Reviewing the review: David Burton loses his noodle

by The Masked Barfly on June 9, 2014

Once again Mr Burton has ventured into the mean streets of Newtown, this time to get his ramen on, but what he found has not been well-received.

“I took my first sip of ramen broth with eager anticipation, but alas, to my undoubtedly ethnocentric palate, it tasted oddly coarse – very porky and rather too salty. I finished the bowl but, whether from miso, MSG or just plain salt, I was left with a raging thirst for the rest of the evening.”

Well well well.  Our man David has outdone himself this time. Let’s check in on that term:

eth·no·cen·tric

adjective \ˌeth-nō-ˈsen-trik\

having or based on the idea that your own group or culture is better or more important than others

Seems a rather strange thing to say for a man who prides himself on how authentic he is that he can order from the Chinese menu at places. Is everything okay David? Do you need a cuddle?

Meanwhile, the Fly doesn’t have too much to say about David’s review of Automat in Khandallah, except thank goodness he mentions he drives a V6 to reclaim his manly status after recommending a tofu dish! Oh and also

“It was Al Brown, I believe, who introduced us to the trendy little burgers known as sliders.”

WRONG.

Wellington has one daily newspaper, and that newspaper has one restaurant critic, who certainly has his own… distinctive style. The Fly has decided that David Burton needs some accountability. We’re giving him his own series

Carringtonia June 9, 2014 at 8:45 pm

He’s also wrong about smoked tofu being a ‘fresh concept’ – it’s been around for at least as long as I’ve been a vegetarian, which is, um, quite a long time.

David Burton August 16, 2015 at 1:33 pm

Come on “Masked Barfly,” you sniveling, yellow-bellied coward. Step into the ring and tell us your real name. At least I don’t hide behind a pseudonym (gosh, that’s another big word – would you like to borrow my dictionary?).
Nobody enjoys being systematically defamed and libeled like this, but really I don’t give a shit what you think about me, given your Greet ‘n Eat blog reveals you as just another jealous blogger who wants my job. What I DO value are the opinions of my peers in the journalism industry, who have given me 28 food writing awards to date, and last Monday nominated me for the Magazine Publisher’s Association’s Food Writer of the Year, 2015.

Joanna August 17, 2015 at 12:07 am

Hi David, as Editor of the Wellingtonista, I’m very happy to front on behalf of the Masked Barfly, who has very good reasons for not wanting to reveal their identity. What sort of ring would you like to get in? I’m not certain what Greet’n Eat blog you’re talking about, but I know there are plenty of people who believe that age doesn’t necessarily bring wisdom and think it would be nice for the Dominion Post to get a new reviewer – one who doesn’t gender food would be a great start. It’s great that your peers like you though, congratulations. It’s good to have friends.

David Burton August 17, 2015 at 4:23 pm

If I thought your congratulations were in the least sincere, I’d thank you.
What I don’t thank you for is damaging my reputation with a campaign of malicilous falsehoods.

Joanna August 17, 2015 at 4:31 pm

Hi David, what I am very sincere about is my concern about falsehoods on the site, so if you’d like to point them out to me, I’m happy to address them.

Robyn August 17, 2015 at 3:49 am

“just another jealous blogger who wants my job” Relax, D-Bizzle. As the Masked Barfly is just a fly, he cannot legally enter into a contract and therefore cannot be employed. So your sweet reviewing gig is safe for now.

You’re totally right about the Fly being a blogger, though. The bloggiest blogger of them all. Snoop Bloggy Blog.

Barry August 19, 2015 at 2:15 am

Of course, receiving awards and being an unpleasant person, the kind of person who abuses others as routinely as Mr Burton has here, are not mutually exclusive.

David Burton August 21, 2015 at 6:50 am

Look at the pot calling the kettle black here, folks.
Would anybody describe the Wellingtonista’s three-part smear campaign to wreck my reputation as any other than vilely unpleasant?
Let’s hear from Iain again:
Picking tiny details and blowing them out of proportion to make him seem like some kind of monster is foolish, particularly if he’s not far off the mark.
Having a laugh is one thing but making it a personal mission to ruin an individuals life is just fucking sad, you’ve gone well beyond the ‘what a dick’ article and made it really personal.

