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Do eGullet members in FR ever have a mediocre meal


John Talbott
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I don’t know if this is an accurate observation or not but it strikes me after reading a panning post of a much anticipated meal at Taillevent and a glorious review of the same restaurant a year before on another topic, that critics and posters often publish reviews that are either laudatory or panning, but rarely say that a meal was average, OK or mediocre but not bad.

A query: is it harder to compose, are we worked up over really bad or socko meals, are we simply less interested in passing on OK news, or are there other explanations?

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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at least half of all restaurant meals out for me are in the average/mediocre category. whats the news in that though? by the time i get home ive forgotten most of the meal anyway and couldnt share info about it if i tried.

for mediocre, read forgettable... and forgettable for good reason.

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We rarely have a mediocre meal out any more as we tend to save our restauranting for "splurges" on which we do very careful and drooling research. I can safely say every restaurant meal we have had in this last year has been highly memorable.

I guess we all think there's no point in posting about the duller meals - after all, does anyone on Egullet want to read about the Office Christmas Party turkey dinner at Beefeater ? Maybe that's why people only post highlights adn lowlights - in the way that "police, camera, action" shows don't show the reality of being a copper (filling in endless forms) cos it's boring to the audience ?

We save mediocre cuisine for home !

Edited by Fibilou (log)

www.diariesofadomesticatedgoddess.blogspot.com

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Sometimes I think the whole fine dining thing is a progression from being "blown away" when you're a relative newbie, through vague awareness of problems, all the way out the other side with relatively minor gripes "spoiling" a meal that's expected to be perfect. I'm probably somewhere between parts one and two so I'm more inclined to rave than to rant, but I can see friends and colleagues gradually pushing on to part 3.

Of course, then there are the genuinely fantastic, and genuinely awful meals that we simply need to shout about.

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99% of what I cook. :wink: That's why I'm here.

“Don't kid yourself, Jimmy. If a cow ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about!”
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I did what to me was a LOT* of "high-end" dining during in California the latter half of last year and sadly, the bulk of them were mediocre -- either that, or I have had such a small handful of truly superlative meals that the rest paled in comparison.

* French Laundry, Dining Room at the Ritz, Stonehouse Tavern, the Ritz Pasadena, Bin 8945, General's Daughter, Chez Panisse... basically, a tasting menu every two-to-three weeks or so for six months.

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most of my meals are mediocre....I only write about them when there's a reason to.

Well, what I'm suggesting is that it might me more helpful for members intending to eat somewhere to get a truly representative sampling of members' meals rather than the litany of rave reviews and the occasional clinker.

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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I have to say that I am guilty of the same thing and only write when I have a really great meal. I also rarely post about a terrible meal since I know that all restaurants can have an off night or an off dish.

www.parisnotebook.wordpress.com

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Simon_S

Sometimes I think the whole fine dining thing is a progression from being "blown away" when you're a relative newbie, through vague awareness of problems, all the way out the other side with relatively minor gripes "spoiling" a meal that's expected to be perfect. I'm probably somewhere between parts one and two so I'm more inclined to rave than to rant, but I can see friends and colleagues gradually pushing on to part 3.

I feel that I'm still pretty much a newbie. I also consciously try my best to put any minor gripes behind me, because otherwise I think there's a tendency to allow a series of (individually) minor grips to snowball together to ultimately spoil the whole experience. I also try not think about cost at all once I've committed to a restaurant. The method is not always successful, but I'd rather enjoy myself by thinking positively than work myself into a state by thinking negatively, even if it means I am not as astute a critic as many others here.

Of course, "minor" is in the eye of the beholder, and what's minor to me may not be minor to others. But I do think that sometimes the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, and there tends to be some sort of aggregating effect that can be hard to resist. This can also work the other way too though, to aggregate things positively.

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Didn't really understand the dog reference..

Anti-alcoholics are unfortunates in the grip of water, that terrible poison, so corrosive that out of all substances it has been chosen for washing and scouring, and a drop of water added to a clear liquid like Absinthe, muddles it." ALFRED JARRY

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From Wikipedia:

The phrase comes from a quote attributed to New York Sun editor John B. Bogart: "When a dog bites a man, that is not news, because it happens so often. But if a man bites a dog, that is news."

I just perverted it to serve my message.

Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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It's true that mediocre meals are not really exciting to write about. But on the other hand, in my experience, balanced reviews are not exciting to read, and even when they are balanced, people's memory tend to turn them into unbalanced ones, only remembering the punch line. You take time to explore what the specificity of a restaurant, who it might please, how it is best enjoyed, and then all many readers want to hear is like "so good or bad? how many stars? out of 20? Is it worth it?". I wrote a long review of l'Astrance in which I considered the restaurant and it style in detail, explaining the kind of experience it offers and the kind of food it makes. In four pages, one sentence was about how this is not a restaurant I want to go back to and that is all everyone remembers.

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It's true that mediocre meals are not really exciting to write about.

I beg to differ...

my Chez Panisse review, my Dining Room at the Ritz review and my Valentino reviews were all quite fun to write.

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If I have a mediocre meal at a restaurant I expected to have a great meal at, I will and have posted about it. Pierre Gagnaire was an example for me in Paris, El Poblet in Spain. A mediocre meal at a restaurant that I did not expect great things from is hardly worth writing about though. On the other hand sometimes a mediocre meal at a restaurant with low expectations may also be worth noting.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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