bygone era blah blah blah

Friday, August 26, 2011

I would just like to go on record as saying "Whaaaaat? Huh? What are you even talking about?...huh?" I have never in my life read such a bi polar...or is it schizophrenic review...ever. Wish washy and nostalgic and borderline silly. You are probably wondering what I am talking about. I kind of am too.

(If you are reading this and don't know who I am...I am a pastry chef who is about to rant a special Spark insight here...feel free to move along if that is what you are looking for...or hang out if you like a good rant every once in a while!)

This is the most obnoxious thing ever. We got a five star review in the paper today (out of six) ...a really good thing right? Why am I annoyed you might is the weird way the writer chose to review us that brings the whole thing down. He is known for being a tough reviewer (two weeks ago he gave some one a 1 star review) so we should be happy...don't get me wrong we are...kind of. He did some weird things in the review though.

If it was in English I could just link it here but it isn't...and it hasn't been put on the web yet anyway so I will just give you the gist of it.

He starts out waxing nostalgic about the history of where I work and a bygone era. It was a pastry chef in the late 1800's that opened the illustrious hotel and the restaurant is named after him. The writer imagined the people of yester year being wined and dined in the historical spot...and yet thought it needed updating. He marveled at the wonderful service...the best in all of Norway even. (yay for our servers! :) and went on to talk about all of the fancy ingredients that we use there.

He then talked about how we lavished them with extra treats from the chef as it should be in a place of this level and how they did the full 7 course tasting menu allowing the chef to choose the food. Then things start to get weird. He commented that the "chilled asparagus salad" was cold. (ahem...note that we say that it is "chilled") He then proceeded to print that we plate the course ahead of time and just put it in the fridge ...apparently he thought that we just pull it out and plop it down in front of the guests! We don't and it's not.

He stated that we use many local products and high quality and treat them with the respect that they deserve. He proceeded to then write about the highlight of the evening saying how it was so technically perfect and really highlighted the king crab as it was meant to...a wonderful showing of the crab as well as the chefs skill. ...later he picked at that one too wondering if everything on the plate went together.

He mentioned one other course he liked but then said that we were an over prepared kitchen just waiting for the guests. He also said that we showed too much in too much on the plate all at once I guess? As I heard the translation I began to realize that he thought we were staging our food ahead of time and just flashing it in the oven or something because he couldn't seem to figure out how we got all the food out so quickly. (In reality it is because we are highly organized and don't think that the diner should have to wait for their food. The chef makes those guys back there work their behinds off every night so that each dining experience is great.) This guy assumed because there were only 4 people in the kitchen feeding 60 that night that we took some kind of shortcuts. Not true and not fair to say if you don't know it is true. He put it in print though as if it were a fact. Oh! and by the way he has not once said that the food is not good...quite the opposite...he was just saying that he didn't approve of our methods...even though he made them up his own little noggin head.

Oh and he got me good too by the way. Again...not saying that the desserts weren't good. He was trying to prove his (made up) point about premade food and he said that he could tell I had left hours before service started. He is totally right. I did. I had to feed my children and put them to bed but perhaps he feels that his dining experience would have been better had he felt my presence there! Again, I think he thought I put all the desserts on plates at two in the afternoon hoping that I could guess what the guests would order. Nooooo sir...I just trained my staff so I don't have to be there at all times. Although I suppose that having my thumb print in the middle of his chocolate cake would have made it more tasty! He wrote like his sensitive palate could detect the fact that I had left the kitchen hours before. In reality the way he knew it was that Patrick had told him that I work during the day. Anyway there are things you absolutely have to make a head of time. I think his frozen Mojito terrine would have been a little sloppy had I not given it a few hours to set up in the freezer!

Keep in mind...he gave us a five star review. He just couldn't say exactly why. He couldn't bring himself to really highlight what was good and he wouldn't really define what was not as good as far as how the food actually tasted. But he obviously thought it was good otherwise he wouldn't have given it as many stars. Then he talked about how the food is modern and didn't match the dining room which is very old school. Did he want stodgy old food? No...he wanted someone to overhaul the dining the same breath he talked about the good old days and how you just can't get service like this anymore. (If you can't tell...he just loved the service...maybe that is why we got all those stars...isn't that why people go to a restaurant
anyway...the service?)

He commented on the price. 4000 krone for two with wines but he didn't seem to be complaining about it. He then said that we were ambitiously clearly competing with the Michelin starred places and he went on to compare us to several Michelin starred places here in Oslo. Then he said we wouldn't get one. Um ...sir...if you think that we are not Michelin quality then way did you write all that stuff about Michelin and why did you put our names along side of theirs? I am confident that not one of our staff ever said the word "Michelin" to you during your thought that up all by yourself.

