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Joanne Kates at the Globe


Keith Talent
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Little help for a west coast Globe reader.

So, what is this womens problem?

Every week I read her reveiws, and week in week out she scathes wherever she dines. Are the restaurants really this bad in TO or does she have some other problem? I think if I was subjected to that many bad experiences, I'd look for work in another field.

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She was right on IMHO about Dessert Trends last Saturday. Bland and blah! Have used them on a couple occasions, looked beautiful, tasted blah. Quite oily too.

Barbara Laidlaw aka "Jake"

Good friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies.

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I guess what I was really asking was that if things are as grim in TO as she portrays. She has more bad/bizzarre experiences in a month than I've had in my life. We have plenty of bad restaurants here in BC, but they generally tend to be empty. The place she reviewed last week (some sort of tratoria) sounded bad, was expensive yet also full. Why?

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Good question, Keith. Perhaps she has just been unlucky?? Or perhaps there are a large number of Torontonians willing to accept mediocrity in food, bad service, etc. I'm not sure. I can tell you that over the years I have agreed with a number of her reviews. As for last week's trattoria, not sure I'd even heard of it, let alone tried it. Perhaps she'll have had better luck this week?

Any Torontonians out there have a view??

Barbara Laidlaw aka "Jake"

Good friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies.

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I lived and worked in TO for a number of years. I for one am allways entertained by her reviews, and generaly she is bang on. However, for thoes who read her regularly, you will know that she has a list of favorates, and generaly her reviews are more hero worship or "love letters" to these chefs. I will say though, that her "boys" are indeed heavyweights.(Stadtlander, Lee, McEwan and her darling, Kennedy)

Edited by jcsaucey (log)

cook slow, eat slower

J.Chovancek

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Do you know if Joanne is personal friends with any(or all) of the "boys"?

-Steve

Not to my knowledge...acquaintance might be more accurate having followed many of them for a number of years.

Anyone read today's review on Ultra? Paul Boehmer was fabulous at Opus, but she wasn't as complementary to him today as she used to be. Anyone eaten at Ultra yet?

Barbara Laidlaw aka "Jake"

Good friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies.

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Anyone read today's review on Ultra?  Paul Boehmer was fabulous at Opus, but she wasn't as complementary to him today as she used to be.

She managed to drop Stadtlanders name into yet another review. I swear she gets an extra nickle every time she writes his name. You could make a drinking game out of it. Paul Boehmer was his sous chef-about seventeen years ago.

cook slow, eat slower

J.Chovancek

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Am enjoying this thread because Kates is one of the reasons I get the Saturday Globe & Mail. I often chuckle reading her reviews.

My all time favourite has to be the one where she did a "hatchet job" on one or two Whistler restaurants while she was on a BC "road trip".

I do not recollect whether it was the Bearfoot Bistro but it definitely..from her description...was one of those upper end spots in the Village.

She went on about the snooty service and how consescending the service was as they were more interested in serving the Americans who had a lot of cash. She noted one table in particular where some "bluebloods" were living the high life with someone who purportedly was a formula one driver.

The waiter said that the chef was cooking a treat for them. A particularly "special" ham called, "jambon" :wub:

She continued on like that before commenting that that Formula One driver subsequently turned out to be that French con artist who was recently convicted in Victoria for fraud who had been passing himself off as a French Rockerfeller or Rothschild or the like duping rich folks from Long Island to the west coast.

It had me in stitches.

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I like food, but am rarely impressed by restaurants I dine at. I always thought if I became a food critic, most of my reviews would be more negative than positive. As Fresco said, most critics are not critical enough. The good thing about Joanne Kates is that if she gives a place a positive review, it most likely is a restaurant worth visiting. Unlike the Winnipeg restaurant critic who thinks like a Winnipeger (ethnic, posh, and "different" restaurants must be good). I've been so dozens of restaurants to which she has given rave reviews, and almost all have had little to rave about.

