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Lumiere


mamster
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I don't think anyone in this forum would deny the right to vent about a bad meal - despite dillybravo's insistance to the contrary. 

Woah, woah. Who's insisting? They might not deny you the right. But they will slag you for it, like they just did. Touche! Then again, I too agree the "bad taste" thing might be an unfortunate choice of hyperbole...although if I burned $300...I might have a bad taste too! Especially seeing as how much the place is pumped... Nothing worse than spending so much cash on a poor meal that doesn't even live up to adequacy, nonetheless expectations. This has happened to me quite frequently in these parts, so I feel your pain.

Also note that while your forum admin will not deny you anything, he may stick to sly suggestions that you're a snob or too critical, or heck, he might suggest that instead of peeling the onion and actually saying something, you're over-analyzing, looking too close! On a forum for analyzing and discussing food, none-the-less!

Where was I insisting again? I think I missed that part...

Edit: OK, I have to give Daddy-A some credit. He did let that Irish Heather thing go on for a good long while, and was pretty diplomatic. Plus yeah, no one's going to prevent you from posting negative reviews. But I do insist on one thing: the climate around here has grown steadily less critical over time...

Edited by dillybravo (log)
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I love this stuff. Rob Feenie again proves to be a major lightning rod on this forum and , again, he probably does not even know it yet.

There are a few restaurants that evoke this kind of response - check out the French Laundry thread in California.

Dining at Lumière is not inexpensive. I have dined there four times - twice with my wife and two times by myself. I loved it every time. Does every dish hit it out of the park ? Do angels weep with every bite ? No. Are they good ? Yes. Most are exceptional. Expectations are high when spending big money, but perfection is rarely achieved, and when a person expects perfection, they are often disappointed. The last time I dined at Lumière, 12 out of 14 dishes I tried were fantastic. They other two, I did not love. That certainly does not go to say that they were not good, simply I did not love them. How would I rate that experience. Excellent. Service - excellent. I certainly did not let the two dishes that I did not like bring down my whole experience.

Foodie-girl : Was your whole experience a complete train wreck ? I am not asking you to defend yourself, just fill in the blanks a bit. What made Araxi exceptional over Lumière. What did you like and what fell flat.

If you check out the French Laundry Thread : Too late to vent ! The diner had an excellent experience right up until a snooty manager / server made a negative comment about how he had secured the reservation. This utterance ruined the whole experience. Is this a similar situation ? One tiny thing brings down the whole house ?

Neil Wyles

Hamilton Street Grill

www.hamiltonstreetgrill.com

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I don't think anyone in this forum would deny the right to vent about a bad meal - despite dillybravo's insistance to the contrary. 

Woah, woah. Who's insisting? They might not deny you the right. But they will slag you for it, like they just did. Touche!

Fair enough ... poor choice of words. What I meant to say was I don't think most people will deny anyone the right to a legitimate beef with a meal, regardless of the restaurant. Suggesting we'll all jump down foodie girl's throat because of a bad review is unfair. Jumping down her throat because of excessive hyperbole use is another matter ... :wink:

Edit: OK, I have to give Daddy-A some credit. He did let that Irish Heather thing go on for a good long while, and was pretty diplomatic. Plus yeah, no one's going to prevent you from posting negative reviews. But I do insist on one thing: the climate around here has grown steadily less critical over time...

Thanks for the credit ... but I wasn't forum host then - just another gape-mouthed bystander! Re: the less critical climate, I'm sure you'll be doing your part to change that :raz: I look forward to good critical analysis.

A.

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Yes, of course it was hyperbole to use the expression "it left a bad taste in my mouth"...it's not a literal statement. More of a "gee that sure left a bad taste in my mouth"....

To fill in a few blanks...the foie gras floating in the soup: Well for me the texture spoiled the distinct taste of perfectly seared foie..in fact it was cooked almost all the way through rather than barely-rare as I'm used it.

The salmon dish DID sound interesting when described but the fish was flat in flavor. I eat a ton of salmon and some are good and some not-so-good. There was none of the delicous rich taste that comes with a perfect piece of salmon.

As far as the service I think "uneven" as I said is the best way of putting it. First off we sat for quite a while before our amuse arrived. Others seated after us received got theirs while we patiently waited. No bread was offered...I had to snag the fellow with the tray as he tried to work his way between the tables which are rather closely crowded together.

There were long gaps between some courses and not enough time between others.