Joanna August 17, 2015 at 8:51 am

Trying to unpick your message again this morning David, it seems like you have confused an interview I did (our posts all have different authors, if that’s confusing for you maybe you could think of them as a “byline”) with Beth Brash in 2013 into the mix. Let me state for the record, very clearly: Beth is not the Fly.

Samuel Scott August 17, 2015 at 9:04 am

Is there a link to the full review? What soup did you have David? A tonkatsu shio should, by definition, be porky and salty.

Restaurants need to be able to take criticism for sure, but food critics need to be accurate. The Ramen Shop doesn’t seem like a place that would use MSG and you really should fact check that sort of thing shouldn’t you?

I wasn’t entirely convinced by the pork broth at ramen shop when they first opened but they quickly improved (imo) and continue to improve. Its now hands down my favourite place to eat in Newtown. The chicken soup is perfection,

David Burton August 17, 2015 at 4:39 pm

Hi Samuel
Thanks for your comment. Actually I don’t have a problem with using MSG, and nor do such notables as Anthony Bourdain, Professor Harold
McGee and David Chang. The so-called Chinese Restaurant Syndrome was exposed as myth years ago. As Jeffrey Steinarten says, if MSG is harmful, how come everybody in China doesn’t have a headache?

Samuel Scott August 17, 2015 at 6:08 pm

I don’t have a problem with MSG either. It’s delicious! But it feel likes you framed the use of it in a negative context, and a lot of people do indeed think it’s bad for you. So in the context of the review (which I haven’t read! is there a link) it feels inaccurate.

To be fair, I’m sure The Ramen Shop do use kombu in their dashi as a base of their fantastic tonkatsu, and kombu is a natural source of the delicious umami provider that is MSG.

David Burton August 17, 2015 at 7:42 pm

Fair enough, but read the review and decide for yourself if I was unfair:

http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/capital-life/…/Review-The-Ramen-Shop

Inlovewiththecoco August 17, 2015 at 10:34 am

I have been bothered by your lack anonymity for some time David. There are a few other points here that may be of interest as well.

http://www.afjonline.com/FoodCriticsGuidelines.cfm

David Burton August 17, 2015 at 4:39 pm

Please don’t patronise me.

David Burton August 18, 2015 at 8:50 am

My apologies, “Inlovewiththecoco”, I now realise you may have been sincere.
I’m worried about my own anonymity, too. You people seem to think I’m so tied up with my own ego that I want to be recognised, when nothing could be further from the truth. By far the best reviews are written when waiting staff don’t recognise me and as a result, I get the same crap or excellent service as everybody else.
Thanks for that link, which I’ve studied and which is useful. But actually, I rather hope that I would be conversant with these issues, given that I lecture on them to my degree students at Le Cordon Bleu New Zealand, and to my restaurant reviewing workshop at Victoria University Extension.

Norman Rogers August 17, 2015 at 3:37 pm

Is that comment actually from David Burton? If it is then that’s some legitimately great self-parody. That last line about winning 28 food writing awards is particularly good – pure Spinal Tap. I can just see him now, posing in front of his trophy laden mantlepiece, stroking a cat. And venting your spleen over a year later is an almost too perfect douche-bag thing to do.

David Burton August 21, 2015 at 3:31 am

Can I borrow your Luger again, Tyler?

Jeremy Simms August 17, 2015 at 6:47 pm

David Burton,

your review was silly (tonkotsu, duh!) but your responses here are just mean-spirited. You’ve done yourself a disservice.

David Burton August 21, 2015 at 3:33 am

Definitely one in the back of the head for this Jerkwater too, Obersturmannfuhrer.