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While my wife grabs the financial section, my first read from the Saturday Globe is Joanne Kates's column. It usually "reads aloud" well so we both get a good laugh from her writing.

She seems to focus on demographic issues in terms of service. Since K. and I are in the same demographic, age-wise and, I'm assuming, waist-size wise, we "hear" her loud and clear.

There are indeed some lousy eateries in TO.

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  • 2 weeks later...
She was right on IMHO about Dessert Trends last Saturday. Bland and blah! Have used them on a couple occasions, looked beautiful, tasted blah. Quite oily too.

Very interesting that Joanne Kates & you, both dislike the desserts made by Dessert Trends. In a previous eGullet thread in the Toronto section, I brought up Dessert Trends, & it got praise from all that responded.

-Steve

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It is rather funny that someone should create such a thread because when it comes to venomous spurge for this woman I beleive that I am the king. I have read her for years believing her to be the most legitimate of food writers especially here in TO. My God, the more I learn about fooed the more I realize that her opinion is just that and at the end of the day her opinion of food amounts to not vey little. It is the placing of this relic on some sort of culinary pedestal that has kept TO dining behind of the progression and stature of Montreal and Vancouver. No one is challenged because our most prominent food writers have their head so trapped in the sphincter of a selected collection of cooks that made there names back in the Cal/Ital and ConFusion days when mint jelly beans and clear consommes (that is the way they are supposed to be) were considered high-end and the epitamy of culinary skill. From what I read she still is trapped in this time warp, the botox will not help and your golden era has turned to tarnish. Without getting into some sort of bad "English"-style urinate your name in the snow bank" public call out I must admit that my idea of PR was to have this woman thrown out of the restaurant I work at because I feel she lacks the knowledge and palette to judge what myself and my staff are able to execute.I guess when the in ability to do is usurped by the ability to critize then we will always remain the poor little disregarded, ugly sister of Vancouver and Montreal. Why would Ducasse come here to be judged by some half rate,GB grad, camp running travesty of some pefrceiceved culinarily improtanance when he can go to Montreal and vicariously compete with the best our country has to offer.

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She was right on IMHO about Dessert Trends last Saturday.  Bland and blah!  Have used them on a couple occasions, looked beautiful, tasted blah.  Quite oily too.

Very interesting that Joanne Kates & you, both dislike the desserts made by Dessert Trends. In a previous eGullet thread in the Toronto section, I brought up Dessert Trends, & it got praise from all that responded.

-Steve

Steve,

Interesting in what way?

As I said in my post, IMHO only. I'm pleased to hear in your previous posts that it got praise from all that responded. To each his own, no?

Barbara Laidlaw aka "Jake"

Good friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies.

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She was right on IMHO about Dessert Trends last Saturday.  Bland and blah!  Have used them on a couple occasions, looked beautiful, tasted blah.  Quite oily too.

Very interesting that Joanne Kates & you, both dislike the desserts made by Dessert Trends. In a previous eGullet thread in the Toronto section, I brought up Dessert Trends, & it got praise from all that responded.

-Steve

Steve,

Interesting in what way?

As I said in my post, IMHO only. I'm pleased to hear in your previous posts that it got praise from all that responded. To each his own, no?

It's OK, the more feedback the better(praise and/or non-praise). Until you chimed with your comments about Dessert Trends, I thought this establishment was universally liked by everyone in Toronto.