What made the dinners at Araxi and Bearfoot Bistro more enjoyable was simply the "wow isn't this great" feeling after each bite...The flavors were sharp and distinct...presentation beautiful and the server attentive but not cloying. The meal flowed and the restaurants were "roomy" enough so that people could easily get in and out of their seats.

Some of the two-tops at Lumiere are so close that I saw a few people awkwardly trying to get to their seat on the banquette side. One couple asked to be moved because they were practically touching to the couple beside them.

Overall our meal was not in the same category as others at this level and with equal recognition. Granted it was one meal and any restaurant can have an off-night...but this was unexpected and very disappointing for us.

Though we didn't complain about anything we noticed the charge for wine was not on our bill and it was quietly explained that our waiter deducted it because he was aware of "problems with our meal". So...I guess we weren't imagining it.....

I've eaten at plenty of great restaurants...Bishops is one that stands out in my mind on a previous Vancouver visit and in the states everything from French Laundry to Jean George.

My experience at Lumiere was a let-down and I was definitely curious to know if others had similar experiences recently or if it was just an off -night.

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I have not been to Lumiere to eat for a few months - but I have heard things (positive and negative) about the three course meals but as it is hearsay for me - I won't get into it.

However, I do want to make a comment about the service there.

Before going to the egullet Fiction dinner, I stopped by for a quick (non-alcoholic) drink with some other egulleteers and I was not super impressed with the service at Feenies. For $4 I was served flat gingerale from a can (it was painfully clear that it was very flat). When the rest of the egulleteers had gotten up to leave and I was still paying my bill - the bartenders were giving off a weird vibe - exchanging glances and muttering. Don't know who they were talking about but it did not make me feel too welcome. No 'thank you' or 'come back soon' or 'have a good evening' as I paid my tab.

So - I can understand how the service can feel off at Lumiere and Feenie's. Somehow, the spirit of generosity does not convey itself in the service there. For $300 bucks for two people - they better be firing on all pistons.

When the place first opened up - I would make a point of going to Lumiere and having dinner whenever I was in town. Things started getting hot and heavy for them and reservations could be difficult to get. I stopped by one day to make a reservation and Rob Feenie took it down and said that he would let the hostess know. I did not know his name at the time and did not think it would be a big deal. I called back later to confirm the details and the hostess said that she did not get the message. I told her the chef took down my details and so I thought things would be okay. She told me to prove it by describing what the chef looked like. I was stunned. WTF!? I was being called a liar.

My Feenie's stop over just brought those up all those bad memories. If you are going to aim for the top and charge like you are the top - then, everything has to right. I am sorry - but it is true, and it is fair because people are spending ALOT of money at your restaraunt.

And I see other places doing a great job of it all the time. The Four Seasons in Whistler is flawless, Chambar still greets me warmly because I went so much when they first opened, and the servers at Earl's work hard and are always on their game.

I will continue to eat at Lumiere/Feenie's because I do like the food alot and I have nothing but respect and admiration for Rob Feenie himself. I've seen him at food events and he does work very hard to continue promote Vancouver food scene. But service at his establishments that bear his name some how never feel quite so welcoming.

Edited by canucklehead (log)
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some aspect of a restaurant review are not subjective to one's taste. I'm talking about:

-Seasoning

-freshness and quality of the produce

-Precision of cooking/ doneness

-Associations of flavours/textures/produce

-Creativity

There are also countless criterias for service:

-Attentiveness

-timing

-knowledge of food

-knowledge of wine and other alcohol products

-etc

It is a shame that so rarely you hear about these things on the Vancouver forum. In other corners of the egullet world, debates seem a lot more interesting because they are more analytical, go more in depth. Are egulleters from other part of the world more knowledgeable? Do they have more educated palates?

Maybe we could come up with a charter, or a list of criterias that could guide or orientate a restaurant review?...

I'm really getting tired of endless arguing about the validity of one's review. And let's take it a bit further than "i loved it" or "yeah, that place was awesome, the portions are huge...", etc.

Eddy M., Chef & Owner

Se.ed Artisan Foods, Vancouver BC

Follow Se.ed's growth at: http://spaces.msn.com/members/fromseedtofood/

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some aspect of a restaurant review are not subjective to one's taste. I'm talking about:

-Seasoning

-freshness and quality of the produce

-Precision of cooking/ doneness

-Associations of flavours/textures/produce

-Creativity

There are also countless criterias for service:

-Attentiveness

-timing

-knowledge of food

-knowledge of wine and other alcohol products

-etc

It is a shame that so rarely you hear about these things on the Vancouver forum. In other corners of the egullet world, debates seem a lot more interesting because they are more analytical, go more in depth. Are egulleters from other part of the world more knowledgeable? Do they have  more educated palates?

