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Around the Table | DineOut Articles
I have written some unforgiveable tripe.
by Mr Lu, Wed 13th May 2009 06:30pm
At the time of penning my first DineOut review I was not to know that an exciting journey of personal epic literary consequence had begun.
My initial reviews were influenced by others I had seen on DineOut and I looked at the way long standing, respected reviewers had written about restaurants they had visited, the length of their comments and the styles used. I was, of course, endeavouring to ascertain the site memberships' expectations and felt I needed to fit or blend into a broad but identifiable pattern rather than adopt my own idiosyncratic writing style and convoluted descriptive practices. Were I to do these early reviews over again I might write them differently largely as a consequence of now being much more relaxed about writing in my own style and being more observant of & attentive to all aspects of a restaurant visit.
I grew bolder as each new Lu review was uploaded and my own style as well as an eccentric use of obscure & obsolete words started to manifest itself. Many of you embraced my writings with alacrity and I was suitably emboldened to carry on with an outlandish flourish and comedic touch commensurate with my wilful desire to both entertain and amuse in a slightly impish, sophomaniacal way.
Nonetheless, the cattle prod of self-examination & self-criticism has oft, along the way, been taken from its well insulated sheath and, concurrently with a virtual cat-o-nine tails, been unmercifully used with a singular lack of restraint to sting and flay the living Lu with ferocity and sadistic fervour. Oh God, please have mercy on this lovely man!
In truth, readers dear, it isn't a bad or unpleasant thing to purge oneself every now and then, to seek re-education and to remind ourselves that we are all fallible. I have written some unforgiveable tripe, on the odd occasion, and have made some serious typos in my reviews. I have lambasted some eateries with a vicious, feral tongue and this may have, to some of you, seemed unfair. Conversely, I have rated others highly, against the weight of popular opinion but I think you will find that, consistently, I have striven throughout to seek a balance of some sort, either way, detailing as much as possible in justification of my views.
I'm not perfect! I know, I know, most of you will be shocked to learn this but I have never set out to deceive you and have always intended to be as honest and as impartial and objective as it is possible for an imperfect, flawed fellow to be.
Just because I have out of control gourmandish tendencies and an almost gluttonous love of good food and wine, have dined at all levels, from the human equivalent of pigs in a sty (no, not that well known fast food chain) to the lofty beacons of society, my reviews are of no more value and importance than those of any other established reviewer on DineOut. I say "established" because I think to be taken seriously you do need to have posted more than one or two reviews. You need to illustrate that yours is not a rash 'poison pen' or that of a 'favoured friend'. Viewers of the website need to be able to rely on your views as being fair and reasonable, at the end of the day.
No review can afford to be completely one sided as I think we can all agree that even in the ghastliest establishment there should be at least one positive. Ok, I'll concede that this is a somewhat provocative statement but I have yet to dine anywhere that fails on every front -- if there is such a place it might actually be a great place to go purely for the bizarre entertainment value and for a Fawlty Towers experience of an unmitigated dining disaster.
For all my serious, unforgiveable, unfixable faults, I can tell you that I do not go to a restaurant looking for an unpalatable experience. Why would anyone? I go wanting and hoping for capably prepared, cooked and presented food in clean, congenial surroundings served by friendly, professional people. The pursuit of happiness is a rewarding one, I assure you!
Now if I was a grumpy old tosser or an officious, overly opinionated blatherskite with incurable & insufferable pleionosis, there is little doubt that all my reviews would be pitifully peppered with a sort of palpable, retributory rhetoric, fair swimming in the proverbial bath of murderous acid.
Extreme as this may sound, a review of three or four lines that is very uncomplimentary, excessively negative and overly generalised cannot possibly fairly and reasonably cover the necessary aspects of a dining out experience and, frankly, is both an insult to your intelligence and disrespectful to the operator of the business you are pummelling.
I do concede that there may clearly be a temptation, sometimes, to give an eatery a serve (excuse me for this!) because you have felt less than well treated or because things haven't met your expectations and as an honest reviewer you must draw to the reader's attention these shortcomings. My point is that you should also let your reader know that the tables were perhaps beautifully set, the glassware was spotlessly clean, the dessert was surprisingly delectable even if the main was far from it etc. There will be positives and, as I have indicated in previous articles, try as best you can to avoid stomping on an establishment's reputation on the strength of your one unhappy encounter.
What of your writing style? Everyone has their own spoken & written way of communicating. What a joy this is! Your style doesn't have to mirror anyone else's, your use of vocabulary will be different, the way you convey your message will be unique to you - whilst this may develop over time your style should stay with you, in some form or another, just as your dress sense or colour sense is an integral part of you.
I'm a great believer in making the written word as entertaining as possible and I do enjoy introducing words that are perhaps less well used than others in an effort to stimulate interest, excite a passion in the reader and because it's a snorting, anti-soporific, good old bit of fun.
Go forth and write your stories for us all to enjoy! Weave a tale, if possible, as I do sometimes like to add something about the journey to the venue, how I'm feeling and so on. You may have a different approach but please do add details of the plate throwing Domestic you had before leaving for the restaurant or the fact that you were having a bad hair day or the best day ever! At all costs, avoid the mindlessness of echolalia. In the end, it's all grist for the mill and makes for good reading. After all, simply deconstructing food on a plate has its long term scriptitatorial limitations.
And so it was written... until we meet again next time.
Wed 13th May 2009 09:57pm
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Thu 14th May 2009 11:44am
I see many words from Sr Lu
That amount to a sort of review
Attempts at some levity
Forsaking all brevity
Make an essay when a sentence’d do!
I seriously think, Mr Lu
That I should set a task just for you
After very much thought
Your next dining report
Should be kept to the form of Haiku
The aim of the game Mr Lu
For authors of blogs (such as you)
Is to write words with wit
But shortened a bit
So that others can read them right through
Are you up to the task Mr Lu?
Adverbs and adjectives too
Would be cut from your prose
That’s if you so chose
To make seventeen syllables do!
Thu 14th May 2009 01:49pm
A Haiku for Mr Lu:
Gourmand Mister Lu
Obfuscates rest’rant reviews
A Haiku for Cook’n’ with Gas
Maitre d’s knowledge
Makes delectable repast
Sun 31st May 2009 01:14pm
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