Last week, The Everywhereist’s review ridiculing the restaurant (not the 80s boy band) Bros in Lecce went viral on social media and was subsequently shared by numerous mainstream news publications. Instead of joining the vocal social media masses who lapped up her amusing, if cruel, account of a night of pretentious, avant-garde cuisine, I applied a management technique from my days in the Civil Service. I climbed the other person’s hilltop to imagine how the scene she herself painted might look from the restaurant’s viewpoint.
A group of lairy foreign tourists roll up to a restaurant wanting to try the tasting menu, demanding dishes are adjusted as various members of the group have food allergies.
Michelin star restaurants normally advise on their websites that diners should consult them in advance if anyone has dietary requirements. Most say they’ll try to accommodate this; some say the tasting menu is the tasting menu, take it or leave it. There’s no mention in the review that any pre-arrangements were attempted. The taster menu is a chef’s showcase, so not really open to being fiddled about with on the night, which is what it sounds as though this group expected.
If I were a waiter, how would I react if people eating their way through a taster menu asked when the main course was going to arrive? The answer is with amused surprise.
“There is no main course, madam, it’s a taster menu. Didn’t you realise that?”
I suspect what the diner really meant was, “when is the big slab of meat going to arrive?”
Meat doesn’t tend to feature highly on taster menus. People unfamiliar with taster menus might not realise that, but a travel blogger who writes about food …
My waiter hackles would be pinging to attention by this time, then I hear these tourists ripping the piss out of the size and appearance of the individual dishes. Haven’t they eaten Michelin star food before, I wonder? Don’t they know taster menu dishes are small, occasionally surreally theatrical (part of the fun), or the experience is likely to last for hours?
By this point I wouldn’t be loving them. I would not be going the extra mile I would with polite and pleasant diners.
Then one of them questions a waiter’s knowledge of the food they’re serving, telling them they must have it wrong when they inform her a dish is called rancid ricotta. Because you can’t have a dish with rancid in its name. Beg to differ oh wise and knowledgeable traveller, yes you can … and others that are even more eugh-inducing.
She gives off the distasteful whiff of know-it-all traveller from a superior land sneering down their nose at quaint old Europe. Earlier she ridiculed a stone carving of a bear for not looking like a bear. Everyone, from medieval stone carvers to the restaurant’s chefs, clearly doesn’t know their jobs as well as this blogger does.
What truly pissed me off though was the casual way she did a complete hatchet job on the restaurant. Was there really not a single dish that wasn’t worthy of a sneer and a joke? It seems highly unusual (in my head I’m thinking unlikely) for a Michelin star restaurant. Was the food so bad, it was deserving of so many cheap jibes? Jibes like “It’s as though someone had read about food and restaurants, but had never experienced either, and this was their attempt to recreate it.”
That’s unnecessarily insulting and rude. But if it gets a laugh then, hey, job done, stuff the casualties.
In aiming for the cheap laugh again and again, the blogger loses sight of the fact they’re putting the boot into a fellow creator. As an author, she should know how damaging it is when people casually rip apart something you’ve created, yet she’s gleefully done it with the chefs at Bros. To suggest chefs who are, by all other accounts, passionate about their craft, know nothing about gastronomy is pushing credibility. Criticise when it’s warranted by all means, but do so constructively; that doesn’t mean the humour has to be dumped.
Not having eaten at Bros, I couldn’t say whether the food is good or not. But neither am I familiar with the blogger who wrote the review, so don’t know if their take on gastronomy is trustworthy. However, it’s easy to read more of their food-related posts to discover if we’re on the same culinary wavelength.
Posts ridiculing pickled eggs and clotted cream along with statements such as ‘…seriously England? Don’t give the Scottish a run for their money in the “cuisine that will make you question the existence of god” department,’ and ‘…it’s why English food has historically sucked’ tell me all I need to know.