"It's not much but it's ours"

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The whole issue of food bloggers taking pictures is becoming an interesting one.

Dos Hermanos are pretty shameless in whipping out our digitals and snapping away and few restaurants seem to have a problem with it.

Of the ones that do, there seems to be two arguments against the practice.

First there is the school of J Sheekey, The Ivy, Scott’s etc where the unspoken but obvious premise is that someone taking photos of their meal, even without a flash, may be a distraction to the more important part of their clientele, the famous folk. It’s a stupid reason and just serves to re-enforce the two tier system of dining that operates in such places. But, at least it is honest and pretty up front.

The second school of thought was exemplified last night by the good people of Number 6 in Padstow where we were ask to “restrain” ourselves from taking pictures because and I quote “ it is not a fair representation of the presentation of the food”

This displays a level of pretension and self delusion that is hardly supported by what was by any standards a meal of such supreme blah-ness that the definition will need re writing.

First though, the enjoyable part of the day. We arrived in Padstow after that long old train journey, dumped our bags and headed straight to Bin Two, a wine store owned by our good chum David McWilliams who was fully prepared for our arrival with a chilled bottle of Manzanilla. He added to our view that he is one of the finest of men by suddenly producing a 6 kg bag of pork scratchings from which we were allowed to choose all the choice bits. Big fatty chewy bits of porky goodness that wash down perfectly with a salty sherry.

A few pints and a brief rest later, we were ready for supper and headed for Number 6 less than thirty seconds from our B&B.

The menu outside reads well. Very well in fact with lots of reference to local sourcing and seasonal ingredients and so it should with a London pricing of £38 for two courses and £45 for three. For that kind of money, it shouldn’t just read well it should eat well and be well served in a lovely room. Unfortunately, we got none of the above.

The room, with its austere decorations and chequered floor, is cold and unwelcoming and the table settings shriek “café/bistro” not star schtick which is an aim so tangible they should perhaps all wear badges reading “please love me Michelin”

While the service could certainly never be called unfriendly it was rigid and overly formal.

The food? Well, it certainly showed technique aplenty and would possibly win prizes for number of ingredients on any plate but showed no signs of passion or indeed any enjoyment in its creation. A lack of zest that came through in every muted biteful.

I wish I could show you pictures so you can see for yourself, but after we had sampled some adequate bread, I snapped a picture of a quite passable amuse of Arancini and Foie mousse and was immediately asked by the front of house not to take any more. When I asked why they had this policy, they said that others had visited, taken pictures and put them on food websites previously and they did not show off the food to its best.

So this was not about the possible distraction to others by the use of a flash or about the fact that Mr A List Celeb may be dining with some dropsy who is not his wife at a nearby table. This is about the fact that Chef Patron, one Paul Ainsworth doesn’t think that food bloggers have the right to take pictures of food they have paid £75 a head for because it is not going to look as good as shots he may have taken professionally. I will leave you to decide if you think that is fair. Me? I thought it a bit silly.

Back to the food. For HP, a starter of pork belly that had been poached and roasted and then served with pickled tongue and a rhubarb and foie salad. It should be a stellar dish as it contains just about everything I love. Instead, the tastes I stole from HP’s plate saw a excellent pieces of pork with a crunch to the skin, being let down by plate companions that offered nothing.

It was, however, better than my own starter, a tartar of Mackerel, advocado and elderflower with a deep fried egg and cucumber salad. The egg was overcooked to a solid yolk and the tartar could have contained anything with the mackerel smothered by the dressing and a topping of unnecessary Avruga caviar.

We both opted for Turbot as a main course as little else on the list appealed. Dusted in five spice, it was served with oxtail cottage pie, creamed cabbage and spring peas. That the peas came in the form of a tempura was a harmless bit of frippery. That the turbot was so horribly over salted that I could only eat two bites before pushing it to the side of my plate is not quite so acceptable. It didn’t matter that they offered to cook another piece, I was almost finished with the rest of the dish by then. It didn’t matter that the rest of the ingredients were actually quite good, they were not the reason I ordered this dish. If you are going to get the main ingredient of your main course so horribly wrong, then you are in a bit of bother.

Like wise a £4 plate of asparagus with summer truffle that came to the table as limp as a sitcom involving Harry Enfield.

Paul Ainsworth , from what I can gather, is a former apprentice of Marcus Waering and, from on the evidence of my last trip to Petrus, it shows. Decent ingredients, lots of cheffy stylings, main courses that disappoint and a lack of passion in the whole affair that sucks enjoyment from the air like a Dyson.

