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The Irish Heather


John Jameson
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One of the threads in the New York board relates to a series of dining out experiences by tetsujustin, who is currently a student at the Culinary Institute of America.  Within the thread, tetsu posts his experiences and rates them according to his own scale of sensibility.  I urge anyone, in particular those who have been negatively affected by this thread to read tetsu's posts.  You may find his outlook illuminating.

Regards,

Soba

edit:  corrected to fix link.

Thank you for suggesting that. I read it from end to end ( as did a few others I saw ).

Really interesting read, nice style and lots of good photos.

I found the rating system interesting - lots, and I mean, lots of different things went into what the restaurant rated. It would be well worth the time to read. Not only for a fresh perspective, but also an interesting viewpoint into many famous restaurants - Gramercy Tavern, Babbo, Craft, Le Bernadin etc. - bookmark this one as this kid is not done yet.

As an addition to this thread, try reading Jamie Maw's stuff in the UK board. I added a post in it but I was playing in the "deep end", I quickly swam back to the comfort of the Vancouver Forum.

Since this whole little "event", I certainly have been looking at lots of the other forums. Although our little corner of the world is the most interesting, nice to break out of the neighbourhood every once in a while.

Neil Wyles

Hamilton Street Grill

www.hamiltonstreetgrill.com

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And I hope that the staff and Chef Heather do read that thread, precisely because the comments in that thread are from the point of view of a customer (albeit a chef-in-training at CIA). Not all of the reflections are praiseworthy and in point of fact, one of them gives a well renowned New York restaurant a 3 out of 10. Now, whether the ratings are assigned rightly or wrongly is irrelevant; my point is that oftentimes worthwhile commentary gets lost in the dust because points raised by people are miscommunicated due to the manner in which the messages are received by their intended audience.

Soba

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Thanks so much for posting that Soba, puts things in perspective.

Personally I really do not understand why there was such a harsh reaction to the posts. i don't feel that my posts were nasty, and I have praised the Heather on Egullet and also to friends. But really after this incident it has left a sour taste in my mouth, I pm'ed Sean after I read his post but have never heard anything after.

I read other threads on different DOV experiences ie. Brix, how it wasn't the greatest experience, but there was no harsh comebacks ????? I don't understand what the difference is with the HEather . I have thought Egullet is a freedom of expression and opinions of our tastebuds.

I hear how Egullet is far reaching, I personally have no real idea as I am not in the 'industry', but I know just with the networks of the people you know is VERY far reaching and I gotta say I am quite disappointed with the Heather situation. And i guess that is just the way it goes

DANIELLE

"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well."

-Virginia Woolf

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[...]

I read other threads on different DOV experiences ie. Brix, how it wasn't the greatest experience, but there was no harsh comebacks ????? I don't understand what the difference is with the HEather . I have thought Egullet is a freedom of expression and opinions of our tastebuds.[...]

Don't forget that both customers and management have the freedom to express their opinions, as long as that's done within the bounds of the User Agreement. It's unfortunate that feathers have been ruffled, but haven't we learned something from the experience?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I agree with the above comments. I was not complaining about the food in my post. I had even talked of plans to try some items off the regular menu in the future during that visit. It's too bad that the halo effect came into play as Sean read some of our posts. Anyway, I hope we can let sleeping dogs lie...

On a side note, hello everyone. :smile: I got off on the wrong foot but I hope I can start again with a (somewhat) clean slate.

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I agree with the above comments.  I was not complaining about the food in my post.  I had even talked of plans to try some items off the regular menu in the future during that visit.  It's too bad that the halo effect came into play as Sean read some of our posts.  Anyway, I hope we can let sleeping dogs lie...

On a side note, hello everyone.  :smile: I got off on the wrong foot but I hope I can start again with a (somewhat) clean slate.

Welcome back. It is understandable about your hesitance to add another post. You have already jumped into the deepest end so don't be afraid now. I re-read your initial post. It certainly was not over the top but just the first in a long line.

Good luck in exploring the threads and post again.

