Bro. ... Bro. *Bros.*
December 8, 2021 1:25 PM   Subscribe

We headed to the restaurant with high hopes — eight of us in total, led into a cement cell of a room, Drake pumping through invisible speakers. It was sweltering hot, and no other customers were present. The décor had the of chicness of an underground bunker where one would expect to be interrogated for the disappearance of an ambassador’s child.
Geraldine DeRuiter's review of Bros, a Michelin-starred restaurant that chose not to serve actual food. ((Medium | original site)
posted by rewil (709 comments total) 59 users marked this as a favorite
 
So hard to believe this is real, and yet! Amazing.
posted by suelac at 1:30 PM on December 8 [2 favorites]


Jesus, that seems like...a deliberate affront.

My BiL ate at a Michelin-starred restaurant in California last month, and found it to be a great experience. Then again, they ate.
posted by wenestvedt at 1:33 PM on December 8 [1 favorite]


It skims like the service was awful and the food wasn’t tasty to them, but as soon as I saw “27 courses” I just thought, “ah ok, so a tasting menu of small one bite plates”? And then… yes, that was it. The Michelin guide snippet (which also has an unintentionally hilariously perfect picture of the chefs) reads:
Isabella and Floriano continue with the choice they made a while back to exclude an à la carte menu from their options, offering instead just two tasting menus which differ in their number of courses. These provide guests with a clear insight into their cuisine, featuring innovative and surprising tasting dishes – many of which are finished with a theatrical flourish at your table – all the way through to the excellent desserts. Creative and exuberant in equal measure!
Not sure I’d agree with the tenor of the review, but… yeah, a tasting menu. This is a snobby tasting menu restaurant, and those are going to be shocking revelations to anyone who doesn’t go in knowing what to expect.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:42 PM on December 8 [5 favorites]


(4.5 hours / 27 courses, incidentally, means one small plate every 10 minutes.)
posted by Going To Maine at 1:44 PM on December 8 [5 favorites]


metafilter: Less Prison, More Aspic

Some classics from the Genre

Yelping Warriors, and Rocks in the Broth (Frank Bruni)

Tour De Gall (AA Gill)

Le Cinq (Jay Rayner at his finest)

and the ultraclassic

Rote 66 (AA Gill)
posted by lalochezia at 1:46 PM on December 8 [19 favorites]


I'm ok with snobby tasting menus but that doesn't excuse ignoring/not accommodating allergies.
posted by juv3nal at 1:47 PM on December 8 [45 favorites]


The restaurant's lack of attention to allergens is concerning, but it kinda seems clear that the article writer and friends just didn't know what the restaurant's deal was before they went. Going To Maine has it, did they not know what a tasting menu was? At some point I'd think they'd realize that it was a new kind of thing and not some sort of disaster or goof.

This is written like someone who was scandalized by Inland Empire thinking it would be like Boardwalk Empire, or a fan of Rembrandt who just couldn't believe what they were seeing at a Pollock exhibition. A Puccini fan storming out at Einstein on the Beach, etc.
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 1:47 PM on December 8 [17 favorites]


I've had meals that were sold as "tasting menus" but they were also, you know -- meals.
posted by Western Infidels at 1:54 PM on December 8 [64 favorites]


I'd give more credit to the restaurant if it weren't for details like the cold plates that were used to serve the meat droplet course. That tips it for me.
posted by rewil at 1:55 PM on December 8 [8 favorites]


I’m ok with snobby tasting menus but that doesn't excuse ignoring/not accommodating allergies.

Yes, any dang fancy restaurant you go to that’s going to drop things down should definitely ask about dietary restrictions & allergies.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:56 PM on December 8 [3 favorites]


I desperately, desperately wish Anthony Bourdain was still alive so that we could send him there - the review he would post about it would be positively DOROTHY-PARKER-like in the baroque nature of his vitriol.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:59 PM on December 8 [28 favorites]


Oh, another example of “I pretend to not understand a thing, professionally, for money”. I’m sorry, you didn’t understand a tasting menu? In a Restaurant which charges a minimum of €130? Here, let me use the Italian hand gesture emoji for your shoddily written clickbate 🤌
posted by The River Ivel at 1:59 PM on December 8 [24 favorites]


Going To Maine has it, did they not know what a tasting menu was?

I was wondering when the "they're just rubes" backlash would begin.

I know what a tasting menu is. I have had tasting menus. I've never had to lick something out of a plaster cast of the chef's mouth.

Also every tasting menu I've ever had had at least one of two "main" courses that were slightly larger than the smaller bits. Some of them even had, like, a piece of meat.
posted by bondcliff at 1:59 PM on December 8 [158 favorites]


That plaster cast of the chef's mouth that you had to lick foam out of is the grossest way of serving food I have ever seen. They are making you mime making out with the chef. There is no understanding I could have of tasting menus that makes that not super gross to me.
posted by stillnocturnal at 1:59 PM on December 8 [112 favorites]


There is something to be said about a truly disastrous meal, a meal forever indelible in your memory because it’s so uniquely bad, it can only be deemed an achievement. The sort of meal where everyone involved was definitely trying to do something; it’s just not entirely clear what.

My husband and I had a not entirely dissimilar experience in the late '90s, at a purportedly high-end Thai restaurant in Chicago. Everything they brought us tasted good (or at least okay), but it was one-bite bits presented at a staggeringly slow rate. Every plate had an elaborately carved raw vegetable garnish that we assumed was meant for decoration, but about five plates in we started eating them because we were so hungry. Eventually, about two hours in, they did bring us some plates containing actual food, but at that point we were just kind of staring at each other in disbelief and wondering if we were being trolled.

It's been almost a quarter-century and we still refer back to that meal sometimes when we are dealing with a particular level of absurdity.
posted by Daily Alice at 2:00 PM on December 8 [31 favorites]


I’m ok with snobby tasting menus but that doesn't excuse ignoring/not accommodating allergies.

The only restaurants I've ever been to that accommodated allergies (really accomodated, not by just leaving parts of the meals out) were big chain restaurants. Most can't give you a list of ingredients or the waiter just goes "oh, I'm not sure if that's made with (allergen) or not".
posted by The_Vegetables at 2:01 PM on December 8 [3 favorites]


I’m sorry, you didn’t understand a tasting menu? In a Restaurant which charges a minimum of €130?

Dude, I've had a tasting menu - at g-darn Bouley no less - and all of the plates they brought us were collectively sufficient to satisfy hunger, and none of them required either I or my parents to French-kiss the serveware.

This isn't a matter of the restaurant reviewer being a rube, this is a matter of the restaurateur being so far up his own ass he could probably kiss his own heart.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:02 PM on December 8 [131 favorites]


Oh! Her one-star review is up on TripAdvisor!
I cannot emphasize how truly awful this experience was. I have been to Michelin star restaurants. I have eaten across the planet. I am a fan of the avant garde, of molecular gastronomy, of experimental cuisine. I love taking risks. And still, this place was incomprehensibly bad. Please, please, avoid it. We were not served food. I need to reiterate this: at no point were we served a substantial amount of calories that could be considered a course or a main. It was merely dishes that suggested the idea of food. Like the faint memory of a meal. One dish was merely gravy. I kept expecting meat or some protein to be served atop it. But no. IT WAS JUST GRAVY. We kept waiting. It never happened. We were famished and angry and spent A THOUSAND EUROS. Oh, and please note: all allergy requests were entirely ignored. My partner's throat started to close up due to an allergic reaction. Please do not eat here.
A thousand euros and nothing for allergies! Awful.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:03 PM on December 8 [31 favorites]


This sounds like the sort of surreal experience I'd enjoy, as long as someone else paid for it and I had a good meal beforehand.
posted by Faint of Butt at 2:04 PM on December 8 [9 favorites]



Personally, I would not visit that restaurant. I feel that type of tasting menus have had their day, and that is fine. When my granddad was still alive, and he died 20 years ago, we would go once a month to a fine-dining place where we had 14 very small dishes and with each of them we really wanted more, but at the end of the dinner we felt full and happy and inspired. More than 20 years ago.
What I am saying is that this is a genre that has outlived itself, and within any art form, that will lead to decadence. I feel sorry for the blogger who spent too much money on something silly, but guys, just don't go there.
posted by mumimor at 2:06 PM on December 8 [3 favorites]


I was wondering when the "they're just rubes" backlash would begin.

I wouldn’t say I think they’re just rubes. Everywhereist is a serious travel blog! DeRuiter has done many things and been to many places! The chef’s mouth things is gross! But I would say that the piece itself appears to deliberately adopt a style of “there was no main course on this tasting menu! I’m shocked” and “check out this weird food”! along with the “everything tasted bad” and “the waiters explained nothing”. (For 1K euros, the waiters should explain dang everything, in whatever detail you want.) DeRuiter isn’t naïve about restaurants, but she has certainly adopted the style of someone who is for this piece.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:09 PM on December 8 [11 favorites]


The restaurant's lack of attention to allergens is concerning, but it kinda seems clear that the article writer and friends just didn't know what the restaurant's deal was before they went. Going To Maine has it, did they not know what a tasting menu was? Had they not heard of molecular gastronomy?

This is written like someone who was scandalized by Inland Empire thinking it would be like Boardwalk Empire, or a fan of Rembrandt who just couldn't believe what they were seeing at a Pollock exhibition.


The article was clearly written for comic effect (as were the other pans lalochezia linked above). But it seems to me that there are two possibilities:

1). A restaurant called 'Bros' whose booking website has the slogan 'what are you made of' has slipped up so far up their own behinds and bought into their own hype such that they have lost track of the fact that a 27 course tasting meal is, you know, a meal and requires a meal-like amount of food to be served. That they're so into the edgy idea of you slurping food out of a plaster cast of their chef's mouth that they've forgotten to get the basics right, like serving warm food on warm plates or handling guest allergies appropriately.

2). The writer is a clueless naïf who doesn't know what a tasting menu is, nor has any idea of molecular gastronomy, by the way she's been a travel writer for a decade and has won a James Beard award for her food writing (previously).

I suppose it could be either one, who's to say?
posted by Superilla at 2:09 PM on December 8 [156 favorites]


I was surprised that I didn't find NFTs on the menu.
posted by SPrintF at 2:10 PM on December 8 [78 favorites]


A food NFT would be, like, a digital certificate vouching that a serving of McNuggets exists at the McDonald's across the street?

Gee, that sounds less stupid and farfetched than I thought it would when I started.
posted by Western Infidels at 2:13 PM on December 8 [23 favorites]


It would certainly be shocking if they had mentioned allergies when booking, been told it will be taken care of, and not had that happen.

I somehow doubt those first two steps occurred.
posted by bashing rocks together at 2:14 PM on December 8 [3 favorites]


Because... you want to read this in the worst faith possible? Because you know the author, and she told you? Because you're just guessing?
posted by sagc at 2:14 PM on December 8 [45 favorites]


The only restaurants I've ever been to that accommodated allergies (really accomodated, not by just leaving parts of the meals out) were big chain restaurants.

I've had a tasting menu where all three of us got different courses (one vegetarian, one pesca, one omni) so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by juv3nal at 2:17 PM on December 8 [22 favorites]


Waiting for Gateau, eh? Nicely done.
posted by doctornemo at 2:20 PM on December 8 [17 favorites]


This restaurant is clearly trying to do "art using the medium (or perhaps metaphor) of food." It's not for nourishment, it's not supposed to fill you up, it doesn't even have to taste good. It's meant to be an experience. Whether or not it's interesting, good or valuable art, I couldn't say. But it's pretty obvious they're not doing a "tasting menu" as it would be understood at French Laundry or even a "molecular/modernist cuisine" place such as Alinea. That seems obvious from the jump, so I have to agree with The River Ivel that it's pretending not to understand something professionally. This is made clear by the fact that the writer completely fails to engage with the experience as it is intended to be understood, or criticize it on that basis.
posted by slkinsey at 2:21 PM on December 8 [7 favorites]


Can confirm that at every tasting menu place I've been, allergies were not only accommodated but accommodated rigorously, with substitutions of either ingredients or whole dishes that did not diminish the dining experience of the affected people.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 2:22 PM on December 8 [56 favorites]


It would certainly be shocking if they had mentioned allergies when booking, been told it will be taken care of, and not had that happen.

I somehow doubt those first two steps occurred


No restaurant, especially one that expensive, should be serving people food they are allergic to. It's inexcusable. Not having an alternative, so you have to skip some courses, sort of annoying. Serving food to somebody that they have said they are allergic to is not ok, even if they didn't tell you beforehand. Even if they just rocked up and said "btw I am allergic to X" they should not be served X. You're telling me that a Michelin Star restaurant doesn't have the attention to detail to get that right?
posted by stillnocturnal at 2:23 PM on December 8 [72 favorites]


Because you're just guessing?

Yes, this one. Based on the author's desire to make literally everything appear as awful as possible, I don't believe they would have left out any information that made the restaurant look worse.
posted by bashing rocks together at 2:23 PM on December 8 [6 favorites]


“We’ve infused these droplets with meat molecules,” the server explained, and left. I think SNL covered this with the Neenie and Noonie sketches. I bet, though, having Facebook become Meta, might change how the search engines work, and this article is picked up more massively than you would think, off of this front page.
posted by Oyéah at 2:24 PM on December 8


I think that it's a challenge to write negatively about something that sort of has the deck stacked against it. Like, there's definitely an audience for "look at the stupid effete fussy dumb expensive food, what kind of latte-sipping liberals would eat that" writing, so naturally one wants to avoid that type of thing. But then sometimes the fussy food is bad, and bad in an almost-comic way, and how is one to write about that when that is just the phony criticism that is always raised?
posted by Frowner at 2:24 PM on December 8 [18 favorites]


So basically a dinner inspired by the plot of The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie?
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 2:25 PM on December 8 [13 favorites]


slkinsey, what exactly is it trying to get across? I imagine if there had been a) any sort of commentary from the servers or b) any sort of graspable "intended experience" inherent to the food.

Like, I really don't see what the deeper meaning behind "lick your food out of a cast of the chef's mouth" actually is, and anything I can think of is just trite.

Not only is the chef's mouth cast on their site, there are two different casts.
posted by sagc at 2:25 PM on December 8 [5 favorites]


(I'm actually a little surprised the review didn't mention what seemed to me to be the obvious inspiration.)
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 2:27 PM on December 8


Yeah, I had my bachelor party dinner at Momofuko Ssam, which had a tasting menu that heavily featured meat, and a member of my party who was a late addition told them when we arrived that he was a vegetarian, and they proceeded to serve him an entire alternate menu on no notice. The idea that only like Applebee's or something is going to be able to accommodate dietary restrictions is just not true.
posted by Ragged Richard at 2:28 PM on December 8 [80 favorites]


Our gastronomic proposal follows the rhythm of the seasons and changes every six months. Try the new menu signed Bros'!

That's directly from their website. If that's supposed to make it obvious that you're getting some gruesome mouth foam, they need to make it a hell of a lot clearer.
posted by threetwentytwo at 2:30 PM on December 8 [7 favorites]


I think accommodating allergies is more normal in the US than in Europe. At high-end restaurants, where people from all over the world travel to eat, the American standards apply, but this doesn't seem to be that.
posted by mumimor at 2:31 PM on December 8 [2 favorites]


How is it not a high-end restaurant? It cost them more than a thousand euros, and is absolutely trying to be all high-concept and a "destination"
posted by sagc at 2:31 PM on December 8 [16 favorites]


and is absolutely trying to be all high-concept and a "destination"
trying is the key word here
posted by mumimor at 2:32 PM on December 8 [3 favorites]


...the sort of meals that make you feel as though the fabric of reality is unraveling. The ones that cause you to reasses the fundamentals of capitalism...,

Heh heh. This was a great review of a terrible evening. Having lived through some bad meals that were far too expensive, I'm really glad I was not there. And I'm curious about what 'really' happened - because ... something (in the kitchen) must have happened
posted by From Bklyn at 2:33 PM on December 8 [4 favorites]


This sounds like the sort of place that gets itself a Michelin star and then loses itself that star after a year. Ambitious, probably had a really promising launch, disappeared up its own arse after getting the big thumbs-up. There are a LOT of that kind of restaurant out there, though typically I don't find that they follow the tasting menu model. (The usual culprit is the kind of place where a sparse a-la-carte menu is offered, with each item having an inscrutable list of ingredients (or ideas?), and then you get it and it's just a chicken cutlet with flowers on.)
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 2:34 PM on December 8 [13 favorites]


mumimor, I guess I was reading it as you saying they were exempt from American expectations, rather than failing to be what they purported to be.
posted by sagc at 2:34 PM on December 8 [1 favorite]


The only restaurants I've ever been to that accommodated allergies (really accomodated, not by just leaving parts of the meals out) were big chain restaurants. Most can't give you a list of ingredients or the waiter just goes "oh, I'm not sure if that's made with (allergen) or not"

This has emphatically not been my experience dining in the EU (or at least in Germany and Austria, but I'm gonna go out on a limb and suggest what I saw there was typical of EU regulation). Many places — admittedly not the extremely highbrow, but definitely midrange nonchain — had a list of either superscripted or parenthesized letters after every menu item, and near the end of the menu a list of allergens that those letters corresponded to. Admittedly, this didn't necessarily mean they had an allergy-free version of any particular prix fixe menu they had, but they definitely had, and made available, information about exactly what included which common allergens, and were at the very least equipped to use that information to give constructive advice about set menus.
posted by jackbishop at 2:35 PM on December 8 [21 favorites]


I've had meals that were sold as "tasting menus" but they were also, you know -- meals.

I've had tasting menus as well - and left stuffed full of food. This wasn't a tasting menu, this is like the worst foam party ever.

Also, I am far less classy than these customers, but I think I would have pocketed the orange, and tried eating the plate decorations. Or maybe just asked that they bring a basket of bread with some nice butter or olive oil, and keep that coming.

Or probably walked out well before dessert without paying - because at that point, you don't need to pay for such a terrible dinner.
posted by jb at 2:35 PM on December 8 [5 favorites]


I think I would have pocketed the orange, and tried eating the plate decorations.

Probably the 2nd time I visited a seriously high-end restaurant, our table was decorated with two small bud vases, each containing a flower in some kind of bubbly liquid. It smelled *incredible* and my dining companion, after some discussion, picked it up and began to like...very discreetly sniff it.

A server who was walking past swiveled abruptly.

Server: "Oh, no! That one's not for eating!
Companion, mortified: "Oh! Uh, I wasn't sure, I thought I would just smell it!"
Server: "Lol just kidding it's totally for eating. [describes contents]"

Fuckin' delicious too.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 2:40 PM on December 8 [86 favorites]


I suppose, in a tit-for-tat move, they could have just dug out pocket change, lint, and maybe a couple of incomplete loyalty punch-cards from Shoney's and left that for payment.
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 2:41 PM on December 8 [28 favorites]


It seems likely that this, I dunno, flight of dishes didn't really tell an effective story about itself, because you'd expect an effective tasting menu to give you a sense of where it was going and how the parts related so that you'd either be like "this is clearly building up to a chunk of protein" or "this is a narrative where we've moved through ideas about the sea and we are clearly moving toward the dessert". Like, if you're doing a fancy meal that is about ideas and yet a group of reasonably experienced eaters don't experience it as a narrative with a strong internal logic, it's probably not a really effective tasting menu.

I mean, I can eat a bite of this and a bite of that out of my refrigerator but it's not a tasting menu even if it's twenty-seven bites.
posted by Frowner at 2:42 PM on December 8 [67 favorites]


Based on the review it's pretty clear that *something* went wrong. Warm food that required tableside prep on warm plates should be a given at a Michelin starred restaurant. Likewise, the servers likely did a poor job of explaining things due to the language barrier and lack of prep. The biggest sign though is that photos of the exact same dishes had items that were not included.

I bet they had a lot of staff quit and instead of closing the restaurant to train their new hires they tried to wing it. Or just general mismanagement.
posted by hermanubis at 2:43 PM on December 8 [21 favorites]


I think the author was able to speak Italian, as well - at least, enough to confirm that "rancid cheese" wasn't a translation error.
posted by sagc at 2:46 PM on December 8 [15 favorites]


This has emphatically not been my experience dining in the EU (or at least in Germany and Austria, but I'm gonna go out on a limb and suggest what I saw there was typical of EU regulation).

I just checked the website of my current favorite restaurant, and they have absolutely no mention of allergenes, you can't even see the daily menu because they improvise. But they do ask when you call to reserve a table, and are very helpful and serious about it.
The German speaking countries are very much into the health aspects of food, so that might be a thing. And there are EU regulatives but they are obviously not so prescriptive that my local has to line up all the ingredients of the daily specials.
posted by mumimor at 2:46 PM on December 8


Based on the author's desire to make literally everything appear as awful as possible, I don't believe they would have left out any information that made the restaurant look worse.

This is stupid.
posted by sock poppet at 2:47 PM on December 8 [28 favorites]


The only restaurants I've ever been to that accommodated allergies (really accomodated, not by just leaving parts of the meals out) were big chain restaurants. Most can't give you a list of ingredients or the waiter just goes "oh, I'm not sure if that's made with (allergen) or not".

Once you're at the $200 per meal range, it would be shocking not to be accommodated or told, upfront, that they couldn't accommodate you, and told proactively when you're making the reservation ("just so you know, we are unable to accommodate dairy allergies due to the size of our kitchen, will that be okay?").

Some places are much better about whipping up alternative dishes than others; some are unable to accommodate but are upfront about it (which is fine, and I appreciate the heads up); but they've always been able to tell me what does and doesn't have which allergens, even without any advance notice. Sometimes they will have the chef come out or the headwaiter to talk through what I can and can't eat and substitutions so that we can figure out what I can have, and that's always appreciated.

The only issue--incredibly minor--I've experienced at that price point is at a tiny sushi place where the waiter tried to give me tuna because my companion was having tuna, but the waiter literally announced that it was tuna and I said "oh..." and he realized and apologized and gave us free sake for the nonexistent hassle.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 2:59 PM on December 8 [21 favorites]


This is astounding and hysterical.

It sounds like it's less food and more performance art based around the concept of food.

As several people have pointed out, tasting menus are always multiple tiny dishes that arrive in sequence, but they do, normally add up to a meal.
posted by jrochest at 3:00 PM on December 8 [2 favorites]


In terms of allergies -- what you absolutely can't do is tell people you can accommodate them and then just...not. Someone could become really ill. It's like serving people alcohol without telling them. It's really irresponsible.

Also, at that size, one every ten minutes sounds wildly boring. A good restaurant at that price point will give you a new plate at a reasonable pace for the size of the dish, how much time you're spending chatting vs eating, etc. Having a good, experienced waiter makes all the difference, and they are truly admirable professionals.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 3:03 PM on December 8 [11 favorites]


I wonder if the virus has played a role here? My daughter worked in a restaurant, and they have been completely unable to find and hold on to competent staff since the lockdown last year. In Europe, people earn a living wage, but even so there have been better jobs in healthcare, plus the risk of working in hospitality with horrible customers and long hours is too much for many right now.
My daughter just quit to take a month off, and her former boss was pleading her to return even before she left.
posted by mumimor at 3:09 PM on December 8 [4 favorites]


This sounds vaguely surreal to the point of being slightly interesting, but I literally wouldn't ever eat at a place called Bros based on the name alone. Categorical fuck no.
posted by aspersioncast at 3:11 PM on December 8 [26 favorites]


Even if I could dismiss the fact that they didn't get a real dinner (which... I can't. I'm sorry, I can't. But IF I COULD...)

Suppose you could argue that this was an art piece that was more holistic than filling your belly. It's still a horrible failure - the experience was clearly bad. Things tasted bad. It was physically and emotionally unpleasant.

I mean, compare that to what We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese mentioned :

our table was decorated with two small bud vases, each containing a flower in some kind of bubbly liquid. It smelled *incredible* and my dining companion, after some discussion, picked it up and began to like...very discreetly sniff it.

There is joy in that description, and amusement in the waiter messing with them, and with the fact that when consumed it was (and I quote) fuckin' delicious.

Nothing at the reviewed restaurant appears to have been fuckin' delicious to any of the diners' senses, including their sense of humor. I've consumed calories as part of art pieces - sometimes objectively gross food, or food served in humiliating ways - that was clearly part of a larger intentionally designed experience than intended as a meal. It does not sound like this was what happened here, but if the "chefs" reveal themselves as performance art later, I will actually be relieved.
posted by BlueBlueElectricBlue at 3:13 PM on December 8 [30 favorites]


Wow, many people here who clearly have limited experience with haute cuisine and haven't had flavor-infused air foam or licked meat gel off a piece of glass before, and making ignorant judgements as the author has. Making out with plaster cast of chef's mouth is actually super normal to anyone who has had a pre-fixe meal. I mean they wanted the servers to answer their questions? What did they think this was the fucking Olive Garden? This is simply on them.
posted by windbox at 3:29 PM on December 8 [55 favorites]


Everyone knows things taste better when you're hungry ... perhaps Bros carried this to the logical conclusion that actually satisfying hunger is antithetical to the premise of a 'tasting menu', and that they should seek instead to intensify hunger as the meal progressed.

However, it is harder to interpolate a valid culinary objective for clearly implying that your chef is foaming at the mouth like a rabid dog.
posted by jamjam at 3:31 PM on December 8 [8 favorites]


tbh the chef mouth dish is my personal favorite, if only because it is actually interesting, is on their website even if in the gift shop, and seems to have achieved the (fuckin' weird) goal of making people tongue the chef
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 3:34 PM on December 8 [4 favorites]


like, as a kind of opt-in quirky dessert at a place like Mission Chinese (not giving its owners/chefs props, but just the style of restaurant), a weird mouth-cast would be awesome. maybe with flecks of gold in the foam and named something like "Baby Bird"
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 3:36 PM on December 8 [3 favorites]


like, as a kind of opt-in quirky dessert at a place like Mission Chinese (not giving its owners/chefs props, but just the style of restaurant), a weird mouth-cast would be awesome. maybe with flecks of gold in the foam and named something like "Baby Bird"

Whatever “vegan ortolan” ends up being, I’ll eat it.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:39 PM on December 8 [11 favorites]


Tho’ maybe that’s just a Cadbury egg.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:39 PM on December 8 [26 favorites]


I'd recommend going all-in with the mouth theme. Maybe a fondue place, where every at-table pot of molten cheese and sizzling oils and dessert chocolate blends was in various molded screaming mouths. Design the drinkware as distended mouthparts. Etc. Don't just flirt with the idea, commit.

But that's bros for you. Never committing.
posted by Drastic at 3:40 PM on December 8 [38 favorites]


I'm surprised that people are so annoyed about this piece. A few things are clear to me from reading it:
  • The author and their party had a legitimately bad time at this restaurant.
  • They are playing up that angle when writing the review, instead of taking meticulous care to make it balanced.
Where's the problem in that? Yes, it's somewhat performative, but as a reader, I understand that. And if you're the sort of person who likes this type of food, well, maybe it would have been more interesting to read a piece analyzing how the meal failed as a story, but I feel like this review still gives you a pretty clear idea of what the restaurant is — somewhere that's trying to use food as a storytelling medium of some sort, rather than as a way of providing people sustenance, and failed at doing that in a compelling way, likely due to some combination of staff turnover/operational problems and the chef's ideas about what makes an interesting story being misaligned with the reviewer's. (Having to suck goop out of a plaster mold of the chef's mouth definitely is trying to be Art, but, uh, I don't blame people for not being compelled by that). I think the set of people who understand what this restaurant is and would be interested in giving it a try are not so naïve as to miss the (more mass-appeal) angle that this review is taking, and can still get useful information from it.

I can understand being annoyed about authors who have a shtick of being performativly ignorant and outraged, but I don't think that's what this is?

And FWIW, here's a two-star review about this restaurant from Google Maps:
Starting off.. The Bros experience is as unique as it gets. It is one that really plays to a physiological experiment full of mystery. The space is very cool and trendy. I would also like to give credit to the FOH staff who seamlessly work in unison, they were impeccable.The best of the best..When it comes to the courses, I cannot even begin to describe how disappointing it was. From rancid butter to a warm cured oyster with veal tendons. This is my personal palate but I would go as far as saying 80% of the courses were borderline not edible. When the best course is the bread and butter, that’s a red flag. I think Florian is incredibly talented and cerebral but this is not for everyone.
Clearly the art spoke to this person more, and the review was written in a pretty neutral tone, but I get very similar information from reading this review as the original article, just less entertainment. (Well, I'd guess that something changed operationally since that review, since they got bread, and also seemed to have a nicer experience with the waiters, but other than that).
posted by wesleyac at 3:45 PM on December 8 [33 favorites]


The word "Bro" is like nails on a chalkboard to me.
posted by Liquidwolf at 4:01 PM on December 8 [7 favorites]


Suppose you could argue that this was an art piece that was more holistic than filling your belly. It's still a horrible failure - the experience was clearly bad. Things tasted bad. It was physically and emotionally unpleasant.

The Aristocrats!
posted by DeepSeaHaggis at 4:07 PM on December 8 [14 favorites]


Isn't this review an extension of the old joke from the beginning of Annie Hall? The food is terrible . . . and such small portions.
posted by FencingGal at 4:09 PM on December 8 [8 favorites]


I do get that this article plays into a "Look at this elitist artsy fartsy crap" tone but at the same time it takes great pains to remind the reader that there's plenty of evidence that on other occasions patrons received actual food amid all the foam and scraps of paper, with the implication that this meal was not only objectively bad, but also bad by the standards of this restaurant. It seems really weird to respond to this with "Ha ha look at these fools who don't know what a tasting menu is" because the article makes it very clear that the meal fails even by that metric.

The article straight up calls it "theater" which is probably the best possible interpretation of this. They were sold a very expensive and unpleasant experience. Maybe the author and her party were in the wrong for not expecting the experience they received, but I find it difficult to believe that expecting a tasting menu that would be nutritionally unsatisfying could still prepare you for how unpleasant these dishes actually were.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 4:19 PM on December 8 [19 favorites]




Nthing that being an avant tasting menu doesn't justify a lousy and unfulfilling meal and that the author undoubtedly has more experience with that type of dining than most of the commenters here. If the review is accurate in saying that the largest course consisted of six noodles, that's barely an amuse.

From looking at the reviews, it seems like they have consistency problems in both the kitchen and front of house.

Notably in my mind, pacing is important with tasting menus. If you're parceling the food out a spoonful at a time, there shouldn't be a 10 minute wait between courses. The fanciest meal I've (co-)head chefed on was 14 courses and lasted nearly as long as this meal. It was designed so that at the beginning courses could roll out to the diners relatively rapidly so that no one was starving and we could slow down the pace a little while working on the really fancy ones as they enjoyed drinks and conversation. With largely cold courses, there's no excuse for lengthy waits at this caliber of restaurant.

This restaurant is clearly trying to do "art using the medium (or perhaps metaphor) of food." It's not for nourishment, it's not supposed to fill you up, it doesn't even have to taste good. It's meant to be an experience. Whether or not it's interesting, good or valuable art, I couldn't say. But it's pretty obvious they're not doing a "tasting menu" as it would be understood at French Laundry or even a "molecular/modernist cuisine" place such as Alinea.

Yes, I suppose if one merely slums at Alinea and Cracker Barrel, they might not be sophisticated enough to appreciate the true art that is described in this article.

Art can be attempted and still be bad.

That seems obvious from the jump

Really? What part of their web site expresses that?

Compare it with Vespertine - "Vespertine is a gastronomical experience seeking to disrupt the course of the modern restaurant." - you know what you're getting in to.
posted by Candleman at 4:20 PM on December 8 [31 favorites]


Our gastronomic proposal follows the rhythm of the seasons and changes every six months.
Which?
posted by clew at 4:25 PM on December 8 [21 favorites]


... an unintentionally hilariously perfect picture of the chefs...
The chef looks exactly how I pictured they would before seeing that picture.

I guess they got so excited by some level of success in their 'avante garde' style, they kept going further and further down the rabbit hole and this is where they've got to so far. I wonder where to from here?
posted by dg at 4:28 PM on December 8



The author and their party had a legitimately bad time at this restaurant.
They are playing up that angle when writing the review, instead of taking meticulous care to make it balanced.

Where's the problem in that?


I agree. I was only annoyed that the article had a glaring typo.
posted by tiny frying pan at 4:41 PM on December 8 [1 favorite]


Re: this bit in the TripAdvisor review that Going to Maine posted:

One dish was merely gravy.

This is one of those things, like certain drugs, where "set and setting" are everything.

*sneaks down to the basement with a brimming tureen*
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 4:46 PM on December 8 [19 favorites]


Waiting for Gateau, eh? Nicely done.

Yeah, normally I'd say that phrase was *chef's kiss*, but ... too soon.
posted by solotoro at 4:54 PM on December 8 [37 favorites]


I'd recommend going all-in with the mouth theme. Maybe a fondue place, where every at-table pot of molten cheese and sizzling oils and dessert chocolate blends was in various molded screaming mouths.

[inception] We have to go deeper. [/inception]

Serve beef soup in a dog mouth. Some sort of minced-up meat in a cat mouth. Frogs legs wearing little swim trunks served in a little shark mouth.

I don't know what you'd serve in a xenomorph mouth and in its mouth-mouth, but if you're running an all-mouth restaurant by God I want to be playing tonsil-hockey with an alien before I go home.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 5:02 PM on December 8 [35 favorites]


Thanks for the great and well-informed comment, Candleman, and for bringing up Vespertine as a comparison. My experience at the latter was great. The venue was interesting, our waiter had the driest sense of humor that broke into silliness at just the appropriate moments, and the whole experience was fun. We didn't think the joke was on us, even when one of the dessert courses was literally a stick to chew on.
posted by queensissy at 5:02 PM on December 8 [10 favorites]


[inception] We have to go deeper. [/inception]

"How was that place you went to last week? The...mouth restaurant, right?"

"I don't want to talk about it."

"I mean, mouths...restaurant...it's kind of a theme that makes sense. 'Food goes in here,' right?"

"Well, the thing is...they were actually cloacas. So yeah, mouths to begin with, but then..."

"Oh."
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 5:07 PM on December 8 [14 favorites]


I pray the Lord strike me dead if I ever find myself saying that food intended to be eaten doesn't have to taste good to be good, because of art or whatever.

You know that sort of thing is exactly why the arty-farty foodie stereotype exists, right?
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 5:09 PM on December 8 [23 favorites]


Does Michelin usually give a star to performance artists who serve bad food? Apparently one of the courses was a shot of vinegar. Superb cooking.
posted by muddgirl at 5:14 PM on December 8


A food NFT would be, like, a digital certificate vouching that a serving of McNuggets exists at the McDonald's across the street?

Just a reminder that an NFT can't vouch that a serving of McNuggets exists. It can only vouch that the anonymous person who made the NFT definitely claimed a serving existed.
posted by straight at 5:16 PM on December 8 [29 favorites]


Failed to find any checking of art-category boxes, of which there are myriad these days. But the Bros definitely checked every one of the irritainment ones.

Speaking of irritainment, and on the matter of "how far has todayʻs American middle class white female devolved?," a few evenings ago I played piano for a fundraiser, run by a consortium of middle-aged haole women who purportedly want to help the lives of those who have fallen into some vague categories of human deprivation. Part of the gig compensation involved a gratis dip at the featured buffet, an ad-hoc smorgasboard of trays and plates contributed by the club members.

With the exception of a few untreated cashews, none of the proffered dishes -- and I mean none -- had any discernable flavor at all. It was, in its way, amazing. Some looked tempting: the artichoke-heart-and-(I think)-spinach (kale? ) medallions; the custardy yellow pie; the hamburger cradled by the canned-mushroom cups, etc. They all tasted of ... nothing. It was as if the winners and also-rans of a contest for the Blandest Dish Of All were hired to cater the event. I mean, how is it even possible to go wrong with veggie fingers and onion dip? Oh, you can, you really can, if the carrots have been left to keep crisp for hours in water evidently taken from oneʻs chlorinated swimming pool.

Unbelievable. By the end, I was so hungry I managed to eat a whole wedge of the aforementioned pie, despite at the first bite identifying the "custard" as Jelloʻs cynical attempt at instant vanilla pudding, complete with all the well-remembered cheap chemical aftertaste of my pre-Elvis childhood. It was truly irritainment, albeit nothing like Bros. Plus unlike Bros, I got paid to be there.

Iʻm not even going to go into the "hostess" requesting that, since I was there early, could I play some tunes for the setting-up workers? (My keyboard hadnʻt yet arrived.) Nor will I dwell on my bafflement at trying to somehow accompany the deeply slurring drunk lady singing (being generous here), over and over between outbreaks of body balance recoveries, the first few bars of "Saving All My Love For You," each iteration in a randomly rambling non-tempo and in its own non-western key. It was truly the perfect gig-hell; but knowing the ordeal would be over soon enough, it was at least good for a laugh, or a MeFi commentary.
posted by Droll Lord at 5:24 PM on December 8 [18 favorites]


This review kind of reminds me of a very disappointing prix fixe experience. This was many many years ago at the height of foodie mania and the restaurant had two gimmicks - one was that all of the food was sourced ultra-local, and the second was that they didn't use any electric cooking equipment. It was pretty expensive and every single course was bland. Dry meat, bland veggies, salty soup. OK the desert was great (and made off-site). Then at the end with your dessert, they bring out a big manual percolator to make your coffee. The coffee was burnt🤣

Apparently the restaurant is still open many many years later so I am hoping we went on an off night.
posted by muddgirl at 5:46 PM on December 8


Eh, articles like this are necessary to keep the worst of the up-their-own-arse artiste types from taking "food" to its logical conclusion and "serving" you nothing but ultraviolet radiation and a variety of gases as a "meal".

This is what self-correction looks like. Push the boundaries too far, and somebody will come show you why nobody else is over there.
posted by Kadin2048 at 5:54 PM on December 8 [14 favorites]


I note that the tripadvisor reviews seem to be either five star or one star. I also noticed this review on page 2: "We were so hungry at the end of the meal we had to rush out to buy food from the Mac Donald’s nearby. " Reminds me of a story my mom told me about some people she knew who went to the fanciest restaurant in town, it was incredibly expensive and not much food, and she said these people filled up at fast food on the way home too. I'm proud to be a plebian who actually wants to be able to consume food at a restaurant. I'll take Olive Garden any day compared to this bizarre sadness. I would assume from "tasting menu" it might be more along the lines of appetizers for dinner, not eating air and molecules and chef's mouth. I feel bad for these people paying a ton of money for food they can't eat or don't want, being starving and snobbed at for hours, and they can't even eat later because everything is closed. And then on top of that, food allergies.

The worst meal I ever went to was a comedy of errors where they were clearly short staffed and so short staffed they couldn't even deal with the few people in there at midafternoon on a Sunday. Missing silverware, food was at the wrong temperature or they were out of it, there was a big ol' spill on the floor nobody ever cleaned up, etc. This was a big birthday dinner for everyone but me and after awhile I was all "make a list of everything bad going on here! Have fun with it!" to cheer them up. That said, by the time someone brought up dessert I was all "NO. WE ARE NOT HAVING DESSERT HERE. THESE PEOPLE CANNOT HANDLE DESSERT. WE SHALL GO ELSEWHERE."
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:04 PM on December 8 [15 favorites]


Fifteen-ish years ago, my spouse worked briefly at a very fancy, very expensive Chicago restaurant with one famous chef, then another. Not being able to explain the food? Jesus Christ, she had to be able to tell people the name of the fucking cow the milk came from. Not a joke. Her name was Fatima. A waiter inadvertently disregarded an allergy warning and got lit the fuck up in a positively nuclear multi-chef harangue. Fired at the end of the night.

From a service standpoint, none of this is normal.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:24 PM on December 8 [39 favorites]


People defending this trash like a professional food critic doesn't know what a tasting menu is. I too have had tasting menus and at the end of them felt a) fed and b) that the expense was justified. This review reports that neither was the case.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:00 PM on December 8 [37 favorites]


This really made me enjoy living. Perfecto!

Oh excuse me I meant

Rancido!
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 7:15 PM on December 8 [11 favorites]


It would certainly be shocking if they had mentioned allergies when booking, been told it will be taken care of, and not had that happen.

I somehow doubt those first two steps occurred.


Can I clarify: are you actually suggesting that someone who had a life-threatening food allergy might have neglected to mention it when going out to dinner at a restaurant?

If this is not what you are saying: can you clarify what your "doubt" might be?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:15 PM on December 8 [24 favorites]


Agreed. They're clearly just a troll. Is beyond ridiculous.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 7:18 PM on December 8


Sounds like this place is having serious quality control issues. Like the courses aren't getting made correctly and the front-of-house staff is improvising to cover for the kitchen.
posted by mr_roboto at 7:23 PM on December 8 [2 favorites]


Sounds like this place is having serious quality control issues. Like the courses aren't getting made correctly and the front-of-house staff is improvising to cover for the kitchen.

