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PSmith

Your favourite UK food critic

57 posts in this topic

RDB, is that a spoof?

You would think so :unsure:

However, as Harters says alas not. Maybe this restaurant believes that the opinions of an over zealous primrary school teacher will be a valuable source of business generation or a provide some expert culinary knowledge , however such sychophancy may actually have the paradoxical effect of dissuading anyone from wanting to go near the place.

Thank you 'over zealous' is a very polite way of describing me! ;-)I have been back to SoLita on three occasions (as a full paying customer, no less) since this series of freebies and I stand by my initial comments. On the second occasion admittedly, there were some first week teething problems but by my third meal these seemed to have been resolved.

Unless I'm missing something, you don't appear to have a clear disclaimer anywhere in that "review" that mentions that it was free?

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I imagine once you receive a series of freebies then after this point any attempt at being impartial is null and void? You often hear professional critics speak about restaurants sending out "freebies" etc etc as a means to curry favour, however this often has the opposite effect. With bloggers it works a treat, much like Pavlov's dogs, that is why it is very hard to take any of these reviews seriously.

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In time, one or two fortunate bloggers will rise to have a significant status in the field and the rest will just give up or be given up on.

I think the Dos Hermanos blog would be regarded as one of the successful ones. It used to be interesting to read (at least about the London area) and, of course, it was the significant help in thrusting Simon Majumdar towards his book writing and, then, his food related career in the States. Job now done, so no blogging since last February.

As for most blogs, even those written about my own area, I simply don't generally come across them as I am not part of the local twitterati. On the occasions that I do, I read them in the same light as I assume folks might read (or not read) my posts to this board - i.e. just one bloke's opinion about a dinner he's eaten.

Of course, for the blogger there may be other benefits. I know a blogger in an entirely different field to food. He used to contribute to a discussion board but, since starting the blog, no longer posts to the board. His reasoning is entirely one of control. When he posted to the board, he was open to comment, criticism and, indeed, offensive remarks. Now, with his own blog, whilst one can submit a comment, it is entirely within is discretion whether he allows it to be "published".


Edited by Harters (log)

John Hartley

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Not sure what's going on with my computer as it doesn't seem to be allowing me to quote directly... also, I am in Spain on a dodgy internet connection having last night eaten at Dani Garcia's two star Calima, which, like over 99%* of my meals, was not a 'freebie'.

Out of the 151 posts that are now on my blog, I think just 3 or 4 were comps (Aulis, Jamie Oliver, The Cube with Sat Bains) - with Aulis and Sat, I hardly run the risk of 'compromising my integrity' and with Jamie, I made clear at the end of the post that I suspected the quality I received would perhaps not be maintainable as time went on (subsequent visits have proved this to be the case and a return visit post is due).

I have now added a disclaimer to the SoLita post and will endeavour to get another up that represents my subsequent meals there.

To keep this post on subject... I do not regularly read any of the food critics. I may skim over if it is brought to my attention that they are reviewing a local resaurant or one that I have eaten (or plan to eat) at. With blogs too, there is none that I read regularly.

I take a lot of your points on board... I generally agree with your points directed against bloggers. Of course, I do (and would) like to think mine is 'different'... I never refer to my posts as 'reviews' as despite the fact that I eat out several times a week and have eaten in some of the best restaurants in the world, I do not feel 'qualified' to 'review'... in my posts, I aim to just write up 'my experience' - one major downside is the fact that I love most foods and do tend to be very positive about most places. Perhaps I should, like most of your favourite critics, be more critical?

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Note that Time Out is now planning to go free in the Autumn. Hoping to hoick distribution from 55K to 750k.

That should (hopefully) mean their reviews get the prominence they deserve.

J


More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!

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Food boards are the best way of discussing food, I think we will see a return of their influence when enough people finally rumble the bloggers' game.

I totally agree and share your hope, food boards are for discussion, food blogs are for self expression - I've never seen on a food blog a meaningful discussion of the type one can have here on eg, just sequences of more or less inane comments.

You also mention earning money. I don't think anybody who's wealthy enough to go frequently to very good restaurants anyway will find it easy to make a serious change to his income through blogging. There are, it's true, some pathetic souls who move mountains to announce themselves to PR companies in search of a free meal, but they must be either desperately poor or have lacked affection as children. And it is doubly pathetic that restaurants waste food and money on them.

'Status building' may be as you say another possibility, but once again real status is obtained by a minuscule fraction of food bloggers, who most often, like the Dos Hermanos case mentioned by Harters, are professionally interested in food related careers. Apart from them, I guess well-adjusted people try to gain status with their peers in their own profession and don't consider fooblogging as a means to gain status.

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Last Wednesday in the Metro, Marina O'Loughlin did her last review for that paper. Anyone know why and where next for her ?

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Last Wednesday in the Metro, Marina O'Loughlin did her last review for that paper. Anyone know why and where next for her ?

Yes. She has just been appointed restaurant critic at the Guardian. Her first review for them was published today.

Restaurant: Brasserie Zédel, London W1

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Last Wednesday in the Metro, Marina O'Loughlin did her last review for that paper. Anyone know why and where next for her ?