Iain Penhale August 17, 2015 at 7:57 pm

And then it just turned into blatant bullying.
How is dragging someone else down and belittling them, their career and anything/one you can associate with them making your life any better?
Ive been on the praise end and the scath end of reviews by David over the last twenty something years, sometimes it hurts, sometimes it might feel unjustified but, Ive never felt the need to call his credentials into question, as a writer or a food critic, Im not forced to read his writing, by virtue of position he is somewhat forced to eat my food and tell a ‘story’ of the experience, you don’t have to agree with it but you also don’t have to read it, or care.
Picking tiny details and blowing them out of proportion to make him seem like some kind of monster is foolish, particularly if he’s not far off the mark.
Having a laugh is one thing but making it a personal mission to ruin an individuals life is just fucking sad, you’ve gone well beyond the ‘what a dick’ article and made it really personal.
For what its worth, David is somewhat a regular in my little cafe, just the occasional coffee and sit down, I appreciate his patronage, Ive never mentioned his work or that I even know who he is to him, all of my customers are critics when they want to be, at least when it comes from him I get less of his personal agenda and what I consider to be necessary feedback, he’s never created a ‘do you know who I am’ scenario with us, he’s never mentioned proper espresso preparation in Italy when ordering a coffee here and is genuinely a pleasant customer.
The fact that he continues to come and sit on my torn leather seats, put up with my wobbly tables, haphazard service and atmosphere with never much more than a smile and a wink, I don’t think he’s the Mengele you make him out to be.

David Burton August 18, 2015 at 7:19 am

Thank you so much Iain, for rescuing me from this viper’s den. The next time I’m in for coffee, I’d like to formally introduce myself, finally, and shake your hand.

riched August 17, 2015 at 8:18 pm

I am guessing that those 28 food writing awards were for fiction?

You may have been a good food reviewer in the past, but the time for you to have retired gracefully was probably four years ago.

Your review’s now seem to centre on your self importance. I am not sure how you get away with the fact that each week a 1/4 of your review is on the food and the rest about you or the colour of the wallpaper?

Do us a favour and jog on! Perhaps it’s time give a hipster reviewer a chance?

P.S. We hate that you call us waitrons, its demeaning and lacks respect. We do not call you out for being a drunk lush now do we?

P.P.S Iain – David’s reviews have been average at best for the last 6 years, it’s fair to call out someone who has the ability to ruin your business with the stroke of a pen. You may be surprised to learn that some people actually believe the rubbish David spouts, just like the many people believe that the Cuisine Magazine’s restaurant of the year awards are not rigged.

Iain Penhale August 17, 2015 at 8:23 pm

Riched, in general I don’t read Davids reviews, because they’re not relevant to me, I accept that people will take his review and perhaps not try a place based on his perception and thats a shame, however, I would rather it be his perception than just a member of the public having a bad day and taking out frustration on Zomato/DineOut/Facebook or whatever the current means of attack be.

riched August 18, 2015 at 11:11 am

Iain I do understand the frustration of those internet sites have on the industry but David is also just a member of the public (and like all of us have off days) but his reach in a national papers has a far bigger reach than those websites.

Iain Penhale August 18, 2015 at 12:23 pm

I would strongly disagree with that, as would the figures Zomato and Trip Advisor in particular boast while trying to sell feign advertorials.
I think its unfair to say David is just a member of the public, of course it is true at face value, but he’s also worked (in kitchens) and eaten his way around the world, he has eaten in probably 95% of the restaurants (of all calibre) in Wellington since perhaps 1990? if there is a person in Wellington who has eaten out as frequently as he has I would also hold their opinion in high esteem too.
His knowledge, certainly of food, of wine, not many could match him in New Zealand and I would be surprised if those who could, didn’t share most of his personality traits, as far as off days, Im not entirely sure if Im on the same page as you, while Im only in my mid 30s I would say Ive become somewhat accustomed to my senses, some days Im more astute than others sure, but even on a ‘bad’ day will detect poor seasoning, mis treated product at almost any layer of the supply chain, lack lustre service, dirty cutlery etc etc, if its a bad day because Im sick, then I wouldn’t be out, particularly if I were reviewing a place, so I don’t know that off days is really a big factor here, personally, when I walk through the doors of any operation, I leave my day at the door and let someone else take me on a journey, is that not why we go out in the first place?

Tyler Duden August 17, 2015 at 8:22 pm

Some vigorous paddling of the ol’ douche canoe against the current there from Davy boy. Are people still riffing with the Hitler’s bunker meme? Could be some comedy gold right there.

