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Gill Review of the Week


*Deborah*
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Another of her claims is patently false. The Fuller family is not enormously wealthy. Comforatble, certainly, but the three sons work six day weeks, travel on business constantly, and put their trousers on one leg at a time.

Working six days a week and dressing yourself is not necessarily incompatible with wealth, or even enormous wealth. It may even be a pre-requisite, unless fortunate enough to be born into an enormously wealthy family. The Earl's franchise probably does just fine compared to the rest of us proletariat. Calling her writing "Patently false" might be a little strong?

Enormous wealth is measured as what, millions, billions, trillions, an espresso machine in your house. I would agree with Mr. Maw, in the context of what wealth is, the Fullers may have money but I have yet to see them on any list (significant or otherwise) of wealthy canadians. Hopefully one day ALL restauranteurs will be enormously wealthy (personally if it was legislated I would not object)

Gerald Tritt,

Co-Owner

Vera's Burger Shack

My Webpage

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Calling her writing "Patently false" might be a little strong?

You're right. Absurd would be a rather better desriptor.

To be clear: I didn't call "her writing" patently false; I called this specific unsubstantiated claim so. Would you agree that all reporters should be accurate in their assertions, especially when unattributed or unexplained?

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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2) My brother orders a Warsteiner, one of several imports on their beer list. Same server, "Um ... is that beer?" Brother replies ... "Sorry, I don't see a number beside it on the menu."

:biggrin: classic

SO sorry for going WAY off-topic, but I gotta stand up for the neophyte servers.

I think that we should try to remeber that a lot of these CFD servers are Fresh Outta High School and not as refined as we have become over the years of reading/writing/thinking/living food. Give 'em a break.

Denouncing a servers' capabilities because he/she doesn't know all the product in the shop is as horrible as a fine dining server laughing at a client's foibles. I've been on the giving and receiving end of both forms of ridicule and the neither gave much pleasure.

If we have a little more knowledge than ANY person we are interacting with isn't it better to share the info willingly rather than be exasperated with the 'idocy' of the person we are dealing with? Much better use of time and energy.

I was once serving an incredibly refined couple up in Whistler who asked what the cognac or armagnac was in the lobster bisque. I didn't know there was cognac in the bisque, and they tried to guess what it was before I asked the chef. They hit it right in the head, and told me how to distinguish the subtleties. I don't think they were laughing at me when I was in the kitchen and I still remember that couple fondly, even if I don't remember how to tell what the liquor is in a bisque.

How do you want to be remembered when you leave a restaurant?

Second apology: sorry for the preaching.

Bob McLeod

VOX BACCULUS HIC VADIS IN VITRIO JUBILIAM

The road goes on forever and the party never ends

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Calling her writing "Patently false" might be a little strong?

You're right. Absurd would be a rather better desriptor.

To be clear: I didn't call "her writing" patently false; I called this specific unsubstantiated claim so. Would you agree that all reporters should be accurate in their assertions, especially when unattributed or unexplained?

I don't mean for this to deteriorate into a debate of the nuances of "wealth" or "extreme wealth", I just considered the "patently false" accusation a harsh criticism in the context of Ms. Gill discussing a family-owned business where one of the family apparently disclosed to the National Post that the corporate revenues are $150 million dollars a year and that their father "prospered hugely" from the A&W franchise. It is a small point, maybe not that important except to the family that may or may not qualify as "extremely" wealthy and the writer under fire.

Edited by the g-man (log)
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2) My brother orders a Warsteiner, one of several imports on their beer list. Same server, "Um ... is that beer?" Brother replies ... "Sorry, I don't see a number beside it on the menu."

:biggrin: classic

SO sorry for going WAY off-topic, but I gotta stand up for the neophyte servers.

I think that we should try to remeber that a lot of these CFD servers are Fresh Outta High School and not as refined as we have become over the years of reading/writing/thinking/living food. Give 'em a break.

Denouncing a servers' capabilities because he/she doesn't know all the product in the shop is as horrible as a fine dining server laughing at a client's foibles. I've been on the giving and receiving end of both forms of ridicule and the neither gave much pleasure.

If we have a little more knowledge than ANY person we are interacting with isn't it better to share the info willingly rather than be exasperated with the 'idocy' of the person we are dealing with? Much better use of time and energy.

I was once serving an incredibly refined couple up in Whistler who asked what the cognac or armagnac was in the lobster bisque. I didn't know there was cognac in the bisque, and they tried to guess what it was before I asked the chef. They hit it right in the head, and told me how to distinguish the subtleties. I don't think they were laughing at me when I was in the kitchen and I still remember that couple fondly, even if I don't remember how to tell what the liquor is in a bisque.

