Thursday, December 3, 2015

Restaurant reviews

Here is Tanya Gold in Saturday’s Spectator, reviewing a London restaurant called Sexy Fish. She likes the service, likes the food, but… She begins:
Sexy Fish is a ludicrous restaurant with a ludicrous name in a ludicrous town. It is the latest venture from Richard Caring, major Tory donor and Asian fusion’s very own Bond villain.
In the middle she writes:
In the basement private room there is a fish tank, where the ‘sexy’ fish — brightly coloured, minute and somehow heartbreaking — swim like tiny fishy slaves. I have never seen a restaurant whose ethos is so clearly and comprehensively, so preeningly and unapologetically: ‘Fuck you, I’m rich and I want a golden cave and servants. I want a pony and all the hookers I can strangle. I want a pyramid of cocaine and an Audi -Quattro.’ It is like being punched in the face by Abu Dhabi.
Here is John Gardner in the NZ Herald’s Saturday magazine Canvas, reviewing an Auckland restaurant called Euro. He begins:
Euro has long been one of Auckland’s more prestigious eating venues and we were curious to see how its latest manifestation would fit into the niche.
He concludes:
The food had been good, the surroundings pleasing and spacious and the service efficient. Under its new direction, Euro remains a thoroughly professional and well integrated operation and it seems inevitably destined to enjoy a continuing level of success.
Plonker. I wonder if the people who run the NZ Herald have heard of Tanya Gold (best story ever about her is the one about she tells about attempting to jump Brian Sewell), Jay Rayner, Terry Durack, Giles Coren – or anyone else who can write knowledgably and entertainingly about food. This bar was raised a long time ago.

So here are Talking Heads live in 1978 with “The Big Country” from that year’s album More Songs about Buildings and Food :


Lauraine said...

Hooray. Join the club S.S! On the mark again.
Now looking for New Zealand's most boring restaurant reviewer..and there are plenty of them.
"I went here but parking was a problem. This is what you I ate. It was lovely but I can't tell you much more because I have scant food knowledge and I don't do any research to find out about the chef, the restaurant philosophy or anything that might give a clue as to who the place might appeal to. And I won't let you know about the wine for two reasons: it's boring and I have no vinous knowledge."

Stephen Stratford said...

Yep. That is the standard-issue review. In the Waikato we have Denise Irvine who knows food and writes well; there are others in other regions. The Herald now treats restaurant reviews the way it used to treat book reviews - a perk for staff or ex-staff. Odd. I can only assume that the editor doesn't care.

helenalex said...

I suspect a further problem is that New Zealand is so small that a really vicious (even if well-deserved) review ala AA Gill would do serious damage to the writer's social life, and ability to eat out.

Stephen Stratford said...

Perhaps. But in Auckland it could boost the writer's status. Obviously not in kinder, gentler places such as Christchurch and Dunedin. My personal jury is out on Wellington - but I think that David Burton has been severe on occasion..