Neil Wyles

Hamilton Street Grill

www.hamiltonstreetgrill.com

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Amen to what Coop and other have had to say and to your comment Fluffy...I would just wish that our two goldens would lie more on my wife's side of the bed

.."five more sleeps" to waking up to being buzzed by the float planes coming into Victoria's inner harbour....can't wait..mind you this is a grand day in Alberta...big blue sky and warm

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Just a quick thank-you to Soba for providing the link to the reviews of the great NYC restaurants. I read the entire thread from start to finish and basically lost an entire afternoon of work. I have eaten in some of the restaurants that were reviewed and I have eaten in a lot of restaurants in NYC. I know how seriously they take food and how avidly the Times reviews are read and how they influence who eats where. His posts literally transported me back to New York for the afternoon. It was an amazing experience.

As for posting our opinions, I too am hesitant for the future. Certainly during DOV I posted 1 less than stellar review and have done so in the past. But, I also try and be specific about what I found lacking. And, when I do enjoy a restaurant experience I make sure I let everyone know.

Now the big question of the day - since I have finally caught up from yesterday's lost afternoon - Where should I go for dinner tonight? And will there be any room or will the Valentine's Day madness have started?

Cheers,

Karole

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Popped in for a quick pint w/ Chef Fowke.

All was well. No sign of that crazed lunatic. A very steady stream of young folk coming through the door. Business was brisk.

I actually was struck by the large mural on the wall. Was that always there ?

It resembled Kerry Waghorn's work from the Washington Post. I really like it.

Beer was good, we did not eat, service friendly and cheerful. I was not wearing my egullet t-shirt so it is not a fair test of the safety of egulleters in there.

I had hoped that Sean was there but alas, it must have been family night.

On that note, off to bed so I can spend some time with mine in the morning.

Cheers

Edited by nwyles (log)

Neil Wyles

Hamilton Street Grill

www.hamiltonstreetgrill.com

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Delurking a little late to add that I am thankful to have seen this thread. Having worked in the public relations field, I have seen how damaging just one negative comment can be in a sea of positive ones. Many people, including myself, can forget that negative words, and even the aura of negativity, have so much more power than positive ones. As media consumers, we've learned to tune out the happy stories, and respond more to the bad ones. In the future, on this board, I'm going to think more carefully about the things I say, because while I am reviewing food here, and my experience is very subjective, what I am doing has impact on real people, diners and owners and waiters, potentially positive and/or negative, and I have to know that has power, and with that power comes responsibility.

I have to say, had Sean not responded to some of the comments here, and even though I re-read several times some of the criticism and noticed no pointed negativity about the food, I wouldn't have tried the Heather. I don't live in Vancouver, so when I visit I rely heavily on what the members of this board have to say about a certain place. I would especially not have returned if I'd gone and had a bad experience. First-time impressions are very powerful, and I don't have the luxury to return to places where I didn't have a positive first experience because it is just too expensive to return, when there are too many other restaurants down the block that are getting rave reviews that I must try. So I understand why Sean is upset, even though I think it is important for diners to voice their opinions about a place because ultimately, it's great when diners and owners can work together to create a special place.

Lastly, I have to say I appreciate what Sean is saying because often, restauranteurs aren't given the opportunity to respond to comments about service, or food or atmosphere. I can remember many times feeling indignant about certain service situations during a dining experience, but rarely do I take into account that this is an establishment that is built by people, who have their off days, much like I do. Working in a client-based environment, there have been so many times I've wanted to voice to our customers just how bad things have gone that day, and to please excuse our mistakes. At the same time, I know that even if I did such a thing, I would not make one difference because ultimately, I was not doing the job that was expected of me. So while there may be more eloquent ways to say what he said, I believe Sean has left his post up, unedited, because this may be the only forum where he gets to voice his side of the story, and actually be heard.

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I believe Mr Heather could have made is case a bit more positivley.

You can say that again.

Aside from the reviews by tetsujustin that Soba linked to above, there are several threads I'm aware of in the New York forum in which people involved in the business have talked about their offerings-- even in the face of criticism-- without resorting to abuse.

See:

Dinosaur BBQ

and

Pure Food & Wine

These are just a couple of examples.