David Burton August 18, 2015 at 7:22 am

Danke schon, Kamerad, danke schon. I don’t need towing, or even rescuing, but could you toss me a Luger, or better still, a Spandau? I have my own ammo.

The Masked Barfly August 18, 2015 at 8:57 am

If I might just buzz in here..perhaps some explanation of the Fly’s role is in order. The Fly isn’t a single person (or invertebrate), but a personae that any of us can adopt when we have something scandalous, gossipy or controversial to impart without betraying our individual identities. For someone NOT to be anonymous online requires a certain degree of privilege, to be free from the threats that many face (ranging from employer disapproval through to stalking and death threats). In this case, though, it’s more in the fine journalistic tradition of pseudonymous scuttlebutt, from Private Eye to Felicity Ferret.

In this case, I am not the particular fly who wrote these metareviews. While I think some aspects may have gone a little too far (I’m personally a fan of the so-called “pretentious” language of connoisseurship), most of the criticisms are bang-on, and while they may not have reached your circle of “peers”, it seems to me that they are widely held opinions.

None of these critiques come from the position of sour grapes from someone you’ve reviewed: they come from people who turn to the restaurant review page in the ever-diminishing hope of a decent, useful read, and cringe at the result. Your indubitable knowledge of the industry is welcome and informative. However, the way in which you impart that knowledge often comes across as patronising and sometimes as casually racist, as when you tell off a vendor of Asian street food that they’re doing it wrong because a chef in a restaurant kitchen once showed you something different, or when you imply that people can be a good judge of their own cuisine, but not if they’re impoverished.

At best, your air of hail-fellow-well-met chumminess when you are recognised by someone prominent in the industry comes across as stale and self-congratulatory, and the proportion of your reviews that is irrelevant to the dining experience seems snide and self-indulgent. At worst, your comments can be sexist, racist and classist. Again, this may not have filtered through to your circle, who we imagine are the sort who like to debate the merits of school zones and chuckle at “PC gone mad” over a dinner party. But to a growing proportion of Wellingtonians, especially those under 40, the impression is that your columns range from irrelevant through boorish to creepily vile (referring to women serving you as “well formed”, for instance).

It is not slander or libel to criticise, or even to ridicule. This is not a campaign to destroy someone’s career, but a critique (often robustly expressed) of the language and attitudes of someone with the privileged position of shaping the mainstream discourse on an industry. The overwhelming response that the Fly has received to these reviews of the reviews has been “it’s about time somebody did this”.

David Burton August 18, 2015 at 10:21 am

Snide? Ha! That’s a bit rich, coming from you lot.

As to whether I prefer to be recognised and actually enjoy receiving the service of fawning sycophants, see my reply to “Inlovewiththecoco.”

While I don’t intend to do anything about it (at least not yet), I’m pretty sure that a legal opinion would be that a concerted, orchestrated campaign such as this, aimed quite openly at damaging the reputation of an individual in the mind of any reasonable person, DOES amount to defamation.
Are there any lawyers reading this who would care to comment?

Joanna August 18, 2015 at 10:47 am

This is getting ridiculous. I’ve asked you to point out any falsehoods, and you have an opportunity to address any differences of opinion, such as why you feel it’s appropriate to refer to women as “well formed” in a restaurant review. We’re also happy to take guest blog posts. I don’t want to close the comments because that’s not the nature of what we do, and you do of course have every right to review the reviews done of you, but I would suggest that the only person doing any sort of damage to your reputation is yourself.

Barry August 19, 2015 at 2:24 am

Yep – and a defamation lawyer to boot, but you wouldn’t expect to go into a restaurant and get free food, would you?

Steph August 18, 2015 at 12:13 pm

David,

Your latest Cuisine article is a fine example of the concerns being expressed here, and the reasons it might (if possible) be best to bow out gracefully of your role as a reviewer.

If you are not able to set aside personal bias – generally, and in relation to food trends – you are simple not able to review food in a credible way. It seems strange to me that you can be conversant with the food critic guidelines but fail to apply those standards to your own self or own reviews. In the examples below – you are certainly failing on fairness, understanding and fact checking.