Yes. She has just been appointed restaurant critic at the Guardian.

Result! Hopefully this means that Jay Rayner has been canned.

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Result! Hopefully this means that Jay Rayner has been canned.

Interesting concept. One newspaper employs a new restaurant reviewer so a different newspaper must have canned theirs.

Jay Rayner is restaurant critic for the Observer. Although it shares owners and a website with the Guardian, they have always been separate newspapers.

Marina O'Loughlin has been employed to replace John Lanchester who, I believe, left of his own accord.


Edited by liuzhou (log)

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Interesting concept. One newspaper employs a new restaurant reviewer so a different newspaper must have canned theirs.

I'm sorry. Have I upset you?

Jay Rayner is restaurant critic for the Observer. Although it shares owners and a website with the Guardian, they have always been separate newspapers.

Marina O'Loughlin has been employed to replace John Lanchester who, I believe, left of his own accord.

Point taken. However, given that Rayner is so omnipresent these days I can forgive myself.

Still, it's a shame though.

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liuzhou, thanks for the clarification !

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Matthew Fort and Jay Rayner perhaps...

Least favourite; Frances Bissell by far!


Sommelier at The Three Chimneys, Isle of Skye, UK :: www.oscarjmalek.com

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My favourite probably has to be Jay Rayner - but I don't often read other Sunday papers, so can't really make fair comparisons. I like his balance between food comment and other stuff - and he strikes me as a messy eater who ends up with food all down his shirt, which is what I'm like.

The critics who really annoy me are the ones which use up 3/4 of their column space talking about something unrelated to the food - and often not even related to the restaurant.

I think Matthew Fort comes across as a bit pompous, and when Matthew Norman used to write the Guardian column, he drove me mad with his really long, over complicated sentences, with more parentheses than you could poke a sharp stick at. I sometimes needed to reread a sentence four times before I could work out what he was saying. Almost like he was trying to be too clever, but lost the flow of the piece by doing it.

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Like many of you, I don't read many UK critics other than Jay Rayner. I think overall he's very good. If you think he's pompous, you've never read Tom Doorley, the Irish 'critic' who is supposed to be a wine expert but couldn't tell you what colour wine is, and really is full of himself.

Before the Times paywall went up, and when I still lived in Ireland, I read Giles Coren and AA Gill quite often. Never really liked Coren, and I think Gill is a good writer who happens to write about food some of the time. I like his style, but it doesn't always work when reviewing food. Plus (and I accept I'm likely to be abused for this opinion) I think it's slightly odd having a recovering alcoholic reviewing restaurants. The food should of course stand alone, but in most cases, people do drink alcohol when they go to restaurants and it is part of the experience, no different from the company and the occasion etc. You could argue that not having wine with his meal allows him to be more subjective, but at the same time, it means his experience of a meal will be different to probably 90% of the people who eat there (something that is also true because he's a well-known critic). It doesn't invalidate his criticism or praise of a restaurant, and I'm not suggesting he can't or shouldn't review restaurants, I just think it's an odd choice, even from his perspective.

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Most of us drink alcohol. Some of us don't.

I don't think I have a significantly different restaurant experience than my companion in life does.


John Hartley

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:laugh:

I saw that. Actually Ristorante pizzas are quite good. My pizza of choice when I want a night off from cooking.


http://www.thecriticalcouple.co.uk

Latest blog post - Oh my - someone needs a spell checker

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I seem to be resurrecting this after a year, but my excuse: I'm new here.

A restaurant reviewer who particularly irks me is Matthew Norman in the (UK) Daily Telegraph. When he gets to the meal itself, he's to the point, but that's generally more than half way through the review!

Because he also writes about sport, music and politics, his reviews are too widely spread.

But the Telegraph does have some excellent food writers: Victoria Wood on wine and Xanthe Clay on just about anything gastronomic.

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When he gets to the meal itself, he's to the point, but that's generally more than half way through the review!

Not as bad as Giles Coren who spends two-thirds of his column rabbiting on in much the same way as idiots do on the bus, yelling into their mobile phones.

"I'm on the bus!"

"My washing machine is broken and I'm doing to buy a new what's-it"

"Only bought it in 1972. It's a disgrace. That is what what it is"

Finally he remembers he is a restaurant critic and mumbles something about having eaten somewhere.

He and the obnoxious AA Gill disappearing into obscurity behind the paywall was a great day for food writing. Or writing in general.

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I used to really enjoy reading Jonathan Meades reviews... lived in CH then so my very expensive Saturday 'Times' was read cover to cover.

AA Gill is a good writer in general who writes about food quite well.

Mr Rayner?,perleeze...straight from central casting... pompous and more than a little too convinced about himself.


Edited by confiseur (log)

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Mr Rayner?,perleeze...straight from central casting... pompous and more than a little too convinced about himself.

You just know that he's got a cape in the wardrobe.

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I find all of the UK critics (at least the ones that make it over to US readers) over-the -top. All seem to be looking for the zinger line more than a thoughtful review.

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