How do you want to be remembered when you leave a restaurant?

Second apology: sorry for the preaching.

You're not preaching at all, Bob.

In fact, I think this is one of the best posts in this forum in many months. The real prostelyzing comes from folks who deride ignorance, which should be the most easily forgivable of all our human foibles. Knowledge is for sharing - here and elsewhere, gently and affably - just as your guests at Whistler pleasured you.

After writing about food and booze for a while (I'm just old enough to remember when black was the new brown - Joeys decorators please take note), what I don't know is fiercesome. And not unlike the young server who wasn't quite up to speed on her Viogner Monologue, I hope that we both learn something new every day, just like those others who couldn't pronounce the V-word themselves until recently, let alone go down on it.

Cheers to you for an intriguing post,

Jamie

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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2) My brother orders a Warsteiner, one of several imports on their beer list. Same server, "Um ... is that beer?" Brother replies ... "Sorry, I don't see a number beside it on the menu."

:biggrin: classic

SO sorry for going WAY off-topic, but I gotta stand up for the neophyte servers.

I think that we should try to remeber that a lot of these CFD servers are Fresh Outta High School and not as refined as we have become over the years of reading/writing/thinking/living food. Give 'em a break.

Denouncing a servers' capabilities because he/she doesn't know all the product in the shop is as horrible as a fine dining server laughing at a client's foibles. I've been on the giving and receiving end of both forms of ridicule and the neither gave much pleasure.

If we have a little more knowledge than ANY person we are interacting with isn't it better to share the info willingly rather than be exasperated with the 'idocy' of the person we are dealing with? Much better use of time and energy.

I was once serving an incredibly refined couple up in Whistler who asked what the cognac or armagnac was in the lobster bisque. I didn't know there was cognac in the bisque, and they tried to guess what it was before I asked the chef. They hit it right in the head, and told me how to distinguish the subtleties. I don't think they were laughing at me when I was in the kitchen and I still remember that couple fondly, even if I don't remember how to tell what the liquor is in a bisque.

How do you want to be remembered when you leave a restaurant?

Second apology: sorry for the preaching.

You're not preaching at all, Bob.

In fact, I think this is one of the best posts in this forum in many months. The real prostelyzing comes from folks who deride ignorance, which should be the most easily forgivable of all our human foibles. Knowledge is for sharing - here and elsewhere, gently and affably - just as your guests at Whistler pleasured you.

After writing about food and booze for a while (I'm just old enough to remember when black was the new brown - Joeys decorators please take note), what I don't know is fiercesome. And not unlike the young server who wasn't quite up to speed on her Viogner Monologue, I hope that we both learn something new every day, just like those who couldn't pronounce the V-word themselves shortly ago, let alone go down on it.

Cheers to you for an intriguing post,

Jamie

I absolutely do not fault the servers or others in a similiar capacity. I do question though if they are actually receiving any or enough of this quality training that is supposedly provided by the CFD's. At times, a lack of managerial presence, causing some situations to deteriorate to levels that one wouldn't expect to see at establishments that are certainly not inexpensive to dine at.

"If cookin' with tabasco makes me white trash, I don't wanna be recycled."

courtesy of jsolomon

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I absolutely do not fault the servers or others in a similiar capacity.  I do question though if they are actually receiving any or enough of this quality training that is supposedly provided by the CFD's.  At times, a lack of managerial presence, causing some situations to deteriorate to levels that one wouldn't expect to see at establishments that are certainly not inexpensive to dine at.

Examples?

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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I don't mean for this to deteriorate into a debate of the nuances of "wealth" or "extreme wealth", I just considered the "patently false" accusation a harsh criticism in the context of Ms. Gill discussing a family-owned business where one of the family apparently disclosed to the National Post that the corporate revenues are $150 million dollars a year and that their father "prospered hugely" from the A&W franchise.  It is a small point, maybe not that important except to the family that may or may not qualify as "extremely" wealthy and the writer under fire.

Not to belabour this issue, so to speak, but:

1. Bus Fuller's Controlled Foods sold its 45 A&W's, 25 Fuller's and 15 Corkscrews in 1982 to George Tidball's Keg & Cleaver because he had to (see Duke of Earls); the chain was badly over-extended in a time of wildly spiking interest rates. Fuller escaped with just four Fuller's, one of which became Earls No. 1 in Edmonton. The net present value of this transaction is negligible at best, especially if you remember the aluminum deck chairs there. :biggrin:

2. CFD restaurant margins, despite the relaxation of liquor legislation several years ago in British Columbia, are eroding and EBITDA is rather anemic. In fact the trend may well have begun earlier - despite rising revenues - food service margins declined from almost 5% in 2001 to 3.1% by 2003, a whopping 40% hit.