From the Cuisine article, for example:
1. You call beer “swill of the masses” – just because it is a product you cannot appreciate beer (although it is infinitely varied, more so than wine) – does not make it “swill”. You fail on fairness and understanding here and show some extreme snobbery. You need to learn more about beer or learn to leave it alone.

2. You suggest that beer drinkers are envious of the wine list at quality restaurants – that there are no good beers lists…Yet, most all the Wellington restaurants in the Cuisine awards have fine examples of beer lists – try Logan Brown or Ortega Fish Shack with HUGE beer lists and credible beer and food matches – also Whitebait, Charley Nobles, Hillside Kitchen,Havana, Taylors etc ALL offer a range of beer – just because you don’t look, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

3. You call The Hideway a craft beer bar – it is not. It is a DB bar without any real non-mainstream beer offering and it doesn’t even include a beer list on any of its online menus (http://hideawaybar.co.nz/menu/).

4. You say that in all Wellington’s beer bars, “in has gone the deep fryer” – two of our most credible beer bars do not even have a deep fryer and nor does the new Third Eye brewery on Karo Drive – but, regardless, I am sure they are a main-stay of any restaurant kitchen. Suspect all your favourite places have them.

5. You call food “dude food” – is this food that has a penis? Unless you are actually eating a penis, food is not gendered, it is not exclusively for one sex. Seriously?

6. You claim “sliders” have taken over in craft beer bars but they are not served at most of the bars in the Craft Beer Capital guide (http://craftbeercapital.com/). The guide could be a useful reference for you about what is actually a craft bar or otherwise.

David Burton August 18, 2015 at 1:26 pm

You are deliberately misconstruing my words.
1. What I actually wrote was that craft beer has elevated the swill of the masses into a product worthy of gourmet consideration.
2. Nowhere did I say that restaurants do not have good beer lists.
3. Hideaway did have craft beers when I visited soon after opening. Okay, maybe not now.
4. Third Eye doesn’t even have a proper kitchen!
5. I loathe Dude Food. It is clearly intended as a term of disparagement.
6. Small point. Lots do have sliders.

David Burton August 18, 2015 at 3:23 pm

Steph –
I’ve just called into The Hideaway and spoken with the owner, Vincent Lombino, which is clearly more than you have done. Vincent assures me that he and a silent partner are the sole owners, and while they do have a loan from DB and obviously stock their beers, their craft beer list is as follows:
Lord Almighty, from a small brewery in Terntham.
Garage Project “Beer”
Garage Project Pils n Thrills
Garage Project Garagista

So much for YOUR fact checking.

Also, you clearly don’t understand the diference between a news reporter and a columinist. A news reporter provides balanced reportage, whereas a columnist, especially a critic, is expected to have attitude. Nobody believes a critic who only ever says nice things.

Phil Cook August 18, 2015 at 4:28 pm

Ahoy,

Just btw: Lord Almighty is not a brewery — not in Trentham, nor Terntham, nor anywhere else. They’re a contract-brewing company and that’s the kind of little nuance that you’d grok if you were closer to this subject. Also, let’s just accept that four craft beers does not a “craft beer bar” make. The Hideaway was an abysmal example for the point you were trying to make in your Cuisine column and made it comically obvious that you didn’t really know what you were banging on about.

Meanwhile, any progress on answers for Joanna’s pretty-damn-straightforward questions? Or any word from lawyer friends giving you a little help on the definition of defamation?

Literally no one is asking you not to have “attitude”. They’re asking that you not be gross and outmoded in how you talk about food and about people, and have a touch more humility about facts you might have wrong or subjects you might not have sufficient grasp on to hold forth and lecture people.

Cheers,

Phil

David Burton August 21, 2015 at 3:35 am

Nit-picking pendants especially need to be lined up against the wall and shot.

Phil Cook August 21, 2015 at 9:25 am

You tried to get into a fact-checking war, and flubbed it. Self-inflicted wound I’m afraid there, David.