Maybe we could come up with a charter, or a list of criterias that could guide or orientate a restaurant review?...

I'm really getting tired of endless arguing about the validity of one's review. And let's take it a bit further than "i loved it" or "yeah, that place was awesome, the portions are huge...", etc.

Eddy,

You bring up some valid points. For my self, I don't care to "micro" critique places in my own town for a couple of reasons:

1. I usually work between 80 and 90 hours a week in the restaurant and I am happy just to be out having a meal that I did not have to cook , prep, or clean up after myself.

2. I tend to go to places that I know to be good. I am not the first guy to try out a new place as I do not get that many meals out and do not want to risk that it will be a shitty one.

3. I usually know someone in the restaurant I am dining. That is not by design but having worked in Vancouver restaurants for nearly 20 years, it just happens. The service I would get possibly would be less formal and a bit more casual because of that association.

4. When I am out, I really want to enjoy myself. I do notice when things are are not quite right, but I tend put that aside very quickly so it does not ruin my evening. It has happened that some thing in a restaurant has set me off and I have let it ruin my night as well as my wife's and possibly the next day. Really it was just a meal and I should let it go.

That being said, when I travel, I tend to be hyper critical and notice everything about everything. I am looking for chinks in that armour, I want to see people fuck up. I am looking for ideas for something or for some sort of strange satisfaction when someone screw up. I take a perverse pleasure in a busboy in a strange city dropping an entire tray of glasses in the dining room. Is that sick ?

Neil Wyles

Hamilton Street Grill

www.hamiltonstreetgrill.com

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Man, it's so fun to watch people flip out when the Sacred Cow gets slaughtered...... :laugh:

FWIW, my one meal at Lumiere was forgettable, as in, I don't remember any of the specific dishes I had. What I do remember is a very cramped space and condesending service and pieces of cheese that you had to use tweezers to pick up. Lest you conclude this is due to my poor memory, I can recite nearly every course I've had of my three meals at West as well as a number of other Vancouver restaurants I love. I wouldn't trade any my West experiences for two dinners at Lumiere.

Most women don't seem to know how much flour to use so it gets so thick you have to chop it off the plate with a knife and it tastes like wallpaper paste....Just why cream sauce is bitched up so often is an all-time mytery to me, because it's so easy to make and can be used as the basis for such a variety of really delicious food.

- Victor Bergeron, Trader Vic's Book of Food & Drink, 1946

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You bring up a good point Wyles.. I must admit my girlfriend is always riding my ass for ruining her dinner. I can recall a meal at Fiction...but since you all like it so much I won't. [N.B.: I've only been once, and it was super-slammed]. Maybe we should start a new thread on fooling yourself when it's all going to hell so you can enjoy your dinner anyway. Unfortunately my palate won't cooperate.

Also edm although I agree with some of your criteria, I think a lot of it is more subjective than you make it out to be. Especially seasoning and precision of cooking. I too would like to have some sort of objective standards for taste but I am not totally convinced that we wouldn't be fooling ourselves. At the very least the meta-standards we judge doneness or seasoning by (should be balanced, should have good mouth-feel, etc.) are arbitrary. You could maximize a wide variety of attributes (odour, texture, visual affect, etc.), and all of them are going to have tradeoffs. If you try to get the most "moderate" and best of all worlds even that is a preference.

Honestly I've found a lot to disappoint in Vancouver for the most part.. and I think a good part of it is a lack of critical response by the dining public. In cities where people have firm opinions on what's good and make a big fuss when it isn't, the purveryors have to supply or they won't survive. Take Montreal as an example, which for some reason Vancouver is always compared to. To me it's no contest. Some cities just seem to accept a lot more middle-of-the-road without complaint. If the posts here are any indication I think that is some of what's happening here. If Feenie can get away with packing in the tables and not paying too much attention to what's coming out of the kitchen, and still walk away with the coin...why not? If people will even defend that decision...why not? I refer you again to that Slow Food in Tuscany article I pointed to elsewhere. Aesthetic of entertainment vs. aesthetic of gastronomy. It's a lot easier to go for the whiz-bang than the real quality...and a lot more people who don't know better will prefer the former to the latter. It takes a lot of energy to care, and a community that cares, and people that will notice, to make someone want to put in all the effort for excellence.

