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Critical Couple do it again


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Not very long after upsetting two Michelin starred Marcus Wareing about their dining experience at his eponymous Knightsbridge restaurant, another top Michelin man is getting flak too.

Michael Caines, another two star Michelin giant, who's Gidleigh Park restaurant is currently active on this forum, is under the cosh for a meal served yesterday.

Twitter is alive with activity. Critical Couple Twitter

Michael Caines Twitter

This is the blog post

What are your thoughts?

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

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I wonder what mental gymnastics are required to reconcile the insistence that they wouldn't go back if you paid them with happily accepting the chef's gracious invitation to return and cook for them personally.

Were they not as appalled as they seemed? Or, were they just hoping to be bought?

Based on this limited sample size, I'd say MW handled them better.

Edited by KD1191 (log)

True rye and true bourbon wake delight like any great wine...dignify man as possessing a palate that responds to them and ennoble his soul as shimmering with the response.

DeVoto, The Hour

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"We were therefore dismayed to find that ....of eight courses, the first course is scallops, the second course is Terrine of foie gras and the main is Lamb. Yawn. "

Apparently in their world, no one may ever again serve any of these in these places in the meal. I wonder how they feel about sweets coming near the end? ?Yawn?

I'd say (as I have before) that reviewing the food when you've already made up your mind to be cranky is not fair to the restaurant or yourself.

The long wait is a real issue.

After that? They STATE they already knew it would not be good enough.

At which point nothing else negative they say has any validity.

Except (oh dear) - I agree the plates look overcrowded. Even the really pretty one with the tear drops and tiny leaves looks really busy.

Edited by Kouign Aman (log)

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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Who are the critical couple then? Pretentious fuckwits by the sounds of it. Seems anyone with a pc and digital camera can now lay claim to being 'food experts', or so they think. They may end up being critical if they carry on writing such kak! :wink:

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Given their review of the Elephant it doesn't look as though they set out to be critical, as such, merely to be food critics. I'd be pretty grumpy too after waiting that long, so would also expect really stunning food to compensate - and I agree the plates look a terrible mess, the food doesn't sound that inspired - given it's 2* I would expect a lot more. I agree M Caines seems to have handled it well. Obviously decided against the super-injunction approach.

Each to their own though - I'd rather just eat the food, and possibly summarise afterwards on eG, as taking all those photos and writing it up in detail afterwards would take away my enjoyment of a good meal, and I'd comment at the time if it wasn't a good meal - or if it is I also say so. No-one has to read their blog of course.

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The food blog has just created an even more effective technique than the complaining very loudly so everyone hears you technique.

The wait does sound unacceptable, problems do happen in kitchens, but to not relay that to the diners without being prompted is poor service.

The claiming to be food experts comment is a little harsh - they are obviously much more qualified than your average local newspaper reviewer, and do appear to visit a LOT of restaurants! Which may be part of the problem, it's easy to become jaded by similar sounding menus, they obviously favour the more creative and avant garde style of fine dining (Big fans of L'enclume!) which Gidleigh Park obviously isn't.

I was getting slightly annoyed by the Michelin Star obsession, I can just about handle it in the mainstream media (I'm looking at you BBC) but I'd have hoped such experienced diners would know better.

I do somewhat agree with the comments on the tasting menu though, it isn't really a tasting menu as I understand it. A number of restaurants are doing this, you have to have one on the menu these days, but it's basically just the a la carte menu with extra courses.

I am less concerned by bad reviews than I am with the context, and also how they are dealt with (SAme with anything, Trip Advisor, Amazon reviews etc, you learn more from the bad reviews than the good) and Michael Caines appears to have dealt with it admirably.

I love animals.

They are delicious.

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Which may be part of the problem, it's easy to become jaded by similar sounding menus,

I reckon there's something in that.

Until comparitive recent times, meals out for Mrs H and I used to be Pizza Express and the occasional slightly better place for "special occasions". We always used to thoroughly enjoy it every time.

Now we eat out much more often, we find ourselves much more "nit-picking".

John Hartley

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Which may be part of the problem, it's easy to become jaded by similar sounding menus,

I reckon there's something in that.

Until comparitive recent times, meals out for Mrs H and I used to be Pizza Express and the occasional slightly better place for "special occasions". We always used to thoroughly enjoy it every time.