Edited by SethG (log)

"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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I believe Mr Heather could have made is case a bit more positivley.

You can say that again.

Aside from the reviews by tetsujustin that Soba linked to above, there are several threads I'm aware of in the New York forum in which people involved in the business have talked about their offerings-- even in the face of criticism-- without resorting to abuse.

I agree totally, look how Karri of Chambar took the constructive critism of the their french fries, they looked at the product and realized it needed to be improved and that alone makes me want to come back. Great service and wanting to please the customer.. I know if I make something, I want to know if it is ok, need more salt etc. I don't tell my guest never to come back again if they say something constructive, I appreciate their thoughts.

I don't think anyone wanted to hurt anyones feelings when making an opinion if negative, so I think that is why we were all surprised with Sean's response.

DANIELLE

"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well."

-Virginia Woolf

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  • 2 months later...

I think Sean's post is brilliant. I really appreciate and respect the fact that he called people up on their criticisms. What's really disappointing is that after a post like this (february) we see another similar one (Feenie's Manager) in which the Chef in question feels the need to explain and defend himself. I cannot even explain how rude and with such a lack of common courtesy and respect to a Chef that feels it's got to such a point that he needs to do this. I applaud Sean and Rob Feenie for doing so in a sane and diplomatic manner. If it were me, heads would have rolled.

I really think that when your on e-gullet you should continually question what sort of "authority" or "credibility" you believe you have simply for the fact that you have access to a computer. I have worked in this business for 17 years and I'm only 30. I don't feel I have the right to be a "reviewer / critic". I simply don't know enough yet. Sure I can go out and if I have a good experience somewhere I'll mention it on e-gullet. But I don't know enough to cut someone's business down. I manage a wine program with 4500+ bottles and over 400 selections but I wouldn't dream of walking into West and telling Jay Jones a thing or two about their cellar. One,I wouldn't have the guts because he's a big guy and has one of those freaky tough guy handlebar moustaches. Second, the dude knows so much more than me after years of working with the best at West and Araxi.

No one likes the person in the front of the class that says stuff just so they can hear themselves speak. Same goes in the cosy little Vancouver thread.

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Paul, I agree and disagree.

I think Sean's post is brilliant. I really appreciate and respect the fact that he called people up on their criticisms.

At the time I thought it was great that he spoke up (and I still do). He may have gone a bit far, using a 12 gauge when a water pistol would have done the trick. But I nevertheless believe that when you put product out there in the public domain, start a thread on it yourself, invite people to comment, you then stand somewhat naked. You'd have to be a bit odd to believe that no one is going to comment, both positively and negatively. Sure, show a little respect when you lambast, but otherwise...fire away.

I really think that when your on e-gullet you should continually question what sort of "authority" or "credibility" you believe you have simply for the fact that you have access to a computer.

God, I hope not! This is where I disagree. The more the merrier. A food lovers authority is an intangible thing not measurable in tenure or in the number of chef screeds or somm certificates they might possess. Their taste buds and dining experiences over lifetimes are their authority. My mom has never worked a day in the restaurant business (a deli, perhaps), but she never hesitates to mention when food is cold, uninspired, over done, et cetera. Hell, she paid for it. Their detachment and what you allude to as "inexperience" affords them the kind of credibility that can sometimes shine brighter than those who work in the industry itself, what with the jaded, seen-it-all, plated-it-all, served-it-all, drank-it-all mentality of your average vet.

Anyway, I too thought that Sean's post was brilliant. :laugh:

But I also thought that those he lunged at were responding honestly (if loosely) at his invitation to hear what eGulls thought of their DOV experience.

READ. CHEW. DISCUSS. :smile:

Andrew Morrison

Food Columnist | The Westender

Editor & Publisher | Scout Magazine

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Editor, well of course the more the merrier....but......I would need some real convincing to believe that someone's "inexperience" affords them credibility. Sure I can see the transparency of some poster's negative comments but can everyone pick up on that? I think it's dangerous to have folk prancing around as "authorities" at the mere mention of e-gullet membership. Also a little funny to tell you the truth. What if this site was about personal health and people took the direction / advice from posters pretending to be doctors?