Edited by dillybravo (log)
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yes but how ever you chose to review , there is no escaping the fact that one customer shelled out $300 for three courses ( with a " just ok " amuse ), at our fair cities alleged "best" eatery, and left feeling disappointed .

By questioning the method of the reviewee , are you just trying to invalidate Foodie-Girl `s experience.

Or do we get kudos for defending mediocrity ?.

tt
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I think that those who would like to see a more critical stance on this forum are jumping to conclusions if they think people do not see issues or can spot faults.

But then I think - do we always need to have knives out? There is alot of boosterism on this forum because this is a tough restaurant town and the economics are not easy. You've got a couple of 900 lb gorrillas running around named Earl and Milestone that sops up every dinining dollar that they can get their hands on.

So - do I error on the side of maybe keeping my mouth shut when things are not as great as the could be at the independent restaurants? Yeah - most definitely. Do I encourage people to check out places that may be below the radar. Again guilty. I feel like we should try to nurture places and people that are genuinely trying to make a difference. Sometimes those efforts fall short - but I do care about the dining scene here and I try to support those efforts.

The real crappy places will sort themselves out - either that or the economics will kill them. Ringing silence is deadlier than any rant. Do I need to drive the knife deeper? Its not something that I want to do. I could give you a laundry list of places in Vancouver that make missteps and compare them to places in California, NY, or Asia where I have lived. But is it really constructive?

To keep things on topic - it was interesting to see some of Foodie Girl's comments and she did back them up further with detailed observations. I myself agreed with some of her observations on the uneven service that happens at the Feenie restaurants.

On the whole - I do agree that a bit more detail and observation is always useful whenever a comment is being made (and I will do so myself in future). Regardless if it is pro or con.

Edited by canucklehead (log)
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That being said, when I travel, I tend to be hyper critical and notice everything about everything. I am looking for chinks in that armour, I want to see people fuck up. I am looking for ideas for something or for some sort of strange satisfaction when someone screw up. I take a perverse pleasure in a busboy in a strange city dropping an entire tray of glasses in the dining room. Is that sick ?

No. :biggrin:

Sometimes when I'm out eating at another restaurant I get the urge to uppercut a passing tray of wine glasses. Call it restorative malice.

Andrew Morrison

Food Columnist | The Westender

Editor & Publisher | Scout Magazine

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That being said, when I travel, I tend to be hyper critical and notice everything about everything. I am looking for chinks in that armour, I want to see people fuck up. I am looking for ideas for something or for some sort of strange satisfaction when someone screw up. I take a perverse pleasure in a busboy in a strange city dropping an entire tray of glasses in the dining room. Is that sick ?

No. :biggrin:

Sometimes when I'm out eating at another restaurant I get the urge to uppercut a passing tray of wine glasses. Call it restorative malice.

Moi aussi - although in a total different line of work for myself. There's nothing like watching a new Jr. Lifeguard shitting bricks at some crazy pool when it's slammed with moms, dads, and tots in the deep end of the wave pool on the Spring Break. Will he notice the 5 yr old flailling underneath him? Does he know all the Senior LG's are watching him and the 5 yr old now? When is he going to notice the kid yet? Ahh,damn, I going in.... &*%$'! <Splash>

And this is why I can never really enjoy swimming at a new pool. I, like Mr. Wyles, keep watching the room for some action. :wacko:

But back on topic.... I've never eaten on the Lumiere side but the density of tables is a tad much. But I like my restaurants a bit more open than that. Each to their own. Nice of the staff to drop the wine charge though. Took Mom to brunch on the Feenie's side and she liked it. I'd be more analytical but damn it's late... !

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some aspect of a restaurant review are not subjective to one's taste. I'm talking about:

-Seasoning

-freshness and quality of the produce

-Precision of cooking/ doneness

-Associations of flavours/textures/produce

-Creativity

There are also countless criterias for service:

-Attentiveness

-timing

-knowledge of food

-knowledge of wine and other alcohol products

-etc

It is a shame that so rarely you hear about these things on the Vancouver forum. In other corners of the egullet world, debates seem a lot more interesting because they are more analytical, go more in depth. Are egulleters from other part of the world more knowledgeable? Do they have  more educated palates?

Maybe we could come up with a charter, or a list of criterias that could guide or orientate a restaurant review?...

I'm really getting tired of endless arguing about the validity of one's review. And let's take it a bit further than "i loved it" or "yeah, that place was awesome, the portions are huge...", etc.

Eddy.... these are good points.... why don't you and seanw, who made a similar though less explanatory point much earlier in another thread, lead the way. Sometimes it really helps to have an example of what a detailed critique / review might look like so that others can follow.