Hence 'rancid'. The server was trying to send a message.
posted by Literaryhero at 7:33 PM on December 8 [4 favorites]


Twenty seven teaspoon bites, perhaps 250 to 350g of food (being generous) is fewer calories than even a diet meal. There's no way that's intentional.

We love dining out at tasting menus. The danger we've always found is that you leave feeling overfull and a bit bloated. A good tasting menu leaves you feeling perfectly fulfilled and just slightly, happily drunk.
posted by bonehead at 7:43 PM on December 8 [7 favorites]


she had to be able to tell people the name of the fucking cow the milk came from.

Fatima, meet Colin
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 7:50 PM on December 8 [1 favorite]


Can I clarify: are you actually suggesting that someone who had a life-threatening food allergy might have neglected to mention it when going out to dinner at a restaurant?

After years of waiting tables, I wouldn't be at all surprised; but it's more likely that neither of those with allergies made the booking. Most charitably, they thought "it's a fancy restaurant, of course they'll be able to change everything up on the fly for people!" I do find it absolutely fascinating that this seems to be an unimaginably impossible scenario to some of you, the mere thought rendering you incapable of civil conversation.

What's most perfect about this review is that just about every complaint in it has been made in previous reviews of the restaurant. I would love to read a description of the critic's pre-visit expectations: presumably I'm not being too unbelievably harsh in assuming that they did have some kind of informed expectation before going.
posted by bashing rocks together at 7:59 PM on December 8 [6 favorites]


This almost, but not quite, approaches the concept restaurant that I and several of my drunken bohemian friends dreamed of in college--a place named "All You Can't Eat," where you would be seated and served an assortment of things that you couldn't possibly eat--chunks of Styrofoam, pieces of upholstery, an expertly plated block of wood, etc.

The idea was that you would simply sit there and think about how you couldn't eat these things that were served to you, perhaps also whilst consuming several strong cocktails (it's not called "All You Can't Drink, y'know), and then, having become intoxicated on an empty stomach, you visit the kebab place across the street and dish about how you just visited a restaurant that doesn't serve any food.

It's a good idea, yo, and you can have it for free!
posted by lorddimwit at 8:15 PM on December 8 [24 favorites]


I do find it absolutely fascinating that this seems to be an unimaginably impossible scenario to some of you, the mere thought rendering you incapable of civil conversation.

Not cool.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:21 PM on December 8 [9 favorites]


That's rich, bashing rocks together, coming from someone who jumped immediately to sexist insults which have been rightly deleted from this thread.
posted by sagc at 8:24 PM on December 8 [10 favorites]


also, did you miss the fact that she repeatedly quoted reviews that - while bad - actually described a better experience than she had?

I don't know, man, but you seem weirdly dedicated to proving that this person is somehow bad, or a philistine or something? Are you just anti-diner as a general rule?
posted by sagc at 8:37 PM on December 8 [13 favorites]


Awareness of allergies isn't some new thing. Every restaurant that I've worked at in the last five years or so has had a list of allergens for each dish, and plans for how to work around various allergies. It's not, honestly, a huge stretch to accommodate customers with allergies, to the point that most even sort of "nice" places we've gone to in the last several years (places with course menus, for example) have asked, as soon as we are seated, if we have any allergies or if we have any strong dislikes. It's not all that hard to implement, and it's a hell of a lot less difficult than dealing with culpability for putting someone in the hospital.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:44 PM on December 8 [3 favorites]


on the matter of "how far has todayʻs American middle class white female devolved?,"

I'm, uh, struggling to see exactly how this is at all relevant to discussion of a European Michelin-starred restaurant.
posted by augustimagination at 8:52 PM on December 8 [46 favorites]


People, we’re never going to beat the Republicans if we make excuses for stuff like this. As much as I love food, at a certain point (usually a foam-covered point) you’re just asking to be first against the wall when the revolution comes. Also, I could not believe how farcical the two chef/owners look in the pic on the restaurant site. Michelin reviewers must be huge ridiculous snobs to fall for bullshit like this.
posted by freecellwizard at 9:07 PM on December 8 [5 favorites]


yes, my response to that absolutely bizarre comment was indeed deleted along with the initial comment, as it should have been.

you seem weirdly dedicated to proving
...you appear to have misjudged my level of dedication here. I don't know why multiple people here even approaching the spirit of criticising the reviewer are being met with such incredulous attacks from you, but responding to people who directly address my comment is what I consider to be standard conversation, not an accidental revelation of my life's purpose. Since that's clearly not how you expect interaction to work, I'll refrain in future.
posted by bashing rocks together at 9:34 PM on December 8


I'm, uh, struggling to see exactly how this is at all relevant to discussion of a European Michelin-starred restaurant.


Sounds like some earlier misogyny in the thread got deleted; maybe this was tangent to that?

I dunno. If I were still a gig performer in the year 2021, and I couldn’t taste any of the food I got as a freebie at the gig, I’d consider my exposure level as a gig performer, and I’d probably go get my nostrils swabbed, just in case. I like to think that would go double if I were old enough to have had a “pre-Elvis childhood.”

But then I’m one of those (admittedly white, arguably middle-class) “females,” so I’m probably pretty “devolved” like that.
posted by armeowda at 9:43 PM on December 8 [12 favorites]


I'm just trying to highlight, bashing rocks together, that calling someone bitchy is the height of "incapable of civil conversation" in this venue. If you can't own that, why try to pretend you're so above the dialog here?
posted by sagc at 9:46 PM on December 8 [16 favorites]


Also, you're the one that's incredulous about restaurants being able to accomodate allergies? I've pointed out some misreads of the original article, and pushed back strongly on your unfounded guesses about how the author made their reservations.
posted by sagc at 9:49 PM on December 8 [4 favorites]


So it’s a bro-themed restaurant? They seem to have successfully recreated the “confidence of a mediocre white man” + minimal or inconsistent effort combo. But they hosted an award-winning woman whose area of expertise is dining, and they didn’t take the ten minutes between each course/bite to mansplain them? Yeah, they have failed to achieve the intended concept.

Although, it sounds like they came close:
P.S. – The next day, one of the staff tried contacting the only single female member of our party via Instagram messages. “Hey, I served you last night!” he wrote. She immediately blocked him.
posted by eviemath at 10:20 PM on December 8 [28 favorites]




They were sold a very expensive and unpleasant experience.

Is it actionable, do y'all think, that they're now branding this "A date with maxwelton"?
posted by maxwelton at 10:53 PM on December 8 [9 favorites]


As a pleb I thought tasting menu is where you get samples of all the possible choices, and you choose your actual meal from among them. Do such restaurants exist, I wonder?
posted by Pyrogenesis at 11:09 PM on December 8


Speaking of irritainment, and on the matter of "how far has todayʻs American middle class white female devolved"?

What the hell is this supposed to mean?
posted by jokeefe at 11:49 PM on December 8 [19 favorites]


And they did indeed notify them of the allergies, days ahead of time. From the comments on Everywhereist:

"Oh, let me be very clear: we informed them (per their request) of our dietary restrictions when we made the reservations, many many days in advance. So they knew ahead of time and did nothing (additionally, they served him food with the allergens in them. Which is bonkers. Like, not serving someone is one thing. But serving them a dish they're allergic to??) And Rand's allergies aren't extreme or unusual. His biggest allergen is apricots, which for some reason were in several dishes despite not even being in season."
posted by tavella at 12:32 AM on December 9 [30 favorites]


I once saw one of those cooking contest shows, where the contestants had to impress the judges with just one of those Chinese soup spoons of their dish. Blind judging, no presentation, no plating, just the one mouthful. One cube of pistachio encrusted steak, one soup dumpling, one spoon of chevre-and-pomegranate tapenade, a rare olive wrapped in a fancy sardine enclosed in a fig, etc.
It would still be a bourgeois display of conspicuous consumption (call it Veblen's!), but I could imagine a market for "we'll have a bottle of wine and 24 assorted delicious single mouthfuls, please". Popular for people who aren't really there to eat? Just to see and be seen, and take photos of their trendy 'nano-tapas' for online clout?
I'd still want to have the option to say "Hey, that crab bisque, with the shallots? Could we get a whole bowl of that, it's amazing!" and not be met with a 'Pfeh. Ziss iss not possible. Only one taste. Zee dissatisfaction, zee denial, eet is the Art of le cuisine.'
posted by bartleby at 12:41 AM on December 9 [3 favorites]


Apparently one of the courses was a shot of vinegar.

I will admit that I have sometimes drunk the vinegar left over from a bowl of gyoza (I'm lazy and tend to drizzle the dipping sauce I make over the gyoza rather than have a separate bowl.) Because the juices from the dumplings and the soy sauce and the chili oil melded into something irresistible. So I can believe that someone could create a vinegar based shot that was indeed a delight for the senses. It doesn't sound like this was it, though.
posted by tavella at 12:45 AM on December 9 [7 favorites]


I thought the writing was terribly off-putting because it breathes with implied affirmation prompts like "don't you just hate that???" and "isn't that terrible???", leaving barely any room for judgment or opinion beyond the author's self-indulgence.
posted by dmh at 12:48 AM on December 9 [4 favorites]


After I made my earlier comment, I found out that the author of this piece won a James Beard award for writing, which is a better piece that both reacts to a contemporary problem in the food world and contextualises it with her own experience, at the same time as providing some good food writing (don't roll cinnamon rolls too tight?! Who knew?!). I hold by my earlier comment, that this piece is an uncharitable reading for clicks. I'm not saying that the restaurant is good - I can't comment on that - but I am going to say that a James Beard awarded writer is going to be clued into the local scene and will know when a place is having a low ebb.
posted by The River Ivel at 1:56 AM on December 9 [2 favorites]


Other people seem to like it.

Weird art food is not for everyone, and the chefs are pretty far up their own butts, but it sounds like they do a pretty decent version of weird art food, and some people like that, and that it fine.

I am not sure how you end up at a place like that without know what it is.
It kind of feels like a place they went to specifically to make fun of for a blog, which is not a genre of writing that makes me kind of cranky, but some people also like that and that is also fine.
posted by St. Sorryass at 3:17 AM on December 9 [2 favorites]


I've been to one of these kinds of restaurants and my warning for anyone who does it is know that your blood pressure may temporarily freaking skyrocket. I can eat an entire party sized bag of Ruffles potato chips and not get as much salt as I got from one tasting menu of tiny tiny plates. When I weighed myself the next day I had gained 3 lbs even after a lengthy morning whizz. (The contestants on Biggest Loser used to sabotage their competitors by sneaking excessive salt into their meals so they would retain lots of water for the next day's weigh in). The next day the retained water weight was all gone.

Apparently one of the courses was a shot of vinegar.


Drinking Vinegar is a thing. I had some at Pok Pok and it was delicious. You can buy it on Amazon.
posted by srboisvert at 4:01 AM on December 9


In Bashing Rocks Together's defense, I did get a bit salty at first. Nevertheless:

After years of waiting tables, I wouldn't be at all surprised; but it's more likely that neither of those with allergies made the booking. Most charitably, they thought "it's a fancy restaurant, of course they'll be able to change everything up on the fly for people!" I do find it absolutely fascinating that this seems to be an unimaginably impossible scenario to some of you, the mere thought rendering you incapable of civil conversation.

Possibly the reason we're finding it unimaginable is because of the life-threatening nature of the allergy, which is something that gets spread as knowledge far and wide among friend groups.

You say you've been a waiter - I would suggest that the people you've encountered who gave you a hard time over "allergies" weren't quite as serious about how bad their allergies were. We know that there are people who make a stink about "allergies" and take it out on restaurants when really all that happens if they eat that particular food is maybe some bad gas or something. But for the "get the epi-pen or he will die" kind of allergies, people do tell their friends, and the do tell people in advance. There is someone I work with who has one such an allergy to strawberries, and I am reminded of this each and every time I am asked to make a catering order for the office. Even when I say "yes, I know" people still come up to me after I've placed the order and say "You remembered that M is allergic to strawberries, right?"

I would posit that it is your own bias - justified though it may be - which is placing that "doubt" in your head about whether the restaurant was informed of the diner's allergies, and I invite you to reflect upon that.

....And that is as civilly as I can say that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:01 AM on December 9 [20 favorites]


The most enjoyable kind of restaurant criticism is the brutal sledging of a pretentious place that deserves it.

A writer like Pete Wells and Jay Rayner who can really stick the knife in is always worth reading.

Long live Geraldine DeRuiter.
posted by zymil at 4:07 AM on December 9 [8 favorites]


Possibly the reason we're finding it unimaginable is because of the life-threatening nature of the allergy, which is something that gets spread as knowledge far and wide among friend groups.

This is the third time someone has referred to the allergies as "life-threatening," but that's not indicated in the article. There's a difference between "I will have eczema symptoms" and "I will die." I'm not saying the former doesn't matter, but people here seem to be escalating on severity.
posted by FencingGal at 4:25 AM on December 9 [1 favorite]


Their TripAdvisor review noted that his throat started to close up. That's usually a sign of anaphylaxis.
posted by kyrademon at 4:46 AM on December 9 [22 favorites]


bashing rocks together:
  1. The author states in a comment that the restaurant was notified days ahead of time about the allergies.
  2. As numerous people have mentioned, accommodating allergies on the fly is quite normal for fancy restaurants--even expected.
So I hope you can get off it.

Also I see people are arguing the reviewer wrote a bad review because (a) she should have known the food was bad from previous reviews and (b) other people liked the food (which proves she didn't "get it"). Not sure how both can be true--I suspect we're seeing examples of people disliking a piece first and finding reasons after.

Finally--if I go to a Michelin-starred restaurant I go expecting the food to be good, irrespective of prior reviews. Surely they got it for SOMETHING. And if I am weighing prior reviews and I am a travel writer and restaurant critic and I am looking for interesting experiences, a Michelin-starred place with mixed reviews would probably look especially appealing because that might indicate that it was especially on the edge of haute cuisine. Unfortunately it appears this place is so near the edge they've fallen off.
posted by schroedinger at 4:54 AM on December 9 [23 favorites]


I thought I was doing well enough by reading the article! Thanks.
posted by FencingGal at 5:00 AM on December 9


I am not sure how you end up at a place like that without know what it is.

She's a James Beard award winning travel writer who obviously knows what a tasting menu is and wrote a funny article about a terrible meal, and some of y'all are in here acting like she's too dumb or ignorant to know how fancy restaurants work.
posted by Mavri at 5:13 AM on December 9 [81 favorites]


https://www.finedininglovers.com/article/bros-named-italy-best-contemporary-restaurant

Well looking at this older review it looks like both young chefs have a pretty impressive pedigree, and from the interview they sound pretty genuine and serious about their craft. Which doesn't mean restaurants don't screw up, lack sensible judgment/taste, or have staff problems, but at least in this case it doesn't sound like they're trying to scam diners or anything like that. Their restaurant won multiple awards, not just the Michelin 1-star.
posted by polymodus at 5:17 AM on December 9 [2 favorites]


Sometimes things that win awards are actually bad. (Or they become so at some point after the awards are won.)
posted by neroli at 5:21 AM on December 9 [4 favorites]


Obligatory Achewood
posted by Navelgazer at 5:25 AM on December 9 [6 favorites]


She's a James Beard award winning travel writer who obviously knows what a tasting menu is and wrote a funny article about a terrible meal, and some of y'all are in here acting like she's too dumb or ignorant to know how fancy restaurants work.

Right. I am also pretty sure that she knew what to expect before they went there, that is why it feels like deliberately seeking out an easy target to make fun of. I have no idea if I am correct but that is how it read to me.

It is a funny article and I do not mean to get all cranky at anyone who enjoyed it, but there is also an aspect of it that come across as pretty mean spirited to me. That might be more about this particular genre of internet content than the piece itself

I might just be bringing my own baggage to the table here, but the idea of spending *4 hours* waiting on a table of American tourist who just dropped $1000 to photograph themselves making fun of everything you bring them just seems like a nightmare.
posted by St. Sorryass at 5:39 AM on December 9 [5 favorites]


Is this some sort of cross over viral marketing stunt for the "Trust a Bro" Bro company in Hawkeye?
posted by autopilot at 5:41 AM on December 9 [2 favorites]


Sometimes things that win awards are actually bad. (Or they become so at some point after the awards are won.)

Yeah and I gave three general reasons why fancy restaurants can screw up despite winning awards. My observation was that given their awards and pedigree, it would've taken a lot of dedication to get to that point. Putting aside the bias of Michelin-type awards which is another can of worms. The broader consideration is that if you know chefs aren't just "bros" or pranksters or scammers, but are serious about their work and passions (as it is the case at this level of cooking, for people hired at Noma, etc.) then the adult thing to do is to just tell them you had a very bad meal and have them sort it out.
posted by polymodus at 5:49 AM on December 9


I am also pretty sure that she knew what to expect before they went there

Arguably, that's what the Midhelin star is there for, to tell you what to expect. It's not like they went to some dive behind the bowling alley. Also, the trip advisor reviews show both amazing reviews (as well as horrible ones.)
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 6:04 AM on December 9 [11 favorites]


At one Michelin starred restaurant, the waiter noticed my wife seemed cold, so he went -- unprompted -- into the kitchen and came back with a pot of hot tea. Another restaurant modified their tasting menu after we told them that my wife was pregnant (replacing the beef tartare).

I cannot imagine what would have happened if we'd seemed hungry. Also, it feels like in the USA the 'extremely tiny portions, leave hungry, our waiters are extremely snobby' fad went away in the 90's. More recently at non-Michelin starred restaurants there's generally been at least one course dedicated to making sure nobody was hungry. At one sushi place there was a random "AND HERE'S A WHOLE GRILLED FISH" course.
posted by Comrade_robot at 6:11 AM on December 9 [6 favorites]


It is a funny article and I do not mean to get all cranky at anyone who enjoyed it, but there is also an aspect of it that come across as pretty mean spirited to me.

I'd be mean spirited too if I wasn't served anything to actually fill me up in the slightest. They state clearly that other past diners appear ro have been served food. Actual pasta, even! The restaurant deserved this review.
posted by tiny frying pan at 6:25 AM on December 9 [8 favorites]


Count me in with the folks here who are 100% on the side of the author. If the goal was to serve a meal, the restaurant failed in not feeding them anything substantial enough to be considered a meal. If the goal was a tasting menu, the restaurant failed in not serving up things that tasted good or, by the sound of it, even palatable. If the goal was art via the medium of food, it failed by not connecting with the intended audience in any coherent fashion. If the goal was an "experience," it failed by being a uniformly negative experience. And if the goal was some sort of subDom self-aggrandizement game for the Chef's personal gratification, which is sure as hell how this reads, it failed by not giving the customers any measure of informed consent in that game.

There's every reason to believe that the author and her friends are adventurous diners with enough experience to have well-adjusted expectations going into a place. There's far less reason to believe that anyone going into Bros. should just expect a surrealist psychosexual twist on Dick's Last Resort minus the actual nourishment and pay €200 per person for the privilege.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:31 AM on December 9 [30 favorites]


She's a James Beard award winning travel writer who obviously knows what a tasting menu is and wrote a funny article about a terrible meal, and some of y'all are in here acting like she's too dumb or ignorant to know how fancy restaurants work.

She's certainly written the article in a way that panders to expectations of a conventional restaurant meal, with a restaurant that is clearly and deliberately using the form of a high-end tasting menu to defy expectations of both conventional meals or tasting menus. That kind of faux-naïveté is kind of a bizarre and unfair low blow.

Let's say the late Roger Ebert attended a screening of an avant-garde film by a respected "experimental film" director, and came back with the review "This film was only 60 minutes, not even a full feature length! And, lol, it didn't even have a story! It was just 27 disconnected images! One was just a shot of the director's foaming mouth! Who in their right mind would pay $15 for this garbage on a Saturday night!"

Most filmgoers would obviously connect with Ebert's review - what he saw was perhaps not what even an arthouse-going audience would want to experience on a Saturday night out on the town. However, in the context of avant-garde or experimental film, there is much worthwhile that can be done or said with a film that isn't a feature length, that isn't narrative, and one that features disconnected or unsettling images. Fans of avant-garde film may even expect those things, and certainly Ebert would be familiar with that community even if he didn't rank in their numbers.

A review like that simply wouldn't be helpful. Is that avant-garde film good or bad in the context of avante-garde film? Who knows! Instead of taking the work on its own terms, the review spent its time pandering to the conventional expectations and, honestly, the desire of the mainstream audience to attack something intended for another audience. Now, a 60-minute non-narrative feature film may well be "good" or "bad" - or somewhere in-between, with nuance as to the work's positive and negative aspects - but you honestly wouldn't be able to tell with the kind of "lol, wut" review in either my hypothetical Ebert review or the one at the top of this post.

Something like wafer-thin edible paper fish or foaming plaster molds or olive ice cream aren't accidental. The author even makes clear that the use of "rancid" the restaurant was using to describe one of the dishes was not accidental - the server wasn't dumb, or mistaken, the server was pushing back. It's eminently clear that this was a deliberate, planned, different experience on the part of the restaurant, and the author truly gives us no clue as to whether this experience was good or bad or successful or a failure on its own terms - I mean, it certainly seems pretentious - but the author instead chose to insult a deliberately weird, different kind of experience for the lulz.

The allergy thing is a certainly problem, though.
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 6:46 AM on December 9 [8 favorites]


Roger Ebert's favorite restaurant in the world was Steak 'n Shake and I would have loved to read his review of this place.
posted by octothorpe at 6:59 AM on December 9 [11 favorites]


Author comment at Everywhereist: “Oh, let me be very clear: we informed them (per their request) of our dietary restrictions when we made the reservations, many many days in advance. So they knew ahead of time and did nothing (additionally, they served him food with the allergens in them. Which is bonkers. Like, not serving someone is one thing. But serving them a dish they're allergic to??) And Rand's allergies aren't extreme or unusual. His biggest allergen is apricots, which for some reason were in several dishes despite not even being in season.”
posted by anshuman at 7:04 AM on December 9 [8 favorites]


She's certainly written the article in a way that panders to expectations of a conventional restaurant meal

This is not at all clear to me or what I understood as the writer's expectations of the restaurant. I did not read any naivete, faux or not, into the review.


beam:mote :: glass houses:stones :: pre-defined expectations affecting one's experience:criticism (of a restaurant, or of a restaurant review)?
posted by eviemath at 7:07 AM on December 9 [12 favorites]


Also, @Droll Lord - not sure we need to drop random digs at “todayʻs American middle class white female” in an entirely unrelated post. Thanks.
posted by anshuman at 7:08 AM on December 9 [17 favorites]


The article was funny. The meal sounds bad, but maybe not as bad as this thread. This is really what you want to tear into each other over? Maybe "restaurant reviews" belongs on the old list of "topics that metafilter doesn't do well."
posted by jordemort at 7:10 AM on December 9 [22 favorites]


This is not at all clear to me or what I understood as the writer's expectations of the restaurant. I did not read any naivete, faux or not, into the review.

One of the first paragraphs is:

"You sit in the audience, shouting suggestions like, “A restaurant!” and “Eating something that resembles food” and “The exchange of money for goods, and in this instance the goods are a goddamn meal!” All of these suggestion go completely ignored."

and

"I mean — dinner played a role, the same way Godot played a role in Beckett’s eponymous play. The entire evening was about it, and guess what? IT NEVER SHOWED."

The issue here is that maybe, perhaps, the creators of this 27-course tasting menu didn't intend for it to be dinner or even a goddamn meal? And perhaps it's a dining experience that clearly was taking a different form that didn't align with the author's expectations and so criticizing it for not being dinner is faux-naïveté?

If someone orders an espresso, do they have the right to complain that their cup of coffee was comedically small?
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 7:21 AM on December 9 [1 favorite]


It is a funny article and I do not mean to get all cranky at anyone who enjoyed it, but there is also an aspect of it that come across as pretty mean spirited to me.

A deliberately mean spirted review is absolutely a good and valid way to engage with a mean spirited experience. Peter Handke's deliberately bad play Offending the Audience is an example in another medium: it is not owed a thoughtful "oh I get it" analysis just because of its goals; nor is a vicious analysis automatically not thoughtful. The idea that offensive or mean criticism is verboten is a terrible idea that had gained far too much ground in the last decade or so. I blame this still infuriating piece that The Believer published in 2003.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 7:22 AM on December 9 [13 favorites]


Just think it is important to note that while they did allude to Nic Cage, they also (maybe not successfully) were channeling Nic Cage. Great, great movie...if you hated the review or loved it, just watch the movie!
posted by TreeRooster at 7:26 AM on December 9


The food experiences I have had that were not intended to be a full meal did not describe themselves as restaurants.
posted by eviemath at 7:30 AM on December 9 [15 favorites]


The issue here is that maybe, perhaps, the creators of this 27-course tasting menu didn't intend for it to be dinner or even a goddamn meal? And perhaps it's a dining experience that clearly was taking a different form that didn't align with the author's expectations and so criticizing it for not being dinner is faux-naïveté?

Truly, why are so many people acting like it’s your mom’s restaurant that someone has insulted
posted by sock poppet at 7:33 AM on December 9 [58 favorites]


As a piece of writing it was witty and the photos added to the read. I loved her descriptions and laughed out loud in many places at her turns of phrase.

I see how her friends, watching defensive threads like this one I guess (with ‘Award-winning woman writer on internet is wrong [and probably LYING, exaggerating, naive!] because she criticised the Bros’ takes] are posting their own pics of the night and stepping in to verify her honesty and talent. Sad they feel they need to.
posted by honey-barbara at 7:35 AM on December 9 [29 favorites]


Read the article again. Does any of that food sound like something you would want to try? Would you enjoy any of that experience, including being poisoned (allergies ignored) and remaining starving at the end? But oh, she's ignorant about what a "restaurant" experience like that consists of.

Something smells rancid indeed but it stinks like misogyny.
posted by tiny frying pan at 7:36 AM on December 9 [42 favorites]


The name of the site on which we are commenting is Metafilter.

The issue, I EAT TAPAS, is that when your comment must be qualified with quite as many "perhaps"s and "maybe"s, perhaps you are also bringing some of your own pre-existing expectations to the table rather than approaching the {restaurant review, metafilter comment} for what it is? Perhaps there is a logical inconsistency in arguing that a negative restaurant review is based on unfair expectations, while not accepting my simple statement about what my experience of the review was, or that it could be different from that of other mefites? Maybe the second part of my comment was merely pointing this out, not saying that one view of the restaurant review or another was definitively, objectively correct?

If someone is upset about a restaurant review that they perceive as measuring the restaurant against unfair standards or false expectations, do they have the right to complain about a comment that notes similar behavior in metafilter comment criticism?
posted by eviemath at 7:44 AM on December 9 [3 favorites]


If someone served me food in a plaster cast of the chef's lips, I would definately suck it out...

Next, I would proceed to stuff it down my pants for another kind of kiss and send it back to the kitchen. I would ensure that everyone - including the waitstaff would see me doing that - after all - I am just participating in the experience offered.

/s (I would want to do that - I would loudly joke about doing that, but I would not do that)
posted by rozcakj at 7:51 AM on December 9 [5 favorites]


Truly, why are so many people acting like it’s your mom’s restaurant that someone has insulted

Because a whole lot of this review seems to be bashing something intentionally different just because it's different, where certain deliberate aesthetic choices didn't align with the reviewer's cultural expectations. That's a pretty ugly instinct when taken outside of the context of "it's just a restaurant review." "lol, what you eat is disgusting" has been used as an insult against different cultures and communities for generations.

(The allergy thing is 100% a valid criticism and is not a problematic part of the review.)

Does any of that food sound like something you would want to try?

Yes. Much of it does sound interesting. I'd certainly love to try a teaspoon of olive-based ice cream, which may seem gross to you but honestly sounds great to me and I may try making it myself. Everyone has their own taste in food preparations, and that alone is not worthy of insults.
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 7:54 AM on December 9 [1 favorite]


The meal most definitely failed on its own terms. We know this, because the author provided evidence in support of this claim. She did research. She searched through reviews and Instagram photos, and she found photos of the same dishes she was served, except that what she was served was missing components that were served to others.

A dessert course of olive-flavored ice cream fails on its own terms, if you taste it assuming it's pistachio-flavored because you were not told it's olive-flavored ice cream beforehand. You're not some culturally insensitive rube because, in a cultural context where pistachio ice cream is common and olive ice cream isn't, you assume that the green spoonful of ice cream that was given to you without any clarification is pistachio, rather than olive.

You read this review, and you think this author wouldn't be willing to give olive-flavored ice cream a go, if given a chance? You think the complaint is, "eew, olive ice cream is weird!" and not, "I had no reason to expect olive flavored ice cream, and I only had one spoonful provided so I didn't even have the chance to taste it on its own terms"?
posted by meese at 8:08 AM on December 9 [34 favorites]


“lol, what you eat is disgusting" has been used as an insult against different cultures and communities for generations.

What are you talking about? That’s not what was happening here at all, unless you think Michelin-rated restaurants are part of some endangered subculture or molecular gastronomy is a protected category. This is a wild level of projection that denigrates the seriousness with which actual racism and xenophobia ought to be regarded.
posted by sock poppet at 8:12 AM on December 9 [77 favorites]


It also bears repeating (somehow, apparently) that this was not simply a matter of the writer not being down with the dishes in a meal. They were not fed a meal. They were fed a vanishingly small amount of disjointed components over 4.5 hours.

Whatever a person's cultural/personal/artistic/idiosyncratic definition of cuisine is, the definition of a meal is: if you eat the food, you are at least nominally sated. Waving a few drops of cold gravy at people and having them make out with a plaster cast, then sending them out 1000 Euros lighter but still hungry is not a meal.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:16 AM on December 9 [9 favorites]


This is so funny. I read this on twitter after @hels retweeted it, laughed a lot, then have kept giggling every time that horrible mouth mold and the glum guests resurface on the timeline. There is certainly something to be said for the dining disaster. Like, when you've paid an obscene amount of money for a dining experience, obviously you want things to go well. But at a certain point, it kind of is better that things go disastrously! My worst dining experience did involve a tasting menu, probably because it's difficult to have a memorably bad $20 food experience but alarmingly easy to have a bad $200 experience. It was just...meh? And it was my choice for my whole family, so I have a bit of weird lingering shame over the wasted time and expense, even though the meal happened over a decade ago and I'm sure no one else even remembers it. But this....

Everything about this is so funny! The mouth. The pictures of the dining companions, who are grimly resigned to finishing out the night. The showboat-y pictures of the chef. The added info shared about apricots being the biggest allergy offender. I agree that restaurants -- especially when warned well in advance -- should never screw up that badly on allergies, but one can kind of understand how mix-ups happen in a busy kitchen. But imagine the Michelin-starred restaurant that poisons one of its customers with apricots. In a nigh-empty restaurant. In fall. If the chef was aiming to be memorable, he succeeded.
posted by grandiloquiet at 8:19 AM on December 9 [14 favorites]


"A whole lot of this review seems to be bashing something intentionally different" because it was a degrading, demeaning, and at times dangerous experience for the reviewer and her friends, from the sound of it. Not really seeing where cultural insensitivity (to high end molecular gastronomy?) comes into it.

Witness:
This means that you can’t order anything besides the tasting menu, but also that you are at the mercy of the servers to explain to you what the hell is going on.

The servers will not explain to you what the hell is going on.
and
Now, at this point, I may have started quietly freaking out. A hierarchical pecking order was being established, and when you’re the one desperately slurping sustenance out of the plaster cast of someone else’s mouth, it’s safe to say you are at the bottom of that pyramid. We’d been beaten into some sort of weird psychological submission. Like the Stanford Prison Experiment but with less prison and more aspic. That’s the only reason I have for why we didn’t leave during any of these incidents:
  • When a member of our party stood up during the lengthy stretch between courses to go have a cigarette outside, and was scolded to sit down.
  • When one member of our party was served nothing for three consecutive courses, because they couldn’t figure out how to accommodate her food allergies.
  • When Rand was served food he was allergic to, repeatedly, because they didn’t care enough to accommodate his.
  • When a server reprimanded me for eating. These reconstituted orange slices (one per person) were a course. I asked if I could eat the real orange that had been served alongside it (we’d all gotten one, and I, at this point, was extremely hungry). “Yes,” the server said, annoyed. “But you aren’t really supposed to.” He let me have two segments and then whisked the fruit away.
and
a dish called “frozen air” which literally melted before you could eat it
and
And then someone came in and demanded we stand and exit the restaurant. Thinking we were getting kicked out, we gleefully followed. Instead, we were led across the street, to a dark doorway and into the Bros laboratory. A video of the shirtless kitchen staff doing extreme sports played on a large screen TV while a chef cut us comically tiny slivers of fake cheese.

Rand was, of course, allergic to it.

The bill arrived. The meal cost more than any other we’d eat during our trip by a magnitude of three. They’d given us balloons with the restaurant’s name across it and the chef emerged and insisted on posing with us for a Polaroid that we did not ask for
posted by eviemath at 8:19 AM on December 9 [16 favorites]


The problem with I EAT TAPAS's defence of tasting menus, a concept most of us here have surely never heard of*, must be that they're a paid shill for big small plates.

Or more likely that they're just shilling for big misogyny, like a surprising amount of the comments here.

Anyway, I did some googling to find out what you'd expect from it, and I couldn't find many reviews outside of TripAdvisor and the like. Here's a review in Italian which looks good, and here's a profile (also in Italian), which I guess mentions the concept of rancidity, and mentions they're attempting some vegan cheeses, an interest of mine. And here's a video from a couple of years ago which looks really quite nice and shows a slightly better version of the spaghetti dish in the review.

I guess it's this review which really makes it clear how much it falls short. And how that spaghetti in rancid pork fat is being as poorly plated as it was in the OP, rather than the better plating in the video I linke.d

But looking at that, it is abundantly clear that Bros is not doing what it's meant to. And I guess you might think the founders' Another f**king pannetone is a witty and refreshing attitude to take to food, but it just feels tiresome to me.

*oh wait, for research for this comment, I left my house and managed to find that there is a restaurant 3 doors up the road from me with a Michelin starred 9 course tasting menu for £95/€110 veg*an or £120/€140 meat. Bros, though, has tables available tonight, and my local restaurant doesn't. I guess that's because they do such populist things as posting their menu on the railings outside, and
posted by ambrosen at 8:20 AM on December 9 [12 favorites]


Reading this thread, I kind of feel like I read a different article. The article I read was of a restaurant that, clearly, was having a spectacularly bad evening. This happens. (Cook is sick/drunk/angry/not there dish-washer steps in, fails, waiters thaw some stuff from the freezer, hope to pull it off, but fail etc. )

It's not the end of the world. It was a bad meal. The writer made it all very clear that the expectation - You (restaurant) propose that if I pay you money, you will provide me with food - was not met (we all know it was a tasting menu, and a swath of us have had tasting menus (the writer, quite obviously, included)). That is the basis of the critique. Then the writer further describes all the ways the restaurant did not provide them with actual food.

Pretty straightforward. And well written.

The issue here is that maybe, perhaps, the creators of this 27-course tasting menu didn't intend for it to be dinner or even a goddamn meal? This is an interesting idea.
posted by From Bklyn at 8:20 AM on December 9 [10 favorites]


Or more likely that they're just shilling for big misogyny, like a surprising amount of the comments here.

I assure you that I'd find the review just as suspect written by anyone of any gender. Low, inappropriate and misguided blow that has no relation to anything I've written. Real ugly stuff in this thread.
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 8:22 AM on December 9 [1 favorite]


The problem with I EAT TAPAS's defence of tasting menus, a concept most of us here have surely never heard of*, must be that they're a paid shill for big small plates

What the fuck is going on, why is half the stuff I’m reading here completely opaque
posted by sock poppet at 8:22 AM on December 9 [6 favorites]


Low, inappropriate and misguided blow that has no relation to anything I've written.

By all means, respond to the comments that directly engage what you’ve written, of which there are several!
posted by sock poppet at 8:24 AM on December 9 [11 favorites]


By all means, respond to the comments that directly engage what you’ve written, of which there are several!

I've responded to many, and I think I'm done.
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 8:25 AM on December 9


The article I read was of a restaurant that, clearly, was having a spectacularly bad evening. This happens. (Cook is sick/drunk/angry/not there dish-washer steps in, fails, waiters thaw some stuff from the freezer, hope to pull it off, but fail etc. )

My example above is of a restaurant having a bad evening. I strongly suspect at least a good chunk of this experience was deliberate choice on the part of the chefs/employees from reading this, though.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:27 AM on December 9 [3 favorites]


Mod note: Hi friends. Couple comments deleted. First, to echo sock poppet: this is everyone's official warning to instantly drop the idea that criticizing fancy restaurant/art-cuisine is like racism/xenophobia; it isn't, the comparison is harmful, stop now. Second, please everyone take a step back and dial down the heat in here in general.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:27 AM on December 9 [23 favorites]


Very well. We shall resume after the mouth foam course.
posted by Drastic at 8:27 AM on December 9 [55 favorites]


If someone orders an espresso, do they have the right to complain that their cup of coffee was comedically small?

This reminds me of the time I ordered a double espresso from the shitty pretentious coffee shop near my grad school, and was given something like less than a single espresso. It was bullshit! Then everyone I complained about it to helpfully reminded me that espresso comes in cups smaller than normal coffee cups and refused to take my word for it. Absolutely infuriating, surprisingly so. But as Taylor Swift says, "when everyone believes you, what's that like?" As a woman, I generally wouldn't know!
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 8:39 AM on December 9 [42 favorites]


Anyway if your contention here is that she doesn't know enough about tasting menus, which then turns to "she knew it would be bad so it's her fault" and at no time do you just consider that actually, it's not the woman's fault at all, you should think on that and why that's your reaction.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 8:41 AM on December 9 [35 favorites]


Talk about sticking a boiled frog with the gas bill.

That people will not only put up with this kind of abuse, but still pay out of some misplaced sense of obligation, there lies the commentary.
posted by grokus at 8:42 AM on December 9


Yeah, I had my bachelor party dinner at Momofuko Ssam, which had a tasting menu that heavily featured meat, and a member of my party who was a late addition told them when we arrived that he was a vegetarian, and they proceeded to serve him an entire alternate menu on no notice.

We went to Momofuku Shoto for their tasting menu a few years ago (before it was "reimagined") and the person who booked our table did not inform the chef that my husband doesn't eat fish. After pointing out that fish was sort of a main element of their menu, the staff prepared a fish-free menu for our whole party of four, without making us feel like a burden in any way. In fact, they seemed to enjoy the challenge. My husband an I had a similar experience at a Joel Roubochon restaurant in Vegas, but they gave us different courses when there was fish, which kind of took away the magic of the experience.
posted by PatchesPal at 8:47 AM on December 9 [10 favorites]


After pointing out that fish was sort of a main element of their menu, the staff prepared a fish-free menu for our whole party of four, without making us feel like a burden in any way.

Contrast that with repeatedly serving apricots to someone allergic to apricots even though it's supposed to be a seasonal menu and apricots are not in season in October.
posted by hydropsyche at 8:56 AM on December 9 [13 favorites]


Let's say the late Roger Ebert attended a screening of an avant-garde film by a respected "experimental film" director, and came back with the review "This film was only 60 minutes, not even a full feature length! And, lol, it didn't even have a story! It was just 27 disconnected images!

In fairness, Ebert has occasionally penned some astonishingly wrong-headed reviews.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 8:59 AM on December 9 [3 favorites]


metafilter: I've never had to lick something out of a plaster cast of the mod's mouth.
posted by mecran01 at 9:02 AM on December 9 [4 favorites]


Or more likely that they're just shilling for big misogyny, like a surprising amount of the comments here.

Yeah, we've had gleefully harsh restaurant reviews posted on the blue before, and while there may have been disagreements, I sure don't recall anyone saying Jay Rayner obviously didn't understand haute cuisine or the concept of a tasting menu.
posted by tavella at 9:14 AM on December 9 [31 favorites]


Since the reviews make it sound like they got a far inferior experience than many other folks, maybe the folks running the restaurant really like Mario Batali and really didn't like how she made those cinnamon rolls?
posted by rmd1023 at 9:32 AM on December 9


I'm late and most of what I have to say has already been said. In short: "From a body of writing the author was clearly knowledgable about the kind of experience this should have been, the experience was clearly not good and has written an entertaining account that should not be mistaken for eyewitness testimony suitable for court."

A small additional part that I don't see mentioned specially above though: Many have noted the grossness of "licking food from a plaster cast of the chef's mouth" but no one has fully explored the combination of said plaster cast and the questionable foodstuff contained within.

Ok everyone - not only is the presentation disgusting and needlessly theatrical... it's also a delivery mechanism for citrus foam. That's right - bubbly frothy acidic pseudo liquid foam. They were served an impression of vomit and expected to French kiss it until the 'plate' was clean.