Edited by paul mitchell (log)
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I applaud Sean and Rob Feenie for doing so in a sane and diplomatic manner.

I forgot to mention this. Sean went for the jugular, while Feenie played nice. The two responses to criticisms were polar opposites.

I take your point but your analogy would be less life and death and more accurate if it were, say...a forum of people who love Jaguar automobiles. Not a single one would know the first thing about the innards of the machines, and I'm sure fewer still would actually own a Jag, but all would remark upon the different makes with enthusiasm, zeal, and the same kind of affection that the eGulls share for good food, service, wine, and atmosphere.

"Ooh, the leather on the e-type from '56 to '66 was real Wiltshire tan"

"The new XKR is really fast, the design is awesome. Hate the headlamps and the backseat is too stuffy. Also really hard to park and the alarm sounds like a Polish bansee on mood drugs."

And so on. Not too much different from this one. Occasionally a Jaguar employee will chime in, thank everyone for their input, remark on upcoming et ceteras and so on and so forth.

For real, some of the folks around here dine out a hell of a lot, certainly more than I do. Even more cook like pros. I value their opinions, as I do yours and other professionals.

Andrew Morrison

Food Columnist | The Westender

Editor & Publisher | Scout Magazine

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What if this site was about personal health and people took the direction / advice from posters pretending to be doctors?

Paul, it's the Internet, and the very nature of it is that it's open to all. You can almost always find some expert, totally accurate information out there, but you have to wade through a lot of specualtion and uninformed opinion to find it.

It's all about context. If someone needs medical advice and turns to the Internet to get it, well, they're looking in the wrong place. It's the same way here - eGullet is NOT a forum for professional reviewers, its a bulletin board for people who are interested in food to discuss food-related topics of interest. And what average everyday diners think of a particular restaurant is fair game, IMHO.

Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.

www.leecarney.com

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Always a pleasure to read this thread whenever it resurfaces! It is also great to see that the Irish Heather is just as busy or more so than prior to the start of this thread. See you all for a pint or two possibly after the Chambar dinner on Monday.

Stephen Bonner

"who needs a wine list when you can get pissed on dessert" Gordon Ramsey Kitchen Nightmares 2005

MY BLOG

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Always a pleasure to read this thread whenever it resurfaces! It is also great to see that the Irish Heather is just as busy or more so than prior to the start of this thread. See you all for a pint or two possibly after the Chambar dinner on Monday.

Stephen Bonner

Sure... 'cept for those of us who have been banned due to our "faulty" taste buds :blink::biggrin:

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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Always a pleasure to read this thread whenever it resurfaces! It is also great to see that the Irish Heather is just as busy or more so than prior to the start of this thread. See you all for a pint or two possibly after the Chambar dinner on Monday.

Stephen Bonner

Whatever we can do to support our local business :wink: The internet may be a medium full of speculation and uninformed opinion (such negativity again), but on a positive side it's full of people around the world connecting and sharing their experiences whether it be food, disease, cars, air mileage, etc.

If someone needs medical advice and turns to the Internet to get it, well, they're looking in the wrong place.
I disagree with this and if you have ever had a chronic medical condition, you probably know that the experiences of other people with the same condition who do research looking for answers and have tried many treatments are almost always more well informed than a GP.

I would need some real convincing to believe that someone's "inexperience" affords them credibility.
I have worked in this business for 17 years and I'm only 30. I don't feel I have the right to be a "reviewer / critic". I simply don't know enough yet. Sure I can go out and if I have a good experience somewhere I'll mention it on e-gullet. But I don't know enough to cut someone's business down. I manage a wine program with 4500+ bottles and over 400 selections but I wouldn't dream of walking into West and telling Jay Jones a thing or two about their cellar.

Paul, when would you feel comfortable to lable someone credible? Every chef I've spoken with has always told me that you never know who you can learn something from. I learned something even from Mr. Heather.

