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Jay Rayner “The Last Supper”

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Coming to the SoHo Playhouse on March 3. I bought tickets with no idea, of course, whether I’ll be in town or not.

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Mouthfuls well represented tonight. Very good show, with plenty of nostalgia for Brits present - Dairylea cheese slices? First half an illustrated presentation of the book’s main themes, second half a very informal chat with the audience.

 

So nice to meet him after all these years.

 

Of course, I disagreed with some of his notions... 😄

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That was fun!  I mean, other than the lager lout sitting behind us, until we moved for the 2nd half of the show.

 

I know one of the notions you disagreed with had to be his not having anything to do with cheese.

 

I hadn't read the article the questioner mentioned regarding American restaurant critics vs. British restaurant critics, but some interesting stuff here.

 

But for the most part, the half a dozen or so national critics in the UK are the writerly equivalent of bareknuckle fighters. Where US critics generally give restaurants three months to bed in, we may go the moment the soft launch has finished. If they’re charging full price, they’re surely fair game? US critics go three to five times. Generally, we go once. As I often say, how many times do you need a lousy meal to know a restaurant is lousy?

And while Marina O’Loughlin, now reviewing for the Sunday Times, has protected her identity throughout her 20 years, the rest of us swan around on television and are to anonymity what Kim Kardashian is to shyness. In 2013, New York magazine decided that, in the internet age, with everyone’s picture just a click away, their venerable restaurant critic, Adam Platt, should abandon his anonymity. As he explains in his recently published and extremely entertaining memoir The Book of Eating, it was such big news the magazine put him on the cover.

 

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For some more context, a recent review by Rayner, of The Yard by Robin Gill, London: ‘Unappealing, ill-conceived, overpriced’ 

 

The main courses top out at £30, for two small pieces of monkfish with XO sauce, a condiment that makes me think lunch up the road in Chinatown would be delightful right now. The desserts include a deconstructed tarte tatin. The point of a tarte tatin is the sticky, caramelised edges to the buttery pastry from the roasted apples and sugar. If you serve the pastry separately, it’s just a disc of dry pastry, however clever the undulations you’ve achieved. Stop it.

 

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I called him out on the cheese, and he responded by noting the audience was full of Brits. 😩

 

His menu made more sense as he explained he was choosing dishes with emotional connections and good stories (way to produce a book and show). For a “last supper” I automatically choose grouse; maybe I could find a story to go with it, but that’s not why I would choose it.

 

I was on the right track with the mystery dish, because I figured it couldn’t be just a cut of pork; but went for pork sausages rather than bacon.

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One thing I completely disagreed on was that as a British newspaper critic he writes for a national audience, most of whom are unlikely to get anywhere near the restaurants he reviews, while Pete Wells is providing classic service journalism for a local area.

 

I would think the overwhelming majority of Pete’s readers are outside New York.

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