3. The Fuller family, unlike, say, the Aisenstat family (Keg, Hy's et al), has chosen not to execute upon a royalty trust so as to create liquidity;

4. The assumption might reasonably be made, therefore, that expansion is being funded by a combination of cash flow, debt and perhaps outside equity partnership;

5. There's a considerable difference between liquid net worth and (relatively) modest cash flow, which requires the key in the ignition every morning; and

6. As I'm constantly reminded, reporters not cognizant of these fairly basic facts would be under water, not fire. :biggrin:

Cheers,

Jamie

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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"Still, for the same price as a dinner at Joeys, I could buy a much better meal at Bin, Lolita's, Cru, Aurora Bistro, Hapa Izakaya, Cassis and numerous other casual fine-dining independents, where the servers have sass and the rooms have sizzle. Call me radical, but I'd just rather support the struggling independents with heart and passion than line the pockets of an extremely wealthy family that already dominates the market with mediocre food and corporate conformity"

The discussion is getting interesting so I'm going to wade into its ambiguous depths. I have comments about the "wealth," cash flow, etc. but I'll save those comments for a later post.

I personally take issue with the fact that both Gill and many detractors of CFDs create a separation between a) CFDs like Joey's and "struggling independents"and b) CFDs and so-called sophisticated diners.

a) I think it's a simplification of the market to create such a dichotomous relationship between these supposed restaurant groups. It's relatively easy to label "big" as bad and relatively "smaller" as virtuously free of capitalist influences. I myself have been guilty of this sort of binary thinking. However, it would be far more productive to think about the two as interconnected in a dynamic and interactive relationship. A Joeys and a Hapa Izakaya don't operate in their own isolated spheres. Instead, as restaurants converge in terms of price point and even in terms of style of dining and menu selections, the two are being increasingly more difficult to separate in a demon/angel dichotomy. I think instead of focusing on their seeming oppositional qualities, it would be good to think about the points of contact between the two. How do they "feed" off one another's business strategies, menu development, etc.? How does a Joeys force a Hapa to push itself further and vice versa?

b) Secondly, I think that "we" as "foodies" like to think that we stand above the masses who stand at the feeding trough and take whatever leavings large restaurants choose to dish out to them. However, it appears that many of us do eat at these CFDs. Joeys isn't only serving food to the Fuller family and I don't think the Fuller family is holding a gun to our heads. Based on a recent visit, there was a diversity of ages, "races," and genders in that particular restaurant space. I couldn't see into their dining histories but these people, like myself, may very well go to Aurora and Cru, on occasion. Therefore, instead of thinking of ourselves as disconnected from this "corporate comformity" perhaps we should think of ourselves as participants. And as participants, how are we demanding more of these restaurants? How are we forcing them to constantly innovate to meet the fickleness of consumers?

And lastly, the mirror should turn the other way, on occasion. It might be profitable to consider in more depth and complexity why we choose to go to restaurants like Joeys (besides automatic responses like there aren't any other options), as opposed to decrying them for their success while we're busy eating their food.

It's too early to be particularly cogent but that's my spewing for the day.

Edited by tarteausucre (log)

"There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea."

~ Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady

Tara Lee

Literary and Culinary Rambles

http://literaryculinaryrambles.blogspot.com

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I think you were remarkably cogent given the hour of the day, tarteausucre.

Further, I appreciate the irony of Hapa as one reference point - its own concept having been birthed from a Tokyo-based izakaya chain (see Hapa Craze) called Raku.

So I would argue that in addition to satisfying a broad range of needs, through decor, food and service, that much of what drives consumers into CFDs is aspirational. After watching behaviour in restaurants for quite a while, I'm convinced people want to dine with people who either look like them or who are models for whom they might aspire to be.

Of course the flipside of aspiration is conformity, and in dining, as with many other consumerist choices, we are all conformists.

So I agree with your point - there is strong connective tissue between 'independent' restaurants and CFDs. Having visited both Sanafir and the Joeys on the same night recently, we observed how the demographic was remarkably, broadly similar.

It almost begs the question: Are we better off with CFDs, or would we be better off without them?

Thanks for your illuminating post.

Jamie

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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It almost begs the question: Are we better off with CFDs, or would we be better off without them?