There is no way that wasn't intentional and, having declared that, there's no way this experience wasn't designed to make patrons look bad and/or feel bad - whichever combination felt better to the profiteer who took their money for the purpose of mistreating customers who entered in good faith.

I've eaten all kinds of things in all kinds of places - including things clearly part of the joke:
'You know what?' Vimes went on. 'I think this is a little game called "Let's see what offends will swallow". And I'm not swallowing this, my friend.'
At least in those circumstances the perpetrator has the decency to be present there before you because that's the fun part of the joke. There is nothing interesting, funny, or charitable to be said for preparing a "I dare you - I dare you to eat this menu" then sending it via the serving staff who aren't in on the joke and aren't able (or willing) to present it as anything other than a really expensive take on "why are you punching yourself?"
posted by mce at 9:37 AM on December 9 [14 favorites]


I'll reiterated that the people insisting that a James Beard Award winning professional reviewer is naive and doesn't know what she's doing should probably hold up a mirror and agree with tavella that you don't see those comments here with male reviewers. It reeks of, "well actually," and whether intended or not, when a ton of people point it out, that's a good time to stop and reconsider how you're coming across.

that's what the Midhelin star is there for, to tell you what to expect.

To me that's the core of the problem. I've been to experimental restaurants where the concept fell flat or was poorly executed. Or ones where I've left hungry because of meager portion sizes. Which was OK because I went in with the expectation of weird that may or may not work and/or just a taste of this and that which is unusual. And as I noted above, they tend to be fairly clearly labeled as such.

When I go to a Michelin starred fancy restaurant, I have the expectation of a really good and satisfying meal that may be experimental but in a way that the majority of people would find pleasing. And they're expected to be consistently good.

P.S. I'm genuinely curious about the olive ice cream and I think it might have gone over better with the author if it had arrived as a spin on the traditional cheese course after a satisfying main course to prepare them for sweet desserts.
posted by Candleman at 9:44 AM on December 9 [10 favorites]


To be fair to a lot of people here, it is actually really strange that a restaurant that bad has a Michelin star. If anything, the Michelin guide is very conservative, and weight conservative food values like feeling satiated after eating and there being respectable service at the restaurant. And normally the one star restaurants usually are a better choice for eaters who are not into snobbery and overly contrived food.
That is at least why I think something may have gone terribly wrong. As I wrote very far above, I would not book at table at that type of restaurant, because I am a food snob and it looks dated to me. Everyone out there and their cousin have stopped foaming and started fermenting a decade ago. Contemporary chefs are serving pork belly or potatoes in incredibly stylish contortions, not fish paper. And actually, that might be the real joke in the review: "look at this stupid restaurant in very provincial Lecce, acting like it's still 1996 and nothing happened since." If that is the case, maybe the writer is a bit too subtle for this audience, since what is being read is more like the 1980s vulgar criticism of nouvelle cuisine (not enough food, I need to drive through a MacD's). But it still doesn't explain the Michelin star.
posted by mumimor at 9:50 AM on December 9 [17 favorites]


I've eaten all kinds of things in all kinds of places - including things clearly part of the joke:

What are examples of this? To me, that Vimes line has always rung incredibly false and provincial, a kind of “people couldn’t possibly want to eat this” deal. I only have my own limited experience to draw on here, but I’ve never been served something strange in a restaurant purely as a prank.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:25 AM on December 9


(e.g Casu martzu is real and people enjoy it.)
posted by Going To Maine at 10:27 AM on December 9 [1 favorite]


P.S. I'm genuinely curious about the olive ice cream and I think it might have gone over better with the author if it had arrived as a spin on the traditional cheese course after a satisfying main course to prepare them for sweet desserts.

The upscale Salt & Straw ice cream shops sell olive oil ice cream all the dang time. It seemed like an extremely mundane plate to have at this kind of restaurant.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:32 AM on December 9


Olive oil ice cream is very much not the same thing as olive ice cream.
posted by dfan at 10:36 AM on December 9 [24 favorites]


I now want to make olive ice cream, and I think it will be delicious. What could possibly go wrong?
posted by mumimor at 10:37 AM on December 9 [3 favorites]


ah, fair
posted by Going To Maine at 10:38 AM on December 9 [1 favorite]


I do wonder if the style of the restaurant changed after they got their star.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:59 AM on December 9


"a kind of “people couldn’t possibly want to eat this” deal"
Going To Maine: In my experience it's not that no one wants to eat said thing... it's that there are many more people who want to convince you to eat said thing. Generally to cheer if you do and laugh if you don't. That's the joke when everyone's on it.

Examples:
  • food that's ludicrisouly over spiced for the room
  • terrible "signature" cocktails
  • regional specialties/delicacies of which I have personally tried include : prairie oysters &
The testicles were meh but I can see how some may fancy them. The fermented shark tasked simultaneously of outhouses and cleaning supplies. I do not know how one would acquire a taste for it with developing a truly foreign-to-anyone-living-in-this-century palate.

Again there are those who relish all of these things - but beware those who seem overly interested in having you eat them. It's the culinary equivalent of "The call is coming from inside the house!"
posted by mce at 10:59 AM on December 9


I'm late as usual but came her to say this review made me laugh out loud which I always appreciate. I'm also of the theory that Bros is absurdist performance art.

Also, just wanted to point out I'm pretty sick of seeing the white men of metafilter feeling free to go nuts with the misogyny since they figure it's open season on white women. How dare women have the audacity to 1) age 2) have a middle class income or at least the appearance of such 3) try to do something nice for other people, however clumsily. I'm guessing you wouldn't be caught dead doing any of those things, Droll Lord?
posted by Jess the Mess at 11:02 AM on December 9 [20 favorites]


See Also: Malort if you're in or around Chicago, or Moxie if you're in Maine.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:03 AM on December 9


Presenting: Emperor's New Bros. A play in three acts.

Act I: A luxury restaurant is ridiculous, but receives awards and acclaim anyway because rich people like it despite the fact that rich people waste their money on stupid shit because, paradoxically, money is of little value to rich people since they have so much.

Act II: Chasing clicks, a James Beard Award-winning writer writes an article lampooning this restaurant that none of us will ever go to and, in all likelihood, doesn't even exist. I've never heard of the James Beard Award either. Apparently it was named after a guy who may or may not have had a beard.

Act III: The doors of the theater are locked and the stage is set on fire. This innovative use of audience-conflagration represents how the world itself is burning as we go in an endless circle of outrageous displays and pointing at the outrage, a proud legacy that goes back to the Jerry Springer Show and carnival geeks biting the heads off chickens, disgusting the viewers who then clamor for more. Somewhere in Texas, a metafilter commenter decides their high-horse attitude is probably contributing to the very thing they decry, and that it's time to log off the internet for a while.
posted by AlSweigart at 11:07 AM on December 9 [2 favorites]


Oh, one more thing for the "it's just performance art" defenders:

So no, we can’t call it dinner theater. Instead, we will say it was just theater. Very, very expensive theater.

If it's inaccessible to the poor, it is neither radical nor revolutionary.
posted by AlSweigart at 11:09 AM on December 9 [6 favorites]


We can't enjoy anything, can we. We truly are all licking the orange foam paste from the plaster mouth of chef-god.

Anyway, to everyone who enjoyed this article as a fun lighthearted romp, I am licking my meat molecules alongside you in spirit. Many of the best travel related memories I have are from utter disasters in the moment, like my dad tipping our boundary waters canoe when wearing our last dry clothes.

To everyone else, I dunno, dude.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 11:32 AM on December 9 [5 favorites]


Wow, didn't expect this to be controversial on MeFi! Or anywhere! But setting that aside, I will leave you with this comment made by my 10 yr old daughter yesterday upon reading the original review:

"It looks like spit. They made it look like spit in his mouth! Why???"
posted by MiraK at 11:33 AM on December 9 [18 favorites]


metafilter: Michelin-rated restaurants are part of some endangered subculture
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 11:37 AM on December 9 [5 favorites]


Here are more photos from the meal from another person in the party.
posted by MiraK at 11:39 AM on December 9 [3 favorites]


The food isn't even pretty to look at. This meal failed on every level - it needs no defense.

I love how clearly hysterical this experience was for the diners. So absurd.
posted by tiny frying pan at 11:43 AM on December 9 [9 favorites]


Roger Ebert did write that review, though. Google “roger ebert Vincent gallo”
posted by sjswitzer at 11:48 AM on December 9 [4 favorites]


Recommendation: Do not eat here. I cannot express this enough. This was single-handedly one of the worse wastes of money in my entire food and travel writing career bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha oh my god

She is my kind of people. So much hysterical laughing at the end!
posted by Omnomnom at 11:50 AM on December 9 [8 favorites]


This food looks nasty and I don't understand why people are trying so hard to defend it.
posted by all about eevee at 12:08 PM on December 9 [11 favorites]


One reason a tasting menu normally provides enough food to be satisfying is so that diners can take their time to enjoy each dish, instead of being so starved that trying to eat it slowly is actively unpleasant. Even something like unexpected olive ice cream can be an interesting surprise, if it comes after a satisfying meal. And if there's enough that after the first what the hell moment, you can try it again on its own terms, as someone mentioned. So it was a failure on a structural level as a tasting menu, apart from the quality of the dishes.
posted by tavella at 12:09 PM on December 9 [6 favorites]


"It looks like spit. They made it look like spit in his mouth! Why???"


The picture of eating foam out of the plaster-casted mouth and this comment made me want to put some lipstick on the edge of oysters on the half shell for some reason, sort of like Troy McClure's fish fetish. I googled it and no-one has ever done it and taken pictures.
posted by The_Vegetables at 12:13 PM on December 9 [7 favorites]


I am willing to believe that the restaurant was having a bad night (well, a terrible night) that was even worse for the guests that evening. Plenty of other guest did leave great reviews. I'm so curious about the impact, if any, this review will have on the restaurant.

When I checked out the restaurant's website, I was surprised to discover a warning for epileptics because of a video suddenly running across the top. In any case, it was fascinating to find that the folks who run the restaurant also run a bunch of other things, including marketing and communication services, branding services, and product design and development.

But wait, there's more: A DAY BEHIND THE SCENE
"Spend a day in our restaurant. You will assist at the preparation of the menu and the preparation of the dining hall, you will meet the brigata and you will be able to taste in advance a dish of the Bros’ menu." I believe this is an experience that one pays for. Wonder if any paying customers were in the kitchen prepping dishes the night the blogger and her party rolled into the place.

Thanks for the post, OP. Had not heard of this travel and food writer before. I like her work.
posted by Bella Donna at 12:13 PM on December 9 [5 favorites]


OK, so I finally got curious and found a 2019 description of Bros at a Danish site I trust, by a reliable writer I have met in person before he became a food writer (Euroman, but I don't expect many here to be able to read it).

Consistently with the information on the restaurant site, he tells us we can choose between a 8 course chef's tasting menu and a 15 course menu where you can choose what you want from a menu. A la carte is also an option.
The restaurant is not in a concrete dungeon, but in the basement of a very normal Italian historical building, and the decor is minimalist, which is totally normal in fine dining restaurants, and also in cheap trattorias and everything in-between in Italy. The Danish journalist recommends the restaurant (but it is not a review, it is a journalistic report).

After reading this, I feel very skeptical about the article we are discussing. There is no mention at all of 27 courses. And any restaurant that does a la carte service can and will definitely handle allergies.

So either something went terribly wrong that night, which is absolutely possible these days, or the writer of the article is engaging in hyperbole for clicks, which is obviously fun, but terrible for a restaurant in a small town that depends on tourist income.

Looking at the pictures of their post-corona menu, I sense that theirs is a menu meant to inspire and intrige patrons rather than stuff them. This is a thing that happens. You might not personally agree, but some people enjoy that type of eating. I would never, ever pay 100€ for a ticket to a big stadion concert, but a lot of people do. I don't mock them (very much) on the internet. And I take back my above statements, this is food I would pay 80 € for, easily.
The mouth thing is shown in the linked gallery, and there is clearly a little cup/bowl you can take out of its icy nest, no licking of a plaster mouth. The "rancid" ricotta is described as ricotta forte, which is a normal thing.

Someone above mentioned that it must have been a nightmare to serve a group of Americans mocking their food. I can't help but think that maybe, just maybe, the staff at some point decided to take the piss on their arrogant customers, rather than literally piss or spit in their food.

Also, from googling, it seems DeRuiter's talent is as a humorist, travel writer and sharp mind, which is great. She may have won a James Beard award for her blogpost about Mario Batali, but it is not for her deep interest or knowledge when it comes to food and restaurants.

(Also, IMO, apricots taste best when preserved, so there is nothing weird about eating them out of season. Not respecting allergies is weird, but since there are some really jarring factual errors in the article, I have no idea what to believe at this point).
posted by mumimor at 12:15 PM on December 9 [3 favorites]


I did the bad Mefi citizen thing of reading through all of the comments before actually reading TFA. Based on the comments, I didn't expect it to be as funny and well-written as it was. Sure, it was a bit superficial, but so was the experience the author had. I'm kind of surprised we're nearly 200 comments into this. And yet, here I am.

(CW: The following links have some potentially disturbing content)

It sounds almost like a horror-themed dining experience, and it did make me think a lot of No End House, part of the Channel Zero series (the trailer makes it look a bit more bloody and less surreal than it actually is). I think the producers of this experience could have a future in avant-garde haunted houses like The Blackout Experience.
posted by treepour at 12:17 PM on December 9


Leaving all other questions aside, mumimor, the mouth dish does not have a cup. It's just a mouth. It looks a bit like the sorta-mouthish one with a cup at the end of the slideshow that you linked, but it's much mouthier.
posted by Frowner at 12:22 PM on December 9 [6 favorites]


> After reading this, I feel very skeptical about the article we are discussing.

JFC y'all are literally worse than sharia courts - they at least believe women if she can produce three additional female witnesses or one male witness. This woman has eight (iirc?) witnesses corroborating her story. Several of whom have already spoken up on twitter to confirm and post more photos. Oh, and she has posted photo evidence of her own meal as well.

Fucking gross. I'm now officially more disgusted by the disbelievers on this thread than the spit in the chef's mouth.
posted by MiraK at 12:23 PM on December 9 [60 favorites]


The mouth thing is shown in the linked gallery,

That is very different from the pics the diners in the article had. And all your "glaring factual errors" seem to be about potentially outdated photos from a website that do NOT MATCH her or her dining friend's photos, or a simple difference in opinion.

What harm does it cause to actually believe this is this woman's honest and valid review?
posted by tiny frying pan at 12:24 PM on December 9 [24 favorites]


Frowner, I know, but at this point I don't know what to trust...
posted by mumimor at 12:24 PM on December 9 [1 favorite]


Because a whole lot of this review seems to be bashing something intentionally different just because it's different, where certain deliberate aesthetic choices didn't align with the reviewer's cultural expectations.

I believe that the writer emphasized the unusual nature of the food because "we're going to be wacky" seemed to be the chef's primary focus, rather than "are our guests getting a sufficient quantity of food on a caloric level". This wasn't a point-and-laugh-at-the-weird-food kind of thing, this was more about "they were so focused on making air foam and meat molecule gelee that they forgot we might actually want to eat something because we might be hungry", and honestly, I think that's a more than valid complaint.

I mean, part of the evening involved requiring the guests to actually move to another room and watch a video of extreme sports as part of the experience - and that, to me, is a sure sign that the chefs aren't actually focused on the food so much as they are about the showmanship. And that's a bit of a warning sign for me right there - if they are so distracted by trying to make things unusual to the point that they outright overlooked an allergy warning that their guests had alerted them to in advance, what else might they be cutting corners on?

So in short, I don't think that what you're seeing is a whole bunch of pointing and laughing at "ew, it's weird food we don't recognize" - I think you're seeing a bunch of pointing and laughing at "my God look at how egotistical these Bros are".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:24 PM on December 9 [11 favorites]


"glaring factual errors" mainly refers to the fact that neither in 2019 or now, the restaurant offered a 27 course chef's tasting menu.
posted by mumimor at 12:26 PM on December 9


.. but also that this is a totally normal space in an Italian town
(sorry, my dog wants out now)
posted by mumimor at 12:26 PM on December 9


You, an idiot: This food doesn't look very good.

Me, a genius: Having to pretend to snowball the chef is art, actually.
posted by bondcliff at 12:26 PM on December 9 [19 favorites]


Oh so one potential error. And you don't know what these people were offered. But your interpretation must be more plausible than the reviewer and her fellow diners. Ridiculous.
posted by tiny frying pan at 12:27 PM on December 9 [14 favorites]


> a Danish site I trust, by a reliable writer ... Euroman

but of course
posted by MiraK at 12:33 PM on December 9 [15 favorites]


"glaring factual errors" mainly refers to the fact that neither in 2019 or now, the restaurant offered a 27 course chef's tasting menu.

Are you the chef or something? I'm confused.

If you find it more plausible that they all made it up vs. the restaurant full of inexplicable things suddenly decided to offer a 27 course chef's tasting menu and didn't put it on their website then we are at an impasse.

Your assumption in what is 100% reality is distressingly bold for a place I'm guessing you aren't at every night from 2019 to now.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:33 PM on December 9 [12 favorites]


My favorite part is the writer's hopes being crushed when she thought the ice cream was going to be pistachio.
posted by Jess the Mess at 12:34 PM on December 9 [5 favorites]




There are some comments that seem to assume the name is referring to the term “bro”, as in “hey, bro” or “That guy’s such a bro”, and I was curious about whether that’s the case as I think some people are put off by that connotation. According to this website (in Italian), the idea for the restaurant came from 3 brothers. “Bros” seems to me to just be short for “brothers” in this case, a la Mario Bros. or Warner Bros., rather than deliberately trying to evoke the “bro” personality.
posted by chaiyai at 12:36 PM on December 9 [1 favorite]


the fact that neither in 2019 or now, the restaurant offered a 27 course chef's tasting menu

Every high end tasting menu I've done had a bunch of amuse-bouche and palate-cleansers. If your objection is to the author potentially counting those as courses, part of the point appears to be that everything was so insubstantial it was impossible to tell what was intended as a course and what as an amuse-bouche.
posted by tavella at 12:39 PM on December 9 [26 favorites]


Regardless of whatever the restaurant's artistic intent may have been, an ostensible meal that is 4.5 hours* long that doesn't include something to actually satiate your appetite just seems wrongheaded.

*approximately half of the running time of the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings trilogy.
posted by AndrewInDC at 12:43 PM on December 9 [8 favorites]


> “Bros” seems to me to just be short for “brothers” in this case, a la Mario Bros. or Warner Bros., rather than deliberately trying to evoke the “bro” personality.

sure because the type of restauranteurs who serve spit-like foam in plaster casts of their own mouths are bound to be clueless and unsophisticated about their branding, the poor little italian rubes
posted by MiraK at 12:46 PM on December 9 [20 favorites]


“Bros” seems to me to just be short for “brothers” in this case, a la Mario Bros. or Warner Bros., rather than deliberately trying to evoke the “bro” personality.

....Did you not see the bit where the guests were lead into a room and given fake cheese while being forced to watch a videotape of the restaurateurs doing extreme sports?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:49 PM on December 9 [24 favorites]


Fucking gross. I'm now officially more disgusted by the disbelievers on this thread than the spit in the chef's mouth.

Take some solace in the fact that some of these defenders of awful may one day voluntarily experience it just to prove they were correct.
posted by srboisvert at 12:52 PM on December 9 [8 favorites]


Great. Enjoy your very artsy spit gravy.
posted by all about eevee at 12:57 PM on December 9 [6 favorites]


Obviously it's written to be entertaining, but I know someone who was there and they seemingly felt it was every bit as bizarre & terrible as described. This isn't a group of tourists grumbling they didn't get burger & fries, it was just hilariously awful as a dining experience.
posted by malevolent at 12:59 PM on December 9 [26 favorites]


Our gastronomic proposal follows the rhythm of the seasons and changes every six months.

I'm just trying to wrap my head around the idea that Italy has but two seasons. Who knew?
posted by sjswitzer at 1:07 PM on December 9 [12 favorites]


(If anyone gets tired of this back-and-forth, feel free to check out the post I made yesterday about a young female political candidate in the state of Virginia who won first time out. It’s a very lonely little post that could use some love.)
posted by Bella Donna at 1:11 PM on December 9 [18 favorites]


After reading this, I feel very skeptical about the article we are discussing.

I see, so actually, it's about ethics in food journalism?
posted by a faithful sock at 1:31 PM on December 9 [59 favorites]


I'm really delighted by her rage in that rolls-making article. I feel ya, madam.

We try to follow a half-written recipe and think it’s our fault when it doesn’t work.
Most women don’t even need to hear the shitty comments made to us anymore. We’ve heard them so many times, we can create our own.


Yeah, literally those tapes play in my head all hours of my work day, and everything is my fault even if technically speaking it might not be. I know I'm going to get abuse for even the slightest of failures at my organization, even if they aren't mine.

Once again I must wonder: if a guy wrote this, literally any guy (even if it's Bourdain, even if it's another James Beard winner, even if it's some random literal American bro off the street), would it get this much defense and explaining how she's wrong and misjudged everything? What if any of the guys she dined with wrote this instead?
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:34 PM on December 9 [12 favorites]


I see, so actually, it's about ethics in food journalism?

M'ladle.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:34 PM on December 9 [46 favorites]


Maybe its just me but I was disappointed that this wasn't a restaurant based around the British band Bros. Wouldn't you be curious about the food prepared by the members of Bros inspired by their adolescent dream journals?
posted by Ashwagandha at 1:36 PM on December 9 [8 favorites]


If someone orders an espresso, do they have the right to complain that their cup of coffee was comedically small?
Perhaps a better comparison—based on the article—would be them ordering an espresso and getting a pile of dry Taster’s Choice in a little porcelain toilet.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 1:37 PM on December 9 [29 favorites]


But your interpretation must be more plausible than the reviewer and her fellow diners. Ridiculous.
posted by tiny frying pan at 12:27 PM on December 9 [2 favorites +] [!]


OK. It was a good thing that my dog needed a walk, because I needed a breathe. My first instinct was to write: do you have any idea how arrogant this looks? And then I realized that of course you don't, and that is totally OK. But I would like you to understand why I felt that way.

Obviously I trust the restaurant and the local reviews and the Danish journalist more, because the kids running that restaurant could be my kids, I can read the local reviews, and I regularly read articles by the Danish journalist and know we share tastes. The American lady whose Italian is fragmentary and turns "ricotta forte" into rancid ricotta, and who also boasts in her own book that she had no idea where Russia was is just not as trustworthy to me. Not because of nationalism, but because her knowledge of the context of a restaurant in Lecce is not convincing.
I'm a woman and a feminist and I despise Mario Batali, but this is not enough to convince me that she is a reliable narrator of an evening in a very popular restaurant in Italy.

Look at it this way: If I were to go to a local craft brewery in a small town in Ohio, and write a blog about how their chili (chile?) is weird and ridiculous, served in far too large portions, and not at all like the chili that is ubiquitous at Northern European cafés, many of you would come out in flames about me being ignorant. I'm totally aware this is a very clichéd view of Ohio, that is the effing (meta-)point.

There are some things that are very different in Europe, compared to the US. Meals in restaurants are more expensive, because we have better labor protection and higher rents, and even in the south, where there is a lot of illegal immigration, prices can't be as low as in the US. Also: servings are much smaller in Europe in general. So with something like a tasting menu, servings are proportionally smaller. You can't "get away" with the same portions at Alinea as at Noma. This applies doubly for more local restaurants. I mentioned above that the really famous destination places have to comply with American expectations (and Asian and Australian expectations).

Also, Europeans generally speak several languages and expect others to do so too. In the US, it seems that only the higher and the lower classes speak more languages.

In Italy specifically, there is a fine dining tradition that seems more valued by locals than by tourists. Tourists love the traditional foods, and Americans specifically love the southern working class food that was transformed into Italian-American food, which has nothing to do with northern Italian food or upper class Italian food. Wether you in the US like it or not, Italians often find joy in meals that are extravagant and adventurous, and it has been like that for centuries.
ALL of this knowledge could be accessed by DeGruiter. It is not secret information hidden behind a wall of mysterious palaces.

Also:
Every high end tasting menu I've done had a bunch of amuse-bouche and palate-cleansers. If your objection is to the author potentially counting those as courses, part of the point appears to be that everything was so insubstantial it was impossible to tell what was intended as a course and what as an amuse-bouche.

I'd turn that around and suggest that if you claim there were 27 courses and only document the amuses-bouches, instead of the actual courses, you are not reporting fairly. I can absolutely believe that the paper-fish was served as an amuse-bouche. But I no longer believe it was ever meant as a course in an 8-course chef's menu. And since the author claimed they had no influence on the contents, it can't have been the 15 course own choice menu. Or the available a la carte menu.

Finally:
If you find it more plausible that they all made it up vs. the restaurant full of inexplicable things suddenly decided to offer a 27 course chef's tasting menu and didn't put it on their website then we are at an impasse.

Your assumption in what is 100% reality is distressingly bold for a place I'm guessing you aren't at every night from 2019 to now.

Basically, my assumption is not so much that they made it all up as that they had no idea what they were experiencing. I'm guessing, from what I know now, that context was important. With regards to the menu, I find it implausible that if one can find a documentation of a menu from 2019, and one from 2020, and also go in and see what they are serving today, that one single day when a group of Americans were visiting, they suddenly improvised a scary horror menu just to spite the Americans.
posted by mumimor at 1:39 PM on December 9 [4 favorites]


I just wonder if there is a bit of the fundamental attribution error going on in this thread.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 1:45 PM on December 9 [2 favorites]


That's a very long appeal to (your) authority. I find the comments here supporting the reasonable plausible horror at such an objectively awful meal more in line with reality.
posted by tiny frying pan at 1:46 PM on December 9 [19 favorites]


He explains the Bros thing in this video (Italian speech, French subtitles). It is extremely bro-ey, fist bumps and everything.

Here's 2 articles in Italian which quote the word rancido.

It seems pretty clear to me that it's not about the damn Yanks being condescending and thinking Europeans are rubes.
posted by ambrosen at 1:48 PM on December 9 [26 favorites]


mumimor, you seem to be describing an entirely different restaurant than not only this reviewer, but also her companions, as well as various online reviews, as well as what the photos illustrate.

The sheer number of assumptions in your most recent post, along with your condescension, is pretty rough to read. Do you really think you're the only person who can truly see what's going on here, with this poor, poor thousand-euro-meal restaurant being attacked by the mean American woman?

It's absolutely starting to smack of some sort of disbelief that anyone other than you could possibly be cultured.
posted by sagc at 1:55 PM on December 9 [31 favorites]


The problem with the article isn't the thesis per se, or the author's accolades, I had no idea who or what gender the author was but from a basic writing skills standpoint the essay just made a bad argument to support itself. If the point is an avante garde restaurant is bad then watching weird videos or eating out of weird dishes, by Puritanical White American standards, or small portions, are actually very irrelevant evidence. A food allergy mishandling is a totally different thesis. Reviewers aren't infallible writers and sometimes their point needs to be actually revised and rethought. The thesis was so busy making fun of a single meal that it neglected to ask and answer, for actual prospective diners, the question of whether this was a one-time screw up, or whether the restaurant has declined since its winning multiple awards, or whether the chefs are in over their heads, or that this is overall a bad culinary trend that young chefs don't know any better, etc. The article as written is made of destructive criticism like a TripAdvisor comment, rather than journalistic critique. The subjective rhetoric of "this was the worst meal I've had ever" does not help at all.

What Michelin reviewers so is visit a place multiple times. The fact that this place got one star means that over several different meals, their 200€ tasting menu was worth that price for the Michelin reviewers. All we have here is a sample size of one.

A boring review would've set the context, that this was supposed a fancy experimental-cooking restaurant and the author would've established in their text that they've been to or know about other such restaurants and that this one just didn't compare in terms of quality. Without that establishing frame all readers have go on is the author's own authority. And that is bad writing.
posted by polymodus at 2:01 PM on December 9 [1 favorite]


Next, I would proceed to stuff it down my pants for another kind of kiss and send it back to the kitchen. I would ensure that everyone - including the waitstaff would see me doing that - after all - I am just participating in the experience offered.

And the waitstaff would notice that you were the third one this week so far.
posted by acb at 2:01 PM on December 9 [2 favorites]


I took some time off and read Geraldine DeRuiter's Beard-winning essay on Mario Batali, some of the comments about it, and fallout she suffered over it. My position on the Bros review stands, but while I was initially baffled and offended by some of the accusations of misogyny, after reading her angrily thoughtful and funny essay and seeing some of the insane backlash it generated, I can now completely see where that concern stems from.
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 2:02 PM on December 9 [3 favorites]


Gasp! Destructive criticism! I don't know, I think if I were the restaurant, I'd be able to pull a lot of clear ways to improve from the article.
posted by sagc at 2:03 PM on December 9 [1 favorite]


Here's 2 articles in Italian which quote the word rancido.

They explain the use of rancido, which was new to me, but confirms my statement above that fermentation is the new foam.
But I'll retreat now. I didn't expect many Americans to enjoy my proposition that Americans are not all knowing and generally smarter than everyone else.

I will repeat as I often must, that I love the USA and most Americans I know. I just think it is relevant to point out that this restaurant is perhaps understood differently in the context where it actually exists: a provincial town in the south of Italy.

It's absolutely starting to smack of some sort of disbelief that anyone other than you could possibly be cultured.

OK, this I have to address: the point is that if you are in Europe, European culture is not elitist or cultured, it's just life. You know languages because you work across borders. And going to good restaurants is not an elite activity, remember, everyone gets a living wage. It's something many people do on special occasions. My very much working class in-laws have been at more Michelin restaurants than me, because they live in an area with many famous restaurants, where the chefs are local kids, and they prioritize it. They favor wacky tasting menus because they want food they couldn't make at home.
posted by mumimor at 2:04 PM on December 9 [5 favorites]


We're not saying Americans are all-knowing. We're saying that your anecdotes don't actually do anything to gainsay the review.
posted by sagc at 2:06 PM on December 9 [23 favorites]


The review piece is for prospective diners and their is such a thing as unhelpful criticism rather than nuanced critique. Somehow you skimmed my entire comment and decided to hinge on a single word I was talking about how the chefs would take it, rather than what a diner looking for haute cuisine should take it when I clearly and explicitly lay my out with plenty of context. So sagc maybe you should get off my back.
posted by polymodus at 2:06 PM on December 9


Hey, mumimor.
“These are made with rancid ricotta,” the server said, a tiny fried cheese ball in front of each of us.

“I’m… I’m sorry, did you say rancid? You mean… fermented? Aged?

“No. Rancid.

“Okay,” I said in Italian. “But I think that something might be lost in translation. Because it can’t be-”

Rancido,” he clarified.
He didn't say forte. He said rancido. She does speak Italian. This "idiot rube americans don't understand culture" act is less affecting when you've clearly not read The Fucking Article.
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 2:07 PM on December 9 [49 favorites]


All we have here is a sample size of one

Okay, but that's how restaurant reviews work. The reviewer goes to a meal. The reviewer talks about the meal they had. That's the genre.

Seriously, she's being held to a standard that male food reviewers never, ever are. This is.... So much of this thread is so very hard to interpret as anything other than implicit bias at work.

I also notice, the first picture on the article doesn't just show a woman, but a fat woman. It warmed my heart, to see that photo, to see a fat woman at a fancy restaurant, in a review. But I wonder how relevant that photo is to the responses the article is getting.
posted by meese at 2:08 PM on December 9 [31 favorites]


But there is such food, like rancid shark meat. So again another bad explanation by the author of what the problem was. Rancid is actually a culinary term by now, in English, used to describe some new foods. Did the author know that?
posted by polymodus at 2:09 PM on December 9


polymodus, I'm saying that you have a very limited definition of the function of a piece of writing, even when it is taking the form of a review.
posted by sagc at 2:10 PM on December 9 [1 favorite]


I've seen half of this video with an Italian couple videoing their meal there in daytime in an upstairs room on the current menu, and it certainly does look like it can go well. I'm very much still prepared to believe it went badly when Geraldine DeRuiter went there.
posted by ambrosen at 2:14 PM on December 9 [2 favorites]


I do think that there is performative faux naivete going on here. But in my experience, that's pretty much this author's schtik. I've read her book and occasionally her blog, and it's often written in an over-the-top way that makes me confused at her lack of expecting various situations.
posted by mkuhnell at 2:17 PM on December 9 [2 favorites]


I think some people just are so absolutely overawed by the mere concept of the avant garde that they don't dare agree with or accept criticism, lest someone even more overawed accuse them of simply not getting it.

Sometimes the critic isn't a puritanical American prole. Sometimes the food is just bad. Maybe the kitchen had an off night - doesn't matter! I did theatre for a while, and if shit went sideways on critic night then that was that and you had to live with it. A critic has every right to expect that any given night will be representative of the overall experience, since that is the expectation that any customer would have. If the restaurant or play can't meet that expectation, well, them's the breaks.
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 2:18 PM on December 9 [17 favorites]


polymodus, I'm saying that you have a very limited definition of the function of a piece of writing, even when it is taking the form of a review.

Then I'll say you're projecting, because you replied under the idea that I was talking about how the chefs would take "destructive criticism". I made it clear in my comment I was talking much more about how diners, like myself, would find a piece like this informative or not. Destructive criticism that supports a subjective thesis of "This was the worst meal I had ever!" is a piece of writing that establishes its own thesis and function explicitly. And when people in this thread are appealing to the credentials as a food reviewer then indeed the essay should be called out on those grounds.
posted by polymodus at 2:18 PM on December 9


I'm just saying that it's possible that a review can be written with other goals than serving as a travel guide.
posted by sagc at 2:21 PM on December 9


That plaster cast of the chef's mouth that you had to lick foam out of is the grossest way of serving food I have ever seen

On reflection, even grosser: foam served on some of the comments in this thread assuming the writer must be ignorant and/or lying based on basically no evidence.

Disclaimer: I am not, in fact, American, so I cannot be breathtakingly arrogant about it.
posted by stillnocturnal at 2:21 PM on December 9 [18 favorites]


I think some people just are so absolutely overawed

It's not awe, it's having been at some of these places and read enough such cookbooks so the food descriptions given by the author don't make me bat an eye. They are bad arguments for such a strong claim they're making.

Sometimes the critic isn't a puritanical American prole.

The critic wrote a bad essay. The puritans are the line of reasoning that accepts a mouth dish as being out of whack as self-sustaining evidence for bad cuisine. There's a distinction between the two mistakes.
posted by polymodus at 2:22 PM on December 9


There are some things that are very different in Europe, compared to the US.

Of the 8 people at table, 5 were European and one an American who is a longtime resident in London. Can we knock off with the "oh, it's just Americans not understanding our culture!" shit now? Sometimes a bad restaurant meal is a bad restaurant meal.
posted by tavella at 2:23 PM on December 9 [49 favorites]


Polymodus, do you think you're the only diner in a thread full of restaurant critics? We're all diners, here. I would find the article very useful if I was looking for a nice little avant garde place to spend some money at, because it tells me that in terms of food and art, it is extremely not to my taste, rather poorly executed, and furthermore they can't even be fucked to handle allergies appropriately.

Also we can all see you still trying to imply that there's some sort of Evil Prejudice Against Non-American Culture lurking behind the article. Stop it. Pretentious nouveau riche/aspiring middle class eurodining isn't a protected class. No one here is going to lose their job or be chased by an angry mob because the lady didn't like her dining experience. There are absolutely no meaningful stakes here, which is part of why everyone is so baffled at your determination to prove her wrong.

Have you ever even been to the damn restaurant in question?
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 2:25 PM on December 9 [10 favorites]


I love this essay she wrote about winning the James Beard award, btw, which she absolutely didn't expect to win and self-published herself because she thought nobody would want it.

"Do you understand? The essay that won the award and the essay that didn’t win (because it was never submitted) are exactly the same. The pieces that never see the light of day because no editor wants them and the pieces that go viral are the same pieces. If someone rejects your work, it doesn’t mean it’s not wonderful. If your work doesn’t win awards, it doesn’t mean it’s not incredible. Maybe it still needs a little work. Maybe the people in charge weren’t quite ready for it yet. Maybe the right people aren’t in charge yet. Maybe someone hasn’t scared you into realizing your own greatness.
That’s the part that I want you to remember. You, sitting there in front of your computer. You, struggling to write, and getting your pieces rejected from editors (or perhaps not hearing back from them at all). You are wonderful. "

posted by jenfullmoon at 2:25 PM on December 9 [13 favorites]


I'm just saying that it's possible that a review can be written with other goals than serving as a travel guide.

And it's just possible that a "review" written with an inflammatory and subjective headline (one my high-school composition writer explained is termed a motherhood thesis, or more generally an inarguable one because badness is subjective, and so forth), followed with a headline that actually functions as an ad or anti-ad, is the writer's rhetorical responsibility and has nothing whatsoever to do with how good or bad any restaurant is.
posted by polymodus at 2:27 PM on December 9


In that case, you must hate every other piece that contains an opinion? I have no idea what your ideal restaurant review would be at this point
posted by sagc at 2:29 PM on December 9 [6 favorites]


Writing a scathing review of a restaurant is not a sin for which one must take responsibility.
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 2:30 PM on December 9 [23 favorites]


Well, on the plus side, I definitely got a new blog for my RSS feed, so that's nice.
posted by pan at 2:33 PM on December 9 [5 favorites]


Writing a scathing review of a restaurant is not a sin for which one must take responsibility.

All writing bears responsbility, that's what rhetorical ethics is. A scathing review needs to be on the mark. My having an opinion that a piece of (clickbait) writing is bad, is just as valid as your defensiveness about any author. This kind of meta debate is not helpful at all. If you don't get that some writing theses can be badly formulated, and are so resistant to critique an author. This has nothing to do with the restaurant or people's feelings about expensive food, it has everything to do with how a piece of writing accomplishes its public goals or not. And I gave several reasons why it actually does not, based on the arguments and structure of the blog piece. My overall point has been that it misses its mark because its reasons given are not self-contained. Whether I like such food or have been to said restaurant is precisely irrelevant.
posted by polymodus at 2:35 PM on December 9


He explains the Bros thing in this video

Okay changed my mind after watching the video. This is not an absurdist art installation, it's the Fyre Festival of restaurants.
posted by Jess the Mess at 2:35 PM on December 9 [19 favorites]


metafilter: This kind of meta debate is not helpful at all
posted by metaphorever at 2:37 PM on December 9 [3 favorites]


LOL now she's unethical! This thread is too much.
posted by tiny frying pan at 2:37 PM on December 9 [26 favorites]


Her shrill tone reflects only a lack of theology and geometry.
posted by Drastic at 2:40 PM on December 9 [12 favorites]


mumimor, I generally really appreciate your comments, but I’m frankly baffled by your whole approach to this topic.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 2:40 PM on December 9 [9 favorites]


LOL now she's unethical! This thread is too much.

What's too much is the projection, when the accusation is that criticism can be destructive and that this affects readers' (reader's understanding of a problem being described), somehow gets interpreted as an accusation that the person is an unethical person rather than being a fallible reviewer who writes clickbaity titles. This isn't hard.
posted by polymodus at 2:40 PM on December 9


Ah, yes, all us suffering readers? Who enjoyed the piece? Should we feel bad or somehow impure (neoliberal?) now?
posted by sagc at 2:42 PM on December 9 [9 favorites]


I have read this entire trainwreck of a thread and I now sentence all participants, myself included, to eat nothing but weird sour mouth foam for ONE THOUSAND YEARS.

This is inexcusable, this thread is crime.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 2:42 PM on December 9 [31 favorites]


Dude, take the L.
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 2:43 PM on December 9 [3 favorites]


We should all be forbidden from internet, and indeed society, forever for having spawned this.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 2:43 PM on December 9 [8 favorites]


This has got to be in the top ten dumbest fucking threads on metafilter, honestly.
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 2:44 PM on December 9 [63 favorites]


Is it recipe time?
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 2:46 PM on December 9 [5 favorites]


polymodus: "All writing bears responsbility, that's what rhetorical ethics is."

This is what you said. That it is about ethics in food journalism.
posted by team lowkey at 2:47 PM on December 9 [32 favorites]


so busy making fun of a single meal that it neglected to ask and answer, for actual prospective diners, the question of whether this was a one-time screw up

The author in fact did compare with online reviewers and report that other nights included more substantive courses within the tasting menu. Search for "I’ve tried to come up with hypotheses for what happened. Maybe the staff just ran out of food that night."

