature a variety of cuisines from all over Metro Detroit, from fine dining steakhouses to hole-in-the-wall neighborhood favorites. I want to be useful to you, the reader, reporting not only how things taste, but also about the best way to approach the spot and the story behind it. I want to shine a light on chefs and business owners who deserve attention but who may not have the resources for a publicist or marketing strategist. 

Most reviews will be rated on a star system like many publications, including The Detroit News, have used for years, with some tweaks. The four-star scale will start at one star, meaning it’s notable in some way, but otherwise routine. 

Two and three stars will leave a lot of room for interpretation but will mean somewhere between very good and excellent (you’ll have to read the review for specifics). 

Four stars mean I think it’s extraordinary and one of the best restaurants in town – get a reservation or head in as soon as possible. 

My dining philosophies are not complex. I respect food that is natural and ethically sourced, but I’ve also eaten a hamburger with a doughnut bun. There's precious little that I won't eat, especially for work, but in the past I’ve done time as a vegetarian and have tangoed with the keto diet. 

I crave a good, fresh salad. I’m a worshiper at the altar of carbs. I don’t subscribe to the Lafayette vs. American nonsense. I’ll go to bat for Detroit-style pizza as the best in the country. 

For a sidecar view of my dining adventures, follow me on Instagram at @melodymalosh or on Twitter @melodybaetens. E-mail me at mbaetens@detroitnews.com with any tips, ideas or questions.