Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

A Critic's Limitations


Recommended Posts

Did anyone read The Knaypa's review in yesterday's Evening Standard? Who is Mr Sexton? He has chosen this restaurant to slag off a entire country (Poland) and its food. Why write about something he knows he doesn't like? Does anyone read this stuff before the actually put it in print?

Reminds me of a couple of year's ago whenn AA Gill reviewed Thai Square at Putney Bridge saying from the outset how much he disliked Thai cuisine so proceeded to slate the poor place. Can't find the link to that one though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

David Sexton is literary editor of the Evening Standard I believe.

I think you're going to have a very hard time finding anyone in this country who thinks "Ooh, Eastern European food, yum yum my favourite" that isn't originally from the region.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

the review doesn't read too badly, i am not sure why he gave it one star, probably because it calls itself the best polish restaurant in london, that is asking for trouble, a bit like when you open up a restaurant that looks like a russian palace and declare your food as ukrainian haute cuisine!

Matt Christmas.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

the review doesn't read too badly, i am not sure why he gave it one star, probably because it calls itself the best polish restaurant in london, that is asking for trouble, a bit like when you open up a restaurant that looks like a russian palace and declare your food as ukrainian haute cuisine!

I hear Mr Sexton is a bit of a sneaky so and so in many ways . Last I heard, the standard already had a perfectly good, if increasingly eccentric, restaurant critic. Perhaps now the vultures are beginning to circle her and staking claims with an easy knocking job?

S

Link to comment
Share on other sites

...

I think you're going to have a very hard time finding anyone in this country who thinks "Ooh, Eastern European food, yum yum my favourite" that isn't originally from the region.

I think a lot of the dishes sound quite delicious, but I probably have a bit of a baltic bias.

What is not to like about brown bread with pork rilettes, herring with horse radish or veal pierogi with confit onion and smoked bacon? Serve that with cold beer and even colder vodka and I would be a very happy diner.

I think the reviewer sounded a bit like an idiot, actually.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think you're going to have a very hard time finding anyone in this country who thinks "Ooh, Eastern European food, yum yum my favourite" that isn't originally from the region.

Not sure about that. The window of my local trad Polish (The Patio) has long been championed by none other than Maschler, with about two-dozen glowing reviews in the window going back decades.

Edited by naebody (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

RE - The idea of reviewing food you don't like. It reminds me of the article by Jeffrey Steingarten in his book, The Man Who Ate Everything (I think that's the title).

He pointed out, as a restaurant reviewer, how ridiculous it was to not like certain ingredients or foods. He compared it to an art critique saying they simply didn't like orange and refusing to review it.

So, his strategy was to gradually wean himself back on to the foods he didn't like (I forget what they were, seafood perhaps?) by only eating the very finest examples. Then, once his palate was accustomed to the taste, flavours and texture of the finest form of the food he could work his way down to lesser examples.

I actually did the self same thing with my two gastronomic weak links - eggs of any preperation (though weirdly I loved them as a kid) and raw tomato (which lots of people are funny about).

My breakthrough with eggs was eating really, really fantastic scrambled eggs at a friends house. Now that I actively enjoy good eggs I have built up my tolerance to the point that I could even manage them in a Mcdonalds breakfast, instead of frantically pushing them away from the hash-brown. I'd actually kind of enjoy them.

Same with tomatos, I progressed from fishing every fragment (and tomatos do bloody fragment) out of shop bought sandwiches to leaving them in and enjoying the flavour as part of a mix. Then I actually had an epithany only this week at my local deli where I managed to eat a tomato salad which basically was just big chunks of tomato in a simple dressing.

It tasted good.

So I have overcome my food phobias and prejudices (chicken's feet or pig's intestines were never the issue) and can now officially be a food critic. If, of course, it wasn't for the fact that I have the palate of a stray dog and can barely string a sentence together.

Cheers

Thom

It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I ... can now officially be a food critic. If, of course, it wasn't for the fact that I have the palate of a stray dog and can barely string a sentence together.

It's never stopped <INSERT NAME HERE>

Link to comment
Share on other sites

RE - The idea of reviewing food you don't like. It reminds me of the article by Jeffrey Steingarten in his book, The Man Who Ate Everything (I think that's the title).

He pointed out, as a restaurant reviewer, how ridiculous it was to not like certain ingredients or foods. He compared it to an art critique saying they simply didn't like orange and refusing to review it.

I don't see how you can not let personal likes and dislikes creep in. The trick is to let your reader know them in advance and judge your comments on that basis. Take Halliwell for instance, as a film critic he clearly stated what he liked and disliked 'in general and was consistent enough for that to work to the readers advantage.

A restaurant critic without personal likes, dislikes and prejudices is surely a very boring critic?

S

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I ... can now officially be a food critic. If, of course, it wasn't for the fact that I have the palate of a stray dog and can barely string a sentence together.

It's never stopped <INSERT NAME HERE>

AA gill is supposed to be dyslexic, he still writes some of the sharpest copy around though. A lot sharper than that egomaniac <insert name here>

Link to comment
Share on other sites

RE - The idea of reviewing food you don't like. It reminds me of the article by Jeffrey Steingarten in his book, The Man Who Ate Everything (I think that's the title).

He pointed out, as a restaurant reviewer, how ridiculous it was to not like certain ingredients or foods. He compared it to an art critique saying they simply didn't like orange and refusing to review it.

I don't see how you can not let personal likes and dislikes creep in. The trick is to let your reader know them in advance and judge your comments on that basis. Take Halliwell for instance, as a film critic he clearly stated what he liked and disliked 'in general and was consistent enough for that to work to the readers advantage.

A restaurant critic without personal likes, dislikes and prejudices is surely a very boring critic?

S

I understand an element of your point, but to be honest I was illustrating that I have learnt to love eggs, not merely tolerate them.

Great scrambled eggs (with good free-range eggs, a slosh of milk, a dab of butter and plenty of seasoning, all served up glistening but not never wet) now make my heart sing. Two years ago they would have made me retch. I get cravings for them and everything.

Everyone knows one's palate matures from being a kid (when you hate olives, pickles, beer and many of the best things in life) but personally I was suprised I could still have such a turnaround of tastes at the ripe old age of 30+. There's life in the old dog yet.

I suppose it throws up the question of whether dislikes are actual physical reactions to taste/texture or whether it's mostly mental and shaped by childhood experiences which can be overwritten (was I bullied by an egg as a boy? Tormented by a tomato maybe?).

Cheers

Thom

It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think you're going to have a very hard time finding anyone in this country who thinks "Ooh, Eastern European food, yum yum my favourite" that isn't originally from the region.

Not sure about that. The window of my local trad Polish (The Patio) has long been championed by none other than Maschler, with about two-dozen glowing reviews in the window going back decades.

I think Polish food is great! Nothing like a nice plate of pierogi (esp with onion and crispy fried bits of bacon fat on top) and a bowl of bigos to fill you up!

Not the most refined of food, to be sure - but exactly hits the spot on a cold winters night.

J

PS Hungarian cherry soup is also a killer. Served ice cold it's almost the perfect starter for a sweltering hot summer's lunch.

PPS Although I would say Slovakian food is pretty terrible.

Edited by Jon Tseng (log)
More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...