Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Deconstructing Dinner

Everyone has an opinion about food. We read our faourite reviewers in Epicure or other local newspapers, there are TV channels devoted to every element of cooking from the pearls of culinary wisdom cast before us by celebrity chefs to cult programmes like the Iron Chef. Donna Hay, The Gourmet Travellor, Delicious - food magazines are everywhere and now the internet is overflowing with restaurant web pages, recipes reviews and advice
All this has gradually lead me to dissect out the elements of restaurant reviews. What does the reviewer do beyond noting what he/she ate and expressing their opinion?
The order of the presentation may vary and some elements are emphasised and others may be absent on occassion but consciously or not this is the stuff of reviews.
There is an introduction. It may speak of the history of the establishment, of previous visits of the owners or the head chef.
Usually there are some remarks about the physical aspects of the restaurant. Possibly size, access, quality of fittings, decor and style, comfort, space and the atmosphere or ambience this creates.
When considering the food it is common to also mention the service. Presentation counts but taste and balance are even more important. When appropriate texture and aroma also get a mention.
A wine list able to be matched to the food menu without breaking the bank is important and a good range by the glass desirable
Lastly consider the price,. Value for money is always a good thing
At the end of the day no matter how good most aspects of a restaurant are if there is something outstandingly bad it has a significant influence on a final opinion. Apalling service is so irritating that cannot be ignored and ones enjoyment is greatly diminished even for very good food
Now you hve everything you need so come on write a few reviews!

3 comments:

purple goddess said...

Elliot..

What a fabulous and comprehensive site!!!

Stickyfingers and I are hoping to get to Shira Nui later in the year (hopefully for the omakasi). We'll be sure to let you know!!

BTW, say hi to Charles L. tommorrow, ;)

(I work for him!!!)

stickyfingers said...

I admire your gusto. I feel however that there are already so many reviews that are easily churned out based on your criteria and they are - to borrow from PG's flamboyant vocabluary - 'beige'.

My favourite reviews, by people such as Terry Durack and A.A.Gill bring a depth of culinary understanding and insight, wit and colourful language to the party. There is Chutzpah and a certain joie de vivre in their sentiments.

Take A.A.Gill on 'Wild Honey':
" The bavette of beef steak was cooked to be as soft as fillet. It wasn’t; it was like an end of boiled rope. The point of this cut is flavour – it was underhung. Giles’s Limousin veal with cavalo nero was the best choice, although the characteristic flavour of Italian winter brassica was entirely missing. In a blind tasting, I’d have guessed boiled barrister’s rug before cabbage."

Please, let's encourage more of this...no?

Elliot said...

Good writing is a joy and I wish I had a better turn of phrase, a more original and stimulatig style and perhaps more to say.
My site is beginning to evolve and I hope to make it more generally interesting with a better, deeper analysis of dishes and a more open reviewing style.
All in all I do agree with you but I am also reluctant to be excessively scarthing or sarcastic. The unfortunate fact is that most reviews are "beige" because most restaurants are too.
We didn't really give Shiranui a fair try and I will go there again and probably rewrite the former review