Tuesday, September 02, 2008


Comparisons may be odious but if one is going to rate restaurants that is precisely what one is doing.
Gourmet Traveller 2009 Australian Restaurant Guide (GT) has some absolutely laughable ratings. I would not quibble over placing Attica above or below Claude,s nor Est above or below Becasse nor if Icebergs should be above or below The Botanical. More or less the top restaurants are tops and they can hardly be separated BUT there are some ludicrous ratings which, in my view, really damage GT's standing even ignoring the Sydneycentric bias which has 11 of the top 12 restaurants in Sydney. I have eaten at Tetsuya, Est, Becasse, Claudes, Pier, Icebergs, Glass, Forty One, Bistro Moncur and Catalina and many other Sydney restaurants so I'm in a good position to offer an opinion, at least in comparative terms.
Here are some of the most extreme examples of gross errors.
Rockpool Bar and Grill (Vic) is capable of serving food that would be just acceptable at a school tuck shop Their mille feuille looked good but was a lump of vanilla custard in soggy pastry it was, to say the least of it, not a success. Of course they do lots of good things but no way can they serve anything like that and rate 15 in Australia. Bistro Guillaume at Crown is regarded as overrated by many locals and not better than the neighbouring Brasserie by Philippe Mouchel but is rated 27 in Australia while Michel gets no stars at all ( The Age Good Food Guide (AGF) does give him one hat and Bistro G two hats) No way would I rate Bistro Moncur as 42 in Australia but Catalina at 52 should not be anywhere near the top hundred. In my book it has a returnability factor of zero. The food is less than ordinary. On the other hand Forty One has an excellent degustation menu - a little fussy, but aren't they all, and should rate in the top 20 on this list rather than 80! The Grand (Vic) is a decent restaurant in a fairly grotty pub. No better than The Nest or Fawkner Bistro Bar and many other pub restaurants and certainly not a patch on Matteo's. No way in the top hundred.
Despite my reservations AGF is getting better and GT is getting worse
What do you think?


Ed Charles said...

I'd agree. Despite JL being their man here I think the final ratings are put together by a bunch of people around a table in Sydney. there is a definite Crown bias and that's the trouble when you mix the businesses and have someone like John Alexander involved. You know my problem with GT is that its never been grounded in reality. I'd be really interested to see your top 30 ranking in Australia as i haven't been to many o these for quite a few years.i dod have lacklustre memories of Catalina though.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ed
I thought they might have been kinder to Nobu, being in the Crown stable but I do agree with you. As a one man band I'm a bit limited and have been to relatively few really good restaurants outside of Sydney and Melb. so I wouldn't venture a top 30. The only answer I can see to the limitations of JL and Co is for more active blogging.
comments and controversy are welcome on blogs unlike the press.

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