-Steve

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It is  rather funny that someone should create such a thread because when it comes to venomous spurge for this woman I beleive that I am the king.  I have read her for years believing her to be the most legitimate of food writers especially here in TO.  My God, the more I learn about fooed the more I realize that her opinion is just that and at the end of the day her opinion of food amounts to not vey little.  It is the placing of this relic on some sort of culinary pedestal that has kept TO dining behind of the progression and stature of Montreal and Vancouver.  No one is challenged because our most prominent food writers have their head so trapped in the sphincter of a selected collection of cooks that made there names back in the Cal/Ital and ConFusion days when mint jelly beans and clear consommes (that is the way they are supposed to be) were considered high-end and the epitamy of culinary skill.    From what I read she still is trapped in this time warp, the botox will not help and your golden era has turned to tarnish.  Without getting into some sort of bad "English"-style urinate your name in the snow bank" public call out I must admit that my idea of PR was to have this woman thrown out of the restaurant I work at because I feel she lacks the knowledge and palette to judge what myself and my staff are able to execute.I guess when the in ability to do is usurped by the ability to critize then we will always remain the poor little disregarded, ugly sister of Vancouver and Montreal.  Why would Ducasse come here to be judged by some half rate,GB grad, camp running travesty of some pefrceiceved culinarily improtanance when he can go to Montreal and vicariously compete with the best our country has to offer.

I believe Kates is a CB grad not GB. THe fact that a severe critic may come in, unannounced, and prepared for perfection should put restaurant workers on their toes, ready to make every plate well prepared, close to the menu, on time, and served perfunctorily. If some of our restautants differ from the excellence attained in Montreal and Vancouver, perhaps that difference is merely attitude.

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Or the problem could be fear. There seems to be this sort of fear of inventiveness in cooking in Toronto. Trying to create a "trend" restaurant is really different than trying to create a really good restaurnat. A common theme running through many of Torontos better sustained restaurant ventures are those that have the chef as part owner. This gives them the creative opportunity they want without some owner asking for caesar salad, rissotos and pastas and all the other trademarks of an owner driven restaurant that Toronto at times can be drowning in. Vancouver has the great products and French Canada has its culinary traditions. What is the difference in Toronto, hard to say. Owners are owners but I guess they just breed them differently elsewhere. And I can agree with J. Kates and the rest of the critics that too often cooks over reach there ability, and by God can some places produce some badly conceptualized and executed dishes, but at the same time I think they sometimes miss the idea of objectivity and meeting expectations. Not every dining experience is to be a night out at Avalon or Susur. Perfection can be a fleeting thing, enjoying a meal because it is prepared with care is probably a better way to look at it. Is the meal meant to be an exercise like at Perigee or is it meant to be so relaxed it can be painful to some to wait like at JK's new place. (another one of her favourites, by God there everywhere, it just seems that none of them are young) Both meals will be utimately very enjoyable it is just a matter of expectation. One of the best meals I have ever eaten was at St. John's in London, service was smooth and everything else, but by God the food was flat on the plate and didn't have any unnecessary garnish to make it soooo Art Culinaire, the place would go broke in less than six months in Toronto, but would thrive beyond belief probably in Montreal and Vancouver. Could it be because our food critics would slaughter the place with the exception of Richler who is from Montreal and grew up eating the good parts at an early age. How do you re-invent a culinary scene any ideas?

PS, J. Kates, sorry if I offended but you do make me nuts with your reviews sometimes, but then again when I lived in England I never missed your reviews. So Cheers.

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I don't actually get the Sat globe, so I can't comment on her column. However, if we want to put her reviews to the test, all we need to do is organize our own dinner there to review eGullet style :smile:

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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I don't actually get the Sat globe, so I can't comment on her column. However, if we want to put her reviews to the test, all we need to do is organize our own dinner there to review eGullet style :smile:

Excellent point, Marlene -- many other groups are doing this.

Barbara Laidlaw aka "Jake"

Good friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies.

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I know we have several Toronto or GTA members here, so if there's a particular review that we'd like to test out, we could get a few ideas on the table, and if there's some interest, plan an outing. We don't have any Toronto eG get togethers as of yet. Shall we be left behind by our English and American (and others) cousins? :biggrin:

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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Yes, though it's fun living vicariously, it would be a deliciously fine idea to have some of our own outings. JK's last column wasn't much of a review, but we can always dig out a past review or see what's in future columns.

Excellent idea.

Barbara Laidlaw aka "Jake"

Good friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies.

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