Actually, considering the topic of discussion (i.e. Gill's latest review) I think the question for me would be:

Are CFD's worthy of a review on the G&M?

Other than the Joey's opening up new digs downtown, I saw her whole exercise pointless. She could have easily written the entire "review" from a press release, and from my POV added zilch to our collective dining knowledge.

Then again, maybe we aren't her target reader.

A.

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  • 1 month later...

In today's Globe, Gill reviews Beyond, the new restaurant in the Century Plaza: A visit to the great Beyond.

She likes the food, is happy with the service, wishes the lights would be turned down (they have been apparently), but still isn't likely to return:

I loved the meal. The service was fine. Would I go back to hang in the lounge with all the American tourists sprawled in front of the baseball game with their beer and knee-high tube socks? Doubt it.

Beyond Restaurant + Lounge is located at 1015 Burrard St.; 604-684-3474.

Cheers,

Anne

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  • 2 months later...

Yep that was a brutal review......and even stranger is the review in yesterday's Vancouver Sun -WestCoast Life- insert that has a review of Pearl on The Rock in White Rock (a good but really badly written review - calling Memo??). The photo is of the two owners and...Sous Chef Connor Butler looking suitably demonic. The guy didn't quit his day job?

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wildebeest/Irish Girl:

Thank you for the "links"...maybe matters are not as "black and white" or is that "brown and brown and brown" [?] as Ms. Gill's article might suggest...sounds like he has quite the sense of humour

Merlin

...now back in cold and snowy Alberta pining for more of Sean Brennan's confit with white beans, braised greens and especially the venison and brandied cherry terrine.

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Interesting review. She is always entertaining to read.

There is an interview of Connor Butler from Urban Diner that doesn't make him seem so full of himself Ckick here

I like alot of the things he said about the food scene in Vancouver.

I'd agree with your characterization wildebeest. In my conversation with him he seemed like a really nice guy (and yes, this does matter) and I didn't detect much of an ego there at all - of course that's relative to what you'd expect of someone in that position.

And for the record, I know of very few serious food critics who would review a restaurant based on one visit in that restaurant's first week. Most give at least two weeks to get the kinks worked out. And, to me, this makes sense because it's more useful to the reader, who due the basic tenets of math and statistics, will most likely not be dining there in the first two weeks of operation.

Rare and Habit did just fine after negative Gilster reviews. We'll see if RCB can do the same.

Edited by eatvancouver (log)

Jason

Editor

EatVancouver.net

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wildebeest/Irish Girl:

Thank you for the "links"...maybe matters are not as "black and white" or is that "brown and brown and brown" [?] as Ms. Gill's article might suggest...sounds like he has quite the sense of humour

Being that I could be accused of not having a sense of humour, although I stand by my opinion, whether or not it was meant to be funny, that bcinbc's item on Senhor Roosters was sexist and offensive (and shame on you Deborah for supporting it) I will say that I am surprised that most of you failed to see the humour, hilarity actually, in Connor Butlers' various communications over these past few months. I thought they were very funny with a unique perspective and I laughed out loud a number of times when reading his various posts. It has really peaked my interest in him and his restaurant, which I suppose was his objective. Clever marketing if you ask me.

Even our own funny guys, Morrison, Maw and "Daddy-A" failed to see the humour in it. Ms Gill I understand, as she is not known for her sense of humour, but Mr. Maw and Mr. Morrison (the latter whose humour is similar enough for me to ask if his middle names are actually Charlie and McCarthy) are normally known for using a lot of humour, hidden meaning and double & triple entendres so I was particularly surprised that they failed to see the witty sarcasm and self deprecating humour in Mr. Butlers writing.

I think it's quite refreshing to see his own writing rather then that of a publicist, although he perhaps should have taken a wee bit of pr advise on how to let those rather thick readers know that they were actually reading humour and not the ranting of an egotistic dickhead as you all seem to have taken him for.

It sounds like his restaurant might be a bit out of my price range however I really wish him well and look forward to reading more of his writings (and rantings!)

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Many of us had our interest in Connor Butler piqued some time ago, although most of what most of us had to say was said elsewhere, as being largely off-topic and speculative.

As far as the Senhor Rooster review you allude to, I feel great sympathy for your offended sensibilities, but I found the Penthouse Forum letter style of review to be novel and much more entertaining than many reviews, even those of Ms. Gill.

And I stand, quite shameless, by my throbbing clam.

:wink:

Agenda-free since 1966.

Foodblog: Power, Convection and Lies

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