Sunday, 9 May 2010

Remi followup

First up, I honestly haven’t had the inclination to go out at night and eat out so frequently as I previously have, due to a number of reasons. For that I apologise to one and all.

Secondly – to the thing that greatly interested me in today’s Sunday Tasmanian, which is Graeme Phillips’ review of Remi de Provence.

When I read it, my instantaneous thought was Ouch! But you know what? I think Graeme phrased his article extremely well, and delivered bad news to Remi in the most empathetic way he could, and I hope Remi takes it in the way a good business owner should: looks at his product dispassionately and makes some changes as soon as possible.

I was taken to task for my review of RdP after I attended the soft opening and wrote about it here on this blog. I was asked why my account of the food was at odds with someone else’s.

My reasoning behind being extremely positive about the soft opening night at Remi’s was simple. It was the week following The Mercury’s article on the controversial review of the Spanish restaurant on Rita’s Bite. The statistics of hits on this blog surged from the average 600 per day, to the staggering number of 2800 for that very day I did the Remi review.

Being totally mindful of the number of people reading my blog, especially given the actual content of the article in The Mercury, which in essence debated the point as to whether people had the right to publicly slag off restaurants online, I made the very difficult but deliberate decision to keep quiet about the food that night at Remi’s, which I found to be as Graeme stated in his article today: insipid, and surprisingly ordinary.

Wild horses wouldn’t have dragged it out of me that I hadn’t, in fact, enjoyed the food, especially with it being a soft opening night, when you’d expect anything to go wrong.

But – if you read what I wrote carefully, you will note that not one word is said about the food. What we had is written there, but no opinion is expressed at all.

So, note to GP – I salute you Graeme. I think you did an honest and manly thing with your review of RdP, and I respect they way you phrased what you wrote. I heard someone start to slag you off for that review today but I stopped them mid-flow and expressed my admiration of your words. It’s not about Remi, it’s about the way you did your job.


Christina said...

I too read GP's comments with great interest today Rita.
I totally agree with your opinion of the way he worded his review.
Although I'm not his biggest fan,
I could tell he really wanted to give a good review but just found that he couldn't, and that came through very clearly.
Been in that position myself, but on a way smaller scale of course.
I too felt he did an admirable job.

Anonymous said...

Just to Mr Phillips Comments i feel finally he may have it rite, Ive winced thru his ever so Boring so called Reviews, Every Sunday i am handed the Paper and every sunday i wait for an update from Mr Phillips on What Mrs Pillips Has eaten.
Rarely does Mr Phillips offer any real food Journalism, but i would say he may be onto something
.............The Truth.

Tassiegal said...

I read it, digesting it and realised even though I said the food was good in my review he is right. Must say though its one of the politer ways of putting it.

Anonymous said...

Can't some of you people learn to spell??

Anonymous said...

I must agree with Anonymous, the spelling is rather bad.
Rita, I read the article you wrote on the opening and was none the wiser. I guess that is similar to me opening the fridge and then calling out to my wife to ask where the mayo is, which is always right at the front, in the middle.
I guess I just need to pay more attention.
It will be interesting to see whether people have visited RdP on your subtle review and were perplexed. I am yet to go, and will now think twice. Just a delayed reaction to the initial intent.

Anonymous said...

Oh GP, what a hero.

No one is going to go to Remi now after reading such a poor review.

Anonymous said...

Le Provencal is way better

Rita II said...

Finally got to read the review (n the library) and see you you mean, Rita. GP expressed his personal disappointment at not feeling able to give a better review - and I am disappointed as I had been looking forward to going there, but will probably not, now, Shame. I remember reading a review of his place at Calstock which was an absolute rave.....

Anonymous said...

his review is way diferent than Sue Dyson and Roger they raved about it on there radio program. Any one been there that can coment i am keen to go and try for myself

Anonymous said...

Graeme Phillips' Battery Point Brasserie was hardly worth raving about - yet he has the audacity to make wanky comments about other establishments.