The piece states its epistemological scope here. Some responsibility lies on the reader to read not towards a proposition that Bros is universally and immutably Like This, but that you should make an upward adjustment to whatever estimate you may have of the disaster risk on a given night.
posted by away for regrooving at 2:47 PM on December 9 [16 favorites]


I'm not reentering the discussion, but I do want to state that the video Ambrosen linked to is absolutely charming and makes me want to be 30 again (Or just have a boyfriend and spend the holidays in Lecce). Also that I have turned 180 degrees on this thread because of the discussions and information provided and that is what makes me love metafilter. I like to become wiser. And hey, I learnt about rancid food.

Also, there may have been mistakes made when DeGruiter visited, but the dinner in the video is pretty obviously the same as the one they had, and it is a substantial and also very lovely and meaningful meal.
posted by mumimor at 2:48 PM on December 9 [2 favorites]


omg did we miss the joke, is this the Bros of threads?

FUCK. We're such rubes.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 2:49 PM on December 9 [12 favorites]


Okay, but is this actually a review, though? I would argue that it's not and that's why it doesn't do what a review should. It's a travel opinion piece about a restaurant but if you compare it to your typical Jay Rayner review, for instance, well, it doesn't situate the restaurant, it doesn't give you any potted history, it doesn't attempt to make a serious description of the food or the prices or the service - it's a riff. It does not appear in a "review" site; it appears on a personal travel blog. It does not have the genre markers of a review, except that it's about eating at a restaurant and having an opinion.

Further, it's written for a substantially American audience about a restaurant that very, very few Americans are going to visit - it's not about a really famous, really central Michelin-starred restaurant that Americans abroad might frequently go out of their way to visit. Again, to compare Jay Rayner, he's invariably writing about restaurants in London or else talking about how he took a day trip to Morcambe or whatever - he is obviously talking about restaurants with the belief that the reader might in fact eat in them.

I suggest that this is not a failure as a review because it's not trying to review and therefore has none of a review's responsibilities.
posted by Frowner at 2:51 PM on December 9 [27 favorites]


This has got to be in the top ten dumbest fucking threads on metafilter, honestly.

Well actually this thread is fine and you are just are rube and/or pretending to be a rube for the page clicks.
posted by muddgirl at 2:52 PM on December 9 [31 favorites]


omg did we miss the joke, is this the Bros of threads?

Enjoy your plaster mouth foam.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 2:53 PM on December 9


My god, muddgirl, you're right! But also you have all failed as commentators by not considering that I might be having an off night.

It's really about ethics in thread commenting.
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 2:55 PM on December 9 [16 favorites]


One teaspoon of beans in egg white whipped to soft peaks, served in a mouth.
posted by Drastic at 2:55 PM on December 9 [9 favorites]


What Michelin reviewers so is visit a place multiple times.

Good thing she wasn't reviewing the place for Michelin, then! Or acting as a restaurant critic for any professional outlet. She was recounting the tale of the worst meal she ever had, for her personal blog. The idea that she must interview the kitchen staff or something to give "context"? Just more misogyny in my opinion, all the extra labor women are supposed to do so that their art will not be instantly disposed of. Which again, men like AA Gill and Jay Rayner are not asked for.
posted by tavella at 2:58 PM on December 9 [42 favorites]


Look, there are tasting menus, and then there is this.

A tasting menu is where you get a variety of small plates that demonstrate the range and skill of the chef, often with some sort of thematic link tying them together, and possibly a wine flight as well.

This is When Molecular Gastronomy Attacks.

The reviewer did not misunderstand the concept, the chefs were way out of their depths, trying to execute a concept that isn't even that popular or innovative anymore, and essentially abusing any customer that doesn't genuflect to their genius.

At least at Alinea, you still get a meal.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 3:00 PM on December 9 [18 favorites]


This thread is amazing.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 3:10 PM on December 9 [6 favorites]


Is it recipe time?

Indeed:

Place the casserole dish in a cold oven. Place a chair facing the oven and sit in it forever. Think about how hungry you are. When night falls, do not turn on the light.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:12 PM on December 9 [17 favorites]


That's it. I'm quitting my day job and opening an experimental, performace art grastronomical experience, Bras.

I will not tell you the full menu, but the it will be served in a shabby department store dressing room by an elderly woman with a tape measure who prods at you and looks perpetually disappointed. The first course will be a single, gilded, pickled caviar egg you must lance with a dryer-damaged Maidenform underwire, your only allowable utensil. It will taste of a dying sea, crushing guilt and acetone mixed with artificial dill. And you will love it, you entitled piece of shit.

$1500
posted by thivaia at 3:24 PM on December 9 [53 favorites]


Thivaia, I will only believe in the greatness of your resturant when a non-American man writes a review of it.
posted by TwoStride at 3:30 PM on December 9 [22 favorites]


This has nothing to do with the restaurant or people's feelings about expensive food, it has everything to do with how a piece of writing accomplishes its public goals or not.

Pretty sure the public goal was to write a funny article about a terrible meal. A lot of us thought it was, in fact, a funny article about a terrible meal.
posted by Mavri at 3:31 PM on December 9 [55 favorites]


Bras.

In a francophone context, one might expect the servers at this establishment to have massive biceps, from which you are expected to lick various foams and gelées.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:33 PM on December 9 [10 favorites]


metafilter: massive biceps, from which you are expected to lick various foams and gelées.
posted by transitional procedures at 3:35 PM on December 9 [6 favorites]


I found the article amusing, informative and even-handed. She pointed out many times that other people's reported experiences were different and the place could have just been having an off night. I got a pretty good idea what to expect: an aggressively challenging food experience that's definitely not for everyone. If I were interested in that sort of thing and had no serious food allergies I would not be discouraged in the least by this review. In fact I'd be even more likely to go since I now know that it exists.
posted by sjswitzer at 3:52 PM on December 9 [8 favorites]


Also, for whoever needs to hear this, some of us have been to Europe, and even lived there.

Personally, I contracted typhoid on the voyage over, and was accosted by bandits in the Piedmont, but I still would not have traded the experience of my Grand Tour for anything.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 3:59 PM on December 9 [17 favorites]


We're not saying Americans are all-knowing. We're saying that your anecdotes don't actually do anything to gainsay the review.

I know this is long back, and I didn't reply then, because I've really tried to hold back. But I have to say that it is extremely offensive, on the edge of flagging as offensive. How on earth can you describe my real life as a European, similar to hundreds of thousands of Europeans regardless of nationality or religion or politics as anecdotal?

We do know several languages, because we have to. We do pay more at restaurants because we have to. We embrace what Americans might see as fancier places because it part of our culture, and we can afford it because even the nanny and the busboy gets a fair wage. I can't even bother to provide the links because these facts are so obvious it is ridiculous to repeat them.

I know that things are a bit different in the UK, but they have opted out of the EU, exactly because they did not want to be part of fairer rights for workers and better social conditions. I'm not thinking of the UK when I write about the EU.

To get back to the subject of the thread. Europeans don't eat out as much as Americans do, because it is less affordable. But when they eat out, many want more of an experience. High end restaurants have a much wider audience in Europe than in the US. Maybe not so much the three star places, but definitely the one star places.
posted by mumimor at 4:04 PM on December 9 [2 favorites]


Okay but presumably Europeans don't like terrible food and being served allergens? I 100000% believe that they eat differently and have different expectations, but frankly, this disaster would be even worse for someone who only got to eat out once every few months and who expected a nice, safe, meal.

Frankly, the kind of "Americans don't know shit about food and have low standards, let's just serve them whatever, who cares, they're ignorant" attitude may have been reflected in the quality of food and service.

Wether you in the US like it or not, Italians often find joy in meals that are extravagant and adventurous, and it has been like that for centuries.

Whereas we in the US have just been sitting around with our thumbs in our asses at Olive Garden or something? Please. The US is a center of food innovation and food-as-art. While I am sure that some Americans hate everything fancy and nice, the idea that people here just resent the existence of Italians eating extravagant, adventurous meals is patently absurd.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 4:18 PM on December 9 [27 favorites]


Oh, I'm sorry, did a Brit criticise you for being condescending about Americans?
posted by ambrosen at 4:19 PM on December 9 [1 favorite]


Oh, I'm sorry, did a Brit criticise you for being condescending about Americans?

Well, you all would know ;)
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 4:21 PM on December 9


How on earth can you describe my real life as a European, similar to hundreds of thousands of Europeans regardless of nationality or religion or politics as anecdotal?

They didn’t. However, it’s increasingly clear that you feel non-Europeans are fundamentally incapable of understanding anything about Europe due to their nationality, which seems a heck of a lot more “flagging as offensive” worthy.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 4:24 PM on December 9 [21 favorites]


I got a pretty good idea what to expect: an aggressively challenging food experience that's definitely not for everyone.
As people who are more familiar with this type of food experience than you are have tried to explain, over and over, that is NOT what is being described here. What is being described here is a fiasco.
posted by neroli at 4:35 PM on December 9 [11 favorites]


Europeans don't eat out as much as Americans do, because it is less affordable. But when they eat out, many want more of an experience.

Jeez- never go to Paris, then. Apparently it's no different from Cleveland on a Saturday night.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:36 PM on December 9 [7 favorites]


mumimor, I have no idea what you're responding to, but as far as I can tell, it's neither anything I've said nor anything that I seem to have even implied.

Also, have you considered that there may be non-North-Americans that have the temerity to disagree with you? I haven't reviewed every location in every profile, but it certainly seems possible, y'know?
posted by sagc at 4:37 PM on December 9 [6 favorites]


This thread is worse than the restaurant and about as judgmental as the review.
posted by dmh at 4:39 PM on December 9 [10 favorites]


How on earth can you describe my real life as a European, similar to hundreds of thousands of Europeans regardless of nationality or religion or politics as anecdotal?

You're definitely not speaking for the 5 Europeans at the dinner who also found the experience unsatisfactory. The party was 5 EU, 2 US, and one US who lives in the UK. I don't know how you calculate that last one on your scale of EU -- US. An American in the UK is double American?
posted by betweenthebars at 4:42 PM on December 9 [25 favorites]


US diners generate an EU-canceling field as a psionic byproduct of the omniscience wave (fueled by stores of Olive Garden breadsticks). Living abroad does dilute the effect, but not enough that 5.0 EUs could cancel out the 2.5 USs. A sixth EU diner maybe could have tipped the scale.
posted by Drastic at 4:48 PM on December 9 [13 favorites]


An American in the UK is double American?

I'm an American in the UK, so I'm at least 1.75 Americans, apparently. I just got my citizenship and a British passport this year, though, so I think at least part of that cancels out to...let's see....carry the one, and...I can't work it out. Answers on a postcard, please, to--

Also, I wasn't going to say anything, but...

I know that things are a bit different in the UK, but they have opted out of the EU, exactly because they did not want to be part of fairer rights for workers and better social conditions.

Oh my god, are you on some kind of international Condescension Tour 2021 or something? I'm not going to go into Brexit because it's a massive tangent, but this is so far out into lacking-nuance-and-understanding territory that I can't even see it with a telescope. (SPOILER: It has a lot to do with many very gullible people being lied to by rich tax-dodgers who just happened to also be running the government.)
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 4:50 PM on December 9 [23 favorites]


Fellow non-Europeans, we are clearly not understanding the importance of respecting the long-standing European cultural tradition that is… modernist cuisine
posted by eviemath at 4:54 PM on December 9 [4 favorites]


My very favorite part of this thread is when the author and her friends were accused of inventing the entire experience. They prepared all that food (including a cast of a mouth!!) and staged it to look like they were at a restaurant and then pinned the whole thing on Bros because that's how much they hate Europe. And they even had Europeans in on it to defense suspicion! The author is truly dastardly, but thank goodness we have men of metafilter here to investigate the case!
posted by schroedinger at 4:56 PM on December 9 [21 favorites]


Now all we're missing is the accusation that the author is neoliberal. C'mon men, get it together!
posted by schroedinger at 4:58 PM on December 9 [8 favorites]


Oh my GOD.

Thank you all so much for your service - I have tears. Joined Meta(filter) 16 or 17 years ago but never comment, just lurk you know. But THIS THREAD. The article in question is a humorous description of a terrible night out and to so many of us it’s laugh out loud funny:

The décor had the of chicness of an underground bunker where one would expect to be interrogated for the disappearance of an ambassador’s child.

GOLD.

This “blog post” as some have called it is the first to “blow up” in my feeds, (Twitter, Reddit, here, etc.), simultaneously in YEARS and reminds me of the early days. The fact that some of the folks here are not engaging with the humo(u)r of the piece sparks more investigation. What is this?:

The problem with the article isn't the thesis per se, or the author's accolades, I had no idea who or what gender the author was but from a basic writing skills standpoint the essay just made a bad argument to support itself. 

This isn’t an essay - it’s a humorous anecdote from a clearly wordly, wonderful and witty writer detailing a terrible night for our amusement, (who tells us repeatedly other folks, on other nights, had a far better experience!).
posted by jettloe at 5:01 PM on December 9 [54 favorites]


welcome, jettloe!!!

also yes, and there seems to be a dogged unwillingness to understand hyperbole and similar literary devices -- was it literally a concrete dungeon, an actual prison made of man's most quotidian building material, or is she a massive liar??? ~the only two options~
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 5:04 PM on December 9 [30 favorites]


I felt like the article got a bit lost in translation from.what I imagine would be a pretty funny story in hyperbolic style between friends to an article I, a stranger, am reading online. As someone who is aware of the existence of this type of experiential, high-concept restaurant, but has never been to one, I guess I would have found it more interesting for the food expert/writer to have engaged more with what the success conditions for this meal might have been (because I'm not really buying that "I was still kinda hungry after an out-there experimental tasting menu" is commonly seen as a disastrous fail).

(The misogyny convo is interesting because-- perhaps sexist in a different way-- until I read the comments here, I thought the author was the bearded man featured in most of the photos.)
posted by dusty potato at 5:12 PM on December 9


I'm stuck on this:

Rancid is actually a culinary term by now, in English, used to describe some new foods. Did the author know that?

Was this... meant in earnest? Has anyone ever seen "rancid" used in a positive way, except for the rancid shark meat? Am I just a rube American who doesn't know the culinary wonders of rancid cuisine?
posted by meese at 5:19 PM on December 9 [12 favorites]


The chefs have responded.
posted by ceejaytee at 5:23 PM on December 9 [23 favorites]


I'm not really buying that "I was still kinda hungry after an out-there experimental tasting menu" is commonly seen as a disastrous fail

Some people think this, some don't. I tend to fall on the side of: if you're going to make them sit there for 4.5 hours at a mealtime, make sure they leave fed!

But I, like many Italians I guess, have spent most of my life in circumstances in which I would save for months to be able to go to a place like this.

The absolutely most charming experience I had in this vein was when I was at aforementioned tiny sushi place, which was run by a married couple. One of the spouses ran the sushi place, the other spouse ran a Korean fried chicken place in the same building (on a higher floor). They overheard me saying I was still a bit peckish since I hadn't had lunch, and ran up to the chicken place upstairs to get me a ton of takeaway chicken, telling me that "everywhere will be closed, you can't be hungry!" It was really sweet.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 5:24 PM on December 9 [19 favorites]


The only culinary context in which I have ever I have seen "rancid" used was to describe Hákarl.

And it wasn't exactly positive.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:26 PM on December 9 [4 favorites]


I learned the hard way that I'm not particularly sensitive to rancidity. Or maybe I just don't find it particular repulsive. I made a batch of cookies using a tin of shortening found in the rear of the fridge and everyone (except me) found them inedible. I mean, they did have an unusual smell that I've since learned to identify as rancidity and they weren't great but I thought they were OK or I wouldn't have served them.
posted by sjswitzer at 5:27 PM on December 9 [1 favorite]


They didn’t. However, it’s increasingly clear that you feel non-Europeans are fundamentally incapable of understanding anything about Europe due to their nationality, which seems a heck of a lot more “flagging as offensive” worthy.

We are discussing a restaurant that is clearly popular among locals, and has been awarded with a Michelin star, as well as both the chefs being awarded with Italian prizes for being among the best young chefs in Italy. ambrosen posted a charming video of an Italian couple enjoying the exact same meal that was blasted in DeGruiter's blogpost. I am not imagining stuff. And yet a lot of Americans on metafilter seem to find that all of that is nonsense because a blogger didn't appreciate her experience at the restaurant, and also that blogger is a good person for putting down a horrible person.

I mentioned that my in-laws love their local guys and girls doing Michelin stuff. It makes them proud, and they spend their money there. If they didn't, there would be no business out of season. No one in that area is even middle class. I haven't been to Lecce, but I have friends in many other parts of Italy, and they all enjoy spending a Sunday afternoon at a fancy restaurant, regardless of class. I know Americans don't like to talk about class, and that there is an assumption that class divides are deeper in Europe, and they may be, some places, but they do not apply to food in the same way as in the US. Italian workers may not go to their equivalent of Alinea, but they aren't sticking to Olive Garden either.

I am certain that thousands and thousands of Americans would enjoy lunch or dinner at this restaurant, just like the Italian couple did. Americans are extremely diverse, something we Europeans often fail to recognize. But I can see that here on metafilter, people are not willing to accept that a food experience can be understood differently by people who are different and have different experiences and expectations. That context matters. Maybe if all this was about a Chinese restaurant in Chengdu there would be a different conversation, since China is more obviously foreign to many Mefites.

When I read the original article here, I laughed out loud and put no greater importance in it. You can scroll and see that I at first believed the assumption in the article that the restaurant is pretentious and can't deliver a meal. Then I thought maybe it was a bad day. But as the information unravelled here on the thread, I became curious and began to look at what others had said. And it made me very uncomfortable. These are two very young and ambitious chefs who are trying out an idea, and also succeeding with it. One is a woman, and it seems from the online press that she is very much the driver of this. They are part of an established and well-run restaurant group, but they are doing their own thing. They are not doing a conceptual horror show in a damp dungeon, they are interpreting their cultural heritage in new ways, inspired by what is going on in the international restaurant community, and again, they are appreciated by their peers and local customers.

The Italian couple in the video clearly recognized the cultural references. They talked about nonna-food being converted into something new but still comforting and sweet. I don't know those references, my knowledge of Puglia is non-existent, but I am curious, I listen. If I were at the restaurant, I would be interested in the references. This type of restaurant is not like going to your local trattoria, you don't pay 80 € to just be fed. So I would ask. And there would be answers, as one can read from the articles about the restaurant.

also yes, and there seems to be a dogged unwillingness to understand hyperbole and similar literary devices -- was it literally a concrete dungeon, an actual prison made of man's most quotidian building material, or is she a massive liar??? ~the only two options~

I can't speak for anyone else, but my evolving reaction is that yes, this is just a blog piece and it is fun at first look and also quite idiotic. But learning that the chefs are in their twenties and knowing that we are in the midst of a global crisis for the entire tourism industry, I can't support that kind of hyperbole or "humor". I'm not saying it shouldn't exist, just that I personally find it ignorant and destructive.
posted by mumimor at 5:27 PM on December 9 [3 favorites]


Also, I can think of one reason why a place that had earned a Michelin star might provide such a terrible dining experience less than a year later.

It could be reproduced for the diner, but it would probably involve a plaster cast of the chef's nose, rather than their mouth.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:28 PM on December 9 [10 favorites]


You can't "get away" with the same portions at Alinea as at Noma.

Noma serves meals that are both filling and delicious, and their staff are extremely attentive to dietary restrictions (and ones that are not even life-threatening allergies), just saying.
posted by naoko at 5:29 PM on December 9 [6 favorites]


This “blog post” as some have called it is the first to “blow up” in my feeds, (Twitter, Reddit, here, etc.), simultaneously in YEARS and reminds me of the early days

Honestly, the critiques of the writing made me feel sad and old because it means that people have either forgot or were too young for the internet of 15 years ago. The internet was full of blogs then and metafilter was full of links to those blogs.

On preview: I am completely delighted by the response from Chef Floriano Pellegrino and I would have been disappointed if it had been anything else.
posted by betweenthebars at 5:30 PM on December 9 [19 favorites]


We'll probably never know the truth. On the one hand, a smart, funny lady wrote a detailed description, backed by photos, and all of her friends. On the other, maybe there's a super good reason why she was served paper and foam, then charged €200 for dinner but sent home hungry, but maybe she doesn't see it because she's a lady.

It's a real mystery.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:32 PM on December 9 [36 favorites]


WON'T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE [restaurant charging over a thousand Euros for a meal]
posted by schroedinger at 5:32 PM on December 9 [28 favorites]


The waiter calling the cheese rancid seems like it has an undertone of “I am quitting after this shift, fuck the management, can you even imagine what kind of work environment this must be for us?”

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if some of the issues here stem from the fact that the staff are in open revolt against the psychotic chefs running the place.
posted by schmod at 5:34 PM on December 9 [5 favorites]


I think it might be fun to talk about bad restaurant experiences? Me and my dude went into a place in Rome one time and felt weird and bad about being in there and then still sat down, like jerks. It was too bright and too weird and the music was loud and bad and then we went away from there and got some food from a cool dude on the corner instead. We did the same thing at a Cracker Barrel in Florida, once, too. Looked at the menu, figured out we both felt not-okay (I'm a picky vegetarian), left a tip on the table, went away. Left a tip, went away.

If I were locked-in at a place that was gonna be just so expensive, I would also try to drain the experience for every penny. It seems like a rotten night, but the kind of rotten night that is super fun if there are a number of you there together, all wondering and giggling. I think this writer and I would probably get along. She seems fun, and her friends seem super fun until they were pushed into the disbelief that results in giggling. Even more fun. Three courses in a row that someone literally could not eat?! Come on. That's hilarious. And a good group of friends is the kind that recognizes that kinda kick-in-the-teeth that that feels like to a person who's allergic to stuff. It starts with eyebrow raises and gets to uh-oh faces and then gets to secret giggling and then open giggling.

I'm lucky and have been to fancy dining experiences that were lost on this bad-eating veggie person. I went to Mandaloun in Beirut with the same kind of crowd make-up as it seems like this dinner was. They baked a whole salt shell around a big-old fish and cracked it open table-side. It was theatrical and we were a giving and cheerful crowd, like it seems this one was. I think we cheered and clapped. I didn't even eat any of that big old fish, but the experience was magical. I ate a ton of sides and walked away full and reenheartened and full of joy. These Bros seem like they are all ads and no actuality, and I liked the review.

I hope you all are okay. Or at least leaning ever more toward being okay. Maybe it would be more fun to talk about good restaurant times?
posted by lauranesson at 5:35 PM on December 9 [13 favorites]


oh, wow...that response from Chef Floriano Pellegrino...

literal *chef's kiss*
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:35 PM on December 9 [7 favorites]


I've longed for a "foodfight" tag here for good-natured banter on whether Moo Shu Pork or whatever is a sandwich.

Friends, this ain't it.
posted by sjswitzer at 5:37 PM on December 9 [3 favorites]


Rancid is actually a culinary term by now, in English, used to describe some new foods.
I'm pretty up on the food world, and I'm pretty sure this is completely made up.

I think the "rancid" exchange is a good example of how people who are objecting to the article are missing the point -- I would guess, partly because they don't actually know as much about this sort of food as they think they should.

Notice how she doesn't actually describe the taste of the "rancid" fried cheese balls -- just the term the waiter uses to describe them. I would guess that's because they were completely nondescript. I imagine they were made with some perfectly conventional fermented soft cheese, the same way people have been doing for thousands of years.

The joke is not "OMG, they're serving me rotten cheese, how weird and FOREIGN!"

The joke is "These dodos have made up this ridiculous edgelord name to describe something that's totally ordinary."

The argument of the piece is "this food is dumb and bad" not "this food is strange and confusing."
posted by neroli at 5:37 PM on December 9 [25 favorites]


For the zillionth time, the problem isn't the avant-garde food, or the idea of avant-garde food. It's that the real experience of this restaurant is a fine-dining crapshoot: either you get an excellent avant-garde meal, or you don't! It's random! It seems, from the massive divide in reviews, that the restaurant cannot keep to its own high standard it has at times had. If it were ethical, it probably would not seat customers on the nights the chef didn't show up or they can't heat their food or whatever TF is going on, but it's not a sustainable business model, I guess, when you're charging 1000 Euro for a meal. The uncertainty, to such an extreme level (because this is clearly a world away from being merely underwhelmed or disappointed by the meal you were hoping for at a great restaurant), is the scammy part.

I bet if their entire promotion were "you don't know whether your meal will be amazing or aggressively terrible!" they would, indeed, get diners who'd be up for that kind of adventure (thought maybe not at that price point).
posted by TwoStride at 5:39 PM on December 9 [17 favorites]


The joke is "These dodos have made up this ridiculous edgelord name to describe something that's totally ordinary."

The argument of the piece is "this food is dumb and bad" not "this food is strange and confusing."


neroli, that was exactly what I thought until I saw the video posted by ambrosen. Now I am not sure what I think except that I am not a fan of the author.
posted by mumimor at 5:41 PM on December 9


Mumimor, Italy (as a whole country) is not additional context a reviewer is required to take into consideration before judging the food. The reviewer doesn't owe Italy or Italian chefs any special regard.

If the chefs are from a marginalised minority group or cooking food not well known outside the local area I agree this needs to be considered and the review could potentially be inappropriate.
posted by zymil at 5:41 PM on December 9 [5 favorites]


> “Bros” seems to me to just be short for “brothers” in this case, a la Mario Bros. or Warner Bros., rather than deliberately trying to evoke the “bro” personality.

sure because the type of restauranteurs who serve spit-like foam in plaster casts of their own mouths are bound to be clueless and unsophisticated about their branding, the poor little italian rubes


The chef has a "bros before hos" tattoo.
posted by naoko at 5:41 PM on December 9 [38 favorites]


Am I the only one who has really enjoyed this discussion?

Food brings out such powerful emotions and people react strongly when they feel like their food preferences are being attacked.

I would have hated that meal, and I thought the original article was funny. But I also found mumimor and others’ contributions regard European food culture and avant grade food to be enlightening.

Please continue…
posted by lumpy at 5:42 PM on December 9 [6 favorites]


The author has seen the chef's response. (I continue to be a fan of the author.)
posted by rewil at 5:42 PM on December 9 [24 favorites]


If somehow, you're on the fence for whether this is a case of "clueless person doesn't get challenging food experience" or "lunatic chef with his head up his own ass" the chef's response will clarify that for you tout de fucking suite.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:46 PM on December 9 [41 favorites]


It seems, from the massive divide in reviews, that the restaurant cannot keep to its own high standard it has at times had.

I'm not good at keeping away from this thread, it seems.
But, once I was in Venice and hosting some people, I used TripAdvisor to find restaurants for lunch (dinner was sorted), and I went by "restaurants that Americans hated" as my guide. We had excellent food, with no exception, every day for a week. In restaurants that were popular among locals, which are very hard to find in this day and age in Venice.

Mumimor, Italy (as a whole country) is not additional context a reviewer is required to take into consideration before judging the food. The reviewer doesn't owe Italy or Italian chefs any special regard.

Whoa! I'm just copying this in here so I can find it again. Can you explain to me and others why Italian culture is not owed any regard?
posted by mumimor at 5:47 PM on December 9


They baked a whole salt shell around a big-old fish and cracked it open table-side

I've done this at home with some sea bass. The key bits:

- Start with a whole gutted fish. Insert any flavorings you want (garlic, bay leaves, lemon, etc.) into the body cavity and then pin it together with toothpicks (to keep the salt out).

- Get a mixture of roughly half-and-half fine-grained and coarse-grained salt. Moisten it until you've got a relatively thick paste. You can use either water or egg whites for this (if you're making hollandaise sauce, for instance, and need separate yolks), but be aware the crust is a *lot* more persistent with egg whites.

- Cover the fish with the salt paste, making sure none gets inside the body cavity, then bake the whole thing at around 400F for 30-35 minutes. Take it out, allow it to cool a bit, then break off the crust. The fish should now be flaky, moist, and delicious.

- Enjoy.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 5:48 PM on December 9 [13 favorites]


neroli, that was exactly what I thought until I saw the video posted by ambrosen. Now I am not sure what I think except that I am not a fan of the author.

Look, before ambrosen posted the video you were arguing that the author made the entire experience up. Please do not pretend you were on board with the review until you saw that video. That video proved the author's experience actually did happen, so now you're hammering away at "Americans are provincial and uncouth". We can literally read what you wrote. You were never a fan of the author.
posted by schroedinger at 5:48 PM on December 9 [33 favorites]


The fish recipe sounds good, but incomplete. At what point do you draw a guy on a horse?
posted by Drastic at 5:49 PM on December 9 [31 favorites]


Some theories of cultural divides that may be bullshit, IDK

The other cultural divide is perhaps seen in Americans'* approach to this kind of takedown. Generally, Americans perceive ourselves as a culture as one that loves individualism, experimentation, adventurousness, unique people, ambition. That is, sometimes, sort of a stupid belief, but we take it as a given that non-conformism or just weird-ass shit is not necessarily considered bad per se. So we often feel very free to kick the shit out of it if we don't like it, in the way that, say, people who are massive fans of wine feel free to say that some wine is disappointing as hell.

So, perhaps, that attitude is partly why people here are reading the (summarized) vein of "Americans hate unique / avant-garde dining" criticism as either blatantly, deeply wrong; insulting; or humorous (or all three).

*the US is so so big and diverse but I'm spitballing here ok
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 5:51 PM on December 9 [2 favorites]


We can literally read what you wrote.

Yes, so please do
posted by mumimor at 5:51 PM on December 9


mumimor, have you gone back and actually read your comments in this thread? It seems like you feel like you’re making a coherent case, when in reality [just go back and take a look for yourself]
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 5:52 PM on December 9 [9 favorites]


The only culinary context in which I have ever I have seen "rancid" used was to describe Hákarl.

Rancid is used to describe fats (usually oils) that have oxidized. It's not a good thing. It won't kill you or make you sick but the flavor can haunt your mouth for hours. The aftertaste of rancid peanut butter is memorable.
posted by Candleman at 5:53 PM on December 9 [7 favorites]


nd I went by "restaurants that Americans hated" as my guide. We had excellent food, with no exception, every day for a week.

Glad to see the Grand European Condescension Tour has made it Venice!
posted by TwoStride at 5:53 PM on December 9 [22 favorites]


I went by "restaurants that Americans hated" as my guide.

This really says a lot more about you than it does the restaurants or Americans.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 5:54 PM on December 9 [31 favorites]


We do know several languages, because we have to. We do pay more at restaurants because we have to. We embrace what Americans might see as fancier places because it part of our culture, and we can afford it because even the nanny and the busboy gets a fair wage. I can't even bother to provide the links because these facts are so obvious it is ridiculous to repeat them.

Oh. OMG y'all - I am an admitted rube - but uh - we are talking about ITALY here, where football crowds regularly throw bananas at black footballers...... surely we can dial back the "we're so much more evolved than Americans" here.

I essentially regard Italy as the West Virginia of Europe. And I say this as a person who currently lives in WV.

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone and all.....
posted by Gyre,Gimble,Wabe, Esq. at 5:55 PM on December 9 [28 favorites]


mumimor: stop condescending to people
also mumimor: Americans have anti-taste, somehow
posted by sagc at 5:56 PM on December 9 [20 favorites]


The chef's response is just absolutely perfect in its absurdity. Like the food or not, you have to admire how closely they stick to their craft.
posted by dg at 5:57 PM on December 9 [14 favorites]


Yes, so please do

My point is that I did, and you are making claims that you held opinions that you demonstrably in this thread never held. You can't imply you had a good opinion of the author until you saw that video when you were previously accusing her of fraud. This "now I don't know what to think" faux-naivete is total bullshit that's entirely sold to us on the basis that we have not read any of your previous comments.
posted by schroedinger at 5:58 PM on December 9 [8 favorites]


Just to clarify - there's some beautiful and lovely stuff and people in both places - but let's not pretend either one of us ain't got our ugly bits.
posted by Gyre,Gimble,Wabe, Esq. at 5:58 PM on December 9 [3 favorites]


What is a man on a horse?
posted by coffeecat at 6:00 PM on December 9 [3 favorites]


The chef's response kind of feels like Chuck Tingle turned evil and went into the restaurant business somehow.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 6:00 PM on December 9 [34 favorites]


what is art, but a man on a horse drawn by me? what is trash, but a review written by you?
posted by sagc at 6:01 PM on December 9 [9 favorites]


My Italian is not great, but I really enjoyed the video of the two Italians eating what looked like a similar meal that was described. For what it’s worth, the term “rancido” was definitely mentioned but that seemingly wasn’t anything to make one hesitate about eating the food with that component.
It does seem like the restaurant experience can be wildly inconsistent. It wouldn’t work for me because I’m not a person who likes fish.
I was grossed out by the mouth foam, but I admit I was delighted by the giggling of the Italian couple when they were faced with it. Their comment was “Food porn!”
posted by PussKillian at 6:01 PM on December 9 [3 favorites]


Just as I was (and still am!) quite charmed by the weird "eat out of my mouth" thing, I am also charmed by the little horse guys.

Another thing that idk if people realize (or if I'm even right about): Americans sometimes actually love things that they hate, because of the sheer joy of hating them, so that they don't really end up hating them at all.

The sexist shit (bros before hos, really?) probably doesn't allow for this here, but we all like went to Flavor Town and it was fun as hell. Fuck it, donkey sauce, tongue my plaster cast, why not???
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 6:06 PM on December 9 [6 favorites]


mumimor, I generally really appreciate your comments, but I’m frankly baffled by your whole approach to this topic.

Don't be too hard on them: the Danes are famously the Americans of Europe. Ask any Swede.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 6:09 PM on December 9 [20 favorites]


Anyone can make food. My grandmother. My sister. My wife. Even...you. Food is a simple thing. Females can accomplish it. It is like words. Books. Blogs. We here have never been skilled with such feminine things.

Because art, aaah, art. Art takes...

Bros.
posted by Drastic at 6:09 PM on December 9 [31 favorites]


Whoa! I'm just copying this in here so I can find it again. Can you explain to me and others why Italian culture is not owed any regard?

I think cultures that are owed special regard by outsiders are ones that were historically or are currently not well understood or persecuted.
posted by zymil at 6:10 PM on December 9 [2 favorites]


We do know several languages, because we have to

I live in a city that is one of the top three most cosmopolitan cities in the world (and possibly the most). Literally every language in the world is spoken here. A couple of days ago, I had customers my liquor store who were speaking Kyrgyz. A (government-run) liquor store, I should mention, that specializes in Portuguese wines and ports, because of the neighborhood in which it is located.

And guess what- it ain't in Europe.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:11 PM on December 9 [20 favorites]


The chef's response is just absolutely perfect in its absurdity.

He is...how you say? ...douchebag.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:13 PM on December 9 [5 favorites]


I will never eat at this restaurant unless someone else pays for it, but OMG, the chef. THE CHEF! How are we not discussing whether or not he is for real?

Actually, you know what, I don't care. I say this without a lick of irony, y'all: I am 100% here for it. Shine on you oral-fixated, tattooed, horse-loving diamond!
posted by thivaia at 6:13 PM on December 9 [11 favorites]


As a fellow European and mumimor fan I pray our American hosts consider that if the food was rancid, perhaps there's also something a tad gross about an American author travelling halfway across the world to partake in an exorbitantly expensive 27 course meal only to gleefully shit all over it, to the amusement and hilarity of I guess mostly other Americans.
posted by dmh at 6:14 PM on December 9


I hope by the time I'm an actual official old lady, my opinion on trying to tongue some gross foam out of a literal representation of the shithead chef's mouth will be respected. My opinion on trying to tongue some gross foam out of a literal representation of the shithead chef's mouth is: Is this raw plaster? Can you dudes actually clean this? Has it been glazed? This seems wildly unsanitary. Plaster gets moldy so fast. How many people do you have casting these silly molds? Are there pictures of the process? Are you proud of them? Did you glaze the versions you sell? Do you tell people it's plaster? Is it plaster? Is it just bisqued clay? You know this is porous, right? Do you consider me a bro or a ho, darling? I'm not gonna eat this, probably, but that's not your fault, server cool person. It is the fault of your ho/bro boss. I'll tip well.
posted by lauranesson at 6:15 PM on December 9 [27 favorites]


Anyone can make food. My grandmother. My sister. My wife. Even...you. Food is a simple thing. Females can accomplish it. It is like words. Books. Blogs. We here have never been skilled with such feminine thing

that's cute, but the co-owner and head chef is a woman. not sure if she is also the wife he is specifically calling "great" in clear and unambiguous contrast to the merely "good", but I think so.

in any case the statement is terrific. I wouldn't eat it, mind you, and it's worth what I paid for it. but it delivers in a way the food does not.
posted by queenofbithynia at 6:16 PM on December 9 [9 favorites]


perhaps there's also something a tad gross about an American author travelling halfway across the world to partake in an exorbitantly expensive 27 course meal only to gleefully shit all over it, to the amusement and hilarity of I guess mostly other Americans.

Except that they are a food critic, and it is kind of their job, and also that they visited a number of other restaurants in Italy during their trip? And they didn't expect a one-starred Michelin restaurant to be that spectacularly bad?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:16 PM on December 9 [19 favorites]


perhaps there's also something a bit gross about an American author travelling halfway across the world to partake in an exorbitantly expensive 27 course meal only to gleefully shit all over it, to the amusement and hilarity of I guess mostly other Americans.

sure, okay

no, actually. no. it’s just not a big deal and this restaurant is not your mother’s honor.

THIS IS NOT OPPRESSION don’t make me use the blink tag
posted by sock poppet at 6:17 PM on December 9 [44 favorites]


dmh, I'm pretty sure she did other stuff. This is why it's hard to take some of the criticisms of the article seriously - the leaps to conclusions based on... what? Preemptive dislike?
posted by sagc at 6:18 PM on December 9 [5 favorites]


that's cute, but the co-owner and head chef is a woman. not sure if she is also the wife he is specifically calling "great" in clear and unambiguous contrast to the merely "good", but I think so.

calling women who are highly accomplished at making wonderful food half-assers who shouldn't be taken seriously as Men Artists is a dogwhistle that is so loud it's just an actual whistle, whether or not he thinks his wife is great (what a mensch!)
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 6:18 PM on December 9 [2 favorites]


Ah, look, easy-to-find proof that she didn't travel halfway across the world just to insult a restaurant us North Americans are just too simple to understand.
posted by sagc at 6:20 PM on December 9 [10 favorites]


a bit gross about an American author travelling halfway across the world to partake in an exorbitantly expensive 27 course meal only to gleefully shit all over it

Weirdly enough, she doesn't mention here that the purpose of her travel was to ridicule a restaurant. She mentions getting to see family, which seems like a good aim.
posted by ambrosen at 6:21 PM on December 9 [15 favorites]


well, the take that, yeah Europe may have colonized the fuck out of other places, including America, and stuck its fucking nose in every corner of the world to exploit it and its inhabitants because fuck other countries' cultures and foodways, that's why, but how dare anyone non-European ever have an opinion on our pure, centuries old european-ness?? after all, that's the real punching down, not colonialism, not snotty digs about how, you know, Americans are too poor to eat food and that's why we're ignorant. Americans not liking all our food
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 6:22 PM on December 9 [19 favorites]


Okay so this really is entirely about projecting complicated feelings about America's fracturing hegemony on to some lady with a blog who didn't like a restaurant, got it.
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 6:23 PM on December 9 [42 favorites]


Starting to feel like both the author and the chef are having more fun and taking the whole situation far less personally than a significant number of people commenting on it who are otherwise uninvolved!
posted by eponym at 6:26 PM on December 9 [37 favorites]


I also feel like it's relevant that they earned the Michelin star in 2018, but had three founders, two of whom quit one year before and then shortly before the star was earned. (And yes, Le Sopracciglia leggono l'italiano nonostante siano americana, although I will not vouch for my own grammar.) When I have been to Michelin restaurants that were inexplicably terrible, it was often that one of the key personnel had left shortly before or after the star was earned, and the restaurant was coasting on that earlier work, but couldn't keep up the quality/inventiveness/flavor/whatever when that key person left.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:27 PM on December 9 [22 favorites]


Lolwut? This is the most fun MeFi’s been in years, eponym.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 6:28 PM on December 9 [13 favorites]


I have gone back and seen what I have written. I have changed my mind rather radically though this debate, based on the information as it came, and specially after I searched for local sources.
What might be confusing to some is that from the outset, I found it weird that a restaurant that bad could have a Michelin star. If you know just a tiny bit about the Michelin system, you will also know that they really don't like radical stuff, in the manner that was described in the original blogpost. They really don't. And they don't give a star on the basis of one night's experience, they check again and again.

About me being condescending: well, it comes down to what I have written more than once now: things that seem posh in the US are just life here, not because of what we do, but because posh people in the US put parts of European culture on a pedestal. Obviously, French people eat French food. It's not because they are trying to emulate some fancy upper class NYC style. They are also the Europeans who eat the most fast food.