Steph August 18, 2015 at 4:34 pm

David
Thanks for the response. It is highly entertaining to engage with you on this post.

I note in the article, you did call beer the “swill of the masses”. It is there in print. I also quote that you said, “How enviously then, does the hops aficionado gaze upon the wine list at a quality restaurant…”.

We have no need for envy. As noted earlier, beer lovers can go to most all of Wellington’s quality restaurants (as defined in the Cuisine awards) and have access to a decent beer list.

We can, actually, go to many of our beer bars and access some decent bar food. Most of them make no claim of anything else – indeed, The Third Eye does not have a commercial kitchen or deep fryer! (Nor do quite a few others)..

Many beer lovers will know, however, that hoppy beers are actually the hardest to match with food. The likes of Logan Brown and Ortega have a diverse range of food friendly beers representing a diverse range of styles. As with wine, you pick a beer and a style that will best suit the type of dish you’re having. Happy to talk you through this, but it is an aside.

Four craft beers is not a diverse range – I don’t have to call The Hideway – I’ve been there. It is not a craft beer bar. Did you ask them if they were? My earlier comment was not intended to say it was owned by DB. The Hideway, by all appearances, which you have confirmed, has an agreement with DB for the supply of taps (and therefore product). DB now let businesses they contract with stock a small percentage of alternative product.

Of interest, Lord Almighty is not from Trentham! It is a contract beer brand brewed in different breweries. Your source may have mean’t Upper Hutt (http://craftbeercapital.com/news/item/438-news-almighty).

I think we’ve all noted that you dislike burgers, ribs and the likes. That is pretty clear. What you haven’t noticed is that no one like you calling it dude-food…Because, well, it doesn’t leap and run when a woman tries to eat it. The point being made is that your social bias and sexist undertones are very offensive and out of date. Dude food is but one example, this blog highlights a range of others. To be a critic you definitely don’t have to like everything or give rave reviews but to be a good critic, you need to show some understanding and you need to be relevant…

I am just working through the actual craft beer bars I know of – starting list here http://craftbeercapital.com/purveyors/bars – and I don’t think it is true to say “lots” have sliders. A few do…There is only one on the list know for certain does. There are many I know for certain do not. You might be confusing craft bar with bar…

Please respond…this is fun.

Robyn August 18, 2015 at 3:31 pm

I get the feeling that 90% of this drama is the result of a cultural clash – the pre-internet generation not understanding the culture of the post-internet generation.

Pip August 19, 2015 at 4:59 am

Yeah. It’s cliched but is this just a millennial vs boomer thing? I wonder if Burton is writing to a more, er, established ‘print media’ readership.

Personally as a younger person I think Mr. Burton’s ‘ethnocentric’ palate betrays his racism but also his age, harking back to an era where French cuisine was the benchmark. Auguste Escoffier died in what 1935 so by my reckoning this makes Burton at least 110 years old. I would have hoped in this time he might have taken a trip to Japan to get a grip on how to judge a tonkotsu. While he was over there he might have also tried some curry, saving himself the future column inches and scare quotes of the term “traditional”, in recognition that dishes have been reinterpreted and indeed popularised in Japan since the Edo period. This might have also spared the Slavs, who have probably been through enough already without having their food being called into mindless cultural comparisons.

But I kind of get it. When you’ve filled your stomach with masculinity and years of your life risking theft in Newtown, it must feel lame to be at the centre of discourse in the comments section of a website about a newspaper column about food criticism. Eating for a (at least partial) living so that the good 5-min quiz takers of Thorndon might know when it is safe to venture South is an honourable service and one that deserves recognition. Mr. Burton might well take comfort in being nominated by other pterodactyls as Magazine Publisher’s Association’s Food Writer of the Year, 2015. Fear of aging is pretty primordial like that.

David Burton August 21, 2015 at 3:37 am

What a blatant ageist you are, Mr Pseud.