Reviews like the one GP wrote of Remi are likely to send the business concerned bankrupt - who is going to eat there now??

I generally find people who smoke that much have no tastebuds left anyway - so not sure how it matters whether the food is good or not?

Many of his articles say very little - for example the coffee one last week - can someone please explain to me what he was trying to say?

steve said...

last anon-you've been pushing this particular barrow for quite some time. It's clear you've got a thing for Graeme-did he dud you in a review? Did he dismess your work?

I'm truly interested.

I read his third wave coffee review and came to the same conclusion that he did, except he cant really say what he thinks in the paper.

I think he was saying that the whole third wave business is a fad & I totally agree with him. I'm not saying that elements of it aren't interesting but I dont buy into the zeitgeist.

At its best its a curious developement, at its worst its just a snobby club that alienates people who are not 'up to speed', much like the wine snobbery of yesteryear.

I know that Graeme, like all of us, might have his flaws, but give the man his due & perhaps show some respect even though you might not agree with his views

John said...

I rather agree that most of GP reviews or articles have very little to say about the detailed food or wine experience that he had they are more so just generalizations. Most of the wine reviews are just short extracts from the back of labels or from other reviews done by different wine writers.

I think people like Roger and Sue offer a lot more credible opinion especially since they continue to travel and try all the great restaurants and the local classics from around the world.

I haven’t been to Remi’s yet but have been to Le Provencal and found it very disappointing, the dishes were not carefully put together, sauces not reduced and thickened with a roux that gave the dishes a floury taste/appearance and very expensive for what you got but from what GP says about Le Provencal its great so maybe I will find Remi’s great as we seemed to have opposite views.

Anonymous said...

Roger and Sue do offer a another credible opinion but also suffer from inconsistencies. Their work for Gourmet Taveller to date does not coincide with their reviews & scores on their own site According to their site, Lebrina, Angassi & Danial Alps are Tasmanias best restaurants-this speaks volumes & though I respect them, its a questionable triumvirate.
The key is: I respect them & their opinions as I do other reviewers.
I think the tone on this blog in relation to the Hobart Food Scene in particular has become sullied by a particularly vengeful few

Peter said...

I agree with John le provencal was very dissapointing. I have been to Remi's and rate it alot better they did not deserve the review that GP gave them i sugest people try it for them self the food is very rustic and reminds me of the time i spent in provence

Nuf Sed said...

When I want to know who is doing what, when, how and why in hospitality, I read Ritas blog - where the news is so hot it burns your ears most of the time.

In my opinion - this blog is a far more credible source of information than many other reviews that you have to pay for. Coff.

And having eaten meals in 1000's of restaurants and cafe's in every State, Province and Territory of America, Canada and Australia, as well as owning several restaurants, cafes and takeaway food shops, I feel I have at least some knowledge of this industry.

I think people like Rita offer a lot more credible opinion especially since they continue to travel and try all the great restaurants. (This sentence copied from above but I have changed the name!)

Reviews like that written by GP - are not good for business. People invest so much into running a business in hospitality - not only cash, but also a physical and emotional investment.

I know a business owner who work 120 hours a week - and dosen't even break even - gee who'd wanna work in Hospitality eh?

What people need to realise is that reviews like this have the potential to completely destroy any credibility that Remi had, and very few people will go to this restaurant now.

So what we have people is a lose-lose situation, GP is pissed off that he had a crap meal and Remi probably feels like someone has punched him in the stomach.

Nuf Sed.

Anonymous said...

hey John & Peter, a tip.
Just by typing a random name to indicate you want to convey you are a, ahem, 'legit' person, does not hide your ISP signature which curiously, is exactly the same?!

Anonymous said...

ISP Signature? what is that?

The thing that pisses me off is that

Sir Grumpy
Nuf Sed
etc etc etc

Have a go at all us Anons, well sorry, using a fake name does not give you more credibility than us - I do not see "Sir Grumpy" or "Nuf Sed" in the phonebook . . . ???

