A different take on that Bros review

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.

Foam at Michelin Star restaurant in Italy
Typical Michelin star ingredients – Foam is likely to make an appearance at some point in many Michelin star restaurants.

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 course, Michelin style
Typical Michelin star ingredients – the meat course, if there is one, isn’t going to satisfy people who crave slabs of meat.

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.

Michelin-sized bites
Typical Michelin star ingredients – dishes aren’t presented the way they are in conventional restaurants.

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.

Cheese sauce at Michelin Star restaurant in Italy
Typical Michelin star ingredients – the way some things are presented makes us smile. But maybe this sort of thing annoys others.

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.

Andy drinking a Michelin pina colada
Typical Michelin star ingredients – does size matter? Andy drinking a mini pina colada at a Michelin star restaurant in Italy.

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.




About Jack 756 Articles
Jack is co-editor, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites as well as a Slow Travel consultant and a contributor to online travel sites and travel magazines. Follow Jack on Facebook for more travel photos and snippets.

3 Comments

  1. The reviewer wasnt mocking the concept of taster menus, they were critiquing THIS taster menu of 27 dishes that didn’t satisfy and bordered on inedible, and a marked pretentious attitude overall. It’s not art if you don’t expect criticism, and there’s an inherent requirement in this medium that you don’t hold people hostage for 4.5 hours and not give them adequate and clearly edible food. If it were simply a tasting/sensory experience they could advise people to have a light meal beforehand.

    Art has a habit of becoming a bubble where any criticism is dismissed as a failing on the consumer’s part, and the idea that if the general public likes it you’re not any good is very pervasive, and leads to a perception that you have to do inaccessible, convoluted work to be great. Mozart was popular throughout his life and still is the most renowned composer. The review seems pretty clear to me and mentioned clear issues with service and respect for their customers’ health needs ( a bare minimum), and also stated that there was no attempt to help the diners follow the narrative which should be a given particularly if you’re trying to be “edgy” in a difficult to digest way.
    No shame in going too far trying to create something great, just don’t be condescending about it and act like the gods of all art.

    • I take your points, and personally dislike pretentiousness in cooking if it’s just for the sake of it. Of course it should be held to account if the food/service etc. doesn’t warrant the price tag (like the Salt Bae fiasco in London recently) and the experience amounts to little more than a case of the emperor’s new clothes. But, thanks to many of the alarm triggers I’ve mentioned from the review itself (did they consult the restaurant beforehand about dietary requirements as is normally the case with restaurants of this ilk? Why did they expect a tasting menu to have a main course?), I wonder if that was fully the case? It might be, it might not be. We’d only know for sure if we experienced the restaurant first hand. From other food posts on the blogger’s website it looks like their M.O. is ripping the piss out of other countries’ foods.

  2. Adding however, I fully support your criticism of the tone of the article ripping apart artists’ work for humorous effect and dismissive attitude towards whole cuisines for cheap laughs. Let’s just not fall into the elitist vs consumer narrative.

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