Sean Golding August 18, 2015 at 5:01 pm

David,

your tantrum article in cuisine magazine “Dude, where’s my bar?” were the scribblings of someone so ignorant it did nothing but harm anyone who is actually doing positive things with craft beer in this city. The following quote from you is one of the most trolling pathetic things I’ve read from you:

“With each successive craft bar fit-out in Wellington, in has gone the deep-fryer, and out have come the bar snacks of old school kiwi pubs, albeit this time in the guise of “dude food”

what are you talking about, are you actually serious? Are you pining for cheerios and Balcutha cheese rolls? Have you been to every craft beer bar and ask them about there food philosophy?

I take food extremely seriously and think there’s nothing better than well matched cuisine with beer or wine. It can be both you know. You however use food to create class and generalise demographics. Mocking patrons and “waitrons” with glee.

And this quote of yours really reveals your true mean and nasty personality:

“Can you tell me please, what is sriracha?”
Our friendly, very attentive waitron couldn’t be tripped up, at least not completely:
“Um, a chilli sauce.”
Well yes, but also ground with garlic and aged in vinegar, a modern bottled version of the original from the Thai coastal town of Si Racha.”

Why would you do this? Are you that insecure you think you have to test the wait staff and even if they are correct you have to lecture them? Are you showing off or are you really that mean?

I embarrassed that I have to tolerate a food writer of such poor quality in a city I love with a such a an intrepid appetite for culinary growth. You actually have a chance to contribute positivelyto our indusrty with well informed and and thoughtful reviews but you don’t fact check and you take pleasure in humiliating people. This is not good enough.

Also:
I don’t have a deep fryer in my bar.
I don’t have sliders in my bar.
I don’t have dude food in my bar.
I don’t have swilling masses in my bar.
I had you in here once and you loved it, maybe you forgot.

David Burton August 18, 2015 at 8:29 pm

You didn’t even have a kitchen in your bar when I visited.
It was the pizza bought in from Pizza Pomodoro that I loved. Maybe you forgot.

Sean Golding August 18, 2015 at 8:41 pm

David,

What’s having a kitchen got to do with it, this is the food you I choose to serve in my craft beer bar.

Also, you have not addressed my other issues with your reviews and general bullying.

Come and have a pizza and a beer, let’s talk about it.

David Burton August 18, 2015 at 8:55 pm

Okay Steph, here’s the opening statement of that Last Bite piece, exactly as I wrote it:

“Understandably, the craft beer movement seeks respectability – the recognition that they have elevated the swill of the masses into a product worthy of gourmet consideration – as indeed they have.”

Do you do not see that I am making a clear distinction between the mainstream beer from our brewing duopoly (“the swill of the masses”) and craft beer, which I do enjoy.
Sean Golding affects not to understand this distinction either – quite deliberately, I am sure.

Phil Cook August 18, 2015 at 10:24 pm

To hell, honestly, with even this.

I mean, for starters, we have a triopoly in New Zealand and have done for years now by any reasonable measure. That, again, is exactly the type of little detail you should probably have under your belt before grabbing the podium and pontificating on this.

Anyway, to hell with that kind of snobbery, as all other kinds. The “big two” you have in mind make some beer that I find very boring, and some beer that I find objectionable in its presentation. Sometimes both. They also make some things that I find dependably lovely. So what?

What’s the point of a phrase like “the swill of the masses”? Are you that out of touch and so completely blind to the difference between your own preferences and some kind of objective fact that you’re happy to just write off such a chunk of the population and of the market like that? You can tell the story of your experience and your likes and dislikes without casually smacking umpteen thousands of other human beings in the face as you go.

You seem to think that misguided elitism of your opening statement is a defence, whereas it appears to me yet another reason why it’s time for you to hang up your keyboard.

David Burton August 18, 2015 at 9:08 pm

If you didn’t understand that I’m deeply disappointed to have cheerios and Balcutha cheese rolls served up in fresh guise as bloody awful Dude Food, then that makes you ignorant, too.

It is possible to maintain a vigorous debate without getting personal and resorting to name calling, you know. In fact, that’s the first rule of any debate.

David Burton August 21, 2015 at 3:45 am

What a bullshitter you are, Phil Cook. I bet you’re far too presh to drink DB or Lion, or anything from that manufacturer of Boundary Road and RTDS.