Anonymous said...

from all this conjecture...what I can deduce is.....that this place must obviously be...inconsistant..that in itself is not a good matter who gives it the thumbs up..

Nuf Sed said...

The only thing that gets on my goat about anons is when they cannot seem to be able to use correct spelling, grammar and capital letters.

sir grumpy said...

It's only a point of reference, I suppose, anonymous. You at least get a thread to follow and those like me can be shot down for inconsistencies!
But hey, we are all contributing.
I haven't been to Remi but do feel sorry for the owners.
What can you do? Probably anonymous you should NOT read reviews or food blogs.
Then you won't be disappointed.
Or do you think food critics should give fantasy good reviews, or fib?
I've given up on high end anyway, it's all becoming competition dining.
I go for a bloody good feed and drink and the company of friends.
What could be better?
And to disprove your point on a nom de blog, everyone immediately ``knew'' who you were referring too.
Lighten up, try the places yourself, and give us your findings. What could be fairer?

Anonymous said...

Good to see the cage being rattled!!

I don't often agree with GP but ....

I have eaten at Remi and the food was good, the service a bit hit and miss and the wine and cellar top marks.

I must explain that the food was equal to any Cafe food I have had in France (last year) - I could find nothing to rave about at Remi - a trusted friend summed it up .... "why would I go out to eat something I can cook at home" and that is how I feel.

Don't take my or GP word go and try it for yourself - and return here and blog about it.

The only error I think GP made was that he should have given them a few more weeks to sort things out, it may mature with age (like good french cheese).


Anonymous said...

Rita your blog is a insight to your dining expereinces, however I now find them somewhat distrustful in order to protect your friend George, you have led us up the garden path. In contary to you one and seems only experience (that being the soft opening) you now kick the boots in! "What am I to accept? I am in disbelief! Your credibilty has sunk. I certainly hope you are teaching my child far more honesty in hospitality than that of who you dine with.

Rita said...

Anon 9.58 - whatever has George got to do with anything? I didn't mention George in this post about what Graeme wrote, and nor did Graeme. That is quite a red-herring you have tossed in there.
And where did you see me "kick the boots in" (as you so tastefully phrased it)?
I complimented GP about his review of RdP, and empathised with Remi (going into detail about why I didn't say anything on the night). Did you not read that and take any of what I said from that?
I agreed with GP. I, too, badly wanted everything at RdP to be brilliant and fabulous, and was disappointed when it wasn't. For the reasons already stated in the post, I made the deliberate decision not to say anything negative on this blog at that time.
I would have thought my credibility would have risen, not fallen. I don't know many adults who can, and do, publicly (or even privately) admit to their faults and failings. Life these days seems to be about blaming everyone else for things that go wrong.

sir grumpy said...

Now, here's where I wish the owners would open up.
Do they think the restaurant has reached its potential yet, or is it just too early?
Where are they aiming?
Who is the chef, what are his aspirations?
The menu selection, the sources, the fine tuning etc, etc.
Come on guys.

Nuf Sed said...

Anon 9:58

No idea what you are talking about, or who George is, but can certainly re assure you that Rita's credibility has risen, not fallen.

The crdibility of 'Anonymous' commenters who make inaccurate disparaging personal remarks to people over the internet without revealing their name is what has fallen around here.

So, either mellow yuour little whine or clarify it.

Anonymous said...

With due respect to all concerned, if one withholds judgement on a restaurant SOMETIMES because of sympathy or friendship with the owners, does this not destroy any claim to one's credibility, not to say honesty, as a reviewer?

Rita said...

Yes, Anon 10.00, you are 100% correct.
I am not making excuses for making an allowance for either sympathy or friendship withy the owners when I wrote my RdP review. I made the deliberate choice not to say anything negative at that stage of their trading, being totally aware of the high number of hits on my blog at that particular point in time.
Had Remi been trading longer, I would have considered him fair game for writing about whatever my experience was on the night, and leaving it for readers to either reject or accept what I wrote.

Anonymous said...