Now we eat out much more often, we find ourselves much more "nit-picking".

This is amusing to me; it sounds as if when funds and time out was a more casual type of restaurant, you were always pleased with the food/service/experience? And now that you are enjoying more frequent meals out, at a different type of restaurant, you are more critical of the food/service/experience?

What changed? And why, do you think? I'm not trying to start a flame, just curious.

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JC

Certainly don't read it as a flame. At the risk of going off on a tangent to the thread, I'll try and give a brief answer.

The very short answer is in now knowing what's "good food". Or , at least, having a personal view about it.

I'm now 60, and retired. It's only in around the last 10 years, generally, and mainly last 5, that we've started eating out with any degree of regularity and/or better quality.

In the old days, when we mainly ate at chains - pizza, steak and the like - it was infrequently and it'd be very much a case of ordering what we knew we liked. You don't want to spoil the birthday treat meal, even if it is only steak & chips. And , if you're having a Pizza Express pizza, it's going to be very much like the last Pizza Express pizza (I still like their pizzas, by the way)

Nowadays, we eat out much more often. And, indeed, at a much wider range of places - from the back street curry cafe to Michelin starred places. Means we're much more prepared to "risk" ordering something we might not like but sounds interesting. Means that, at whatever level, we've now a range of places to compare against. Which means we do compare. Compare one place against a similar place. Or one dish against a similar dish - although more likely against our expectations of what it should be.

And, I suppose, there's contributions to discussion boards, review sites and the like to focus the mind. I tend to write up most meals - usually for this board, although I also submit them to the Good Food Guide (which has used quotes of mine in its publication)and, from time to time, post on local review sites. Whereas, in the old days, my partner and I might drive home from a place and the post-meal discussion would have been "That was very nice, dear". Now, we dissect what the food, place and service was like.

John Hartley

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Personally speaking , i adore Scallops , foie gras and lamb on a menu , i could eat it until the cows come home.

Critical couple have their likes...and dislikes and just report as they find each place.I dont know who they are , never met them but find myself drawn daily to their little blog to read their fantastic reports and look at their amazing photos.

Big fans of Lenclume ? Absolutely , they were there last week and their reporting of the place was superb...as was the Elephant and also their photos.As for the war of words that followed on the Gidleigh post....well it made interesting reading and i found myself drawn back every few hours to read and laugh at the comments generated by both the lovers and the haters of the place.

Good healthy discussion by both parties....Love it :biggrin:

CumbriafoodieCumbriafoodie
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Why does everyone want to be a critic these days, and why do they think that the rest of the world is interested in their opinions? Much as I read restaurant reviews in the press, I take them with a pinch of salt except where the verdict is consistently good or bad. At the end of the day, it's a plate of food you are eating, it's not meant to be a major contribution towards the cultural well -being of society. Anyone designating themselves "The Critical Couple" is setting themselves up to having the proverbial taken out of them. As for food photos, please don't get me started. They don't tell me anything about how the food will taste and therefore contribute little towards a review. A photo of the dining room, tables and chairs would be more useful.

I read a great quote from Shaun Hill the other day: "...all I do is what I’ve done for 40 years. I just cook what seems like it might be nice to eat. It’s not high art or science...it’s just a bit of fun". That's just about the most sensible comment I've read about food and restaurants in a long time. I do wish others didn't treat it as though it was some kind of religion.

Edited by Alan Smeaton (log)
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Just reading the blog, if they found this meal order a 'yawn' how is it that as a "pre-starter" they went with: "asparagus bavarois with parmesan foam" Asparagus and parmesan... Would it be that if they pick it themselves it can not by definition be a 'yawn', but if the choice is not presented... BLAH, they just seem like they have a personal issue and they decided this was the best way to get back.

The perfect vichyssoise is served hot and made with equal parts of butter to potato.

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The bottom line is the CC are two obviously wealthy, passionate foodies who just have a very unfortunate way with the pen. In my opinion they're consistently un-objective and egocentric. Their issues over the food at GP may be true, but to criticise the degustation purely based on the choice of ingredients? Come on, it's hardly fair. I was particularly taken with the heavy-handed diatribe when, 'we didn't fancy the tasting menu' would have sufficed.