Ironically, or perhaps not, the only part of the meal that even caused a raised eyebrow was a pre-dessert, just as it did at Petrus. This time, a small cone of bubblegum ice cream that HP, rightly identified as tasting like Bazooka Joe.

Desserts were up a notch but, a decent tarte tatin came with an unannounced sauce of “Baileys” custard which, given my allergy to coffee could have been interesting for both me and the restaurant as I swelled up to the size of a balloon and stopped breathing. Fortunately, I heard the front of house mention the word as she poured it over the tarte and she whisked it away and brought me the other half sans death in pouring form. Not bad at all.

HP had the chocolate moelleux which was fine, but added little to the meal.

With a bottle of over priced Fleurie at £36 and a service charge the bill was £150 which would be a lot for London but is far too much even for “ Chelsea on Sea” down here in Cornwall particularly for an experience that did little to change my low expectations of high end dining in the UK these days.

No photos of the meal then, but perhaps I could take a picture of the receipt to remind me how we came to pay £150 for a meal so ordinary I am going to struggle to remember what we ate without some visual aid. Mind you, that may be a good thing.
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Blogger SpaceDog said...

Hi, I've been reading for ages but the whole restaurant photography thing moves me to post ...

Does it occur to you to refuse and just take pictures anyway? Now that's a bit rude but it's not like they can claim copyright on the appearance of the food.

Their premises, their rules I guess but if you're paying for the food I tend to think you should be allowed to take pictures.

If you've paid for the food then, techincally, it's yours -- you can do what you want with it. I wonder what you could get away with.

Funny how it's never the cheaper end of the scale that protest about the photos.

Keep up the good work.

Sunday, April 29, 2007 1:24:00 am  
Anonymous SamanthaF said...

Pleeeeeease tell me that you will be goping to Margots to balance out this trip.

I hope you're not coming back on the train today.

Sunday, April 29, 2007 6:15:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No fret, he's been in twice!

Monday, April 30, 2007 12:11:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They must have been having an "off night". I have eaten at No6 on numerous occassions and always found the service, food & environ excellent. As to the price this is on par with Steins Bistro, cheaper than The Seafood Restaurant & Fifteen and in my opionion better than all three. Margots is however cheaper (if thats what you are looking for) but the decor is more cafe.

Monday, April 30, 2007 8:32:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, and he went to bin two several times!!

Monday, April 30, 2007 9:19:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good to see you, dos hermanos, in spite of your musical tastes.


Monday, April 30, 2007 1:51:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Simon- I think you need to buy your brother another T-shirt. He only seems to have one. Glad you had a good time in Padstow, if not at No 6. Must get down soon to see the Bintwo Fop and the "Cafe" owner ( :-)) with the amusing face.


Monday, April 30, 2007 8:16:00 pm  
Blogger Hermano 1 said...

If you've read the blog you'll know that DH eat (very) high-end, (very) low-end and all points in between. Above all, we value honesty and an attitude that says: we want you to have a good time. We felt none of that at No 6. Nothing that spoke of enjoyment. Nothing that spoke of pride in serving local produce in as good a form as possible. It was just reminiscent of expense account gaffs that are all too common in London where mugs with too much dosh and too little taste or sense are regularly parted from their money just because they don't know any better. In the end it's not about price but about what the restaurant's intentions are.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007 10:30:00 pm  
Blogger Hermano 1 said...

PS Just to clear things up I was wearing a much-admired Biba T on the Saturday and a Stussy short-sleeved shirt on the Sunday. As usual undergarments were CK (please review the pics).

Tuesday, May 01, 2007 10:34:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can i ask what makes our decor more "Cafe"


Friday, May 04, 2007 12:51:00 am  
Blogger Hermano 1 said...

Anything to do with your all-day breakfasts ???

Thursday, May 10, 2007 5:25:00 pm  
Blogger Duncan said...

I hadn't seen this report before our recent visit to No.6, but I'm very pleased to say we enjoyed it very much. I hope that is a sign that they took comments like this on board and not just that we were luckier than you.

Also they didn't comment on my use of the camera (and I think they must have spotted it). You can see my photos on my writeup. Do let me know if the food looks better/worse/or much the same as when they were so sensitive about it.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007 9:01:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

its sad that there are people out there that feel that they can go to a restuarant, make a website and slag a fantastic place off like number 6. obviously you have a palate of an heathen..and the knowledge of eating out of an idiot...stick to transport cafe's the food you understand...

Saturday, January 26, 2008 6:03:00 pm  
Blogger Hermano 1 said...

Hello Anonymous,

Perhaps you could enlist the help of an English-speaking friend who can help you rearrange the words of your comment so that it makes sense.



Friday, April 25, 2008 7:06:00 pm  

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