Finally he recommended people to eat with us if they care as much about their service as they do about their food. recap...We have good technique...just too much of it. We are highly organized ...a little suspicious to him. The food is great especially his favorite course which he really wasn't sure went together. The pastry chef should never leave the restaurant or the whole thing suffers. He loved the decor but just thought someone should change it. And finally we are definitely right up there competing with the Michelin restaurants but will never get one. But people should eat with us ...especially if you go out to eat to be served by really good waitstaff. Oh...and he gave it five stars ...apparently just 'cause.

So yea...I am a little annoyed. How is it possible that we could get a good review like that but it is still not really good and people don't really even want to congratulate us. Under normal circumstances a five star would be cause for some high fives. Truth be told though we could use the press...and it wasn't actually bad...and now maybe some of the other papers will stop by and see what they think. I just hope that they don't have any bi polar schizophrenic reviewers who like living in a bygone era on their staff too!

This is the part where I link the blog and encourage you to see for yourself what you think about the food.
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  • no profile photo CD8022584
    It is obvious that the reviewer likes to hear himself talk. BTW, just happened across your blog. Twas a good rant, with a positive spin. I would love to eat your hours old desserts. And I wouldn't get onto the scale afterward.
    3307 days ago
    Absolutely ridiculous! I marvel at folks who pick things apart without looking behind the scenes to see how it's truly done.

    Don't let him steal your enjoyment of achieving five stars. You earned it!
    3318 days ago
    You don't need a lot of staff if they are organized and efficient. I think so few people see true team work efficiency these days. Fact is, he didn't have anything to complain about. So he made up stuff to complain about.

    People like this tool don't discourage me. They just make me more determined! I say, go ahead - be annoyed! Make him eat his words!
    3320 days ago
  • ERIN4771
    this guy sounds like a tool...and i would be more than happy to put him back by the others in the shed emoticon .....i hate it when you are not sure what exactly happened after a conversation or that review, but, i think it's awesome you guys got 5 stars!!! and the fact that you both know how to run a kitchen and work with your staff is huge!! perhaps he needs to re visit a tgi fridays to appreciate what you ad patrick have accomplished emoticon
    3322 days ago
    I love it I hate to say. It is like when I did security for an ERP system and auditors would come in. They would make some totally stupid comments/findings because they could not find anything real to complain about. Clearly this guy loved his experience in every way. However... He is known for being a tough reviewer and all he could come up with was double talk and make believe. Anyone that comes into your restaurant will know for themselves that you are the best of the best. I know that because I know you and your husband work so hard, you care and you are wonderful people both at work AND at home. SO THERE... TAKE THAT. emoticon emoticon
    3322 days ago
    Good Lord, I didn't know Jeffrey Steingarten was in Norway!

    Maybe he's afraid he'll blow his reputation as a critic if he's too nice? Or maybe he takes the word "critic" too literally!

    Keep doing what you're doing, because it's obviously working. I for one would LOVE to be able to dine there!
    3323 days ago
    I sure can understand your reaction to this review.
    Have you read other reviews by this person? Does he always comment like this?
    Is this his style? 5 Stars sounds wonderful. He doesn't sound like the kind of person to just give those out. I wonder why he has to 'talk in circles?' Confusing.
    I did look at Patrick's blog. The food looks marvelous!
    3323 days ago
    Some reviewers are famous for being unreasonably hard in their reviews - it doesn't seem like a review to them unless they complain about something - anything, even imaginary stuff. With luck the other reviewers will show up and be impressed enough to write about only what they know.
    3323 days ago
    If I wrote what I think of the guy, Spark wouldn't let me post it.
    At least he gave you 5 stars, and if he's known for being stingy with his stars, that will count for something, so... high five!
    I'm not at home and I'm posting this from my mobile, so apologies if I mess it up!
    3323 days ago
    Maybe he has a problem in giving compliments/praise w/out, as he sees it, "constructive" criticism? Of course, that kind of thinking makes little sense to the rest of the world, but there are some people who just have the need to find something wrong w/ everything. They call it "helping others become better".

    The review sounded like he should have taken more time truly understanding his experience & then putting pen to paper or in this case, fingers to the keyboard! Glad you could vent & get it out of your system. You know you have a wonderful restaurant and that you all do your best. That's what counts & it will pay off in the end!
    3323 days ago
  • no profile photo CD8937156
    So it sounds like you like his review yet don't approve of it. If anything, he's contagious. ;)
    Based on what you're saying, he sounds a little insecure in that he feels that he's not giving a proper review unless he finds something to critique. With his bloviations about what your prep is, he's trying to show that he has experience and knows how these things are done. Of course, he doesn't obviously since he's managed to guess wrong. Fortunately, everyone reading should come away with the same confusion as you so they'll come see for themselves. Or they'll just look at the stars and not read it, which will work in your favor.
    Congrats! I think. :D
    3323 days ago
    3323 days ago
    basically he thought you guys were too good to be true! you should invite him for a look in your kitchens!
    3323 days ago
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