Oh. OMG y'all - I am an admitted rube - but uh - we are talking about ITALY here, where football crowds regularly throw bananas at black footballers...... surely we can dial back the "we're so much more evolved than Americans" here.

I essentially regard Italy as the West Virginia of Europe. And I say this as a person who currently lives in WV.


Well, it's good that you are challenging me because then I have to make this clearer: my very point is that knowing several languages or eating at Michelin restaurants does not make you a more educated or more moral person. It is just a condition of being European. Some things that are class indicators in America are just facts of life in Europe. If you move from Indiana to California, you don't have to learn a new language, but if you move from Sardinia to Saxony, you must, and also you probably need to learn English or French on the way. It's not posh, it's life. In the US, it is the same for Latin-American or First Nations people. They can't not learn another language, and learning another language doesn't in any way make them posh.

And we don't even have Olive Garden here, tomorrow I'm going to a special occasion family event with my in-laws, and the place to go will be a Michelin or a bib-gourmand place because Burger King will seem a bit flat. It's a different culture, not a better culture.

European culture is terrible in many ways. We have far worse racism than in the US, in some ways, because there is no open discussion about it. But this is not a thread about racism, it's about a blogpost about a restaurant, and I feel it is fair to argue that the blogger who professes to be knowledgeable about food and culture and travel could be a bit more interested in context before she slams a small restaurant in a faraway province.

Some people above have mentioned the great Jay Rayner. He recently cut down a pretentious restaurant while he made it clear that most of the food was objectively good. That is what makes him great. He is professional and builds his subjective and well-written critique on facts that anyone can test. In this case, when one sees the video with the Italian couple eating the same menu as the blogger, it is easy to see that the food is not what she says it is. We might agree or disagree about its pretentiousness or the chef's style or the price, but it is clearly not "not a meal".
posted by mumimor at 6:30 PM on December 9


calling women who are highly accomplished at making wonderful food half-assers who shouldn't be taken seriously as Men Artists

sure fine that's terrific but he did not say this. if he did you could have quoted his words instead of characterizing and re-characterizing them. his wife, the head chef, whose art he praises as "great" versus "good", is not a Men Artist, though I suppose she is a Bro by affiliation. the statement is not a masterwork of fluent english style and is therefore being misread by people who do not know or do not wish to know that this awful restaurant in its current form is a woman's co-creation. he says that boring people like your grandmother can make food you love to eat, but great geniuses like his wife, THE HEAD CHEF AND CO-OWNER OF HIS RESTAURANT, can do weird and disgusting art you hate to put in your face. both sides of this idiot comparison are female. he is not the one ignoring women's capacity for terrible high-concept art here.

he is sexist, sure, with the tattoos to prove it. but that one particular part is not saying that thing you want to object to.
posted by queenofbithynia at 6:31 PM on December 9 [3 favorites]


A nice thing is that he's a trashbucket trash person, so all that part of it is settled. I actually did sigh some relief, because suspending that disbelief was proving complicated and exasperating.

Anyway, my third-favorite cousin Dale was a real troublemaker in high school and he is cool and smart and has a restaurant in Portland? I did not intend to plug him today, but it seems like the kind of place you could go and feel like you had eaten special things and also been welcomed? He grew up in South Dakota, USA, and later became a proper chef and did a lot of Asian Fusion back in that day and it seems like any Portland Mefites might have a real nice time there? His sister (my first-favorite cousin) has been veggie forever, so they're good at that, and basically this is just a reminder that smart kind people have restaurants and they care about you.

I also work in theatre and can reliably let you know that the experience the author had was trash even if it were only theatre.
posted by lauranesson at 6:34 PM on December 9 [6 favorites]


Starting to feel like both the author and the chef are having more fun and taking the whole situation far less personally than a significant number of people commenting on it who are otherwise uninvolved!

I am right now imagining the chef's response to this thread!
posted by dg at 6:36 PM on December 9 [2 favorites]


sure fine that's terrific but he did not say this. if he did you could have quoted his words instead of characterizing and re-characterizing them. his wife, the head chef, whose art he praises as "great" versus "good", is not a Men Artist, though I suppose she is a Bro by affiliation. the statement is not a masterwork of fluent english style and is therefore being misread by people who do not know or do not wish to know that this awful restaurant in its current form is a woman's co-creation. he says that boring people like your grandmother can make food you love to eat, but great geniuses like his wife, THE HEAD CHEF AND CO-OWNER OF HIS RESTAURANT, can do weird and disgusting art you hate to put in your face. both sides of this idiot comparison are female. he is not the one ignoring women's capacity for terrible high-concept art here.

My mistake. I should not have read the ambiguous writing by the guy who has a bros before hos tattoo as being sexist.

Also, I didn't quote it because it's a pdf but also because I love doing things in bad faith, obviously, so thanks for pointing that out
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 6:37 PM on December 9 [5 favorites]


And we don't even have Olive Garden here

Have you had a temporary lapse in self-awareness, or do you just not care how you come off to other people, at all? Because there's a reason you're getting so much pushback, and it's not because you're speaking truth to power here.
posted by sagc at 6:38 PM on December 9 [30 favorites]


muminor, I also think that in your comparison to Jay Rayner, you're basically saying that she has to write that she enjoyed the food, otherwise you won't take her seriously? You've removed all possibility that the food was actually bad.
posted by sagc at 6:41 PM on December 9 [15 favorites]


Honestly, this thread is way more satisfying than any meal from that restaurant could ever possibly be.

I am being reminded of why I love metafilter so. I feel like the Grinch on Christmas morning!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:43 PM on December 9 [26 favorites]


> he says that boring people like your grandmother can make food you love to eat, but great geniuses like his wife, THE HEAD CHEF AND CO-OWNER OF HIS RESTAURANT, can do weird and disgusting art you hate to put in your face. both sides of this idiot comparison are female. he is not the one ignoring women's capacity for terrible high-concept art here.

No no no, not at all. When he calls his wife "great", that is a dig. He's not taking about Great Chefs in that paragraph. He's listing a bunch of people who are adequate at cooking. The list goes:

- your grandma who can do it
- my wife who does it great
- McDonald's which knows perfectly how to make hamburgers that everybody likes
- the pizzeria around the corner which does their job perfectly

And he summarizes the point he's making in this list by saying, "Preparing food that is liked is like making a drawing of a man on a horse. It is not that hard, but people will admire you."

This is set up to contrast with Great Artists who will be mentioned later on who make food that not everybody will like, because art is not pretty, etc. His wife is not mentioned there. She's mentioned only here, in the list of mediocrity.

tl;dr: If his wife is the head chef at this restaurant, wowwwwww, this guy just majorly dissed her. On brand, mind you, because of course the misogynist will dis his wife.
posted by MiraK at 6:45 PM on December 9 [23 favorites]


the same menu as the blogger,

no. it was not the same. things that were perhaps supposed to be included in the courses were not there. she wrote in detail about the difference between what she received and what other people described in previous reviews. she and her companions documented what they were served, with photographs, perhaps in anticipation of just this kind of denial. you saw a video of some different people, who were not her, having a different experience, which she did not have, and you still don't understand or believe that what you saw other people get was not what she got. she has actual evidence of and witnesses to her evening, and you have neither.
posted by queenofbithynia at 6:47 PM on December 9 [41 favorites]


I am right now imagining the chef's response to this thread!

Oh, it would 100% get him banned immediately , but it just might be worth it!
posted by thivaia at 6:48 PM on December 9 [5 favorites]


mumimor, have you been to the US? If so, I really hope you didn't confine yourself to Olive Garden and Burger King. There's good food here.
posted by meese at 6:51 PM on December 9 [6 favorites]


metafilter has not had such energy for such utter triviality in years, it's like all the oxygen flooded back into the room. What a glorious disaster of a thread.

(The less than a dozen comments on the Older thread below are the icing on the mouth foam.)
posted by joeyh at 6:51 PM on December 9 [37 favorites]


sagc, I'm trying to explain that things are different here. Not better, not worse. Just different. My working class MIL loves her local Michelin restaurant and she can afford to go there. Yes, in that sentence there are a gazillion other implications which are political. I am a Socialist, I think it is a good thing that an old women on a state pension can attend the good local restaurants, and that is one thing I know for a fact that many, many Italians agree with. It's the way we want society to work, even across party lines.
Re.: Rayner, I don't think the merit of his article was that he praised the restaurant's good work, but that he acknowledged that which was demonstrably good. In the FPP blogpost, the author deliberately ignores foods that we can see in the video look delicious, in favor of posting photos and writing about amuses-bouches out of context.

and, queenofbithynia, I don't believe her, sorry. I don't believe they only received what the other party described as amuses-bouches, and she did not show images of 27 servings.
posted by mumimor at 6:52 PM on December 9 [1 favorite]


And we don't even have Olive Garden here, tomorrow I'm going to a special occasion family event with my in-laws, and the place to go will be a Michelin or a bib-gourmand place because Burger King will seem a bit flat.

Yes, because those are the only two options available to Americans: "posh" Michelin star restaurants or fucking Olive Garden and Burger King.

Someone's being provincial, and it's not the author of the restaurant review.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 6:54 PM on December 9 [21 favorites]


meese, I know there is amazing food in the US. AMAZING!!!
But there is something about who eats it and when that underlies this thread, which is different, not better, in Europe
posted by mumimor at 6:54 PM on December 9 [1 favorite]


which is different, not better, in Europe

Narrator voice: They definitely meant better, because only Europeans understand Michelin fine dining.
posted by TwoStride at 6:56 PM on December 9 [16 favorites]


I have dined at and worked at multiple super high-end restaurants, as has my partner. I would not say I am an expert or that I could speak on that with authority, though. I have been a MeFite for more than a decade though, and I will say I know a little about that. And when a person finds themselves posting their clarification of a clarification of a clarification of a clarification of a clarification, they're not usually adding content or context, they're usually showing their whole ass.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:56 PM on December 9 [30 favorites]


The chef's response was exactly as comprehensible as the meal was.

I've really enjoyed the hell out of this thread, actually.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:58 PM on December 9 [11 favorites]


mumimor, maybe engage less in this thread if you think that the author is lying and can provide no proof of it.

Also, this:
In the US, it is the same for Latin-American or First Nations people.
makes me think that you misunderstand the experience of American First Nations at a minimum. Like, you have no idea what you're talking about.
posted by sagc at 6:59 PM on December 9 [15 favorites]


I think the next podcast should be about this thread and only this thread.
posted by bondcliff at 6:59 PM on December 9 [32 favorites]


My ass is the best ass.
And I have learnt one thing from my happy life on metafilter, and that is that even the most self-hating leftist Americans gang up and fight back when someone from any other culture notes that Americans may not be right about everything that ever was and is in the universe. Specially when food is involved.
posted by mumimor at 6:59 PM on December 9 [2 favorites]


Honesty, mumimor, you keep talking about your experiences as though they are pan-European. I assure you, they are not. I am European, have lived in four European countries and travelled to many more, and never ever have I known a working class person who can even remotely dream of blowing 200 Euro on what looks very much like the chef frothed some spunk with baby diarreah and his own spittle and then threw it up in a plastercast of his own mouth. For many, many Europeans 200 Euros is 20% or more of their take-home money and it feels insulting to gloss over their existence like they are unworthy to even keep in mind just because working class people in Nordic countries can afford to treat themselves to snot.

Nothing that is talked about here says in any way 'European' to me. Additionally, the insistance that being an Italian chef is some sort of holy cow is more than bizzarre to me.

In any case, since I've opened this post I've been on a roller-coaster of emotions: I've laughed, then I laughed some more, than I got hungry and ate, then I saw the chef's mouth an regretted eating, then I came back to the thread and started feeling bemused, more bemused, and now superlatively bemused. I think the lingering emotion will be feeling squeeked out that someone wasted 200 Euro to just leave hungry after what is the equivalent of a half day's work.
posted by doggod at 7:01 PM on December 9 [48 favorites]


> I don't believe her, sorry. I don't believe they only received what the other party described as amuses-bouches, and she did not show images of 27 servings.

Whew. Okay.

For the record there are now three of the party (at least) on Twitter who are backing up her word. I'm sure they're all in on this grand conspiracy together. It's incredible how long they've obviously been hatching this plot to build such deep covers for themselves as perfectly normal people in every other way... Except! By night! They have all been building this dastardly scheme to ... disparage! (shock horror say it ain't so) ... a small town restaurant with DAMNED LIES, I tell you! It's diabolical. One wonders who is financing this masterful scheme. One wonders how much they stand to profit. Quite possibly they're getting paid an extra 10% for every course they exaggeratedly add to the count. Oh what a world.
posted by MiraK at 7:01 PM on December 9 [28 favorites]


Even the Bro himself isn't accusing her of lying.

(...I think.)
posted by meese at 7:03 PM on December 9 [14 favorites]


mumimor, maybe when everyone tells you the sky is blue, it's not because they're all Americans, it's because they have all observed that the sky is blue.
posted by sagc at 7:04 PM on December 9 [6 favorites]


muminor, you beautiful dork. I live in NYC and get to do all the food things all the time and despite being a real rube about food stuff, I saw through the shittiness of the bros of Bros. You're not wrong about AMERICANS writ large, but this critic and the crowds behind her are not those Americans. It's okay. Some of us speak the languages. You can lay it down. These bros are dicks and misogynists. They are advertisers more than chefs. They are cruel at women. Italian food is totally more complicated than most Americans understand. You're not wrong. You don't have to defend bad people.
posted by lauranesson at 7:07 PM on December 9 [18 favorites]


I CAN'T STOP LAUGHING AT HER RESPONSE TO THE LETTER. AND "WHAT IS FOOD" INDEED. (Yes, it's hit all caps laughter here.)
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:09 PM on December 9 [7 favorites]


Americans gang up and fight back when someone from any other culture notes that Americans may not be right about everything that ever was and is in the universe.

Wow, you shit on 330 million people for supposedly being an entire nation of hayseed rubes with zero taste in cuisine, and you somehow get pushback. It is a mystery.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 7:10 PM on December 9 [18 favorites]


there's also something a tad gross about an American author travelling halfway across the world to partake in an exorbitantly expensive 27 course meal only to gleefully shit all over it

Everyone knows that you're only allowed to say nice things about expensive meals you have while traveling.
posted by Mavri at 7:11 PM on December 9 [12 favorites]


(The less than a dozen comments on the Older thread below are the icing on the mouth foam.)

In fairness, just about everyone here is absolutely aware of and exhausted from the various governmental fumblings of Covid as well as ground down from four years of Trump running everything good into the ground. This thread is a pop tart of sugary, meaningless distraction. Except it's inexplicably small, shaped like a horse, and tastes faintly of fish.
posted by Candleman at 7:18 PM on December 9 [32 favorites]




there's also something a tad gross about an American author travelling halfway across the world to partake in an exorbitantly expensive 27 course meal only to gleefully shit all over it


Cool itinerary, bro.
posted by transitional procedures at 7:18 PM on December 9 [1 favorite]


"If you move from Indiana to California, you don't have to learn a new language"

I mean, yes, Europe is more linguistically diverse than the United States, but I feel like you're flattening both Indiana (where I lived for four years!) and California, which is WILDLY diverse. Indiana provides the drivers' license examination in 12 languages. Iowa provides it in 21. California provides it in 33. That's just routinely, by showing up at any DMV.

Chicago Public Schools have more than 70,000 students who are classified as English Language Learners, of about 330,000 students, or a little over 1/5. (More who speak a language other than English at home, but are fluent in English.) Copenhagen is about 1/3 the size of Chicago; I see on Danish government sites that a lower percentage of students in Copenhagen are not native speakers of Danish than students in Chicago who are not native speakers of English -- and most of the Danish non-native speakers speak at least some Danish, which is not necessarily the case in Chicago. (I also looked up statistics for Copenhagen and Chicago in racial diversity and immigration rates and religious diversity, and was honestly SHOCKED how non-diverse Copenhagen was as a major European capital. Like, yo, my super-white suburban block is more racially and linguistically diverse than Copenhagen.)

I live in what is considered a very non-diverse suburb of Chicago, and I conduct more than 50% of my kids' social life in Spanish. Would I say I speak Spanish? No, no I would not. I do not know how to use the past tense. I can understand most conversations other adults are having, and I can rebuke children extensively when they misbehave. But I can't construct thoughts nearly as complex as I can in English. I can talk about my kids, and food, and politics. (Protip: Calling Trump "the bad orange man" will make everyone think you're hilarious and not just very bad at Spanish.) Speaking in Spanish is just part of my everyday life. I do not consider myself fluent. I would not say I am a Spanish speaker. But I speak in Spanish A LOT when conducting routine transactions/conversations at the grocery store, gas station, and playground. I talk to my MIL in Spanish about half the time, although she speaks VERY fluent English and I speak VERY bad Spanish. (Like I really cannot express how bad my Spanish is, though I speak it every week.) I often run e-mails from other moms through google translate, or ask my SIL to make sure my translation is correct and I know what I'm responding to. (And to check my grammar because I don't want to sound like an ignoramus!)

A huge portion of Americans have this sort of thing as a background to their everyday life. They speak other languages, not because they crossed borders, but because we are an immigrant nation. My husband speaks Korean. He grew up in Florida, where the second language was Spanish, but he has learned Korean since moving to our Korean-speaking part of Illinois, because a LOT of people speak Korean here, and he would go to library storytime with our little kid, and there would be a bunch of Korean grandmothers with grandchildren, and he wanted to be able to chat with them. NOW HE DOES.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:18 PM on December 9 [31 favorites]


Americans gang up and fight back when someone from any other culture notes that Americans may not be right about everything that ever was and is in the universe.

Every time a European, particularly one from a rich country, insults the fuck out of Americans, who mostly take it with reasonably good humor, and then they're like NOT WANTING TO BE INSULTED IS CLASSIC AMERICAN STUFF, and it's all in defensive response to them being mad that Americans insulted a European somehow, an american Burger King gets its wings
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 7:22 PM on December 9 [22 favorites]


mumimor, have you been to the US? If so, I really hope you didn't confine yourself to Olive Garden and Burger King. There's good food here.

But also, try the Olive Garden and Burger King! They’re quite an experience.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 7:23 PM on December 9 [3 favorites]


God, I love a Whopper. Tasty as hell. Can't eat them anymore for various reasons, but even the plant-based Whopper is pretty good.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 7:25 PM on December 9 [1 favorite]


HOW does it taste char-grilled???? Molecular gastronomy, indeed!
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 7:26 PM on December 9 [6 favorites]


The chef's response was exactly as comprehensible as the meal was.

I found the chef's response to be a fairly reasonable comparison of primitive representational art, ornate/masterful representational art, and abstract, avant-garde art. You may say "lol, art nerds," but this is not some sort of new thing without precedent. They literally included illustrations to help guide you.

Is it good or not? I don't know. But the chef explicitly states that they are trying to work in the avant-garde tradition. The response literally states "Here at Bros' we strive every day for avant-garde." The photos of the dishes seem to back that up. It seems pretty clear. You don't have to like the avant-garde, you don't have to like Bros., they may have failed or succeeded, but they've laid it down - the avant-garde is the tradition they're shooting for.

Geraldine DeRuiter states "I need to be clear, I have no idea what he's talking about. I think he's trying to say that art is subjective?" There are one of two choices here. There is either naïveté, where she does not know about the avant-garde, or faux-naïveté, where she does know what the avant-garde is but is adopting the pose where she does not understand the tradition the restaurant is working in.

I don't know which is the case. What I do know is that when she then says "MY DUDE, I JUST WANTED SOME PROTEIN." that seems like some sort of bizarrely bro-ey reduction of food totally ignoring what the chefs were trying to accomplish with whatever happened during that meal, eliminating any reason we go to restaurants with the mere evocation of a macronutrient.

At this point, I don't believe either side. I've come to think they're all just in it for attention. But I need to be clear, I'd prefer to have a weird, ambitious, not-entirely successful experience at a restaurant than merely get an adequate amount of protein - something I can get on nearly any streetcorner around the world or mainline straight from my fridge.

This is a very foolish thread.

I want to stress that the allergy thing wasn't OK.
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 7:31 PM on December 9 [10 favorites]


For what it's worth, there are some awful reviews on TripAdvisor from September-October - the same time period that Geraldine DeRuiter would have been there - from Europeans (or at least, people writing in French.)

Jacques from Switzerland:The dishes are ridiculously small, often completely insipid, with a profusion of mousses, textureless gelatins, even pasta is served cold and tasteless. Some of these dishes are simply bad. He tries to make you swallow a drink with a vinegar base. (Has he tasted it?) (He goes on to say that the portions were "lilliputian" and her party was "broken-hearted.")

Beatrice from Belgium:We chose the 8-course meal. We had about 5 amuse-bouches and 5 sweets. So a series of 18 dishes altogether. Two of them were quite good and three were edible. The rest were simply bad! The 8 courses were the size of amuse-bouches, so even if you don't have a large appetite, you go hungry.

Michdeb from Belgium: Twenty microscopic little portions, some of which were really awful, go out over two hours. Nouvelle cuisine? Inventive cuisine??? No, it's nothing but often-incompatible flavors that don't bring anything refined or good-tasting. We weren't even able to swallow some of the desserts, they were so awful and ridiculous. We left the table still hungry, feeling like we were wearing signs that said "SUCKERS."

Enough bad reviews are from September-October 2021 that I'm tempted to say that maybe the kitchen was Going Through Something - though there are some bad reviews from 2019 that hit on the same points (tiny portions, everything cold, weird flavors). And there are too many awful reviews from Italians to attribute DeRuiter's opinions to American parochialism (or simply lying).
posted by Jeanne at 7:31 PM on December 9 [97 favorites]


Truly the lord's work, Jeanne.
posted by sagc at 7:34 PM on December 9 [20 favorites]


mumimor, you’re arguing like modernist cuisine is traditional Italian heritage, not American-European fusion less than 30 years old. You’re also getting pushback because you don’t seem to know what it is that you’re even defending.

Also, the majority of non-academics in the various parts of Europe that I have spent time in had (a) not travelled outside their home region and (b) spoke only one language. But that is really not relevant to your defence of an extremely expensive modernist restaurant that is the avant garde pet project of the chefs, alongside their rugby team and their regular Italian restaurant that sounds like it actually maybe is a place that locals go to.
posted by eviemath at 7:37 PM on December 9 [14 favorites]


At this point, I don't believe either side. I've come to think they're all just in it for attention.

People are allowed to want attention for their restaurant (or restaurant review). There's nothing shameful about going into cooking (or food writing) for the fame. ​

We aren't living in a Pixar film where there are deep artistic truths that you can only express through food if you're in it for the right reasons.

I love the first page of the Chef's response with the drawing of a man on a horse so much I think I might get it framed.
posted by zymil at 7:42 PM on December 9 [9 favorites]


But I need to be clear, I'd prefer to have a weird, ambitious, not-entirely successful experience at a restaurant than merely get an adequate amount of protein - something I can get on nearly any streetcorner around the world or mainline straight from my fridge.

just wanna say again

also yes, and there seems to be a dogged unwillingness to understand hyperbole and similar literary devices -- was it literally a concrete dungeon, an actual prison made of man's most quotidian building material, or is she a massive liar??? ~the only two options~
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 7:46 PM on December 9 [4 favorites]


also you can get adequate protein from a good restaurant??? I feel like good restaurants are getting slandered so bad in being compared to this debacle
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 7:46 PM on December 9 [4 favorites]


I feel like what I've truly learned is that if I'm going to blow a ton of money in an avant garde restaurant, I should plan to have some backup food stashed at home, a water bottle in my purse in case they serve me vinegar, and a collapsible spoon so I don't have to lick anything out of any plaster orifice.

Maybe Rick Steves should include that in his next guide.
posted by emjaybee at 7:52 PM on December 9 [4 favorites]


Everyone loves the "inadequate protein!" lady in that old Wendy's commercial, but nobody wants her in their restaurant
posted by AndrewInDC at 7:52 PM on December 9 [7 favorites]


Like, the people putatively defending avant-garde food, tasting menus for $$$, trying new things, etc. are basically the ones buying into the stereotypes of "fine dining" being stuffy, uncomfortable, unpleasant, inaccessible to "normal" people, etc. or where the service will be rude and make you feel bad. It's so not true.

I look like a scruff monster, I'm fat, no one pegs me for a big spender, but I've had such wonderful, delightful, legitimately heart-expanding experiences eating out. I've been impressed by waiters who are as much artists and professionals as the chefs. I've had my allergies accommodated with enough care that I wanted to cry because I didn't think I'd be able to eat much or participate with my friends. I've seen food that made my chem lab look like baby time and had cocktails that perfectly recreated the smell of a fire on a cool summer evening.

Telling people that if they don't want to lick vomitesque foam, go starving, and be told bruquely that they can't leave the table---well, then, they just don't get high-end or experimental dining is a massive disservice to people who haven't yet gotten the chance to experience these kinds of things, and it's a massive disservice to the people who are excellent at the art of restauranting.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 7:53 PM on December 9 [41 favorites]


Also also, the Canadian-born Mefites are probably too polite to say it, but as an immigrant may I observe that nothing challenges US hegemony quite like ignoring the existence of the rest of the Americas.
posted by eviemath at 7:55 PM on December 9 [14 favorites]


Also also, the Canadian-born Mefites are probably too polite to say it, but as an immigrant may I observe that nothing challenges US hegemony quite like ignoring the existence of the rest of the Americas.

I deeply admire your chaotic "let's argue about USians again" energy *chefs kiss* *but not that kind because ew*
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 7:58 PM on December 9 [6 favorites]


I expected that third picture of a horse to be much weirder than it was. But otherwise, the chef's response is A++++ in terms of the clarity, entertainment, and enjoyment I got from it (HE WROTE "What if food?"!!)
posted by mixedmetaphors at 8:04 PM on December 9 [10 favorites]


Like, the people putatively defending avant-garde food, tasting menus for $$$, trying new things, etc. are basically the ones buying into the stereotypes of "fine dining" being stuffy, uncomfortable, unpleasant, inaccessible to "normal" people, etc. or where the service will be rude and make you feel bad. It's so not true.

So, look, I'm the one in this thread defending the avant-garde and its existence. But I'm here to tell you that when I'm not whipping up conventional meat and potato dinners at home, I'm getting breakfast at taco trucks or having dinner at totally decent but not particularly strange places. I don't watch Mulholland Drive or Maya Deren before bed, or wake up to Stockhausen or Diamanda Galas. But I do engage those artists and their works when I'm looking for creativity, inspiration, a challenge or the desire to go beyond the conventional.

There is a place for both the conventional and the avant-garde, and it is the responsibility of the reviewer to know what kind of experience is appropriate in the moment, and how to engage at the appropriate time. In this Internet-connected era, it's pretty clear how to determine what is going to be what.
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 8:09 PM on December 9


how dare anyone non-European ever have an opinion on our pure, centuries old european-ness

Mmyeah but that's hardly the point. The point is that it seems rather decadent — and perhaps a little bit American — to go to an expensive, high-concept, Michelin-star restaurant, way off the beaten track, and all you care to share about the experience is that the service wasn't up to your standard.
posted by dmh at 8:09 PM on December 9


"all you care to share" apart from the many pictures, descriptions, witticisms...
posted by sagc at 8:11 PM on December 9 [10 favorites]


...that in no way is a honest description of the review, which went into some detail about what they were given to eat.
posted by tavella at 8:12 PM on December 9 [13 favorites]


How dare someone not enjoy something? Something that clearly Europeans also hate? How dare this American woman come here and dare wish to have allergies accommodated, to leave the table, to eat something that tasted good?
posted by sagc at 8:13 PM on December 9 [15 favorites]


So, look, I'm the one in this thread defending the avant-garde and its existence. But I'm here to tell you that when I'm not whipping up conventional meat and potato dinners at home, I'm getting breakfast at taco trucks or having dinner at totally decent but not particularly strange places. I don't watch Mulholland Drive or Maya Deren before bed, or wake up to Stockhausen or Diamanda Galas. But I do engage those artists and their works when I'm looking for creativity, inspiration, a challenge or the desire to go beyond the conventional.

as does the writer of this piece, she just thought it sucked.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 8:21 PM on December 9 [18 favorites]


I would posit that it is your own bias - justified though it may be - which is placing that "doubt" in your head about whether the restaurant was informed of the diner's allergies, and I invite you to reflect upon that.

I think that's self evidently true, and I think that it's equally true about every assumption people have made. I am curious what you thought the relevant bias of mine might be. IMO it was, as I said - the author was being so negative about every part of the experience that I didn't believe she'd leave out any ways to make it look worse. I also, as mentioned, don't think that everyone with allergies tells the restaurant ahead of time - and when I read that he was repeatedly served food that he was allergic to, I specifically assumed that his allergy was inconvenient and not life-threatening, because a) yes, it's pretty inconceivably bad for a restaurant to be told that you risk death by eating X, and then go ahead and serve you X anyway: I was guessing the lady who missed courses had a serious allergy, and the one getting served anyway did not and had decided to risk it; and b) I can't imagine him continuing to eat after they served you the first couple of potentially fatal dishes.

I'd guess that the bias driving your own horrified response to my original comment was your experience of friends with serious allergies and how this is managed in your circles, leading to an assumption that people with allergies and their friends are very careful and always make sure that people know about the allergies ahead of time. Possibly also some inference that I didn't think it was a problem for a restaurant to feed customers food that could kill them? I really don't understand what prompted the strength of your reaction.
posted by bashing rocks together at 8:22 PM on December 9


I am starting to think the people criticizing the review only skimmed it, if they read it at all
posted by schroedinger at 8:23 PM on December 9 [8 favorites]


as does the writer of this piece, she just thought it sucked.

Per her final comment "MY DUDE, I JUST WANTED SOME PROTEIN." that is demonstrably not true.

Can someone direct me to an online forum that not only believes in both racial and sexual equality but also understands the avant-garde tradition? I thought this was the place many years ago, but that's clearly no longer true. Not a joke.
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 8:29 PM on December 9 [1 favorite]


For the record there are now three of the party (at least) on Twitter who are backing up her word. I'm sure they're all in on this grand conspiracy together.

Six, in fact. You can follow the links in her tweet and find every one of them confirming the disastrous meal, and even suggesting she downplayed how awful it was. Strangely enough, most of them are Europeans.
posted by tavella at 8:33 PM on December 9 [17 favorites]


It's true, only you, I EAT TAPAS, have the true sight. Ah, us poor benighted fools, whose comments in this thread prove us woefully incapable of ever understanding the true, sublime meaning conveyed by licking goop out of a fake mouth.

avant-garde = nobody can disagree with me and still be worthy of attention, got it.
posted by sagc at 8:33 PM on December 9 [12 favorites]


Mmyeah but that's hardly the point. The point is that it seems rather decadent — and perhaps a little bit American — to go to an expensive, high-concept, Michelin-star restaurant, way off the beaten track, and all you care to share about the experience is that the service wasn't up to your standard.

The restaurant is decadent. Which is fine! But 90% of expensive, high-concept, way off the beaten track Michelin-star restaurants rely on tourism to survive. That's the business model. Are diners permitted to share their opinions on their dining experience? I would say yes, even if they're from out-of-town and their opinions are negative.
posted by grandiloquiet at 8:34 PM on December 9 [7 favorites]


If I drop a bunch of money on an avante-garde meal I would welcome being presented with new flavours & textures that ask me to reconsider what I think is delicious. What I don't want is (as seems to be the case here) to be challenged on the notion of whether it should be desirable for a meal to be delicious in the first place.
posted by juv3nal at 8:34 PM on December 9 [6 favorites]


...that in no way is a honest description of the review, which went into some detail about what they were given to eat.

The review details how the service wasn't up to standard: crab not plentiful enough, vinegar is not a course, servers don't explain, ice cream no good, and so on. Which, fair enough, if you don't like it you don't like it. But I think the pictured dishes look and sound interesting (including the chef- foaming-at-the-mouth) which is something the review doesn't really allow. What I get from the review is that everything tasted like fish and the portions were too small. Okay.
posted by dmh at 8:38 PM on December 9 [1 favorite]


Per her final comment "MY DUDE, I JUST WANTED SOME PROTEIN." that is demonstrably not true.

she was using hyperbolic rhetoric and your thesis about it misses important context (ironically!)

Can someone direct me to an online forum that not only believes in both racial and sexual equality but also understands the avant-garde tradition? I thought this was the place many years ago, but that's clearly no longer true. Not a joke.

we understand it, we just also think that this restaurant seems like it suck[ed]
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 8:41 PM on December 9 [8 favorites]


But if the author found whatever artistic statement was attempted completely incoherent - which it seems to be, pretty much - what else is there to talk about? You can disagree with a review without insulting the author's level of knowledge.
posted by sagc at 8:41 PM on December 9 [10 favorites]


she was using hyperbolic rhetoric and your thesis about it misses important context (ironically!)

"lol, it was just a joke!"

(like, you understand how that's been used in the past several years in America for "hyperbolic rhetoric", right?)
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 8:46 PM on December 9


Oh lord, I EAT TAPAS, I’d thought you were just doing a bit! This thread is such a cavalcade of wonder.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 8:52 PM on December 9 [21 favorites]


I EAT TAPAS - no really this was humor. There is humor here. Not fake evil scumbag humor, real actual belly laugh humor.
posted by pan at 8:52 PM on December 9 [4 favorites]


OK, I EAT TAPAS, I challenge you to back this up. How is criticizing haute cuisine like being a right-wing american? Go on, I'll wait.
posted by sagc at 8:54 PM on December 9 [7 favorites]


Have we seriously swung back around to insinuating that people who like avant garde cuisine are an imperiled, marginalized group in need of protection?
posted by a faithful sock at 8:54 PM on December 9 [7 favorites]


Re:

 I don't watch Mulholland Drive or Maya Deren before bed, or wake up to Stockhausen or Diamanda Galas. But I do engage those artists and their works when I'm looking for creativity, inspiration, a challenge or the desire to go beyond the conventional.

One can be an artist and make BAD ART. Spike Lee is as genuine artist as they come and has made terrible work, Hitchcock the same. The weirdness in this thread to try to ignore the possibility that the work was bad!

And this from I EAT TAPAS:

"lol, it was just a joke!"

(like, you understand how that's been used in the past several years in America for "hyperbolic rhetoric", right?)


Conflating a Mark Twain-esque takedown of a horrible, uneatable dinner with the rise of fascism in the States?

Hoo boy.
posted by jettloe at 8:56 PM on December 9 [23 favorites]


Degenerate art.

(I am aware of Godwin's law.)
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 8:56 PM on December 9


Oh my.
posted by jettloe at 8:57 PM on December 9 [12 favorites]


So the chef's "bros before hos" tattoo doesn't mean Bros before Hoss Cartwright?
posted by Ashwagandha at 8:59 PM on December 9


I don't know why I'm bothering wandering into this thread again, but... one of the things that's a little annoying to me about this whole... thing... is that I can appreciate avant-garde art, and I can see glimpses of what this restaurant is trying to be, but it really just seems like it doesn't land.

Like, the mouthfoam thing is one of the parts of it that's really clearly trying to say something, and that could be interesting, but the, uh, bro-y ness of it rubs me the wrong way — and the point that the response letter is getting at is excellent, but i'm prevented from enjoying it by the casual sexism (which I'm really surprised that more people here don't seem to see!) Like, if the mouth wasn't specifically advertised as "a cast of the chef's mouth", I think I'd be fine with it and think it's interesting art! As is, it just strikes me as gross in a way that's clearly lowbrow and ill-thought-out.

Other than the sexism (extreme sports, "bros before hos", etc), this just doesn't land on a straight-up execution level. If you want to have a avant-garde food experience, you need to at least be capable of providing a good meal experience, because if you aren't, that means what you're doing isn't a deliberate choice, but just failing to put together a meal. If you're going to be ostensibly serving a meal in a 4.5 hour experience, you need to understand that people might end up hangry if you don't serve them enough food! And I think the restaurant does understand that, since other reviews talked about being served bread, etc (SOMETHING TFA MENTIONS! It's not like she was unaware of this).

It's really sort of shocking to me to see people assume that the author is lying or spinning the story to be more negative than it is — both generally, and given the specific context all the other reviews and other members of the party corroborating that. I think I would be angry as well if I was hungry, went to a restaurant, and went for 4.5 hours without enough to eat! Should she have expected that? I mean, maybe, but based on my experience with tasting menus at fancy restaurants, it's very unusual to a.) not get enough food, and b.) have the staff not remedy that situation if you complain about it. If I went to a Michelin Star restaurant, I'd certainly have that expectation!

Yes, the blog post (and tweets) are somewhat performatively angry. But clearly many people enjoy this style of writing, and I don't know that this restaurant has demonstrated that it is worth taking seriously from a avant-garde perspective. (Like many other people have mentioned, the stuff that they're doing here isn't even really that avant-garde these days! It's not that novel!)

Art shouldn't be entitled to a review, and it's perfectly understandable to me why the author wouldn't think that this restaurant is deserving of one.
posted by wesleyac at 9:00 PM on December 9 [26 favorites]


So we have moved on from calling her an idiot, to calling her a liar, to calling her a Nazi?.

People are fucking insane about women on the internet.
posted by tavella at 9:06 PM on December 9 [59 favorites]


Art... shouldn't be entitled to a review? What is even going on here? I disagree with the review of this restaurant, but clearly anything is entitled to a review, and that's a ludicrously extreme stance that clearly isn't right.
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 9:07 PM on December 9 [1 favorite]


well, you compared her to fascists, I think, so...
posted by sagc at 9:10 PM on December 9 [2 favorites]


"How is criticizing haute cuisine like being a right-wing american?" -sagc

You asked the question, I gave the answer. The answer is that the Nazis indicated that avant-garde art was degenerate. I wasn't accusing the original author of anything (other than a certain kind of faux-naïveté for clicks).
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 9:11 PM on December 9


Reminder for the fuck-hundredth time: no one here is criticizing “haute cuisine.” What is being criticized is dumb, bad cuisine.

Which apparently is an imperialist, fascist position.
posted by neroli at 9:15 PM on December 9 [28 favorites]


Not that line, the line about "just joking" being somehow a terrible thing to say, and an indictment of this review. Like, yes, people can use "just joking" to be dicks. Also, it is possible for someone to describe their poor experience at a restaurant without that being some sort of sin.

And then you made the Nazi comparison.
posted by sagc at 9:15 PM on December 9 [3 favorites]


Wow, a lot has happened since I was here last.

I have, however, filled out a full card for metafilter Bingo and am working on a second.
But I'm getting impatient; can someone please post a derail into either:
Italians aren't real or
Modern Art was a Cold War psychological operation conducted by the CIA
so I can mark it complete and go to bed?
posted by bartleby at 9:16 PM on December 9 [28 favorites]


> Art... shouldn't be entitled to a review? […] that's a ludicrously extreme stance that clearly isn't right.

Really? What I mean by this is that if someone goes into an artistic experience, they can choose what they do with that experience. I do think that it's entitled to expect that someone will engage with their experience with art within the specific confines of the format of a review.

I write reviews of art that I enjoy sometimes. I do not usually write reviews of art that I don't enjoy, because I don't want to spend more time thinking about something that did not bring me enjoyment. When I do write reviews of things that I don't enjoy, it's usually just because there's a specific point that I want to make. I think that it's unreasonable for people making art (especially people making avant-garde art!) to expect that if I don't enjoy it, I will write a review with a specific style that is balanced and makes sure to only examine the art on its own terms.

I don't think this is "ludicrously extreme," I'm pretty sure I've seen people use phrases like "I don't want to dignify this with a review" many times, and I don't typically see anyone complain about that, or say that it's a "ludicrously extreme" thing to say.

If you disagree with this, I'm legitimately curious why — your response certainly hasn't given me much of a hint so far.
posted by wesleyac at 9:17 PM on December 9 [3 favorites]


I do think that there is performative faux naivete going on here

I honestly can't tell whether you're referring to the original review, or some of the comments in this thread.

perhaps there's also something a tad gross about an American author travelling halfway across the world to partake in an exorbitantly expensive 27 course meal only to gleefully shit all over it, to the amusement and hilarity of I guess mostly other Americans.

May I clarify - are you under the impression that she INTENDED to travel halfway across the world to have this meal and then shit all over it? Because I think it's far more likely that she intended to travel halfway across the world and have a meal she enjoyed - or one that at least sated her hunger, as well as a meal that did not suffocate one of her companions.

In short - she didn't write this review for the lulz. She wrote this review because she was pissed off at how much the meal sucked.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:21 PM on December 9 [11 favorites]


I am right now imagining the chef's response to this thread!
Shared platter of cold beans, which we are admonished are only garnish and not for consumption. Spherified apricot-fish bean is not actually hidden among them, but is implied.
posted by joeyh at 9:23 PM on December 9 [12 favorites]


There seem to be more people deeply invested in the right of a very expensive restaurant to serve a terrible meal than I would have imagined possible.

