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Mar i Terra

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Thursday 28 February 2008 5.05pm
I do like a hornet's nest.....

I thank GaryS and Longlaner for their thoughtful, courteous responses, and accept that a wine list is a contentious document. Similarly, Coogie, your take is measured and takes into account my reactive burst of annoyance. However, Jackie.....your idea of a "service" industry might be a little outmoded: we are no more simply providers of a service any more than your dentist, mechanic or shrink are servants - outdated, unacceptable and vaguely insulting terminology - is there a particular level of obseqiousness that you'd like, or is a simple grovel o.k.? We provide a table, food, drink and an ambience created by YOU (not us) if you understand and enjoy what we are attempting to do. The essential problem with the web's democratisation of the critical process is that everybody with a mouse is now a critic: accept that there are certain opinions, informed by experience and inclination, which are universally valid, while others....perhaps carry less weight.
Thursday 28 February 2008 5.56pm
Lee

thanks for "reviewing afresh" the review. I can imagine reading any reviews is a severe annoyance in your trade - point taken and appreciated.

Take it the wine list is not to be similarly reviewed? Again, as you say a contentious document and I leave that for you and other customers: we'll have a beer next time! And I am sure we will be back as the food was great.

Democratisation of the critical process? Well, its the 21st century and everyone has an opinion, and like others on this site, I am one of your best reviewers. Why? Well, we live in SE1, we eat out in SE1, we compare and contrast local menus in SE1 and recommend to our friends in SE1!

Alas, this website and others like it will not go away. For my part, I would not be so crass as to give a purely critical review as I appreciate what it might do for someone's livelihood, and believe you me, there have been plenty of places in SE1 I have been to for meals that I do not have a good word for and will not be back to - for them, no review. For you a GOOD review and some helpful CONSTRUCTIVE feedback.

All the best and Viva Espagnia! Gary
Thursday 28 February 2008 5.59pm
And by the way, "mountain wine" is our colloquial term for "average wine" - think of the wines from the Drome in France which are not at all exciting. Sorry for lack of clarity.
Thursday 28 February 2008 7.23pm
Forgive my use of "service industry" if it was offensive. However I think, and still think, that if you cant take the heat you should stay out of the kitchen. If you cant take some criticsm with grace instead of thowing your toys out of the pram, then you need to consider whether or not you want to be in a business which is always open to reviewers - good and bad.
Saturday 1 March 2008 10.44am
Lee Hulbert wrote:
.....However.....your idea of a "service" industry might be a little outmoded: we are no more simply providers of a service any more than your dentist, mechanic or shrink are servants - outdated, unacceptable and vaguely insulting terminology - is there a particular level of obseqiousness that you'd like, or is a simple grovel o.k.? We provide a table, food, drink and an ambience created by YOU (not us) if you understand and enjoy what we are attempting to do. The essential problem with the web's democratisation of the critical process is that everybody with a mouse is now a critic: accept that there are certain opinions, informed by experience and inclination, which are universally valid, while others....perhaps carry less weight.
1) You ARE a service industry. I struggle to see that this is debatable, or contentious. The kitchen produces, but the rest of what you do (including agreeing what the kitchen will produce) is service. There's nothing derogatory about this, and I find it odd that someone who runs a restaurant takes offence so easily at the use of the term. There is no shame in having a job which consists of serving others.
2) Like it or not, everyone who has a mouse is BOTH A POTENTIAL CUSTOMER AND A CRITIC. I may be someone without a "universally valid" opinion, but I'll still be talking to my drone friends on Monday morning, huddled around a copy of The Sport for warmth, about the places I went on the weekend, and I'll give my views on them, and they'll creep into other peoples' ears, and that's life. If people are good enough to be customers, and put their cash in your till, then they've got a right to vioce their opinions.

...if you press it, they will come.
Monday 3 March 2008 5.24pm
There is something strangely British about a restaurateur finding the words "service industry" to be offensive! The idea that to be expected to provide a service involves a demand for obseqiousness is particularly strange. I am a mere consultant, but I am proud to provide a service to my clients.

PS I ate at Mar i Terra once and it was an enjoyable experience, thanks, although I would not dare to comment on the wine list as I am only a civilian.
Tuesday 4 March 2008 3.04pm
Having worked in Spain and the States for lengthy periods of time, I assure you that there is world of difference between the British public's perception of service and that which seems to exist elsewhere. Here, "service" is, for far too many people, inextricably bound up with "servant" (try, as one client did recently "what would you know, you're a waiter" in New York: blood on the walls, no doubt).
The media persist in promulgating the myth that the UK has a food/restaurant culture: utter, utter tosh. I recently picked up the 1980 edition of the Good Food Guide (yes,I still have it) and was staggered not only by the tiny number of entries, but at just how bad some of them were at the time. In 28 years, yes we have moved on, but not to the extent that ours is now generally a society with a deep seated love for, or understanding of, food (I have no desire to make this thread any more acrimonious or personal than it is, so let us say simply that one participant refers to one local venue with some enthusiasm: if that enthusiasm encompasses the food, I really am in the wrong business)....which brings us to my loathing of the "universal critic" concept. Before the advent of the Web, you paid your money, dined/saw the play/the movie/the ballet/the exhibition, enthused about it/slagged it off around the water cooler....and that was that. Now, if I post a mail on a blog telling the world that the performance of Bounce that I saw at the Peacock Theatre last Saturday was rubbish, it doesn't carry the same weight as Gianandrea Poesio saying the same thing. Indeed, since we may assume that I know sod all about dance, nobody will pay any attention to it at all. However, BECAUSE WE ARE ALL EXPERTS WHEN IT COMES TO EATING, the a similar posting telling the world that Chez X is a festering latrine in the world of fine dining is, somehow, invested with absolute validity - and believe me, postings on restaurant websites seem to carry more weight, proportionately, than those on movies, or theatre, or books. No, sorry, it doesn't do it for me....maybe I'm just a hopeless Luddite, but when I want a critical opinion, I'll look for somebody with proven pasion, experience and knowledge (and don't give me "there are no qualifications in restaurant reviewing": there aren't in any form of critical activity, but I'd rather have Nicholas De Jongh's opinion of a play than Joe Schmo's).
Tuesday 4 March 2008 3.44pm
I have suddenly developed indigestion.
Tuesday 4 March 2008 4.29pm
Lee Hulbert wrote:
...I assure you that there is world of difference between the British public's perception of service and that which seems to exist elsewhere..

Lee Hulbert wrote:
...which brings us to my loathing of the "universal critic" concept.

So, to recap: you're qualified to tell us all about what British people are like. But we're not qualified to judge your food.

...if you press it, they will come.
Tuesday 4 March 2008 4.40pm
This has really "mar"red my perception of this restaurant!

Seriously though, I ate there a couple of times when I used to live nearer. The food was good - I don't remember the wine list particularly but we did have some wine both times. Overall my experience was nice (though the tipping thing was a little weird).

For me, Lee's responses are more damaging than anything anyone else has said - mountain out of a molehill? I'm definitely feeling some unresolved anger issues here. :)
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