The Liverpool Echo and the Need For Better Criticism
“This makes for pundits who are unlikely to know what they are talking about and more open to the PR spin. They have plenty of views, but not many that are worth listening to” Tiffany Jenkins
Critics, I know you may or may not like them, but they are useful, even essential as Tiffany Jenkins argues, at least in the art world anyway. I, however, also believe they are crucial in the food world. Helping guide us to decent places to eat, if we are spending our hard-earned cash we would like to know we are getting something good. That is why I started this blog, perhaps to help my few readers along with choosing a good place for lunch or dinner at some point. I’m not vain enough to call myself a professional critic, or even believe that I have any where near as much influence as our local papers. Thus I expect them to do a good job also, and fulfil that vital roll of a food critic, encouraging good restaurants and cafes, and guiding us away from the, all too common, dining disasters
That’s why this past weekend I was shocked to read a very positive review of the Lakeside Bistro at Crosby marina, it seemed to lord up what was clearly a very poor meal. I didn’t like this review, and thought it did a disservice to the Echo, I made my feelings known and got into a twitter discussion/argument with the Liverpool Echo and Jade Wright (one of their main food writers).
Now before I go on, it would be very unfair of me to criticise the venue when I had never visited it myself. Thus, the next day I popped in for a spot of lunch to see if I’d got it all wrong. As I walked in, I past two delivery vans from Nicol Hughes and Fresh Direct, both companies providing bought in pre-prepared food. My chicken goujons to start, were straight from the freezer and into the deep fat fryer. The cheese, spring onion and pickle wrap had no spring onion and was made with the cheapest lowest quality grated cheese. This was food of the very lowest standard, made with zero skill and no imagination. This post, however, isn’t really about Lakeside, its crap but it does what it does and seems to attract customers. I wouldn’t go there again and if I found myself nearby I’d spare a little more time and walk to Little Pizza Kitchen.
This post is about the Echo, and their review that heavily promotes a very poor restaurant, it encourages people to visit a venue that serves poor quality food, that despite its apparent low prices, has you paying for crap. I really don’t know how this made it on to their website, and I would really like an explanation. Was it
- Just to fill space?
- To encourage future advertising from the Lakeside Adventure Centre?
- Posted because you sent someone to review a restaurant who actually knows nothing about food?
Not only is it damaging to the papers reputation, it means the paper’s readers may end up paying for rubbish, surely in these times of decreasing wages and increasing waist measurements, the Echo should write reviews that will result in good value for money and good food. And improved prospects for local jobs in catering – rather than bought in stuff which doesn’t help the local economy as much.
In our city, where poor quality food goes hand in had with some very good restaurants and cafes, we need good critics. We need reviewers in our local papers who will encouraged food retailers to do the best they possibly can, to strive for quality and value for money. The Newspaper critics need to be honest and knowledgeable, it’s a duty they have to their readers.
What disheartened me even more was their response on twitter (Full conversation here), a defence of where they choose to review, and stating that
This to me shows that the reviewer, in this case Tina Miles, probably doesn’t know what good food is. I also asked Jade if she would happily eat there, and this was her response.
It appears to me, from this conversation, that although Jade does think it was Tina’s genuine experience, perhaps she doesn’t trust all the positive comment made? If Tina genuinely thought that this was good food I question whether she should be writing restaurant reviews in the future.
Local newspapers have a duty to provide high quality accurate criticism, it’s only to the benefit of the city and it’s readers. With this article they haven’t done that and they have gone on to defend their decisions. I would really like a response from The Echo (I’m not sure I’ll get one), I would like to know about why they chose this review and if they still stand by it. Readers of the Echo, of which I include myself, should be able to trust the judgments of the paper’s reviews, I feel they can’t. Liverpool and readers of The Echo deserve better. NO, they need better.