As long as the restaurant is in Europe, though, because in the US it would be an Olive Garden serving spam from a tin and legit terrible.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 9:29 PM on December 9 [20 favorites]


So if something calls itself avant-garde, are the only appropriate reactions praise or respectful silence? Does the fact of it being avant-garde put any piece of art beyond the possibility of criticism? Can avant-garde never fail, only be failed, because any suggestion it was done poorly betrays the commenter as unsophisticated?

Cool trick, bro.
posted by emjaybee at 9:33 PM on December 9 [36 favorites]


As long as the restaurant is in Europe, though, because in the US it would be an Olive Garden serving spam from a tin and legit terrible.

I've been trying to remember whether I first read this all-time great pan on the blue however many years ago and if it provoked anywhere near this kind of response (author--a woman--from the UK, and the Michelin-starred restaurants in question in the US).
posted by thivaia at 9:34 PM on December 9 [2 favorites]


In short - she didn't write this review for the lulz. She wrote this review because she was pissed off at how much the meal sucked.

You don't seem to understand: there is no such thing as an avant garde meal that sucks. If a person thinks they experienced one, that's because neither they nor any of the 5 or 6 other people present understand what food even is. Also they're probably women, so like, duh, of course they don't!
posted by a faithful sock at 9:35 PM on December 9 [15 favorites]


If you disagree that [art shouldn't be entitled to a review], I'm legitimately curious why — your response certainly hasn't given me much of a hint so far.

I am increasingly baffled by everything going on in this thread.

At least in America, we are all entitled to our own opinion, individuality and taste, and have the opportunity to state as such in a free society. I'll defend this, even with opinions I don't agree with.

In a free society, others are free to express their disapproval with one's expressed opinion. sagc appears to be offended that I brought the fascist oppression of avant-garde art into this discussion. I feel that's an extreme but relevant comparison. That may be a valid, personal disagreement, and I will defend sagc's opposition to my position. The metafilter moderators may have a different opinion. As this is a private space, the metafilter moderators ultimately have say.

I don't begrudge the original author of the review for feeling that they had a bad experience at an expensive restaurant. That pretty much certainly was the case! However, it seems that the original author of the review may not have understood - and still may not have! - the tradition behind the experience they had at the restaurant in question. That was my initial point, and still may be a concern.
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 9:36 PM on December 9 [1 favorite]


Can avant-garde never fail, only be failed, because any suggestion it was done poorly betrays the commenter as unsophisticated? Cool trick, bro.
That's why it's called paté les bourgeoisie.
posted by bartleby at 9:38 PM on December 9 [4 favorites]


I think it's more nonsensical than offensive, to be clear. Also irrelevant to the piece that 90% of this thread seems to have read.

Please explain to me the tradition to which you refer. Do you think that 'avant-garde' unto itself is somehow impossible to be bad? Because that seems to be the clearest point you're making.
posted by sagc at 9:38 PM on December 9 [7 favorites]


I've just read some of the author's Twitter feed (which is blowing up because of all this, understandably) and there are 2 things which I would like to share:

1. There are some people in here which seem to be of the opinion that the main reason that this author and her friends did not enjoy the meal was because they were uncultured Americans (at least, that is what I'm being lead to believe). However - the author notes that among the people in her party, only three people were American, and the rest were European themselves. All were equally discomfited by the experience.

2. Someone in her Twitter feed saw the chef's response with the picture of a horse and has now dubbed him "Brojack Horseman", and I personally believe we should adopt that nickname IMMEDIATELY.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:39 PM on December 9 [37 favorites]


Do you think that 'avant-garde' unto itself is somehow impossible to be bad?

I do not. Do you feel that the the original author is, in good faith, addressing the experience from the standpoint of the avant-garde tradition and reviewing it as such? Yes or no.
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 9:43 PM on December 9


Yes, because, as many people have explained, there is room for the avant-garde to fail on its own terms, and what she describes is that. Disagreement with you isn't abuse, including when it comes to evaluating art.

All your arguments here seem to rely on an unfounded assumption that you know better than her what this specific restaurant was trying to achieve. That's what makes this so gross.
posted by sagc at 9:45 PM on December 9 [27 favorites]


the tradition behind the experience
Can you explain the sort of “tradition” you mean? Because I think you are grossly misunderstanding the sort of restaurant we’re talking about here.
posted by neroli at 9:50 PM on December 9 [2 favorites]


All your arguments here seem to rely on an unfounded assumption that you know better than her what this specific restaurant was trying to achieve. That's what makes this so gross.

The author's review, the restaurant's own rebuttal and the author's response make clear what each are trying to achieve. I am taking them on their own terms. The restaurant has stated explicitly that they are following the tradition of the avant-garde. The author has explicitly stated that they do not understand the response and just wanted protein. This is what has literally been stated. It's absurd, but that's what has actually happened. I am reading and responding to their own words.
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 9:50 PM on December 9


Are avant-garde and protein mutually exclusive?
posted by TwoStride at 9:52 PM on December 9 [12 favorites]


Have you yourself ever eaten in the kind of restaurant you’re defending?
posted by neroli at 9:52 PM on December 9 [3 favorites]


Are avant-garde and protein mutually exclusive?

Not at all, although certainly one can exist in the absence of the other. I encourage pointers to a high-protein, avant-garde experience.
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 9:55 PM on December 9


Have you yourself ever experienced sarcasm, hyperbole, or someone being able to engage with twitter on twitter's terms? Methinks you do not understand the art of her being good at Twitter.
posted by sagc at 9:55 PM on December 9 [8 favorites]


Okay, I have no idea why I'm trying to run interference here, but in regards to one particularly confused strand of argument, I think one of you is using 'art shouldn't be entitled to a review' to mean 'artists shouldn't be able to demand that others review their work' and the other is reading it as 'art doesn't deserve to be reviewed', carry on.
posted by eponym at 9:55 PM on December 9 [5 favorites]


I have an important question for you, I Eat Tapas:

If you feel that Bros should be judged on the basis of being an avant-garde experience as opposed to being a restaurant, do you feel that perhaps they ought to bill themselves as such?

Moreover, since they did NOT bill themselves as such, is it not therefore valid for the author of this review to object to being mislead in this way?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:56 PM on December 9 [6 favorites]


So on the one hand, we have ample evidence from other reviews that the courses served to the author's party seemed to be missing components and that experience with the staff varied wildly.

On the other hand we have a chef with "Bros Before Hos" tattooed on himself who wants everyone to know that if the food was bad, that was on purpose, because art.

Yeah, totally makes sense to give complete benefit of the doubt to the chef while concluding the author can't possibly know what she's talking about nor have had an actual experience she described.
posted by a faithful sock at 10:01 PM on December 9 [28 favorites]


Behind a little nondescript door in Lower Manhattan, down a flight of concrete stairs, there's a little restaurant. You have to hear of it by word of mouth. It isn't terribly expensive by NYC standards, though us classless Americans might think otherwise.

It serves a tasting menu. Employs genius chefs. Brilliant waitstaff who knows when to be hilarious, retiring, attentive.

The next part may be hard to swallow.

Human feces are present in every dish. Used as in ingredient. Carefully sourced and sterile.

It is a place that serves a very odd clientele, for sure. But they're amazing at what they do. (I'm almost certain I saw Mike Patton there, but I didn't want to say anything.)

I ate there once. Pretty much on a dare. (I know some strange folks.)

Every single dish was delicious.

Bros has no excuse.
posted by She Vaped An Entire Sock! at 10:02 PM on December 9 [9 favorites]


because in the US it would be an Olive Garden serving spam from a tin and legit terrible.

Derail : It might not be to everyone's tastes and/or aesthetics, but spam and egg kimchi fried rice is delicious, so is spam musubi, and honestly, if I served someone a perfectly shaped cube of spam right out of the tin at an avant guard restaurant it would probably generate rave reviews. (Heck, it COMES WITH ITS OWN ASPIC.) What if I made it a whole Warhol-meets-Banksy scene out of the whole thing, followed by a microshot of Campbell's soup and paired with a 7-11 Double Gulp of Coca-Cola, extra ice.

Extra. Ice.
posted by BlueBlueElectricBlue at 10:15 PM on December 9 [9 favorites]


If you feel that Bros should be judged on the basis of being an avant-garde experience as opposed to being a restaurant, do you feel that perhaps they ought to bill themselves as such?

Moreover, since they did NOT bill themselves as such, is it not therefore valid for the author of this review to object to being mislead in this way?


This is a great question, and I'm not sure I have the answer. I'm honestly curious about it.

I don't believe unsuspecting people should be lured unexpectedly into an avant-garde experience. If someone goes into a conventional restaurant billed as a specific type of restaurant, they should generally have a experience in line with how that restaurant bills itself, according to conventional expectations.

On the other hand, when you look at something like Sleep No More, a renown but mainstream avant-garde experience, the tagline on the main site merely states "an award winning theatrical experience that tells Shakespeare's Scottish tragedy through a film noir lens". That's not incorrect, but nothing says you're going to have to wear a mask and run after performers. One would expect that its reputation precedes it, but perhaps not. A certain amount of surprise in an avant-garde experience is reasonable, but not so much it creates issues of consent.

In the case of Bros., I don't know. I agree that their web site is vague, but it's nevertheless clear that the restaurant is associated with edgy, at least postmodern styles in reviews and outward statements.

If the reviewer did not choose Bros on their own, I think they should have had the option to opt out and had some sort of fair warning that it was going to be an unconventional, avant-garde experience.
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 10:19 PM on December 9



she was using hyperbolic rhetoric and your thesis about it misses important context (ironically!)

"lol, it was just a joke!"

(like, you understand how that's been used in the past several years in America for "hyperbolic rhetoric", right?)


yeah, I do, because I'm Mexican-American, a woman, disabled, I could really go on for a while here. but thanks for reminding me about fascism and how it is basically light mockery of things you personally identify with and consider yourself an expert on
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 10:21 PM on December 9 [18 favorites]


Reads thivaia's link and is highly amused to discover that Per Se serves Jasper Hill Harbison cheese, one of my very favorites. I can't speak for the rest of the pan, but they have good taste in cheese!
posted by tavella at 10:24 PM on December 9 [1 favorite]


a microshot of Campbell's soup

Cream of mushroom? Condensed and undiluted?

Take my money.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:32 PM on December 9 [3 favorites]


yeah, I do, because I'm Mexican-American, a woman, disabled, I could really go on for a while here. but thanks for reminding me about fascism and how it is basically light mockery of things you personally identify with and consider yourself an expert on

I acknowledge and appreciate your heritage and struggles. But, are you saying that you appreciate people using hyperbolic rhetoric that misses important context? After the events of the past few years, I honestly have a real tough time with hyperbolic rhetoric. I don't believe fascism is merely light mockery, if that's what you're concerned by.
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 10:33 PM on December 9


Perhaps consider what many people are telling you about what you're saying.

Also, "I acknowledge and appreciate your heritage and struggles. But" is unintentionally hilarious.
posted by sagc at 10:40 PM on December 9 [19 favorites]


But, are you saying that you appreciate people using hyperbolic rhetoric that misses important context?

sometimes! not to change the subject from how hyperbole is fascism (but what if avant-garde art uses hyperbole? what if her tweets are avant-garde art and so now you are doing a fascism? makes ya think) but idk, maybe only sith deal in absolutes or something
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 10:41 PM on December 9 [9 favorites]


I certainly cannot speak for all the food traditions of the world, but I think it's fair to say that in the cultural expectations which this restaurant, the reviewer, and the other diners (including those on TripAdvisor who visited around this time) belong, if you charge someone a lot of money in exchange for the promise of a meal, take up several hours of their time, and do not give them an adequate amount of protein, they will be angry with you. Showing them a picture of a horse will not sate that anger and is, in fact, likely to exasperate it. Nobody goes "oh now that I understand you were trying to make art, I'm not so hungry." This is a pretty widespread expectation anyone operating a restaurant presumably ought to be familiar with. If you intend to violate that expectation, you basically need to accept that people will have a bad time, or at least advise them to pack their own snacks when they come to your restaurant.

Whatever message this restaurant sought to convey with its art is only as relevant as people receive it. Perhaps the restaurant, avant-garde as it is, truly intended to provoke this particular anger in its guests; job well done. Or perhaps the place used to be great, good enough to earn that star (insofar as that means anything), and through some combination of staffing difficulties and/or management crawling so far up their own asses that they were no longer capable of comprehending the concept of “food,” they lost the plot, and the message they thought they were conveying got muddled beyond all comprehension.

But saying "oh it's an avant-garde experience" doesn't change the fact that the experience is only as meaningful as it is experienced by the guests. The very first paragraph of the review says it: "The sort of meal where everyone involved was definitely trying to do something; it’s just not entirely clear what." The restaurant may have been trying to communicate something and that's admirable, but they were unable to successfully have their message received, not even a tiny bit, by anyone at a table that included a professional, award-winning food writer. That's on them.
posted by zachlipton at 10:43 PM on December 9 [18 favorites]


You all enjoy your hyperbolic rhetoric, I've genuinely done my best to try and explain why the OP is problematic - in spite of perhaps the restaurant being not that great - and I'm seriously done.
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 10:50 PM on December 9


I've genuinely tried my best to explain why the OP is problematic

You compared the OP's restaurant review to a fascist purge of modern art. If that is your best I don't want to see your worst.
posted by zymil at 10:53 PM on December 9 [35 favorites]


expired: people are only oppressed on one axis
tired: intersectionality
wired: disliking a restaurant is problematic
posted by sagc at 10:53 PM on December 9 [10 favorites]


Or to put it more simply: you can't tell people they're experiencing your art all wrong because they're having normal biological reactions like being really hungry or having allergic reactions (to allergens you've been notified about). It's like complaining that audiences would have liked a film if only humans had better color vision or more sensitive hearing.
posted by zachlipton at 10:54 PM on December 9 [13 favorites]


Wow, this thread!

To be fair, some of my most memorable dining experience have been those that land flat, and I'm sure this meal and the ensuing fracas will remain deeply entrenched in the author's conscience. It really does seem like a meal that attempted to say something (although maybe not quite as profound as the chef thought ) but was botched on execution.

apricots taste best when preserved

This is a long call back, but I'm going to push back hard. Scandinavians can't be trusted as arbiters on apricots, knowing the crap fruit that is imported here. The best apricots need to be enjoyed in season, ideally from the fruit stand in the valley.
posted by St. Oops at 11:04 PM on December 9 [15 favorites]


I'm just going to throw this out there, a view espoused by Beard and Bourdain and quite a few other major food writers: cookery is not art and cannot be art, precisely because there are a limited range of reactions it can create which will be satisfying to the customer. In fiction, you can create a work like, say, Lolita, which is unambiguously intended to disgust the reader (or viewer, if it's the movie) because Humbert Humbert is an awful person, but because we're experiencing that disgust purely on a mental level we can process it and enjoy the art being presented to us. You can make horrific-looking visual art. You can make atonal music. And so forth.

But it does not work with food, because human beings are still biological animals who rely on our tastebuds as a safety net against many things (poisons, for one), and we instinctively cannot handle a lot of the potential taste spectrum. Most people simply cannot tolerate eating rotten meat, or bilious flavours, or bitterness or sourness beyond certain thresholds. The entire reason fine cuisine is suspicious of spicy food is not because they don't like spicy food, but because there is an understanding that some people can't handle spice beyond a certain level, and if you've made your food inedible to some of your audience because you enjoy eating a raw ghost pepper and don't see why they shouldn't as well, you're considered, not unfairly, to have failed them. The most important result of any cookery experience is that the eater enjoys the food, because there is no real art in creating food that tastes bad - literally anybody can make bad-tasting food.

That is not to say that cookery cannot be creative - of course it can, you can have novel, brilliant ideas about presentation, or novel, brilliant ideas about combinations of flavours, or textures, or lots of other elements in serving a plate of food. But that creativity is the province of craftsmanship rather than artistry. Food simply isn't a particularly good medium to ask questions about life beyond "does this taste good" and "does this taste good in a way I was not expecting it to taste good." Which is why it isn't really an artistic endeavour, and why most of the greatest chefs are the ones who are inhumanly thoughtful and diligently careful about the plates they send out.

The Bros chef's reaction is unimaginably snotty and demonstrates that he absolutely does not understand any of this. He sent out shitty food that either did not taste good or was lacking elements necessary to be satisfying. The OP's friends have posted numerous pictures of the 27 courses at this point, and most of them are honestly uninspiring - flat puddles of liquid on saucers, smears of things, tiny servings on huge plates. There aren't any novel ideas especially worth defending here - the plaster cast of the chef's mouth was the high point of the presentation, and it was basically just a fancy cup for yet another foam. And it was largely unpleasant to eat by all accounts, and clearly not enough to merit being called a full meal. As cuisine, it fails the most basic test, which is "the customer enjoys the food." Not "the customer enjoys the food in a way that is novel to them" or "the customer enjoys a food they did not expect to enjoy" - just "they liked the food." If it fails that test, all other creative questions are meaningless.
posted by mightygodking at 11:21 PM on December 9 [54 favorites]


Yeah, I mean... have you never had a fresh apricot? I know I'm spoiled in California, getting apricots that were picked the day before in the Central Valley, but I would think Mediterranean Italy would also have very fine apricots.
posted by tavella at 11:22 PM on December 9 [3 favorites]


but also understands the avant-garde tradition? I thought this was the place many years ago, but that's clearly no longer true. Not a joke.

What follows is a lot of words, so if you don't want to read them, you might consider the words of the famed philosopher David St. Hubbins and then skip to the next comment - "It's such a fine line between stupid and clever."

If you understand the avant-garde tradition then you'd understand that context is often crucial to it.

When Duchamp submitted Fountain to the Society of Independent Artists, it was not merely the idea of readymades that he was advancing but that the Society purported that they'd exhibit any art submitted with a nominal fee, so he set out to prove that wasn't true.

When the Dadaists threw rationality to the wind and confronted rather than comforted their audiences, it was in the context of a world gone mad that no longer made sense so no longer did art. The cut up writing and collage art reflected a world that had metaphorically and literally been torn apart and reassembled.

Schoenberg's context was a muddle of German nationalism (even as his home nation grew dangerous to him), arrogance, and a fixation on numbers. Perhaps akin to this restaurant, his declaration that balancing each note equally was an aesthetic value greater than actually being pleasing to listen to flopped - as such, he's mostly consigned to be something that you study in sophomore music literature classes and little more (rightfully so, IMO).

John Cage, on the other hand, had a lot more interesting things to say. His use of chance and the philosophy behind it reflects both the state of the world after the second world war and the hopes he had for the future after it (even as he intentionally made them challenging, to reflect the difficulty of achieving those hopes). Philip K. Dick's similar use of the I Ching to both craft the story of The Man In The High Castle and as a character is an interesting parallel - in that case, the huge success of the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich was part of the context.

His works often worked to advance the idea that music should awaken people to their reality (which Burroughs took for an entirely different spin with Naked Lunch). 0′00″, of course, not only challenged what written music needed to be (in the context of the score) but what music was, when it started and ended, etc. (and was influenced by some of the artists from Black Mountain, whose contexts included the gathering storms of WWII including the exodus of Bauhaus faculty, the growth of the concepts of non-hierarchical methodologies, racial tensions in the South, and the vision for the future and interest in math of colleagues such as Fuller).

Works such as Musicircus plays with chance and overlapping sometimes dissonant sometimes pleasing parts that reflected the increasingly chaotic world of the 60s and the multiple ways that indeterminacy affects us all. Similar ideas would be riffed on by Brian Eno with works such as Here Come The Warm Jets and Music for Airports, the latter being notable for its launch of ambient music and using machines to generate the overlaps and chance inspired by the eponymous airports).

I can keep going.. want to talk Oulipo? Early industrial music such as Throbbing Gristle? Merzbow, e e cummings, Kathy Acker, Fluxus, Stravinsky, Kesey, Einsturzende Neubauten, Warhol, Pollock, Sakamoto, Laurie Anderson, Wojnarowicz, González-Torres, Ana Mendieta, David Best, Peter Greenaway, Lozano-Hemmer, DJ Spooky, Sophie, Bob Flanagan, Fakir Musafar? Want me to place each of them in the avant tradition?

The important thing is that all of them all have a stated ethos or manifesto that their works illustrate or one or more that can be derived from the context in which they operated. They all have something about them that challenges their audience to think and expand.

GG Allin on the other hand? Was he a deliberate reflection of the rampant consumerism of the 80s and celebrity worship? Mentally ill? An addict, abuser, asshole? All of the above? One of the first things you learn about post-modern analysis and the Death of the Author is that an interested and creative enough analyst can create meaning in almost anything.

Which leads us to what really is art? Or more specifically, what's the difference between art and decoration? There's nothing wrong with aesthetically pleasing decoration but there's a lot of what's described as art that's really just decoration. Thomas Kinkade, for example, while not my cup of tea, brightens the living spaces of a lot of people and makes their lives a little better for it. And while you or I can look at a piece and make up a meaning for it if we really want to, at that point the artist really is us and not Kinkade.

And food really is more akin to decoration or experience rather than art, so if you want to make art with your food, you have to do something that gives it context and meaning. Very few people's lives are changed by a meal the way that a mind expanding book, movie, play, painting, etc. does. There's no Velvet Underground of chefs. You don't go to Six Flags and ride a bunch of rides and describe it as mind opening, no matter how enjoyable it is.

Food is something that you like or don't like in almost all cases, as well as delivering or not delivering the nutrients you need. It's almost exclusively utilitarian in the latter regard. Art is not an essential thing for survival but food (or at least sustenance) is. There's things that we ingest for recreational purposes for sure, but we don't call them food, and it's largely silly other than as a thought exercise to talk about redefining those things as food.

You can push into thought provoking areas - I have seen riffs on what's billed as ethnic food that was really an example of what refugees are fed in camps, for example. Or meals that traced the flow of a particular spice through time and history, giving you an understanding of how different cultures embraced and used it. But because of the nature of food, there needs to be some effort made by the artists to, as a professor mine always used to say, "make the implicit explicit." In most cases, its things like the menus or front of house staff that help deliver the context.

Looking at a variety of sources, there's hints at what this restaurant could be trying to say with their food. In this case, they've badly failed to do so. And again, as with Kinkade, we can concoct themes along the lines of a fool and their money are quickly parted or the emperor's new clothes, but that's us constructing meaning after the fact and fitting it to a situation. What they've done in this case is delivered an experience akin to decoration rather than art and that experience was found lacking.

OK, your turn (even though on preview I see you're running away, presumably to forums that understand the avant-garde tradition better than I), please do tell me how the meal from the review fits into the tradition.
posted by Candleman at 11:29 PM on December 9 [41 favorites]


If these 500 comments haven't been enough for you, here's the old discussion on the article that thivaia linked — it's remarkably similar. I'll refrain from dragging too much of that into this conversation, but I will say that I think there are interesting things to be found by comparing the threads.
I think one of you is using 'art shouldn't be entitled to a review' to mean 'artists shouldn't be able to demand that others review their work' and the other is reading it as 'art doesn't deserve to be reviewed', carry on.
This is correct. I dunno who I'm talking to at this point, but my take is that I think a lot of the backlash against this article comes from people thinking that it is, or should be a review, when it's not — it's an article that is engaging with the restaurant in a way that is fundamentally different from a review. This is sort of amusing, because it means that people who are criticizing the article for not engaging with the restaurant in the way that they think it should are really giving the same treatment to the article as the article is to the restaurant. This doesn't mean you have to like the article, just that many criticisms of it come from a place of not understanding what it's trying to be.
posted by wesleyac at 11:32 PM on December 9 [10 favorites]


You maybe wouldn't believe it but *slaps thread* this baby can fit more than 500 comments!
posted by DeepSeaHaggis at 11:51 PM on December 9 [16 favorites]


Thank-you to everyone for their service in this thread. What a rollercoaster - can I get off now?
posted by dangerousdan at 11:57 PM on December 9 [1 favorite]


I went to play Sims 4 and came back to Godwin's law....
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 12:09 AM on December 10 [6 favorites]


can I get off now?

Exit through the gift shop.
posted by Candleman at 12:22 AM on December 10 [11 favorites]


*slaps thread* this baby can fit more than 500 comments
… and if you service it regularly, you’ll easily get another 500 as long as you keep treating it like the original owner.
posted by dg at 12:31 AM on December 10 [1 favorite]


May I clarify - are you under the impression that she INTENDED to travel halfway across the world to have this meal and then shit all over it? Because I think it's far more likely that she intended to travel halfway across the world and have a meal she enjoyed - or one that at least sated her hunger, as well as a meal that did not suffocate one of her companions.

I am under the impression the author travels to write about food places and trends and in this case got a bit more than bargained for. The group could have gotten an enjoyable meal at dozens of places. Instead they opted for an edgy, expensive experience, and that's what they got.

There seem to be more people deeply invested in the right of a very expensive restaurant to serve a terrible meal than I would have imagined possible.

I'm sure the meal was terrible for them, but I'm not sure everyone has to agree it's a terrible meal. Indeed a lot of the dishes seem like they could be quite interesting, flavor- & texture-wise. But the review barely acknowledges such humdrum notions. It just goes "Ew!" and assumes the readership feels the same way.

The whole thing brings to mind the old joke: "the food is terrible — and such small portions!"
posted by dmh at 12:34 AM on December 10 [3 favorites]


I like it how, apparently, the only correct reactions to "avant-garde" are it's superb! or you don't get it!

It's kind of like all the nutjobs on reddit who think that when their comments are upvoted, they are correct, and if they are downvoted, they are even more correct.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 12:48 AM on December 10 [19 favorites]


I like this. Rand is a mid-to-late 2000s internet fixture fixture and he and Geraldine blog and joke online in this style that used to be more popular. Back in the day the article probably would’ve been a funny thread on seomoz. It’s fun. Also this metafilter thread is hundreds of comments long and full of potato-chip snark that also fills me with nostalgia, so it’s a great companion piece.

Go Web 2.0! Make a comeback and beat web3!
posted by michaelh at 12:52 AM on December 10 [25 favorites]


I went by "restaurants that Americans hated" as my guide. We had excellent food, with no exception, every day for a week

Are you saying that the author, with her James Beard Prize and fluency in Italian, is representative of flyover-country tourists who give 1-star reviews because the trattoria in the piazza doesn't do proper stuffed-crust pizza?
posted by acb at 1:21 AM on December 10 [16 favorites]


I essentially regard Italy as the West Virginia of Europe.

Surely that would be Poland; they also have a coal-dependent economy,
posted by acb at 1:32 AM on December 10 [3 favorites]


The response literally states "Here at Bros' we strive every day for avant-garde."

Schrödinger's Douchebag Duchamp
posted by acb at 2:52 AM on December 10 [3 favorites]


Can someone direct me to an online forum that not only believes in both racial and sexual equality but also understands the avant-garde tradition? I thought this was the place many years ago, but that's clearly no longer true. Not a joke.


Considering the now unavoidable climate catastrophes in store for us over the rest of this century, what could be more avant-garde than fighting over minuscule servings of what turned out to not even be food in the first place?
posted by jamjam at 2:59 AM on December 10 [16 favorites]


Well, this was going to be my follow-up to I Eat Tapas, but it looks like this could be a good question for as well:

I don't believe unsuspecting people should be lured unexpectedly into an avant-garde experience. If someone goes into a conventional restaurant billed as a specific type of restaurant, they should generally have a experience in line with how that restaurant bills itself, according to conventional expectations.

--

I am under the impression the author travels to write about food places and trends and in this case got a bit more than bargained for. The group could have gotten an enjoyable meal at dozens of places. Instead they opted for an edgy, expensive experience, and that's what they got.


This question would work as a follow-up to both points above.

The author may have sought out an edgy, expensive experience, but they were seeking out an edgy, expensive food experience. Other such restaurants offering such "edgy" food experiences still work to meet two basic conventions:

1. They work to ensure that their guests' overall hunger is satisfied by the end of the meal, and

2. If a guest expresses an allergy to a given food item, they still work to ensure the guest's overall hunger is satisfied while SIMULTANEOUSLY avoiding serving them something with that food item.

Now - it seems that the gentlemen at Bros have ignored both of those conventions. Given that these are conventions which other such "edgy" and "avant-garde" restaurants still work to adhere to, and since the author has been to other such restaurants and found those conventions still present, it is not reasonable to assume that she would have assumed the fellows at Bros would also have done so?

Follow-up: is it possible for avant-garde to go too far when it comes to flouting conventions?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:47 AM on December 10 [12 favorites]


I like good food. I like the avant-garde.

But this thread has taught me something about myself:

If this is "avant-garde cuisine", then I do not recognize "avant-garde" as a valid category of cuisine.

I embrace the avant-garde in visual arts, literature, film, etc.

But food, necessarily, has a functional purpose: to satisfy one's biological need for nutrients. Sure, it can experiment with different ingredients, preparations, etc. But that experimentation should be done in the service of satisfying hunger. A meal which doesn't meet that criterion – which is primarily concerned with stimulating the senses in self-consciously novel ways, and only secondarily concerned (if at all) with feeding the diner – has failed at being food.

So, I don't consider this establishment to be a restaurant. They're a theater whose productions happen to emphasize the sensation of taste.

Obviously, this is a personal opinion, and I'm not condemning anyone who does enjoy that kind of theater (or who wishes to include it in the category of "restaurant" – that's a question of semantics).

But, man – my interest in avant-garde art, and my interest in eating expertly made food, are apparently non-overlapping magisteria. Because I can't imagine a less rewarding way to spend that kind of money.

If that makes me a rube, then boy howdy, I guess I'm a rube.

(And I'm sure I'll get some pushback for this, but: the fact that some people have the privilege to spend hundreds of dollars on a meal, still leave hungry, and be able to chalk that up as nothing more than a disappointing evening on the town, seems like a something that should be part of this conversation.)
posted by escape from the potato planet at 4:21 AM on December 10 [18 favorites]


Avant-garde has a free hand only as far as it doesn't compromise the function of its genre. In art, this is accomplished by expanding the function of the genre from “looking at pretty/inspiring pictures’ to “having an extraordinary aesthetic experience”; in literature, it can dispense with conventions of linear plot, world-building and so on; in music, melody and rhythm can be jettisoned, but there has to be some sort of sound over time (even if it's incidental sound, as in 4:33). Beyond the pure arts, the freedom of the avant-garde is much narrower. There isn't much of a market for avant-garde furniture that is painful or injurious to sit on, and if a civil engineer built a bridge that collapsed and, at the trial, cited André Bréton or claimed that it was “an interrogation of the liminality of spatial relations” or something, the judge wouldn't buy it.

One typically expects a restaurant to fall in the second category of having a functional role (i.e., providing a meal that is satisfying as food, outside of its role as an aesthetic experience). One could conceivably set up an art installation that seated visitors in a perplexing environment and served them inedible simulacra of food, but the punters would generally have to be in on it.
posted by acb at 4:29 AM on December 10 [16 favorites]


I went by "restaurants that Americans hated" as my guide. We had excellent food, with no exception, every day for a week

Are you saying that the author, with her James Beard Prize and fluency in Italian, is representative of flyover-country tourists who give 1-star reviews because the trattoria in the piazza doesn't do proper stuffed-crust pizza?

I am saying a lot of things, but as a reply to your question:
I cannot see how winning a James Beard award for writing about a really stupid Mario Batali recipe for cinnamon rolls qualifies her to appreciate a restaurant in Southern Italy where they by their own description serve food based on local traditions but transformed with modern techniques. Watching the video with the young couple, it was clear that they recognized traditional foods in the deconstructed plates and found it both amusing and delicious.
I am also inclined to think that she is not entirely fluent in Italian culture. If she doesn't like this type of restaurant, why did she go? What did she expect? As I have stated many times above, this is within the range of what one can expect to eat in Italy, something many Italians eat with gusto, and with no expectation of being stuffed like a goose.
There are plenty of places to go in Lecce and elsewhere, where more protein is served.

Then about the 1-star review restaurant finding system. Venice is a place where it is notoriously difficult to find food, even for Italian tourists from just outside the lagoon. This is because the city is flooded every day of the year with gazillions of tourists from all over the world, very few of whom are interested in Venetian cuisine, neither the traditional nor the contemporary versions. By far the most restaurants in Venice cater to these tourists by serving them expensive stuff they like, including pizza, spaghetti with meat sauce, spaghetti with tomato sauce and hamburgers with fries. It's a racket. But if you scroll through TripAdvisor and find 1 star reviews saying stuff like: the portions were tiny, I couldn't get tap water, there was only one choice for vegans, there were no fries, they refused to bring me spaghetti with my steak, I had to pay for the bread even though I didn't eat it, the antipasti were not food, and other such criticisms, you will have a winner.
I won't say that one will never eat a pizza in Venice, there are lots of fine, cheap pizzarias that cater for the thousands of students and I have had my fair share. But it isn't really what one would go to Venice to eat.
posted by mumimor at 4:41 AM on December 10 [1 favorite]




It seems other customers did at other times get nutrition/satisfaction from the Bros experience (witness the star), and it seems likely that the author/group picked Bros because of that reputation.

Maybe those days are in the past — maybe Bros capitulated to Big Avant Garde, pivoting to making the dining experience as disorienting and uncomfortable as possible, forcing us to confront our limiting preconceptions of "what is food" every step of the way. Or maybe the kitchen had a bad day.
posted by dmh at 4:59 AM on December 10 [3 favorites]


I cannot see how winning a James Beard award for writing about a really stupid Mario Batali recipe for cinnamon rolls qualifies her

Again, this insistence that a FOOD CRITIC is not qualified to criticize food.

Again, ignoring that she's familiar enough with Italy to have learned the language.

Again, ignoring that the majority of her dining companions were Europeans, and still disliked the experience.

Again, side stepping the actual content of this story in favor of complaining about how idiot American tourists affect the restaurant business in Italy, which would appear to have exactly jack shit to do with anything anybody else is talking about.

The pushback you're getting in this thread has nothing to do with whether or not you're correct in your personal feelings about restaurants, and everything to do with the fact that you're not talking actually talking about this story. You're talking about a fictitious, easier-to-dismiss version of the story. A straw man. And insulting your American conversation partners in the process.
posted by Ipsifendus at 4:59 AM on December 10 [39 favorites]


Chefsplaining, with link. Scroll down until you see the horse’s ass.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:26 AM on December 10 [1 favorite]


If you look through her blog it appears she has been to Italy a lot. She has family is from there and she did not learn to speak Italian as a prank, she learned it because she loved the country. She did not travel halfway across the world for a meal, she traveled because she values her family and her roots.

Also, she is an adventurous eater and this is not her first experience with haute cuisine and fancy places--in one review she eats at (and enjoys) a restaurant in London where you are served in complete darkness and do not know what you're eating. In another review she eats (and enjoys) tarantulas. I mention the tarantulas not because I think they are inherently weird or disgusting to eat, but because from a Western standpoint--her cultural background--they are considered that way and generally having a willingness to try something novel to one's cultural background is how we characterize "adventurous".

Her writing leans towards providing wit and entertainment rather than Very Serious Artistic Dissection, and her blog post was written in that manner as well. Based on the number of comments on her posts it is not a super popular blog and she clearly did not expect her review to explode. I personally do not think that everybody on the internet has a duty to provide Very Serious Artistic Dissection on everything they review on the off-chance said review goes viral. I believe based on what I read of her other writing she could provide us with a Very Serious Artistic Dissection of how Bros failed at the level of art as well as a meal--but I don't see how she is obligated to do so. She is not obligated to prove to the brosephs on the Internet that she is worthy of criticizing a restaurant.

But maybe you feel differently! Maybe you feel that a person cannot criticize "art" until they have provided you with the necessary credentials! I would ask what those credentials are, but I suspect your credentials are a feeling and one you cannot define for yourself--though I imagine on a gut level they include "not from the USA" and "not a woman".
posted by schroedinger at 5:28 AM on December 10 [49 favorites]


To build on Ipsifendus' point: Exactly how familiar with modernist cuisine and Italian culture is one expected to be, before they're entitled to have an opinion of a modernist Italian restaurant? (Or to expect a meal that makes at least a nominal attempt to provide them with calories, and doesn't potentially poison their dining companions?)

If this food critic doesn't qualify, then you're setting the bar impossibly high, mumimor. It is frankly silly (and elitist) to suggest that any restaurant could be so rarified, so sophisticated that only a specialist in this particular micro-genre of cuisine should even attempt to eat a meal there.

And I'm not sure why you brought up American tourists who complain about fries and tap water. That clearly isn't what happened here, and other MeFites have pointed that out to you repeatedly.

acb's comment hits the nail on the head. Chairs should support the body comfortably. Bridges should span rivers and canyons safely. Food should feed.

(Jesus Christ, I can't believe I've inserted myself into this pissing match. I say that with exasperation, but also warmth.)
posted by escape from the potato planet at 5:31 AM on December 10 [17 favorites]


To add to what Ipsifendus said:

And ignoring or not understanding what modernist cuisine is, how recent it is, and how international its roots are, including the American influences thereon. And ignoring all of the additional contextualizing links and information that folks have posted in the thread about the author, her connections to Italy, and her dining companions. And ignoring that not everyone in this thread who is arguing against you is American. And making some counterfactual claims about the dining habits (among other things) of poorer Europeans.
posted by eviemath at 5:32 AM on December 10 [7 favorites]


Sorry, linked chefsplanation on Twitter. Still a horse’s ass.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:33 AM on December 10


> have you never had a fresh apricot? I know I'm spoiled in California, getting apricots that were picked the day before in the Central Valley

What the fuck is this, some kind of avant-garde ~interpretive~ dried fruit? My mother told me apricots are DRIED peaches, how the hell would you get them "fresh" and picked from the tree yesterday? I have tolerated too much on this thread.
posted by MiraK at 5:44 AM on December 10 [8 favorites]


This is honestly the funniest, most unhinged thread on here in a while and I love it.
posted by dominik at 5:56 AM on December 10 [17 favorites]


And I'm not sure why you brought up American tourists who complain about fries and tap water.

They brought it up because nothing muminor has said in this thread has been about the topic or the review, but has instead been an expression of their deep loathing of people who aren't from Europe. I don't know why anyone is giving any kind of response or remote benefit of the doubt: this is a person who does not give the tiniest shit about the actual review and is just here because they want to talk about how fucking terrible people are who they've imagined to be exactly like a shitty stereotype that's living rent free in their head.
posted by a faithful sock at 6:14 AM on December 10 [24 favorites]


I mean I love Denmark, but the last time I was there, I ate at a very non-touristy Chinese buffet restaurant in Odense. The lady operating the restaurant insisted on making my plate for me. Noodles? Sure. Rice? Sure. Chicken? Great. And then she takes out a giant ladle of sweet and sour sauce and soaks everything. I finished out of politeness, and she asked if I wanted more. When I declined she seemed offended.

I'm not sure this is about unsophisticated Americans who only understand Burger King is what I'm saying.

(I had some other very wonderful Danish food experiences including a restaurant in Copenhagen which, upon realizing that we didn't have reservations but were visiting from America, said they could fit us in, but only if we promised we could finish our dinner within two hours.)

When I was doing comedy there was always a balance between serving your audience and yourself. I think you have to find your own balance; Ken Jeong is controversial in the Asian community because he outright said that basically, look, I say what makes the white people laugh and if it's unflattering stereotypes of Asian people, that's what it is. On the other hand, if you stand up on stage and do a philosophical screed which isn't very funny, you're true to yourself but you're not really doing comedy. I personally think that's why comedy is harder when you're successful and famous -- because it's really easy to convince yourself that you don't need to serve your audience as much.

To me, it seems clear that this restaurant is too far away from a focus on the diner. I think it's a valid stance to take, but I also think I'd be disappointed if I'd gone; I've been to plenty of restaurants where food was art, but I somehow I always felt like the chefs' mastery of 'regular' cooking shone through.
posted by Comrade_robot at 6:14 AM on December 10 [5 favorites]


You compared the OP's restaurant review to a fascist purge of modern art.

Remember: when you write a humorous blog post reviewing a terrible dinner experience, you're licking foam out of a plaster cast of the mouth of HITLER.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 6:22 AM on December 10 [19 favorites]


are you saying that you appreciate people using hyperbolic rhetoric that misses important context?

You're assuming she doesn't understand it because she didn't like it. You're doing it repeatedly and doubling down with fascism. It's wild.
posted by Mavri at 6:29 AM on December 10 [10 favorites]


Can someone direct me to an online forum that not only believes in both racial and sexual equality but also understands the avant-garde tradition? I thought this was the place many years ago, but that's clearly no longer true. Not a joke.


I...are you sure?