Finally, on the subject of that menu, it's £120. That's a lot. MC needs to justify that with relative ingredients and produce, which he clearly does, so I think there's actually a strong argument in his favour here. At least it's not another £100-odd, trendy food-flight without a whiff of luxury.

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  • 4 weeks later...

For all the criticism I think these two are the hottest ticket in food at the moment. At their now legendary "dinner party" this time around not only did they have Alyn Williams cooking, but the diners included Pierre Koffman, Bruno Loubet, Richard Vines, Simon Hermanos ......

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I followed the link to their blog which I read briefly then stopped when I realised it was simply pretentious and boring. I prefer brief, pithy & witty in restaurant reviews: we can't taste the food but a well-written review can give us the flavour of the restaurant.

OK, great, this couple can afford fine dining - but this blog is simply a vanity project to flaunt their wealth & erudition to us common folks.

The Critical Couple; hah; I can think of better names for them.

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For all the criticism I think these two are the hottest ticket in food at the moment. At their now legendary "dinner party" this time around not only did they have Alyn Williams cooking, but the diners included Pierre Koffman, Bruno Loubet, Richard Vines, Simon Hermanos ......

Their dinners do seem to be very good and as you say they are attracting interesting guests. More interestingly they have some very good chefs cooking at their soirees. How did they achieve it? Anyone with insight?

Edited by PhilD (log)
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I have to wonder if they became "hot" after the fracas they started with the Marcus Waring thing. I think they handled that very poorly and my opinion of them (not that it means much) sank considerably as a result.

I do think they are an overly Critical Couple, though....

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I followed the link to their blog which I read briefly then stopped when I realised it was simply pretentious and boring. I prefer brief, pithy & witty in restaurant reviews: we can't taste the food but a well-written review can give us the flavour of the restaurant.

OK, great, this couple can afford fine dining - but this blog is simply a vanity project to flaunt their wealth & erudition to us common folks.

The Critical Couple; hah; I can think of better names for them.

Exactly what I thought. I am totally confused as to why they are a big deal.

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They`re both good in my book , i can only speak as i find and so far they`ve only come over to me as a couple of lovely people.Love their website , visit it most days , fantastic pics , good site for sussing the restaurants out and informative write ups from the heart.As for the web wars....i have to have a wee chuckle when i read em. :raz:

CumbriafoodieCumbriafoodie
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I rarely read the bloggers. Like folk who post reviews to internet discussion boards (as I do), I reckon there's strong element of vanity in it. And I have enough trouble coping with my own

Of course, for the bloggers who become well known, there may be a new career in it for them, or the opportunity for them to mix with foody celebs or, at least, to get freebie invites to soft openings and the like.

I guess that, unlike discussion boards, the blogger has complete control over comments that might be made about their contributions. And can choose whether to discuss or not.

You can see why it's become popular. No doubt in my mind that it's caused the traffic on discussion boards to decrease dramatically. If you can post your review to your own blog, why post as well to a board. Just remind again.....why do I continue with egullet?

John Hartley

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Do you remember the 'I'm telling everybody!' Fosters beer ad with the guy who had had sex with two nymphomaniac twins jumping around and telling everybody, including the priest?

More than from vanity, I think writing reviews (either on a forum or on one's own blog, I don't think that psychologically there's much difference) comes from a similar impulse: you just want to tell everybody. It's a natural desire to share experiences.

This is not to say I want to compare having sex with two nymphomaniac twins with the ultimate meal - I have had neither experience.

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But if you did have sex with nymphomaniac twins, would you write it up in your blog, with many photographs and describing each sensation in loving detail? Would you wax lyrical and at great length about the starters, the mains and the afters?

It seems to me that professional newspaper restaurant reviewers give a brief overview of where they've been, what they've had, what they liked and disliked, quality of service, price & opening times. Maybe 10 column inches & a small photo. The purpose is to impart enough info for others to either go or not go: not to have to read the subjective ramblings opinions, laced with lots fashionable foodie prose, of a pair of soi-disant food experts.

I have a natural (and egotistical) need to share the experience of my whole life with you...but I don't expect you to be daft enough to want to read it.

Now about those nymphomaniacs...

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