Its just not that good=overpriced+small portions+bland

Anonymous said...

Yes Rita, as long as one is CONSISTENT in applying this rule in order to be fair to everyone!

Anonymous said...

Well after all the discusion here yesterday I just had to go and try Remis for myself, So Talked the wife into coming out and was quite supprised. If the things in the review were true it must of been the wake up call they needed as I found everything great. I had the terrine it was well seasoned and had the perfect fat content with a beetroot salad with good acidity to cut through the richness. My wife had the mussles again well seasoned and very fresh. For mains I had the daube (I just had to after GP review) I found it very rich and well seasoned the meat well cooked and very tender I am sure it was beef cheeks. My wife had fish special that was harpuka with confit kipflers , tomato olive sauce and a fennel salad . It was simple good flavours and again well seasoned.. For dessert we both had the creme brulle that was devine perfect consitancy smooth as silk , I will be sure to have that brulle some time again soon.
The wine centre is amazing but this time i was driving so we only shared one bottle. Will be back in a taxi next time.

Well I hope things stay as good as they were for me as i do like the concept and if they keep up the standards Hobart will enjoy this establishment

Anonymous said...

How wrong can Anonymous be when it is stated that Graeme Phillips is a free loader. We have dined with him and his wife and I can assure you that each time he pays like the rest of us. Also a pity that anonymous who is so "Picky" has trouble with spelling.
From another anonymous

Anonymous said...

Yes, but if the apporling level of litarecy of some contribators here is in line with their restauront judjements, Im a bit woried.

Dee said...

Last night my husband Graeme Phillips - GP - showed me the blogs on this site. Now I know why his mood is often quiet and pensive. Even though he will never respond, I feel I must set the record straight on rubbish comments which have been aired. Irrespective of Graeme's good, bad or indifferent comments regarding a restaurant, I can assure you that no word ever printed is written in haste or without great thought. Sometimes it is weeks before the right words come to him. Being a 'critic' - whether it be for food OR wine may be an envied occupation - one that many probably feel they could 'do' better. Try doing it week in - week out, coming up with different ideas for stories, keeping the columns varied and interesting without repeating yourself, year in, year out. It would certainly be CHEAPER if we stopped dining out at OUR expense! A freeloader ? I don't think so!!! If restaurant review meals were free (or subsidised by the paper - which they most definitely are not), we'd be out every night ... think of the money I'd save on house-keeping! Maybe you'd also like to try sitting up to 1/2 dozen wines before breakfast, sipping, spitting and sampling to meet a deadline. Not once has GP ever reviewed a wine that he hasn't tasted. He doesn't read back labels for any other reason than to confirm the alcohol content. Mercury staff can attest to their weekly supply of opened bottles after the photographer has finished with them.
GP doesn't go on binges and does not suffer from alcohol-induced shakes - yes, he smokes, but after 5 decades of smoking, his tastebuds are his tastebuds and he knows how they work. Strangely, I agree with them 99% of the time and I DONT smoke.
I just wonder whether the bloggers who have criticized GP for his latest review on RdP would trade places with him

Anon2 said...

Well said Dee!
... from another reviewer

Christina said...

My hat is off to you Anon 2:15.

Glad you enjoyed your meal!

Nuf Sed said...

Good on you, Dee.

Some good comments made by you. I believe some of the comments in this blog are a bit slanderish... I personally do not enjoy cask wines for example however I do not harass people who do. So if Graeme wants to smoke, go right ahead.

Have not been to Remi so cannot comment.

Rita said...

Dee - I am absolutely delighted that you responded here, and thank you for your comments. Please do not take the various negative Anon's opinions as being the over-riding opinion about either GP's reviews or the RdP review either, by the way.
I arrived home from work tonight, all ready to do battle on this blog with a few commenters, to find your comment amongst others.
I have never discussed the freebie meal issue with Graeme but have always known that all meals reviewed by The Mercury reviewer must be paid for by whomever was doing the review. It was that way too with Dave Macquarie when he reviewed the places I worked at when he was the reviewer, although I remember one instance when he got really shitty that he and his wife had to pay for such a crap meal - so he angrily told me! (My opinion was that the meal actually wasn't crap, as I watched it being prepared, and served it to him, and if I was in any doubt about the standard of his meal I would have refused to take it out, but that's another story!).

lemon curd said...