Holy shit you guys I am so glad I came back to learn that only The Man Chef at Bros is an artiste of the avant-garde, while his wife, who IS ALSO CHEF THERE, is merely a journeyman who does as well as McDonald's, and somehow none of this is misogynist and the reviewer is Hitler.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 6:37 AM on December 10 [37 favorites]


Speaking purely from historical interest, I would like to read Literal Hitler's review of this restaurant.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 6:45 AM on December 10 [4 favorites]


Blast Hardcheese: I'm trying to make up my mind about whether the fact that it was I Eat Tapas who said that is eponysterical or not.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:45 AM on December 10 [2 favorites]


You don't understand, we're not allowed to read misogyny into a clearly misogynistic reply from the chef because we're assuming english isn't his first language and, y'know, misogyny just happens by accident when you're not writing in your native language. So of course it's not at all fair to pay attention to how he opens up saying basically, "Here's a list of people who can make food that is not interesting or art, all of which are either ungendered or gendered female; and here is a description of a person who makes real art food which is gendered explicitly as male".

It's total happenstance! The gun just went off, it could happen to anyone!
posted by a faithful sock at 6:46 AM on December 10 [14 favorites]


somehow none of this is misogynist

Overall my favorite small plate presentation of that culinary narrative strand is the How Dare You Say Sexism Plays Any Role, I Just Don't See It; On An Unrelated Note I Believe The Most LIkely Explanation Is That She Is Lying Because She Just Wants Attention; Charitably She Could Also Be Stupid, I'm Not Sure.

The courses using filigreed lenticular printing of ironic stylized gadsden flag in the plate's negative space to deconstruct commentary of how European perspectives are ignored but with the frisson of a performed agnosia of any European perspectives that interfere are also kind of amazing. I can understand critics who think that's a bit too flashy and could do with more understatement and a more muted presentation, but I think it works well.
posted by Drastic at 6:53 AM on December 10 [33 favorites]


> You maybe wouldn't believe it but *slaps thread* this baby can fit more than 500 comments!

>This is honestly the funniest, most unhinged thread on here in a while and I love it.

I mean, it's no balloon boy thread, but for 2021, that'll do pig, that'll do.
posted by jeremias at 6:54 AM on December 10 [7 favorites]


I want a corn dog.
posted by all about eevee at 6:56 AM on December 10 [11 favorites]


A friend pointed out that the vast majority of these courses are sort of par for the course within certain schools of fancy schmancy tasting menu. And that is pretty much true! But as ordinary as condiments and garnishes are, it would be similarly odd to get a 27 course meal that was almost entirely condiments and garnishes.

I mean, the only course that didn't sound like an amuse bouche was the six noodles cooked in rancid fat and served cold. And that didn't sound... good.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:56 AM on December 10 [4 favorites]


I could actually see the point of making an anti-capitalist statement by costing rich people lots of money to serve them almost nothing and leaving them feeling exploited, the way that rich people do to everyone else. I don't think Chef Bro is going for that, sadly.
posted by emjaybee at 6:59 AM on December 10 [7 favorites]


metafilter hasn't been this fun in years.

Let the healing begin.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 7:06 AM on December 10 [13 favorites]


This thread is like when they had that bonfire on M*A*S*H.
posted by bondcliff at 7:07 AM on December 10 [8 favorites]


>in one review she eats at (and enjoys) a restaurant in London where you are served in complete darkness and do not know what you're eating.

I ate there once, it was an experience. I went back a second time with a date who only admitted as we were being led to our table by our blind waiter that she was afraid of the dark. We didn't make it past the starters.
posted by Molesome at 7:10 AM on December 10 [6 favorites]


Holy dear god, I had this tab still open and it had 315 new posts. What. Is. Happening.

Also, I will be laughing all day today at "M'ladle"
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 7:12 AM on December 10 [22 favorites]


I agree with everyone who came in here to say, wow, what a thread... we needed something like this.

I was put off by the tone of the OP text that can also qualify as a subjective take on humour. There was an undercurrent of cruelty that made me wonder if it was a skewer job - a pepsi blue with a twist in the tale PR stunt cooked up between chefs and author - or the two have clashed before.
posted by infini at 7:13 AM on December 10 [1 favorite]


I have something to do and I don't want to do it, so refreshing this thread has been a godsend.

metafilter didn't do abstract art very well for a long time, and now people just bypass the threads politely. More fun to have this kind of wrestling match about it. People are praising Rothko in another thread! I remember the days of yore.

Anyway, the chefs are doing what they want, and probably it's generally interesting, but either something went awry for a couple of months and the kitchen collapsed, or there was such a mismatch between food and audience that it never would have gone well. I wonder if they got as much wine as Cosa Mangiamo Oggi got, because with bites of food and all that wine I would have had a splendid buzz going. Or been staggering, whatever.

I want to try the carrot butter. That bread looked incredible.
posted by PussKillian at 7:14 AM on December 10 [7 favorites]


This is now my second favorite food-related avant garde artwork, losing out to Comedian because a banana taped to the wall offers the chance of more sustenance.
posted by emmling at 7:17 AM on December 10 [5 favorites]


PussKillian, I think a significant number of us are arguing that food isn't art.

At least, it's not the sort of "pure art" whose sole purpose is to provide an aesthetic / sensory / intellectual experience. If you're into making distinctions between "art" and "craft", it's squarely the latter.

Or, at the very least, if you're presenting food in such a context – as a strictly (or even primarily) artistic / aesthetic object – then you're engaged in something categorically different than "dining" or "serving a meal" or "running a restaurant".

Just as someone who builds a chair covered with nails is engaged in something categorically different than a craftsperson who makes chairs for people to actually sit in.

I love Rothko! I listen to weird experimental music like it's my job! One of my most prized books is an early edition of John Cage's "Silence"! But if someone asks me "hey do you want to come to this restaurant? they serve abstract art", I'ma be like "no thanks, I'll go to a restaurant that serves food".
posted by escape from the potato planet at 7:24 AM on December 10 [6 favorites]


I contend that the piece wouldn't be measurably different even if the diner and her companions had arrived fully satiated from a previous meal. This experience was that bad.
posted by tiny frying pan at 7:26 AM on December 10 [7 favorites]


but what if avant-garde art uses hyperbole? what if her tweets are avant-garde art and so now you are doing a fascism?

In point of fact: the Italian avant garde tradition descends from fascism, by way of Futurism. So if we're really going down that road, Bros. is inherently fascist, as part of a fascist tradition, and giving it a bad review is an anti-fascist act.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 7:32 AM on December 10 [21 favorites]


PussKillian, I think a significant number of us are arguing that food isn't art.

Yeah, I get it. I might agree, I might not. Have to think about it a bit more. But if it is art, it can still be bad art. And if it isn't art, it can be soul-satisfying on the level where it resonates like art does.
posted by PussKillian at 7:34 AM on December 10 [5 favorites]


So if we're really going down that road, Bros. is inherently fascist, as part of a fascist tradition, and giving it a bad review is an anti-fascist act.

*mock horror* Ye gods, have we really gotten to the point that we're blaming Antifa for this review?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:35 AM on December 10 [5 favorites]


I reached the end of the thread! After 3 days! I'm going to celebrate by cranking up some Diamanda Galas, reading "Stockhausen Serves Imperialism" by Cornelius Cardew, and eating Burger King.
posted by SystematicAbuse at 7:38 AM on December 10 [7 favorites]


554 comments and you're not even full...
posted by grandiloquiet at 7:56 AM on December 10 [10 favorites]


Party in the Bros thread, we're doing Jaeger shots from the plaster mouth
posted by overeducated_alligator at 7:56 AM on December 10 [11 favorites]


Next season's menu at Bros should comprise 554 courses, each consisting of a slip of blue paper with one comment from this thread printed on it (in toxic ink), served sequentially.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 8:00 AM on December 10 [12 favorites]


The whole thing brings to mind the old joke: "the food is terrible — and such small portions!"


That joke is so old, the earliest known version of it was reconstructed from fragments of proto-Canaanite script found on pottery shards excavated from a site in the Elah valley.

Khesset: "These victuals that have been set before us, the cereals and the meat, are terrible. They are not fit for my donkey!"

Gmel-Ar: "What you say is true! They are like poison! And the portions are entirely insufficient!"
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:02 AM on December 10 [11 favorites]


554 comments and you're not even full...

It's maybe the hunger talking, but this thread has filled me with such ridiculous joy and nostalgia that I literally just upped my monthly contribution.

Happy Holidaze, metafilter. Next mouth foam is on me.
posted by thivaia at 8:08 AM on December 10 [18 favorites]


Post-pandemic MeFi meetup at Bros, anyone?

(Or at the more conventional eatery across the road from it.)
posted by acb at 8:12 AM on December 10 [2 favorites]


Y'all are not going to believe what just happened.

This morning I got kind of a late start, went straight from the shower to my desk with no coffee. Now, at 11 am, my stomach was really growling so I went in the kitchen and guess what was on the counter: the delivery I ordered for dinner last night and FORGOT TO EAT BECAUSE I GOT DISTRACTED BY THIS THREAD.

Thanks, Obama MeFi.
posted by MiraK at 8:33 AM on December 10 [42 favorites]


Close the thread. MiraK just walked this one off.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:39 AM on December 10 [1 favorite]


That "You're expected to lick this foam out of a model of the chef's mouth" image is going to recur in my nightmares for years, pretty sure.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 8:42 AM on December 10 [5 favorites]


http://achewood.com/index.php?date=01262007

Always a good time for Achewood
posted by cnidaria at 8:47 AM on December 10 [4 favorites]


Yes, an apricot is a fruit in itself, not just a dried form of another fruit such as a peach.

~2 months ago I was trying to explain to my spouse the many reasons Bad Art Friend captivated the Internet and I can foresee that I may be doing that same kind of analysis for this controversy as well. What Is Art, What Is A Review, what counts as proof that a person experienced what they said they experienced, maybe some kind of "I haven't gotten to eat at a restaurant for a couple years now" longings and frustrations, What Is A Restaurant, etc.
posted by brainwane at 8:52 AM on December 10 [6 favorites]


metafilter used to be a place we came to overthink our plates of beans, not avante garde mouth foam
posted by honey-barbara at 8:52 AM on December 10 [2 favorites]


ridiculous joy and nostalgia

As ridiculous as this thread is I would agree with that. Its been a long time since we've this level of engagement over so little.
posted by Ashwagandha at 8:55 AM on December 10 [12 favorites]


I think a significant number of us are arguing that food isn't art

I would go further and say that an undercurrent of at least some of the argument is that if you're going to claim to be trying to achieve something provocative with your art, it has to be intentional -- a called shot, versus claiming it after the fact.

As a case in point, look at The Room. When it exploded in popularity as a movie that's worth watching because it is so hilariously bad, director Tommy Wiseau fairly quickly shifted to claiming to be "in on the joke" -- implying that this is what he'd been trying to do all along. However, nobody paying attention actually believes this. Tommy Wiseau tried to earnestly make a good movie, and accidentally made a movie so bad that it wraps around to being enjoyable to wallow in its badness. The ways in which it is interesting aren't because of Tommy Wiseau, they are in spite of him (and often related to what it accidentally says about his own personal hangups).

My reading of what's going on at Bros is that it parallels this. I don't think they set out to make some sort of un-meal experience. I think they set out to earnestly make an edgy modernist meal that is nevertheless recognizable as a meal (even if pushing boundaries) and fucked up. In the aftermath, they're trying to claim they meant to do it all along.

And, well: no.
posted by a faithful sock at 9:03 AM on December 10 [27 favorites]


My Dinner Without Entree.
posted by effluvia at 9:27 AM on December 10 [60 favorites]


Well, that happened.
posted by wierdo at 10:15 AM on December 10 [1 favorite]


I am still a mumimor fan; agree about apricots; don’t drag the Swedes into this (call backs to stuff super old). I was worried that I would be bored on my 3-hour train ride today but this thread took care of 2 hours of it (took a 30-min dinner break).

Since I will never be able to afford it, there’s no question of my ever going to this restaurant. But it’s more appealing to me as an idea now that I’ve read the response from the male chef. The photo of his tattoo, however, cancels out that impulse.

It has been a long dreary season. Years long. I have enjoyed this thread very much. I hope the strong feelings and passions that have been raised do not harm any of the participants because I will be very sad if any of the lovely people who contribute to metafilter decide to stay away. I forgot to reinstate my contribution to metafilter, so I’m going to fix that tomorrow.

And if you haven’t read the link to Satre’s Cookbook, go back an do so. It’s awesome.
posted by Bella Donna at 10:40 AM on December 10 [10 favorites]


Which is to say, I also love you all. Thank you.
posted by Bella Donna at 10:42 AM on December 10 [6 favorites]


Have been thinking about and pondering this thing for several hours now - especially the whole avant-garde "but is it art" mischegas. Because this is now giving me flashbacks to some of the weirder shit we saw back when I did the playwriting contest.

So, you have some avant-garde artists who truly are artists and pioneers; they break conventions, they up-turn expectations. However, they still kind of....know what they are doing and are clear and specific in their intent, and more importantly, in which expectations or conventions they are upturning. For instance; when Maigritte did his painting The Treachery of Images, he was making a comment about how the symbol of a thing was not the thing itself. That's why on his painting of a pipe, he added the caption "this is not a pipe" under it - because of course it isn't a pipe, it is a painting of a pipe.

Or there's Duchamp and his readymade sculptures; these were mundane objects which Duchamp presented as being sculptures, like taking a common urinal and posting it on a plinth and calling it a "Fountain". He was playing around with how all it took to turn an ordinary object into an "Artwork" was simply having an artist say "this is an artwork".

There are a number of other examples across all media - Hugo Ball for poetry, Richard Foreman for theater, etc. And they all break people's brains a little when people encounter them; they're not to everyone's taste, to be sure, but that's true of anything.

However: they also inspire a lot of admirers and imitators who don't quite get just why their work....works. They just groove on the whole notion of "wow, we can do weird shit, this is awesome!" I noticed this particularly amongst absurdist unpublished plays I read from aspiring playwrights - ironically, I didn't see them imitating anyone particularly avant-garde. Rather, I was reading a whole bunch of oddly quirky plays for years, all of which seemed to have the same sort of tone to them, and it took me a while to suddenly realize they were all trying to copy Christopher Durang. But it was like a cargo-cult version of Christopher Durang, where they were copying a tone without having any kind of core understanding of why it works, or any kind of a thing to say with that tone. They were just Being Weird.

I also think there's a whole Liking A Thing Because Of Its Cred going on sometimes; I was once part of the volunteer squad who read and selected pieces for New York's Fringe Festival; we were divided into groups of three, and all three of us read the same 20 scripts and then had to collectively decide which scripts from our group we could recommend for inclusion. That year, one of the scripts we got was something that someone had based on Richard Foreman's "notebooks" - at the time, Richard Foreman had posted some of his notebooks on his website, full of early drafts of some of his work or unfinished drafts of things he'd abandoned. And someone had taken these notebooks and assembled a show out of them. I read the script and it was a complete mess - there was no discernible plot or throughline, the quality of the writing waxed and waned throughout, characters were just dropped or changed without warning. So when I met with my group to discuss what we would recommend, I downvoted it. But the others in my group gave it top marks. "Okay, hang on," I asked them. "So, can you explain why you liked it?"

And all they could say was: "Because it's Richard Foreman!" No one could give me any other reason as to why they were recommending it; and I tried asking for that a few times. If any of those other readers had said anything about the imagery, or quoted a line they particularly liked, or anything, I would have understood - but no, all they said was "it's Richard Foreman". And that's when I realized that this was a sort of Emperors' New Clothes situation - they'd been told Richard Foreman was good, and this was based on Richard Foreman's work, and therefore it was good, period.

This is all a very long way of saying: I have a feeling that the team behind Bros got their minds super-blown by Wylie Dufresne back in the day, but haven't put quite enough thought - or haven't been trained quite enough - to realize that being an avant-garde chef is way more than just Doing Weird Shit With Food, just like being an avant-garde artist is way more than just Doing Weird Shit With Art Supplies or whatever. Every writing teacher I've ever had said that one of the biggest reasons they were teaching us all the rules of grammar and spelling and sentence structure and composition or whatever wasn't just so that we would follow the rules - it was also so that we would also know what rules we could break, and why, so that we could bring about a different impact if that was the impact we truly wanted to bring about.

Being avant-garde isn't just about Doing Weird Shit. Being avant-garde means you've put a lot of thought into exactly what kind of Weird Shit you're going to be doing, and exactly why you are doing it.

But it looks like Bros is just Doing Weird Shit With Food, and that's the lazy way of doing it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:51 AM on December 10 [39 favorites]


I encourage everyone to read the chef's reply. It is the eponymous kiss. I also really want to go to this restaurant now. Are we sure this wasn't some sort of negadvertising?
posted by DeepSeaHaggis at 11:36 AM on December 10 [1 favorite]


Best thread in years!
Muminor and Tapas giving off really strong SaraC in the wine glass thread vibes.
posted by pickinganameismuchharderthanihadanticipated at 11:38 AM on December 10 [2 favorites]


But it was like a cargo-cult version of Christopher Durang, where they were copying a tone without having any kind of core understanding of why it works, or any kind of a thing to say with that tone. They were just Being Weird.

Bad artists copy, great artists steal.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:50 AM on December 10




It doesn't seem as if it's consistent enough to be even fun as a deliberately bad experience? I mean, from the Tripadvisor reviews, it appears that some of the time it genuinely is a 1-star restaurant, and other times it's barely functional. And I presume some of the time just sort of meh.
posted by tavella at 12:30 PM on December 10 [2 favorites]


Very disappointed with the Marxist materialism on display in this thread. A chicken in every pot indeed, but man does not live on bread alone. Do you know who also ate food?
posted by dmh at 12:50 PM on December 10 [2 favorites]


I eat "rancid" cheese all the time - I love it. Well - at least that's how my household refers to my "blue cheese / stilton" impulse buys...

So... this plate of beans which was non-existent... Did the salty review get written because the author was so hungry, because no one opened the can of beans?
posted by rozcakj at 12:57 PM on December 10


Do you know who also ate food?

Jesus H Christ, Jesus Christ, Jesús Hernández, and Hermann Christ.
posted by i used to be someone else at 1:06 PM on December 10 [1 favorite]


I enjoy the image of Bros being The Room of restaurants.
posted by eviemath at 1:19 PM on December 10 [6 favorites]


Descriptions of how a customer might one-up the sexism/misogyny of brochef, on the other hand, are not doing anything for me.
posted by eviemath at 1:20 PM on December 10 [5 favorites]


Forgive me for
I have done a fascism in your icebox
There was so hungery
Foam

And a mouth that could not scream

Protein, protein, protein PROTEIN

The fashy masses cry

In the end, all that will be left
Are fascists with hyperboli

THE END
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 1:23 PM on December 10 [7 favorites]


If someone served me that pus in a cast of the chef's mouth, I would stick my dick in it and hope it had some voodoo doll magic. I mean if they are going to insert me into the chef's art like that I am going to roll with it!

TBH I would watch a video of this if it were some kind of elaborate art-BDSM (I won't detail the possible outcomes for your assuredly valued genitalia, as this is a family website)
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 1:25 PM on December 10 [1 favorite]


Very disappointed with the Marxist materialism on display in this thread. A chicken in every pot indeed, but man does not live on bread alone. Do you know who also ate food?

...Jesus? I don't think the answer is Hitler unless he was a pescatarian and not pure veg and I just forgot
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 1:25 PM on December 10


This morning I got kind of a late start, went straight from the shower to my desk with no coffee. Now, at 11 am, my stomach was really growling so I went in the kitchen and guess what was on the counter: the delivery I ordered for dinner last night and FORGOT TO EAT BECAUSE I GOT DISTRACTED BY THIS THREAD.

The loop is not complete until you post to AskMefi whether it's safe to eat.
posted by jeremias at 1:47 PM on December 10 [32 favorites]


That question haunted me the entire train trip: what kind of food was ordered and how could it still be safe to eat the next day?
posted by Bella Donna at 2:17 PM on December 10


Maybe it was rancid cheese balls, they probably couldn't get that much more spoiled overnight.
posted by tavella at 2:22 PM on December 10 [2 favorites]


Is this kind of like haute couture and how ultra-high fashion designers make clothes that aren’t really clothes?
posted by bq at 2:27 PM on December 10 [6 favorites]


CTL-F'd for "USian" and didn't find any unironic uses. You're slipping, metafilter.
posted by charred husk at 2:29 PM on December 10 [3 favorites]


tl;dr the food was terrible and the portions were too small
posted by Cookiebastard at 2:34 PM on December 10 [2 favorites]


Is this kind of like haute couture and how ultra-high fashion designers make clothes that aren’t really clothes?

That's actually an interesting comparison. They seem very similar to me.

One can end up embedded so deep in the insular core of something, that one loses all perspective.

And one can spend so much time wrapped up in the trappings of one's craft, that one forgets the basic practical purpose that the trappings are meant to serve.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 2:57 PM on December 10 [1 favorite]


Are the clothes-that-aren't-really-clothes made in quantity and sold, or are they just made as prototypes for fashion shows to drive attention to the designer's more mundane creations, in the way that, say, Toyota may make an ultra-futuristic concept car that will never be driveable, let alone street legal?
posted by acb at 3:11 PM on December 10 [6 favorites]


This has truly become a majestic thread. I don't even know why I engaged myself so much in it. Maybe to avoid doing actual work that needs to be done. But whatever, I will give it a shot more. What is confusing (or maybe not) to me, is that so many of you trust the blogger and her blurry photos and some TripAdvisor reviews more than the Michelin Guide, tons of professional reviewers at published papers and magazines, and the charming young couple who enjoyed a whole meal and showed us the food fully lighted and explained in a video where it is also clear that the pastry chef who is a woman is confident and in charge.

For the record, I do agree that the chefs may have been off that night, either literally or mentally. There may have been something really wrong. Who knows? I can't know it from the linked text and images.

Another question is can someone link to the article the blogger has made at other points in her career, I would really like to see them with my own eyes, but I can't seem to navigate on her blog very well. I promise to read with an open mind.
posted by mumimor at 3:12 PM on December 10


Yes, I'm going to go out on a huge limb and maintain that the Michelin Guide is total bullshit. Feel free to tell me the ways that I am wrong.
posted by Quonab at 3:29 PM on December 10 [5 favorites]


mumimor, you've wasted every other bit of good faith anyone has extended to you in this thread. Why would we try even harder to convince you that this woman isn't lying?

Like, I'm getting kinda grossed out at how much you're trying to convince... yourself? that this woman is a liar.
posted by sagc at 3:33 PM on December 10 [20 favorites]


also, mumimor, do you just... not believe that the other negative tripadvisor reviews exist? Like, the fact that you're willing only to accept evidence that agrees with you makes you basically an impossible interlocutor.
posted by sagc at 3:35 PM on December 10 [8 favorites]


What is confusing (or maybe not) to me, is that so many of you trust the blogger and her blurry photos and some TripAdvisor reviews more than the Michelin Guide, tons of professional reviewers at published papers and magazines, and the charming young couple who enjoyed a whole meal and showed us the food fully lighted and explained in a video where it is also clear that the pastry chef who is a woman is confident and in charge.
I don't think it's necessarily one or the other, is the thing.

It would not be weird at all for a restaurant to be much worse in October 2021 than it was in 2018, for any number of reasons. It would not be weird at all for a restaurant to be excellent with much less consistency in October 2021 than it was in 2018. It seems to me that there's a very thin line between doing good avant-garde food and doing bad avant-garde food -- it's much harder to execute avant-garde food well than to execute mac and cheese or meatloaf well -- and many of the more outré things (like the plaster cast of a mouth) could even work in context if the food was good. I have no trouble believing that this restaurant has served some excellent meals and some awful meals. Looking at all the reviews, my best (COMPLETELY OUT OF MY ASS) hypothesis is that there's been a recent sudden downturn for whatever reason. None of us were there, we can't taste the food through our computer screens, we'll never know (Which is, perhaps, what makes this thread so compelling and so train-wreck-ish!) But I'm kind of inclined to believe all of it: the Michelin guide and the professional reviewers and the TripAdviser reviews and Geraldine DeRuiter.
posted by Jeanne at 3:35 PM on December 10 [30 favorites]


Isn't this review an extension of the old joke from the beginning of Annie Hall? The food is terrible . . . and such small portions.

The whole thing brings to mind the old joke: "the food is terrible — and such small portions!"

tl;dr the food was terrible and the portions were too small


The joke is getting a little stale, but the good news is, there's plenty of it for everyone!
posted by eponym at 3:35 PM on December 10 [23 favorites]


For the record, I do agree that the chefs may have been off that night, either literally or mentally. There may have been something really wrong. Who knows?

So this party of eight (comprised, mostly, of cultured Europeans), might not be lying? Am I hearing you correctly? Cuz if we’re just going to go back to “the stupid American are liars” I’m not seeing any reason that anyone here should be humoring your requests for links to more posts from the author. Do the legwork yourself, if you want.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 3:38 PM on December 10 [9 favorites]


The joke is getting a little stale

No no, it's rancid.

Rancido.
posted by Omnomnom at 3:39 PM on December 10 [22 favorites]


You are setting up a false dilemma, mumimor. It is perfectly possible, indeed probable, that the Michelin reviewer got excellent meals and that DeRuiter's party got a trainwreck. *Because they were not eating there the same night*, or even month. You seem determined to believe that 7 experienced foodies are all conspiring to lie about their meal, instead of accepting the rather trivial truth that restaurants often go up and down in quality.
posted by tavella at 3:39 PM on December 10 [16 favorites]


mumimor, you certainly don’t deserve this, but I dug up a blog post of hers from earlier this year, just for you! Perhaps you relate to certain aspects of the post?
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 3:48 PM on December 10 [11 favorites]


What is confusing (or maybe not) to me, is that so many of you trust the blogger and her blurry photos

Yes, I trust the blogger that she had a shitty meal at this restaurant. Do you think she actually had a good meal and decided to pretend otherwise? Whether or not the restaurant serves excellent food (or shitty food but it's ok because it's excellent art) every other night of the year is irrelevant. She had a terrible meal and she wrote a humorous blog about it. I have enjoyed almost every Big Mac* I've had in my life but boy, I could tell you all about the monstrosity I had one time at the McDonalds in North Reading, MA.

And I don't care how blurry (Ron Howard voice: they weren't actually blurry) the photos were, that one with the plaster cast of the mouth is Exhibit A in the case of This Is The Most Terrible Restaurant Ever.

*I used McDonalds as an example just now because it's the only food we have in America.
posted by bondcliff at 3:56 PM on December 10 [20 favorites]


My name is Bros
And when I mak

A tasting menu,
The fud is fak

So if your evening
Is going south

Too bad, it's art
U lik the mouth
posted by ananci at 3:56 PM on December 10 [49 favorites]


metafilter: Are avant-garde and protein mutually exclusive?
posted by Ahmad Khani at 4:13 PM on December 10 [4 favorites]


One of the surprising things in all of this is the apparent implication that Michelin presumably doesn’t revisit one-star restaurants on an annual basis.
posted by Going To Maine at 4:28 PM on December 10 [4 favorites]


Yes, I'm going to go out on a huge limb and maintain that the Michelin Guide is total bullshit. Feel free to tell me the ways that I am wrong.

I know, right? Methinks they should stick to tires.

I could tell you all about the monstrosity I had one time at the McDonalds in North Reading, MA.

Once I got a Big Mac in Silverdale, WA that was missing an entire meat patty. It went top bun, meat, pickles, lettuce, sauce, middle bun, cheese, lettuce, sauce, bottom bun. I was scandalized at the time, but looking back I failed to consider it was an avant-garde work meant to shake me from my complacency and remind me that nothing in life is ever certain.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 4:44 PM on December 10 [13 favorites]


The highlight for me is the reaction of the writer’s husband at the chef’s response.

Thank you all for this journey. It’s been… something.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 4:44 PM on December 10 [4 favorites]


One of the surprising things in all of this is the apparent implication that Michelin presumably doesn’t revisit one-star restaurants on an annual basis.

Ostensibly it's every 18 months and given Covid, I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't pause things entirely for a few months and got a backlog.
posted by Candleman at 4:44 PM on December 10 [8 favorites]


Suddenly I feel inspired to open up a restaurant where you have like two or three seats in the whole place, and for a high-four-figure flat fee*, a learnedly-helpless customer can sit in one of them.

Said customer can rely on a dedicated waitstaff to tirelessly spoon-feed him easily-Googled information all evening long. Between spoonfuls, customer can lament his lack of satisfaction, because he just isn’t sure the spoonfuls are real. During these intra-spoonful interludes, he can demand that the staff spoon-feed him different information, using different spoons, every time. He can insist all he wants that he’s simply not convinced, but he really is open to the possibility of satiety…if someone would only find exactly the right spoonful!

*He’s out the damn door at closing time, no matter how much he protests, so he has to pay in advance.
posted by armeowda at 4:52 PM on December 10 [4 favorites]


armeowda, in case you are referring to mumimor, the pronoun should be "she" per her earlier comment "I'm a woman and a feminist".
posted by brainwane at 4:56 PM on December 10


I regret the gendering. I am referring to multiple users.
posted by armeowda at 5:08 PM on December 10 [1 favorite]


I feel like reading this thread in its entirety has not been an unajacent emotional experience to the author's experience at Bros.
posted by ananci at 5:12 PM on December 10 [6 favorites]




I don't think they are lying, in the sense that they are deliberately setting up some scheme to convince the internet that they got a completely different menu than that which is advertised on the website of the restaurant and which has been reviewed by others from all over Italy and many other places. I absolutely and truly believe that they are describing their real perception of that evening.
But I am generally interested in how perceptions are created and in why we believe more in some narratives than in others. As I have repeated many times, my own impression of the restaurant has taken a 180 degrees turn during the conversation on this thread, from enjoying the post and entirely believing that this was a truly terrible meal served by rude waiters to questioning wether there was some sort of cultural clash at stake.

I have had terrible pretentious meals served by rude waiters in Italy and other places more than once. And as I have mentioned above, there are huge issues right now because of corona, the same all over the world, with supplies, staff, cash flow etc. It seemed likely to me on a general basis that something like this could happen. But what buggered me all the time was that Michelin star, because as I wrote above, the inspectors are conservative, unlikely to reward pretentious, obnoxious food and service. It's a quality control system with quite specific standards, standards which one can agree or disagree with, but which would definitely exclude a restaurant like the one described in the article.
And I also discovered that the two young chefs are considered the best in their generation in Italy.

So I started reading other professional reviews, and more and more the whole story didn't match up. That absolutely still left open the option that it was a bad night for the restaurant, and that will always remains an option. But when I read the article again, I also noticed that there were other things that also didn't fit. The hyperbolic description of the perfectly normal space. The focus in the description and images on the amuses-bouches rather than the actual menu. The allergy issue which didn't fit with the fact that the menu both has a tasting menu where clients can choose which servings to eat and a regular a la carte menu.

I believe that the author authentically described her perception of the evening, but I no longer believe her description would be useful information for me, if I were heading to Lecce.

For me, this is all fair enough. I was long ago ready to just accept it as a travel writers account of her personal experience. To me, it now echoed something I have seen and heard and read many times in my life from I was very small: people mocking foreign things they don't understand. People from all countries do this. It is not a specifically American phenomena, but when you are a very big and powerful nation, the Pippi Law applies: when you are very strong, you have to be very nice. Out of politeness of course, but also for one's own sake. When a famous American blogger mocks a young restaurant in a tiny provincial town in another country, she will come off as a bully in some other places.

As I said, I was ready to forget about it all, but meanwhile, something was happening that is probably more specific to the metafilter community than to Americans in a wider sense, though there are overlaps and connections.
Many above insist on presenting the author as an award winning critic. Other write more correctly that she is an essayist focusing on travel and other issues, (including food, love, suffering from a brain tumor, her personal identity as a child of immigrants, and politics). As far as I understand it, and correct me if I am wrong, her James Beard Award was for the specific post about the Mario Batali cinnamon rolls, not for the blog in its entity. Some say we should take her seriously as a critic, others that she is not a critic, but regardless of what she is, many agree we should believe her account and anonymous TripAdvisor reviews more than the professionals in the country where this happened.

Apart from the cultural clash that maybe happened that night at the restaurant, there is a similar cultural clash happening here on this thread, an echo of the original clash. From my point of view, it is literally absurd that anyone would take a blogger with the specific profile of this writer more seriously than that of local professional cooks, critics and food enthusiasts. This is how the world looks from where I am. I have repeated many times above that this is not a value judgement, it is just different. Obviously, the world looks different from many other mefites' points of view, to the point that they are personally offended by my perspective.

It is again about perception. I tried to describe somewhere up there how some things that are normal to any European are perceived by many Americans as elitist. This, I believe is because American elites have used European mores as signifiers of class. The whole thing about French cuisine, and French chefs at fancy restaurants in the US is an example. Whereas Mexican food had no such distinction even though Mexican food is at least as complex and rich in diversity and flavor, and similarly French cuisine, a wide range from very sophisticated high end meals to tamales from a market stall.
But Europeans are not to blame for the fact that some Americans have used European languages and cultural artifacts including food as tools of exclusion. In France, a coq au vin is just a chicken cooked in wine, not cultural marker.

To me it is very typical of this debate, that a box and a stick and a string and a bear posted a link demonstrating the author's experience as a female and feminist writer. I think she has some good and interesting points in that article, but I faill to see why this makes her experience that night in Lecce more trustworthy than for instance that of the young couple who I strongly believe had the exact same menu. I know and understand why many people here feel differently, but again, this is something that makes no sense to me. And I am not trying to impose my perception or opinion on you, I'm trying to point out that someone who lives in a different cultural context can legitimately have a different perception and opinion.

The author can be authentic and honest in her description, and still completely miss the point of the offered experience. My point of view is that a good critique or a good essay about food or art or literature or whatever cultural expression presents a balance between the immediate perception of the experience and the intention of the creator, which will naturally include cultural context.

I think a good example of this is to be found in the personal movement of Bourdain through his career from when he wrote Kitchen Confidential and on to his final series (all seasons and episodes) he started out as a great writer but in his final years he became an amazingly nuanced and open-minded narrator of differences and cultural meetings.

Sorry
posted by mumimor at 5:18 PM on December 10 [3 favorites]


huge limb and maintain that the Michelin Guide is total bullshit

Wasn't there a recent article that popped up on the blue featuring an interview with a former Michelin Guide reviewer in which they outlined what was expected of them and how the restaurants get the stars? I can't seem to find it. I recall the description of the job particularly gruelling, exhausting and requiring an iron gut. Often they will eat at a restaurant multiple times before awarding it a rating. The reviewed restaurants also are only reviewed if a Michelin office exists in the country where they are located (hence no Michelin starred restaurants in Canada for instance).
posted by Ashwagandha at 5:20 PM on December 10 [1 favorite]


Love y’all but this scrabbling to plant your flags on the highest moral ground ain’t good. This is becoming toxic beanplating, even if for seemingly noble reasons.
posted by sjswitzer at 5:22 PM on December 10 [1 favorite]


Listening to As It Happens on CBC tonight...and Carol Off is apparently on the case:

'It broke something inside me,' writer says of bizarre meal at Michelin-starred restaurant

The audio of the interview runs about seven minutes.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 5:23 PM on December 10 [5 favorites]


When a famous American blogger mocks a young restaurant in a tiny provincial town in another country, she will come off as a bully in some other places.

Wait, wait, wait… Is this a fragile provincial restaurant that must be protected like a baby animal, or is it an internationally renowned destination helmed by the best Italian chefs of their entire generation, as you state in the same comment?
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 5:29 PM on December 10 [31 favorites]


mumimor, you still accuse the author of straight-up lying several times in your comment. Sometimes writing more isn't necessarily better, you know?

Also, you still seem wildly confused by the idea of things changing over time.
posted by sagc at 5:35 PM on December 10 [9 favorites]


It can be both, as I desorienteret at length above
posted by mumimor at 5:35 PM on December 10


metafilter: I desorienteret at length above
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 5:37 PM on December 10 [5 favorites]


I'd respond to all that, but it's dinner time soon and I'm sitting here stupefied with indecision about whether to go to Olive Garden or Burger King, apparently the only two restaurants in "America" (which may or may not contain other countries besides the United States I can't really tell what you're saying).
posted by zachlipton at 5:40 PM on December 10 [5 favorites]


I ate at a Burger King, once.
posted by valkane at 5:46 PM on December 10


This thread has been amusing to read but at the same time very offputting. I feel like whatever nuance there was about the actual article is buried under 500 comments of uncharitable readings of people's comments, pile-ons, and outright mockery of other users.

(I'm not talking about my own earlier comment, FWIW, which was respectfully and rightfully corrected by people who found more information about the situation than I had, which made it pretty damn clear that the name Bros does in fact likely refer to the quality of being a bro.)

But a hundred comments later, once the thread had become 95% interpersonal fighting, I know I no longer felt comfortable joining in the discussion, even though I was pretty interested in participating in the "what is art? can food be art?" and the "why do women seem to be held to higher standards than men, including people not realizing when women are being funny?" conversations. It felt like if I didn't hedge my comment to the max (which is already a thing we women and neurodivergent people are socialized to do) that it might immediately be nitpicked and mocked.

Anyway, I really hope this comment is taken in good faith, even if you disagree with me, and I hope as a community we can keep working towards healthier and more inclusive/welcoming discussions.
posted by chaiyai at 5:55 PM on December 10 [7 favorites]


What a typo! Fantastic.

Everyone is making a lot of strawmen out of my arguments. I have not accused her of lying. I have not claimed Americans have only Olive Garden, Burger King and McDonalds. There are more, these are the last three.

Why not discuss what I am writing? That perhaps there are cultural differences and biases. But I understand now that the author is a renowned critic, who is very well versed in Italian culture and speaks perfect Italian, so misunderstandings were not ever possible, also the restaurants name is Bros - its right there in the name.

I understand it all now. Mea culpa.
posted by mumimor at 5:56 PM on December 10 [1 favorite]


mumimor, you are talking as if there are waves of expert food critics falling over themselves to praise the restaurant, but above all you've cited is one food writer you really like who ate there years ago, a Michelin star that was earned years ago, a video of a random couple enjoying the meal, and positive anonymous TripAdvisor reports (as opposed to the negative ones which cannot be trusted?). So really: you've got the Michelin star from years ago and that's about it, because I don't know why we should be trusting your food writer over this food writer. And even if we do trust that food writer over this one, there is still the fact that both your food writer and the Michelin star were earned, as stated, years ago and food quality is not immutable. Your "evidence" that the author is lying--and you did accuse her of making the whole thing up--is thin as hell.

You read this review with an opinion already established and are now wildly flailing about in an attempt to continue to justify it it. You have no solid arguments--as soon as one is refuted you either ignore the refutation or you shift like a chameleon to the next flimsy argument you can grab onto and then present it as if it is what you've been arguing all along. Then when that one is struck down the cycle continues. Your performance in this thread is bizarre.
posted by schroedinger at 5:57 PM on December 10 [26 favorites]


It's also slightly incredible that nobody in this thread has pointed out the Michelin star and the European food critic (and I suspect a lot of the other positive reviews of this restaraunt) are all pre-covid data points. A lot has changed since 2019, it seems especially weird to insist any given restaurant wouldn't change in quality over the last few years, even one in a smaller Italian city.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:06 PM on December 10 [3 favorites]


I'll discuss what you're writing.

Many above insist on presenting the author as an award winning critic. Other write more correctly that she is an essayist focusing on travel and other issues, (including food, love, suffering from a brain tumor, her personal identity as a child of immigrants, and politics). As far as I understand it, and correct me if I am wrong, her James Beard Award was for the specific post about the Mario Batali cinnamon rolls, not for the blog in its entity.

She is an award winning critic. "Other write more correctly" is ... really some top shelf gaslighting.

When you win an award, you are an award winning whatever in addition to what you were before. Like if someone wins the Best Director award at the Oscars, you don't "write more correctly" that they are a filmmaker focusing on whatever else. Both are true.

It's such a weird little side diversion you have going where you want to somehow denigrate her on a professional level.

Even just now you write "But I understand now that the author is a renowned critic, who is very well versed in Italian culture and speaks perfect Italian, so misunderstandings were not ever possible" sounds very sarcastic to me. It doesn't matter if they are a renowned critic, or well versed in Italian culture or speak perfect Italian... you're piling on thing after thing trying to tear this woman down over a story about a restaurant she went to with 7 friends.

I guess I'd just like to look at the "well versed in Italian culture" part... is Bros in some sort of Italian culture tradition? I thought it was "avant-garde" and outside culture norms before. We all know Bros is not some sort of Italian culture at large, but that's the sort of word salad you're throwing out where now we're back to she doesn't understand Italian culture so clearly she's missing the point of what was happening.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 6:07 PM on December 10 [10 favorites]


Everyone is making a lot of strawmen out of my arguments. I have not accused her of lying.