"One chocolate truffle is more satisfying than a dozen artificially flavored dessert cakes." Darra Goldstein, Gastronomica Journal, Spring 2005 Edition

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If someone needs medical advice and turns to the Internet to get it, well, they're looking in the wrong place.
I disagree with this and if you have ever had a chronic medical condition, you probably know that the experiences of other people with the same condition who do research looking for answers and have tried many treatments are almost always more well informed than a GP.

I agree - I was trying (and not succeeding) to say that if you need a professional medical opinion then you don't turn to the Internet. If you want to opinons and experiences of a wide range of people common, not all of them professionals, the Internet is a great place to turn. Most people would do both, I expect, and then decide for themselves,

Just like reading people's experiences of restaurants here on eGullet.....

Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.

www.leecarney.com

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. ...I cannot even explain how rude and with such a lack of common courtesy and respect to a Chef that feels it's got to such a point that he needs to do this. I applaud Sean and Rob Feenie for doing so in a sane and diplomatic manner. If it were me, heads would have rolled...

Hey Paul

Thanks for your comments - when I first started posting (not that long ago really) I was nervous about posting any sort of criticism. But without some sort of back of forth - the forum would be lop-sided and frankly uninformative.

People are called out pretty quickly if they are unfair, mean spirited, or simply uninformed. You can tell fairly easily if someone does'nt know what they are talking about. If anything - postings tend to be a little on the positive side. I know that I can be particularly gushy about things. Overall though - there is always a good exchange of information.

Everybody here knows how grueling and difficult it is to run a restaurant in this city - and generally people here are all about supporting the little guys and independents. There is alot of support here for Rob Feenie (i.e. when he was on Iron Chef - this forum was nutsy for him) but he does get a lot of ribbing. I think that much of the teasing is because he is well liked and respected and he is one of the 'big boys' of Canadian cuisine - so he can take it. The food at Feenies gets very good word of mouth - and I am looking forward to a quiet weekend when I can go and experience it for myself.

The Irish Heather continues to get alot of visits from egulleteers - I know I still go alot, I just take off egullet decoder ring :raz: And though Sean no longer participates - he set off alot of discussions and re-examinations of the nature of what is posted. The forum is the better for it.

In general - I think that the Vancouver Forum is extremely supportive of the little guy or people who otherwise don't get alot of press. Chambar, GoFish, Ganache, Da Francesco, Adesso, Aurora Bistro, Cru, Fiction, Sun Sui Wah et al are just a few of the places that get very positive and sustained support. HSG is somewhere that egullet introduced me to - and I am thankful for the Hanger Steak and the GBP.

Overall - the I think that the Vancouver forum is well informed - but not smugly so. They are a respectful bunch - but they don't practice the solemn reverential brand of respect. People take food seriously - but it is in the spirit of fun and sharing (and sarcasm).

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  • 2 weeks later...

Above well said, Lee. Kudos. :wink:

I was at the Irish Heather last night at closing time with Chef Fowke and Neil for a pint and some pot pies. Gosh, I miss the Heather. I hadn't been in ages. It was just nice to sit back and shoot the shit on a hard bench without the foo foo.

The worst possible thing happened, though. When I paid the tab at the end of our meal I accidently stiffed our server. I gave her 5 bucks on 65 when it was supposed to be 15. I only realised this when I was already across the bridge on my way home, going over the evening in my head. Why on earth did Neil drop a twenty on the table as we were getting up to go?

"What's that about?" I asked. :huh:

"It's the tip, Andrew." he says. :shock:

"But I already took care of the bill." :unsure:

"Fine" he says with a shrug. :laugh:

I felt like such a complete jackass when it all finally registered - and it was too late to go back. Waiters don't stiff other waiters, even if they cut you open and drool on your spleen. It's just not done. I spent the rest of my night (until 4am) like a deranged, fairweather criminal, all fidgety and manic with the guilt of Ages.

And just so we're clear (Neil and Brian), I went back to the Heather tonight to make peace with the person I'd mistakenly short-changed.

And now I can sleep. There is balance to the force.

Andrew Morrison

Food Columnist | The Westender

Editor & Publisher | Scout Magazine

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