Been away from the net for a few days - there are some devoted fans out there!

Tried to get to RdP before I moved, but request for a 7.30pm table was met with a sigh (gotta love that service staff sigh!), and a brusque "We can't do 7.30pm." We had to prompt - "Well what time can you do?" I left it.

doolz said...

Man. I didn't realise food and wine could bring out such ugliness in people.
Surely reviews are only guides (and entertainment)sometimes lethal, but rarely.
Each meal experience is personal.
I'm all for critising a meal and letting the staff know if warranted.(hopefully that encourages improvement).
We all obviously read GP, I find him entertaining and he knows his stuff esp Game and champions the encouragement of "good eating" in this state, which hopefully improves dining out here.
If anyone ate at the wonderful "Prospect House" in the 1980s you'd realise how food standards have dropped dramatically in this state.
It gotta be hard finding the words to write positively about the restaurant scene every week.

sir grumpy said...

Ah, Remi, the picture of the fallen Madonna with the big boobies in in the knockwurst.
Listen closely, I will say zis only wance: give the place a chance.

Anonymous said...

Ditto Sir Grumpy!!

I went to RdP and had a wondeful experience. The food was great, the 'wine cellar' inspiring and let feeling content and happy, and knowing that I will be back!

As for the review by GP- he like everyone else orders food, eats food, form comment and pays and leaves. The only difference is that he publishes his comment, and it is out their for debate! Why not decide for yourself- take a chance, you may be pleasantly surprised and enjoy your self!

I certainly enjoyed my experience- well done, good work and I will see RdP again soon!

Anonymous said...

that last anon sounds like someone trying hard to sound chirpily upbeat despite the oviously divisive opinion on RdP.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12.02: good on you for using your initiative and going along anyway and then finding you enjoyed the experience.
I agree we're all just typical diners: some will like the food and have a generally great time & tell everyone about how good it was, others won't enjoy the food and might have a crap time and will still tell everyone about it.
There's no right or wrong way. It's just everyone's differing opinions.

Anonymous said...

I don't know GP, or Dee. I do read the restaurant reviews most Sundays and have done so for years and therefore feel qualified to make a neutral comment. I have visited most restaurants he has reviewed (not on the strength of his reviews).There are 5 that come to mind that he gave glowing comments on. My experiences were nothing like he encountered.(3 of the 5 no longer operate ) Recently, there were 2 which were not reviewed favourably- my experiences were a mirror image of those two reviews. The point I’m making is that everyone’s expectation is different.
I do think that GP’s credibility could be enhanced if he left out the sarcastic comments and personal attacks he has made on individuals over the years -it's not necessary and to that end, if he dishes it out, then he needs to accept it back. He also makes it very obvious as to which are his personal favourites. It must be difficult to remain neutral! I didn't realise that reviewers weren’t compensated financially for their dining expenses. Surely they must at least be paid? Maybe Dee might have wished she'd just slept on it. No -one likes to sit back and see their loved ones slammed but it won't be long before something more controversial takes the place of the GP discussion and life will move on.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your words of wisdom Yoda

lemon curd said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lemon curd said...

Well Sir G - I gave the place a chance, and didn't even get through the door. Rude service really gets on my goat, I can cope with rushed or busy waiters being short, but sigh at me and you've lost that chance.

Re: GP - remember industry folk, he is the first to jump to our defence writing articles admonishing bad dining etiquette on the part of the punter.

Anonymous said...

My God! That's weird . We had exactly the same reaction when we arrived the other night. What is it with this staff member - something pathological?

Anonymous said...

Very average review on Remi from John Lethlean in the weekend Australian today