What in the very fuck? Do you somehow not recall this?:

After reading this, I feel very skeptical about the article we are discussing. There is no mention at all of 27 courses. And any restaurant that does a la carte service can and will definitely handle allergies.

Are you just trying to gaslight MeFi for the lulz????
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 6:11 PM on December 10 [15 favorites]


It’s perhaps worth noting that so many people are arguing against you, mumimor, not simply because we disagree, but also because we see this as somewhat atypical of your other contributions to metafilter. If you didn’t have some degree of respect built up, you would have been written off as a crank or troll far earlier in the conversation. In case remembering that helps you out of the defensive corner you seem to be backed into, or helps you to re-read others’ comments perhaps a litle more carefully and generously.

But if that isn’t productive, may I suggest going back through and making a list of all of the known facts of the case in evidence, from the links provided so far in support of every perspective that has been raised by all commenters?

Afterwards, those of us whose objections and counter-arguments you have been ignoring would appreciate it if you made a list of the arguments arrayed against your point of view without omitting our comments.

These two small bits of background research would go a long way toward demonstrating that you are contributing to this thread in good faith, and would avoid being yourself an example of how quality of someone’s craft or creative output may easily have declined recently.
posted by eviemath at 6:17 PM on December 10 [11 favorites]


Please read my first comments on this thread.

I have openly and often repeated that I came into this thread with a different reading of the article and changed my mind as I learnt more. That is not shifting.

I have certainly not quoted positive tripadvisor reviews. I havent even looked at the site in this context.

I have not linked to more than one foreign language article, because they basically all agree, and yes there are scores.

The Michelin thing has been discussed, needs no repitition.

Finally: saying that you dont believe someones description or narrative is far from the same as saying they are lying. I thought this was basic knowlefge. Every single one of us filters information through different forms of bias.

There is a difference between being a critic and an essayist, and it is not a qualitative difference, it is a difference in genre, which is relevant in this specific context.

I do not mind that she writes a subjective, funny article about her experience, I am curious about why her experience is so different than others and why so many mefites are convinced her description is most correct.

The restaurant, per their own definition, offer radical interpretations on local traditional food. Which is why it is relevant to know the context.

Hugs to all
posted by mumimor at 6:26 PM on December 10 [3 favorites]


many agree we should believe her account and anonymous TripAdvisor reviews more than the professionals in the country where this happened.
I'm not sure about everyone's position in this thread, obviously, but I think a lot of people's position is that one can trust both the blog post, the positive TripAdvisor reviews, the negative TripAdvisor reviews, and the Michelin reviewers as reflective of those people's respective experiences, and that some combination of the quality of the food varying over time and those people's tastes and things that they desire in a meal being different meant that they have different views on the restaurant. It seems to me like you are the one who is most pushing the idea that some of those reviews should be trusted more than others.
the young couple who I strongly believe had the exact same menu
Ok, but what about the section of the review where she literally compares the thing that she got to multiple other reviews online, and points out that what she got did not include components that other people got? Was she lying, or...?
posted by wesleyac at 6:29 PM on December 10 [12 favorites]


Finally: saying that you dont believe someones description or narrative is far from the same as saying they are lying. I thought this was basic knowlefge. Every single one of us filters information through different forms of bias.
posted by mumimor at 8:26 PM on December 10


vs

"glaring factual errors" mainly refers to the fact that neither in 2019 or now, the restaurant offered a 27 course chef's tasting menu.
posted by mumimor at 2:26 PM


How do you bias your way into a "glaring factual error"? Just admit you called her a liar but all of these (unlinked) other reviews you're looking at are 100% accurate as judged by yourself, a person with complete accurate knowledge that the restaurant never offered a 27 course chef's tasting menu.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 6:44 PM on December 10 [4 favorites]


I am curious about why her experience is so different than others and why so many mefites are convinced her description is most correct.

mumimor, could you tell us who here is saying the author is “most correct”? I can’t find it in this thread. Speaking for myself, I think the safest assumption is that no one is lying and no one is “most correct”.

Like, the author probably (barring evidence to the contrary) is being honest about their experience. As are the TripAdvisor reviewers. As is the young couple who’ve charmed you so much, and the fellow whose review you trust because he’s a cultured European. They can all have genuine, honest experiences that [gasp shock horror etc] differ, for reasons that have nothing to do with cultural illiteracy! How are you not grasping this??
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 6:45 PM on December 10 [10 favorites]


Americans who don't like Italian food are not punching down unless they are like some Congressman who nukes it. There's power differences then there's power differences, and every time Europe gets pegged as a massive victim of American cultural hegemonic whatever, I sigh in "once again, Europe colonized everywhere, continues to benefit from colonialism, and is not some kind of geopolitical victim that needs to be coddled and treated like it's been harmed merely because it is no longer the only game in town"

That's not to say that the US doesn't have its own issues, but this was not a small restaurant in Guatemala or even in, say, the SW US where, as has been pointed out (I guess, moreso they were used for another point, but I digress), there are a lot of latinos who are dealing with ongoing genocidal treatment from the US government. The fact that there are a lot of places where Americans legitimately would be the big baddie makes this comparison a bit obnoxious; sort of like the people who compare being asked to wear a mask to banning abortion. Yes, the argument can be made, but perhaps it shouldn't be if one wants to indicate that they really do care about geopolitical power imbalances and the effects that those have on the world.

I tried to describe somewhere up there how some things that are normal to any European are perceived by many Americans as elitist. This, I believe is because American elites have used European mores as signifiers of class. The whole thing about French cuisine, and French chefs at fancy restaurants in the US is an example. Whereas Mexican food had no such distinction even though Mexican food is at least as complex and rich in diversity and flavor, and similarly French cuisine, a wide range from very sophisticated high end meals to tamales from a market stall.
But Europeans are not to blame for the fact that some Americans have used European languages and cultural artifacts including food as tools of exclusion. In France, a coq au vin is just a chicken cooked in wine, not cultural marker.

You don't understand Americans any more than most Americans understand Europeans, and it would be a measure of reasonable humility to stop telling us what we're like. Most of the stuff you're writing is not annoying to me, but the "Americans think this, Americans think that, Americans don't know what a Michelin star is" type stuff is legitimately a bit irritating.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 6:47 PM on December 10 [16 favorites]


The restaurant, per their own definition, offer radical interpretations on local traditional food. Which is why it is relevant to know the context.

For the fifth or tenth time. The restaurant, per its own web page and brochef’s rebuttal to the review, offers avante garde, modernist cuisine. mumimor, do you know what modernist cuisine is? Have you read the link I provided, or the description that I provided in another, later comment?
posted by eviemath at 6:49 PM on December 10 [4 favorites]


You can't understand modernist cuisine unless you live in the future, and speak future languages. It's important to have a modern pedigree, as in you've moved from one space-time coordinate to another. Also, you have to be culturally attuned to future moderne cuisine, which for the true future-moderne is only available in the future, like in your salad drawer, or down the street. For people living in the present, these things are only available for the rich and future-modernist-in-training.

Also, can we start calling this guy with the Bros-shop Mouth-Bae?
posted by valkane at 7:00 PM on December 10 [5 favorites]


I think that it's important to remember that the author in question speaks Italian. That's not a thing that you would have been able to learn in school at her age. Italian is not an easy language--you can learn a lot of the same things by going with French or Spanish--but that is not what she went with because she has a familial relationship with Italy. I think that painting an American who speaks Italian as a person who is uninterested in other cultures really diminuitizes her efforts. You can't watch Italian TV in America. You can't listen (well at the time) to Italian radio in America. She worked rally hard to be able to speak Italian. But in this thread she has been depicted as a person who doesn't care about Italian culture. I don't understand how you can talk about someone who has obviously overcome a lot of obstacles to be able to speak Italian can say that she is totally ignorant of Italian culture.
posted by Quonab at 7:02 PM on December 10 [5 favorites]


On further thought, I feel that I should have worded my comment more strongly so as to avoid the bystander effect. I am uncomfortable with the mockery of and hyperfocus on mumimor's comments. I certainly don't agree with a lot of what mumimor has written - in particular, I believe the author's description of her experience - but I feel that the scrutiny of mumimor's position is not always succeeding at taking her in good faith. Mumimor, I also think you ended up digging yourself into a hole after a certain number of comments, and the thread would probably have benefitted from moving on, but at the same time I find it hard to fault you for trying to explain yourself after having received so much pressure.

This is not an attack on any given person who has responded to mumimor, either, many of whom have done so thoughtfully and respectfully, IMO. I agree with many of the criticisms of mumimor's points. I just am frustrated to see a thread give off such a strong vibe of dogpiling and become centered around one person. In other words, I believe we have a shared responsibility to try to keep the thread on topic, which I think means both holding off jumping in to join an existing group focus on someone I disagree with even if I feel they are Being Wrong (as long as they're not being hateful, in which case the better thing to do is probably to flag the comment to the mods for rule-breaking), as well as to try to be okay walking away if the thread is starting to center around me and I am having a hard time getting my point understood. I recognize that situations are complex and we can't always achieve both goals, but I wish this thread hadn't devolved the way it had.

In the spirit of taking my own advice, I won't take up more space after this by commenting again on this thread. Mumimor, sorry if I've made you uncomfortable at all by calling you out by name. (If I have, please feel free to flag this.)
posted by chaiyai at 7:03 PM on December 10 [10 favorites]


Retroactive thread title. "MeFi Goes to Brunch." Make it so.
posted by BigBrooklyn at 7:22 PM on December 10 [1 favorite]


Eh, someone can be belittling toward entire continents without it being something that's flagworthy, which I think is kinda what's going on here. She's getting pushback - including from me - because she's making a ton of assumptions about other commenters and their ability to evaluate the world, and it's hard not to respond and try to explain that no, we actually aren't uncultured, we just disagree.

Plus, it's fun to have an honest-to-god, early-2000s troll here.
posted by sagc at 7:26 PM on December 10 [16 favorites]


Oh someone found the source of the man-on-horse drawing.
posted by emjaybee at 7:27 PM on December 10 [10 favorites]


Mods, we all know you’re watching this thread. Unleash the < img > tags; you’ll be legends.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 7:40 PM on December 10 [13 favorites]


I find it hard to take umbrage at a European assuming Americans equate Burger King to fine dining (assuming muminor or anyone else said that, since I don’t remember it) when we elected a President who served Burger King at formal White House dinners on more than one occasion.
posted by jamjam at 8:14 PM on December 10 [2 favorites]


And we all know that every single person in any given country is identical, and also that Trump was uncontroversial and praised by all US citizens for how well he upheld societal norms and decorum.

/hamburger
posted by eviemath at 8:43 PM on December 10 [10 favorites]


Yeah, for sure. It's a total farce that America embraces multiple ethnic groups, and a total lie that you might be able to eat their food in America.
posted by Quonab at 9:00 PM on December 10 [1 favorite]


I *have*not* read all this thread but I wanted to thank you mefites for a good time. Interpersonal drama, high/low culture bullshit, metametameta comments. To old times! (The restaurant sounds insane and amazing, may or may not be a "good time" or "something people get", but is definitely the proverbial red meat of this site and I wish I had bajillions to take us all there)
posted by DeepSeaHaggis at 9:03 PM on December 10 [8 favorites]


What is confusing (or maybe not) to me, is that so many of you trust the blogger and her blurry photos and some TripAdvisor reviews more than the Michelin Guide, tons of professional reviewers at published papers and magazines, and the charming young couple who enjoyed a whole meal and showed us the food fully lighted and explained in a video where it is also clear that the pastry chef who is a woman is confident and in charge.

I can't find any of these "tons of professional reviews at published papers and magazines" for Bros; and I looked. I found only the original Michelin review and a web site which states that Bros once won an award for "Best Contemporary Restaurant In Italy" about two years ago. That's it. So....maybe you could link to some of these other reviews.

Also: speaking of reviewers, they are people sharing their own opinions on an experience, based on actually personally having that experience. Just as the blogger is doing. So....would you care to explain why mass publication is the only thing that makes one person's opinion of their own experience more valid than another person's account of their own experience?

Another thing to consider about reviewers: Roger Ebert is widely considered to be one of the most respected film reviewers of the past several decades, but he still expressed the following opinions:

* He thought the film Anaconda was "a slick, scary, funny Creature Feature, beautifully photographed and splendidly acted in high adventure style."

* He gave the Garfield movie 3 stars.

* He thought Home Alone 3 was better than the original.

* He thought the Simon and Garfunkel soundtrack for The Graduate was "instantly forgettable".

My point being: sometimes even when someone is a professional reviewer in a published paper or magazine, that someone can still be very, very, very, very, very wrong.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:17 PM on December 10 [5 favorites]


Are we sure the response from the chef is real? Are we sure it's not Today trying to be The Onion?
posted by ymgve at 9:43 PM on December 10


I...believe that the Today show is held to a somewhat stricter journalistic code of ethics than is The Onion.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:45 PM on December 10 [1 favorite]


I find it hard to take umbrage at a European assuming Americans equate Burger King to fine dining

Even Trump knows BK isn't fine dining. Trump does have a skewed view since he considers burnt steaks to be a desirable thing. But the whole point of the BK buffet at the White House was the nature of the guests. College athletes were there for some reason or another. He thought the young men would rather chow down on burgers.

It was still stupid, embarrassing, and ill-planned. But there was some tiny shred of logic behind the madness. Trump knows the difference. Most Americans know the difference. Sure, the high point of fine dining for many Americans might be something like Ruth Chris, but that's still a massive step up from BK.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 9:46 PM on December 10 [1 favorite]


My point being: sometimes even when someone is a professional reviewer in a published paper or magazine, that someone can still be very, very, very, very, very wrong.

We all have our different opinions.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:51 PM on December 10


Wait, wait, wait… Is this a fragile provincial restaurant that must be protected like a baby animal, or is it an internationally renowned destination helmed by the best Italian chefs of their entire generation, as you state in the same comment?

Seriously, bros, mumimor was a bit sensitive and precious about the whole haute cuisine but they're right. If you can't see how a restaurant like this would be simultaneously helmed by the best chefs but also be financially precarious.... well, I'm an American too so I get the inclination
posted by DeepSeaHaggis at 11:23 PM on December 10 [1 favorite]


Wait... I think. Can someone summarize what we've learned?
posted by DeepSeaHaggis at 11:26 PM on December 10


I haven’t commented on MeFi in a long time and I’m so glad I popped in to see this thread.
posted by The World Famous at 11:50 PM on December 10 [10 favorites]


I hope we can stop this ride now. It was fun but let us agree to disagree and move on from this Bros to Infinity special production of metafilter vs mumimor. If minds were going to change it would have happened by now.

Speaking of burgers, in the early 1990s I was in Wyoming for business and asked a fast food place if I could get a veggie burger. Sure! Like an earlier commenter, my sandwich was everything but cheese or a meat patty. It made me sad.
posted by Bella Donna at 11:59 PM on December 10 [2 favorites]


I became vegetarian as a punk-adjacent teenager around 1994 (it lasted about 15 years). I ate scores of fast-food burgers sans beef.

Eating a vegetarian diet is absolutely no guarantee of eating a healthy diet. Especially back then, when the token "healthy food" options included iceberg-lettuce salads and sugar-laden yogurt, and you had to explain the term "vegan" to people.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 3:34 AM on December 11 [1 favorite]


We all have our different opinions.

Yes, you have firmly grasped the concept which was precisely my point.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:50 AM on December 11


Can someone summarize what we've learned?

The real bros were the horses whose mouths we sucked foam out of along the way.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:51 AM on December 11 [18 favorites]


Whew! What a roller coaster ride in these comments.

Did we really get hundreds of comments in here without a Previously?

Also, I know it is a lot to ask people to even RTFA, but for those who are coming down hard on Geraldine, have you read any of her other works? When she blogs, it is often about her most bizarre experiences. She is not afraid to share when she has done something so bizarre that it causes trouble in her own life.

My point is, having read her book and quite a bit of her blog, I don't think she was actively trying to hurt the Bros. restaurant. She was just documenting another crazy experience in her life. She hasn't blogged much since CoVid, but if you read her archives, they are filled with similar bizarre stories.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 7:17 AM on December 11 [5 favorites]


There used to be a food truck in Catania that sold what it advertised as "hamburgers," but they were hot dog buns full of French fries. Still delicious, though. And the focaccia in Lecce is amazing.

Anyway, I enjoyed the article, and I also enjoyed the YouTube video somebody linked where an Italian couple thoroughly enjoys the same meal the article complains about. And the discussion here about it is, well, I don't have an adjective for it but I'm glad I witnessed it. Years ago, I got on the wrong end of a MeFi pile-on somehow, and it was pretty unpleasant. Hugs all around. It's good to be back in the blue.
posted by The World Famous at 7:28 AM on December 11 [4 favorites]


I am under the impression the author travels to write about food places and trends and in this case got a bit more than bargained for.

From the medium post just before:
There was a moment, Rand told me, in the height of Covid, when he wasn’t sure if we’d ever make it back to Italy or my family again.
Sounds to me like, they went to see family?

My point is, your assumption is wrong. This is the third or fourth time you have argued in bad faith about her motives. (Others have corrected you on the earlier times.)

Please, please stop with the bad takes. Geraldine did not need to go viral (again) to make money. This is not a review of the restaurant. This is a blog post about a crazy night she had. (I am explicitly saying blog post, as she posted it to her blog and her medium account is close to a 1:1 repost of her blog.)
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 7:37 AM on December 11 [6 favorites]


My point is, your assumption is wrong. This is the third or fourth time you have argued in bad faith about her motives. (Others have corrected you on the earlier times.)

What? No. I honestly have no idea what you mean by "arguing in bad faith about her motives". My assumption is that the author travels to write about food places and trends, because the about page on her very own website says she's a travel writer, and a lot of her writing is about food.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding you? Can you show me the other three or four occasions where I've "argued in bad faith about her motives"?

This is not a review of the restaurant. This is a blog post about a crazy night she had.

The FPP says "Geraldine DeRuiter's review of Bros", and the author closes in the classic review format, noting the price and rendering judgment: "Recommendation: Do not eat here. I cannot express this enough". I think it's absolutely a review.
posted by dmh at 8:00 AM on December 11 [1 favorite]


I honestly have no idea what you mean by "arguing in bad faith about her motives".

Sorry, I should have made it more explicit that I was referring to my framing of the conversation in a comment just two comments above.

My assumption is that the author travels to write about food places and trends, because the about page on her very own website says she's a travel writer, and a lot of her writing is about food.

Right. So, why keep assuming when I have given you the text of their trip?
There was a moment, Rand told me, in the height of Covid, when he wasn’t sure if we’d ever make it back to Italy or my family again.
This was NOT trip to just go try a Michelin restaurant. In years of reading Geraldine's blog, that has NOT been her thing.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding you? Can you show me the other three or four occasions where I've "argued in bad faith about her motives"?


one
two

Upon re-read, I'll agree some of the other comments were valid. In context with your other comments, I had a stronger reaction than I should have.

The FPP says "Geraldine DeRuiter's review of Bros", and the author closes in the classic review format, noting the price and rendering judgment: "Recommendation: Do not eat here. I cannot express this enough". I think it's absolutely a review.

1. A rando (FPP on MeFi) on the internet calls it a review, so it's a review.
2. A blogger styles the end of a blog post (in your opinion) similar to a review, so it's a review.

Got it. That's solid logic.

You'll forgive me if I remain Team Geraldine after reading her for years and trusting that this is just one more of her "crazy life I have" stories.

FWIW, my opinion would be vastly different if she published this to mainstream media.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 8:47 AM on December 11 [1 favorite]


This was NOT trip to just go try a Michelin restaurant. In years of reading Geraldine's blog, that has NOT been her thing.

I understand. Not being acquainted with the author specifically what struck me negatively about the piece was the lack of room for different perspectives (for example, I think the foaming-at-the-mouth dish is hilarious), which in my mind is not uncommon in bad American travel writing more broadly. But in context of her other writing I can appreciate better how it's also part of an overall style.

Upon re-read, I'll agree some of the other comments were valid. In context with your other comments, I had a stronger reaction than I should have.

I see. Thanks. I was genuinely curious where the bad faith reading came from.

1. A rando (FPP on MeFi) on the internet calls it a review, so it's a review.
2. A blogger styles the end of a blog post (in your opinion) similar to a review, so it's a review.

Got it. That's solid logic.

You'll forgive me if I remain Team Geraldine after reading her for years and trusting that this is just one more of her "crazy life I have" stories.


Perhaps you'll take Geraldine's word for it then, as she also calls it a review:

EVERYONE, THE CHEF FROM BROS REPLIED TO MY REVIEW
posted by dmh at 9:24 AM on December 11 [4 favorites]


"review" isn't a legally binding concept, dude.
posted by sagc at 9:38 AM on December 11 [8 favorites]


Can we not? Please? xoxo
posted by Bella Donna at 9:48 AM on December 11 [2 favorites]


Is anyone else reminded of Richard Dawkins, the great champion of atheistic reason, choosing to die on the hill of a little boy not deserving a science award for a clock, and digging in deeper with each “what the fuck, dude?”?
posted by acb at 10:14 AM on December 11 [8 favorites]


Right now in the show, ominous music is swelling because someone in the kitchen is dangerously close to trying to plate a copy-paste from Merriam-Webster, and there's just no way to do that in a high-end locale and not put your Michelin star at risk.
posted by Drastic at 10:14 AM on December 11 [3 favorites]


Not that I should wade into this thread at this point, but Michelin has a clear bias against admitting it previously made a mistake. As noted above, they don't have enough inspectors to revisit listed restaurants that often, and removing a star is almost always a scandal (and not in the awesome succès de scandale way). I see failure to remove a star in this case, for a restaurant that clearly can't maintain an earlier standard, as a combination of the three of those factors.

FWIW Michelin also tends to allow snubs to persist, e.g. in DC it's well known that Michelin has no idea what to do with Bad Saint, which is otherwise universally adored (in which the NYT's Pete Wells describes a meal so like one I had I suspect he was there within a week of my own visit). I've eaten at starred restaurants in Las Vegas, NYC, and Paris (and not just DC) and Bad Saint's continued omission from the list is glaring.

Which is all to say that an Appeal to Authority relying on the Michelin guide is maybe not that strong an argument.
posted by fedward at 10:26 AM on December 11 [7 favorites]


"review" isn't a legally binding concept, dude.

Lol, fair enough, sometimes I'm a bit obstinate. But I'd like to think not of bad faith!
posted by dmh at 10:31 AM on December 11 [1 favorite]


People here sometimes seem to maybe even kinda like an argument a little bit, so I think it's ok :P

(is hypobole fascism????)
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 11:29 AM on December 11


Hey everyone -- I'm all for calming down. Before I take a break, I do want to address a couple of issues.

First of all, I am guilty of generalizing. I know that is offensive and I usually hate when others do it. I'm sorry about that, it is inexcusable, and it won't happen again.

Second, this thread opened up some of the issues that I always get a bit heated up about when they are discussed here. Usually, I just joke Ils sont fous ces Romains, and then retreat. It often happens when FPPs are about food, planning or healthcare or socialism, because these are all issues that look completely different from a European perspective.

Another issue is class, where I am aware that this is much more complicated both across the US and across Europe, so here I almost never weigh in, though I tried in this thread to say that some of the things that I have thought about while reading this thread have to do with class, and perceptions of class. For that detail, I know exactly why: I was in my mother-in-law's house, in one of the poorest communities of my country, where their gourmet restaurants and food related products are literally the single lifeline. This may well apply in Lecce, as well. And when I began to re-examine the original article, some class issues jumped at me.

Otherwise I have no idea what triggered a bulldoggy stubbornness on my side. For the sake of everyone, I'm not going to explore it in this thread.

Third, I have to say that some of the arguments that were held against me were quite hurtful, because they were based on false assumptions and generalizations, see above. And perhaps the hurt contributed to the stubbornness though it wasn't the root cause. I have lived in the US and traveled extensively in the US, Mexico, Canada, and parts of South America and the Caribbean before and after. I seriously thought of migrating permanently to the US or Mexico because I love America. Two of my close family members have done so, long ago. One has migrated via Mexico, where I have an extensive (in-law) family, many of which are First Nations. Even before anyone migrated, our family has had close ties to the US. I have gone to American schools in Europe. As I admitted above, I stupidly generalized about some things. But of course I never claimed Americans are uncultured rubes, how could I? My American university was much better than the one I came from in Europe. I can't even begin about my Mexican family, but they are not in any way rubes. I would not be so invested in American culture if I didn't still have a part of me that wants to go back to either the US or Mexico.

I have thought about why some commenters assumed about me that I saw Americans as less sophisticated, and I think maybe my comments were mixed up with someone else's. I've also guessed in the thread that it might be about American assumptions about European culture. But maybe I'm wrong.

Fourth, after someone misgendered me, it was noted by someone else that I have written in the thread that I am a feminist and a woman. Thanks. I am quite active on those issues in my own local context, and I would never be misgendered here, or seen as an apologist for bro-culture. Ever. A lot of people seem to have ignored that statement from me. What else should I have done? I am not about to document my feminist credentials, because that would totally ruin metafilter for me as a space where I am not immediately recognized and can be quoted in local media.

Fifth, I am a food nerd. I love food. Clearly a lot of the people who have strong opinions here are not. Eviemath, you are perhaps an exception, the reason I haven't replied in detail to your point about modernist cuisine is that at this point I don't want to amplify the misunderstandings and anger in this thread. Feel free to memail me, and thanks for your kind thoughts.

Finally, it is nice to see that many of you like the blogger, follow her and have read her book. For me, she is an American woman who travels and reports about her experiences, often while accompanying her husband on business trips, and I find that interesting, but not so much that I will follow her or buy the book. That is not a disparagement of those of you who do or of her, I just have other priorities. I have now read many blog posts from her, and I can absolutely see why you enjoy reading her work, but everyone has 24 hours a day and I prioritize differently. Not least because I have a local culture to keep up with.
posted by mumimor at 11:52 AM on December 11 [4 favorites]


What I keep coming back to is that there are probably 1000+ Michelin-starred tasting menu joints in the world, and there would easily be thousands more if we added in the even better places that aren’t recognized because their local tourism boards haven’t paid off Michelin to come to their area. Most are surely quite good. The vast, vast majority of them will have little to no lasting influence in the way that an El Bulli, Noma, Chez Panisse in its prime, Alinea, WD~50, French Laundry, etc… did—there's a lot of racist and cultural baggage in how these places are recognized, and all surely had their share of dissatisfied customers from time to time, but it’s easy to talk about their innovations and the concepts and personnel they spread throughout the world separately from how much everyone liked all of their meals.

But the way some people are reflexively defending Bros’, the way the chef’s letter hypes himself up, nobody seems remotely willing to point to the supposed avant-garde innovations this place has produced and spread. Who's out there explaining and interpreting the alleged art Bros' has produced? Where are all the chefs saying “maybe these folks had a bad meal and that’s unfortunate, but Bros’ forever changed the way I’ll think about food and their innovations in [whatever they innovated in] have been a revelation?” Where's the supposed "revolution" the chef claims he's creating? Where are its adherents and foot-soldiers?

Because without that, what’s even left to defend? Yet another ephemeral tasting menu place that achieved some recognition, got full of themselves and their edgelord schtick, and apparently slid downhill?
posted by zachlipton at 12:06 PM on December 11 [17 favorites]


I have thought about why some commenters assumed about me that I saw Americans as less sophisticated,

and I think maybe my comments were mixed up with someone else's.

I've also guessed in the thread that it might be about American assumptions about European culture.

But maybe I'm wrong.


“I have mulled over the reasons I’ve been misunderstood, and have come to the conclusion that you are confused, or perhaps simply incapable of understanding culture. As an afterthought, perhaps I might be wrong in some unspecified manner.”

It’s been a long while since I’ve seen trolling of this caliber. And I mean that affectionately.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 12:08 PM on December 11 [15 favorites]


Fifth, I am a food nerd. I love food. Clearly a lot of the people who have strong opinions here are not.

Ok so this right here, the thing where you insist that people who disagree with you just don’t understand food very well, is the thing that is making people mad at you. I for one like food, have been to a few dozen Michelin starred restaurants, and think you are wrongity wrong wrong.
posted by naoko at 12:26 PM on December 11 [21 favorites]


It’s not just that we don’t understand food well enough, we simply (with the exception of Eviemath, for whatever reasons) don’t sufficiently love food. 😭
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 12:33 PM on December 11 [2 favorites]


There used to be a food truck in Catania that sold what it advertised as "hamburgers," but they were hot dog buns full of French fries. Still delicious, though. And the focaccia in Lecce is amazing.

There are approximately zero places to get a decent grilled cheese sandwich in the province in which I live. I know, right? How could one go wrong with grilled cheese?! Mostly through not having it on the menu at all.

(Though there was that one restaurant in Buffalo, NY, that served one made of the worst processed cheese, on unbuttered bread. I think they were going for the Wonder Bread and Velveeta style? But didn't understand that when people like that type of grilled cheese, it's about comfort, and ensuring sufficient greasiness by buttering the bread would be an important detail? Side note for those wanting to make a grilled cheese sandwich at home but not having experience in doing so: the butter goes on the outside of the bread, so that when you grill the sandwich, it gets nice and golden.)

More relevant to this thread than that parenthetical example, there is one coffee shop, in a town I occasionally drive through (or used to drive through a few times a year, pre-pandemic) that lists "grilled cheese sandwich" on its menu. They had three versions, and all had things I wasn't into, so I ordered just a plain one. They were like, "Really? Are you sure?" Which should perhaps have been a warning, but this was shortly after extremely fancy grilled cheese with brie and fig jam and such like had gone through a bit of popularity, so I just thought it was something related to that.

So I get my order, and it's just two pieces of bread with cheese melted on top. It wasn't even grilled, it was broiled. I brought it back up and was like, "uh, this isn't a grilled cheese sandwich." To which they replied, "well, that's how we make it." Which is just ... what they gave me has a name. It's called a patty melt. It shares two features with grilled cheese sandwiches in that it involves cheese and bread. But it would be just as (in)accurate to call it pizza, with which it shares a larger number of features (having a bread-type base, middle ingredients, and being topped with cheese, and being cooked via broiling). And it wasn't grilled. That's right there in the name, grilled cheese, for heck's sake.

I had been so excited to find a grilled cheese sandwich, and so was excessively disappointed. It kind of ruined most of that day for me. I think about it still, with a pinch of disappointment, every time I drive past that town.

The moral of this story: clear communication and expectation-setting is important when selling any sort of product or service. If you call your patty melt a "grilled cheese sandwich", without additional explanation, then you are going to have some unhappy customers. If you call your avante garde art experience a "restaurant", without explaining that you will not be serving enough food to comprise a meal, you are also going to have some unhappy customers. Readers may extrapolate to similar contexts, I'm sure. And if this does happen, the fault is thine own for the lack of clear communication and expectation-setting.
posted by eviemath at 12:36 PM on December 11 [8 favorites]


Sorry. I really hope there will be a 1000 comment post about a restaurant in Lecce, that is amazing. I just don't want it to be about me. If you have questions, please memail me and I will respond ASAP. eviemath made an effort to reframe the discussion and I appreciate that. But I welcome all questions and comments.
posted by mumimor at 12:38 PM on December 11 [1 favorite]


the butter goes on the outside of the bread, so that when you grill the sandwich, it gets nice and golden.

Where does the mayo go, in that case????
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 12:41 PM on December 11 [2 favorites]


I don’t care where on your grilled cheese sandwich you put mayo, but I can tell you where it doesn’t go, which is anywhere near my taste buds.
posted by eviemath at 12:49 PM on December 11 [1 favorite]


That's right there in the name, grilled cheese, for heck's sake.

Why are they called grilled cheeses when they're typically pan fried or possibly done on a griddle or flat top
posted by fedward at 12:53 PM on December 11


Grilled cheese snark aside, I’m so glad to know that I’m not like those other girls, er, commenters in this thread. And that I’m just respected too much that other folks wouldn’t dream of answering my question/addressing my critique that I brought up repeatedly. How conciliatory and thoughtful!
posted by eviemath at 12:54 PM on December 11 [7 favorites]


Cooking on a griddle is also referred to as grilling. It differs from frying in the absence of the thin layer of oil or fat in which your food is fried. It’s why Foreman Grills are also called grills, even though they’re basically just a panini press. (You can also do a grilled cheese in a panini press, of course. But imo it doesn’t tend to turn out quite as good, since the interior of the sandwich doesn’t get as much cooking time then.)
posted by eviemath at 1:01 PM on December 11


Perhaps your coffee shop employees had so much residual European culture that they understood “grilled” in the British sense?
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 1:08 PM on December 11 [2 favorites]


@everywhereist: MAUREEN, ANOTHER WOMAN WENT AND THEY BLINDFOLDED HER BEFORE GIVING HER THE PLASTER MOUTH DISH.

Look, I will grant that blindfolding a diner before encouraging her to lick foam out of a plaster cast of the chef's mouth could be argued to be perhaps within 100km of the avant-garde (though the dark dining thing is beyond cliche gimmick at this point), but it’s mostly just creepy as hell and raises far more questions than it answers about boundaries and consent.
posted by zachlipton at 1:09 PM on December 11 [13 favorites]


Cooking on a griddle is also referred to as grilling.

I believe intensely that this cannot be true, and [5000 WORDS DELETED]. English is a ridiculous language and it's a wonder we can get anything done at all, but I honestly had never heard that "grilling" was a common term for frying on a griddle. I have thought for my entire life that the name "grilled cheese" was a weird misnomer.

the absence of the thin layer of oil or fat

Wait, is not the butter (or mayo, if that's how you do your fat; de gustibus and all that) foundational for a grilled cheese sandwich? The thought of a dry-griddled sandwich just makes me sad. I recently made sandwiches using sourdough baked just that afternoon, pan fried in butter on both sides so it was crispy as hell and had that cool creamy crumb of super-fresh bread, and the butter was critical. And I can't imagine that a diner flat top is ever void of a layer of lipids.

Anyway. This is a fun derail, but it's a derail.
posted by fedward at 1:16 PM on December 11


Grilled cheese snark aside, I’m so glad to know that I’m not like those other girls, er, commenters in this thread. And that I’m just respected too much that other folks wouldn’t dream of answering my question/addressing my critique that I brought up repeatedly. How conciliatory and thoughtful!

I'm trying to move out of here, but this is just so extreme. As a person who has been bullied in childhood and is still struggling with this: Judging from the upvotes here, up to hundreds of people agree with you and less that ten agree with me. How can you frame me as the mean girl? I need answers.

I've stated again and again that I believe that the author was honest and authentic when writing her post. I may be mentally ill, actually I probably am, but I honestly cannot understand why it is a problem that I think that her cultural bias may have influenced her perception of that dining experience. Actually, I believe this is a fairly mainstream point of view, across academic cultures.
posted by mumimor at 1:38 PM on December 11


Perhaps your coffee shop employees had so much residual European culture that they understood “grilled” in the British sense?

Hmmm, a strong possibility that I had not previously considered. (Side note: you know you can link directly to the relevant subsection of a Wikipedia page, yeah?)

Wait, is not the butter (or mayo, if that's how you do your fat; de gustibus and all that) foundational for a grilled cheese sandwich?

Well yeah, just as marinading your bbq meat rather than grilling it dry goes a long way toward an edible final product. But I wouldn’t describe a marinated pork chop cooked in a grill as fried, since fried connotes having the whole layer of oil in the cooking pan? (Sautéed would be closer, but still implies that the fat source is in the pan, not (only) part of the item being cooked.)

But I’ve never worked in a restaurant, and although I’ve been in enough major international cities that I’ve probably technically been within sight of a Michelin starred restaurant, I wouldn’t actually know if I had. So probably best not to take my word as gospel on cooking-related matters. (I did go to grad school at a large state university with a big food science program at the height of the whole molecular gastronomy trend, so can recognize some of the associated techniques when I see them or read a description, but that doesn’t apply to grilled cheese sandwiches. I hope. Unless there’s some avant-garde restaurant in, say, Minnesota, maybe calls itself ‘Cheez’, where one would have a terrible meal without understanding the full context of upper Midwestern gastronomical traditions by having grown up somewhere ranging between North Carolina and Alberta, or Nevada to Quebec?)
posted by eviemath at 1:45 PM on December 11 [2 favorites]


(I suppose it might be ‘Chez’ but pronounced as ‘cheese’, rather than “Cheez” but pronounced as the Americanized/Britishized way of pronouncing ‘chez’, with the z voiced? My autocorrect suggests another highly appropriate name for this restaurant: “Chex”. The tasting menu almost writes itself.)
posted by eviemath at 1:51 PM on December 11


Mod note: Hey, let's really draw it down on some of this long long back-and-forth stuff. mumimor, it's past time to just let the thread drop entirely, please do that now. Folks responding just to mumimor, move on to other parts of the converation.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:54 PM on December 11 [7 favorites]


I'm definitely picturing an avant-garde molecular gastronomical deconstruction of hot dish.
posted by Drastic at 1:54 PM on December 11 [2 favorites]


And I wrote that second-to-last comment before reading your latest, mumimor. Suffice to say I still think you’re in the wrong here in this thread, but it appears you are now experiencing sufficiently more distress than you have caused other commenters that the scales are now balanced against me making further commentary. I do apologize for posting too quickly and thus going a touch too far.
posted by eviemath at 1:58 PM on December 11 [2 favorites]


(Side note: you know you can link directly to the relevant subsection of a Wikipedia page, yeah?)

I did know that, but when I tried I couldn’t figure out how it was done. In both mobile and desktop view it was only giving me an “edit” option for sections. I vaguely recall it being different in the past? I’m using safari on iOS, if it matters; pointers welcome.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 2:01 PM on December 11 [1 favorite]


I took a cooking class at a top flight hotel school 20 years ago and the instructor, to my puzzlement, insisted on this weird description of grilling.
posted by bq at 2:35 PM on December 11


....aaand that's a wrap.
posted by acb at 2:52 PM on December 11


The classic Reddit melt rant on r/grilledcheese
posted by ericost at 3:17 PM on December 11 [1 favorite]


I did know that, but when I tried I couldn’t figure out how it was done. In both mobile and desktop view it was only giving me an “edit” option for sections. I vaguely recall it being different in the past? I’m using safari on iOS, if it matters; pointers welcome.

Hmm, that would explain why my phone browser doesn't tend to want to do that any more. It would require clicking on the link from the menu, so that the anchor to the particular section appeared in the url (as wikipedia.org/topic/#section). But possibly not all wikipedia pages have been set up with internal page anchors like that? And possibly the functionality has changed and however wikipedia used to do within-page anchors no longer works.
posted by eviemath at 3:46 PM on December 11


Ah, that reddit poster did not realize that a melt is, specifically, an open-faced sandwich.

At least, that's what I grew up with, and I'm sticking to it!
posted by eviemath at 3:48 PM on December 11


It's also possible for two diners to have an entirely different experience in the same restaurant; witness the famous Ruth Reichl review of Cirque both as Unknown Ruth Reichl:

And there we sit for half an hour, two women drinking glasses of expensive water. Finally we are led to a table in the smoking section, where we had specifically requested not to be seated. Asked if there is, perhaps, another table, the captain merely gestures at the occupied tables and produces a little shrug.

.. and as New York Times Food Critic Ruth Reichl:

"The King of Spain is waiting in the bar, but your table is ready," says Mr. Maccioni, sweeping us majestically past the waiting masses. Behind us a bejeweled older woman whines, "We've been waiting a half-hour," but nobody pays her any mind. Mr. Maccioni smiles down at us. "Let me get you some Champagne," he says as one of his assistants rushes up with a sparkling pair of flutes.
posted by Comrade_robot at 3:51 PM on December 11 [6 favorites]


....aaand that's a wrap.

No, that's when you put the sandwich in a tortilla.
posted by eponym at 3:54 PM on December 11 [4 favorites]


Whew. At least we can all rest easy now that the heretic has been silenced.
posted by lumpy at 4:08 PM on December 11


Wait where does the Mayo go if we’re using a tortilla
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 4:08 PM on December 11 [1 favorite]


sufficiently more distress
posted by goblin-bee at 4:18 PM on December 11


I always though that a patty melt was a cheeseburger that was made with sliced bread instead of a bun for some inexplicable reason? For the sake of supporting our tenuous new peace, I’m not going to bother looking it up.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 4:23 PM on December 11 [4 favorites]


My understanding of a patty melt is that it has cheese, a patty of some sort (hence the name), and grilled onions.

But things might have changed, I suppose. Apparently the definition of "club sandwich" has shifted recently without my noticing (or maybe the folks at my local sandwich joints just don't know what a classic club sandwich is). Sigh.
posted by Lexica at 5:40 PM on December 11


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