Care to start?

Oh and P.S. to be back on topic.... I've eaten at Lumiere once and Feenie's once. Loved Feenie's for brunch and was disappointed with dinner at Lumiere. Both meals were some time ago (though brunch at Feenie's, I wrote about somewhere in this forum) so will not elaborate much further. I will say that the dinner at Lumiere was at least 4 years ago, and I would absolutely give it another go, especially as the people with whom I dined enjoyed their meals. Sometimes it all boils down to taste, what you choose on any given night from the menu and the luck of the draw. That being said, $300 smackaroos is a lot to shell out for a disappointing meal, no matter how you slice it.

Edited by appreciator (log)

sarah

Always take a good look at what you're about to eat. It's not so important to know what it is, but it's critical to know what it was. --Unknown

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Sarah, i will try to come up with some sort of list.

canucklehead, I strongly disagree with your perspective. I think quality independant restaurants need criticism because that will help them improve and get above that bunch of lousy, mediocre places that get away serving crap. Vancouver needs more places that associate good fresh food with affordability and genuineness.

For anyone who cares about their food and who cares to see Vancouver kick some real ass, criticism and discriminatory customers are crucial.

It doesnt cost much to go see the manager or the chef at the end of a meal and share your comments. The more people do that, the more improvement we'll see.

We can all have a good time, and have a perfect meal!

DillyBravo i second your comments. Vancouver restaurants has disappointed me in many ways and i say thank god!!! for ethnic food. But i chose to live here, i am just starting my own business (hopefully to bring my good cards to the game) and i genuinely want to see the food scene improve. I know it is improving already, but i'm really, really impatient when it comes to food!

I dream of good bistros with their own potagers and their small producers' smart & affordable wine list. Good artisan bakeries, butchers selling local organic meat and poultry, proper fish shops, and more importantly, a year-round farmers' market with some sexy produce that call your name when you walk by. I dream that good food in Van will cease to be a treat (or involve a marathon shopping across the city), and become a very part of our daily lives.

Eddy M., Chef & Owner

Se.ed Artisan Foods, Vancouver BC

Follow Se.ed's growth at: http://spaces.msn.com/members/fromseedtofood/

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I appreciate FoodieGirl describing her disappointing meal in more detail, although I note that Lumiere did take the wine cost off the bill which redeems them in my eyes. Too bad it was a less than stellar experience, though.

On the broader topic of whether or not people are too lenient with the Vancouver restaurant scene, I'm not sure. I see some criticism of restaurants on this forum, and I appreciate the honesty.

As for restaurant reviewers, I think Jamie Maw is very good, and certainly is critical when it is warranted. Alexandra Gill doesn't write raves all the time. I guess I'm not sure if I want a local version of Joanna Kates who seems to hate most places.

And edm, I think Vancouver actually HAS some of the things you say are missing from the scene. That may be my island (read "hick"!) perspective, but when I go there, I am constantly amazed at the new bakeries, restaurants, grocers etc.

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Before this thread strays off into a "Vancouver eGulleters are too lenient on local restaurants" tangent, I'd like to remind you this thread is about Lumière and one diner's experience there.

Discussion of local reviewing scene(professional and amateur) should be done in a new thread - which would be fully endorsed by your forum host ... provided you all play nice!

A.

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Before this thread strays off into a "Vancouver eGulleters are too lenient on local restaurants" tangent, I'd like to remind you this thread is about Lumière and one diner's experience there. 

Discussion of local reviewing scene(professional and amateur) should be done in a new thread - which would be fully endorsed by your forum host ... provided you all play nice!

A.

Oops -sorry - just letting my mind wander a la Sunday morning... I'll post those comments in another thread.

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I appreciate FoodieGirl describing her disappointing meal in more detail, although I note that Lumiere did take the wine cost off the bill which redeems them in my eyes. Too bad it was a less than stellar experience, though.

***We did appreciate the gesture of removing the wine cost in discreet acknowledgement of our less than stellar experience (a perfect turn-of-phrase, Brenda) especially given the fact that we never made a negative comment during our meal.

Our poor waiter had beads of perspiration on his forehead for most of the evening as he raced around and did his best given the situation.

I use the word "gesture" as our wine order consisted of a modestly-priced 1/2 bottle for my husband. At the moment I'm "off wine" for health reasons and was charged the bargain price $36 for two bottles of mineral water.

Edited by Foodie-Girl (log)
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