Phil Cook August 21, 2015 at 9:24 am

I’ll take that bet, because you’ve already lost. Happy to provide evidence on request, because I’m a big nerd who can prove things like this.

How’s that for fact-checking? (And what do I win? Other than a near-fatally enjoyable dose of Schadenfreude, obviously.)

David Burton August 18, 2015 at 9:11 pm

If you didn’t understand that I’m deeply disappointed to have cheerios and Balcutha cheese rolls served up in fresh guise as bloody awful Dude Food, then that makes you ignorant, too.

It is possible to maintain a vigorous debate without getting personal and resorting to name calling, you know. In fact, that’s the first rule of any debate.

David Burton August 21, 2015 at 11:21 am

Come come, Phil Cook. You’ve probably just ducked out to buy some Lion Brown to prove a point.

Phil Cook August 21, 2015 at 11:53 am

Well, no. As I said.

Step away from the keyboard, David.

Forever.

stephen clover August 19, 2015 at 12:35 pm

hey Sean — you had sliders in your bar the last time I was in there 😉
(but that was a special event — North End Ribs ‘N’ Beer thingo).

Sean Golding August 19, 2015 at 12:40 pm

That’s true!

And they were delicious!

Tom Kirton August 18, 2015 at 5:10 pm

Hi David

I don’t envy, and definitely don’t covet, your role. The lot of a food critic isn’t easy, especially in the age of the “viper’s den” of Keyboard Warriors. However, your work is out in the public realm and, whether we like it or not, has a real effect on Wellington hospitality.

I’ll keep this simple and raise just one point.

On an almost weekly basis, you choose to refer to restaurant front of house staff as “waitrons”. This was mentioned above but has not been responded to. I have to say, i’ve always found the term demeaning & outdated. It runs contrary to our collective (I presume) desire to see service standards in NZ continue to improve.

From your writing, I know that you cooked professionally at some point in the past. Maybe it was OK to call waitstaff “waitrons” at the time….maybe it was encouraged… maybe your fellow cooks even congratulated you with a friendly teatowel whip.

But, times have changed. Hospitality is no longer the (sole) domain of social misfits between prison terms (as your mate Bourdain might say). There are plenty of New Zealanders now that have chosen hospitality as a career. Time, money and sweat has been spent in the pursuit of excellence, whether in the kitchen or on the floor. A great restaurant requires cooperation and mutual respect between the Front and Back. Surely, as a critic you should afford the same respect to both??

How is it that you feel you can critique, and assign a starred ranking to, the service provided by those that you compare to robots?

I’m keen to hear your thoughts on this, and hope that you’ll consider leaving the term out of future reviews.

PS I do work in hospitality, but do not work front of house, for what it’s worth

PPS while you are Googleing the legal definition of “Defamation” it would also pay to take a look at the defences of “Truth” and “Honest Opinion”

Iain Penhale August 18, 2015 at 5:44 pm

Ive never considered the term waitron as derogatory, its not a term Im in the habit of using, Im fine calling any server a waiter, gender irrelevant, how do you feel about the term patron?

Tom Kirton August 18, 2015 at 5:59 pm

Hi Iain

I can only think of one person that IS in the habit of using the term “waitron”…unlike “patron”, it is not actually a word!

I was not alluding to any gender bias in “waitron”, my beef is that compares waitstaff to robots and detracts from the skill of the job which, as a cafe owner, I’m sure you are familiar with. I can’t recall a reference to “cheftrons” in any of David’s reviews.

Would you be cool with a customer referring to one of your staff as “waitron”? I wouldn’t, but hey, that’s just me

Regards

Tom

Iain Penhale August 18, 2015 at 6:50 pm

it certainly is a word, but given the current trend of words making their way into the oxford i dont think that amounts to much.
I did come across the term alot in Europe but was generally in the context of a group of waitstaff.
I would only have a problem with a customer calling my staff waitrons if they intended offense, in saying that, its a pretty bland attempt at insult and not a terribly accurate description of my staff, at least, not until we get some all singing all dancing robots.
My comment wasnt meant as a dig fwiw, I genuinly didnt expect anyone would take particular exception to a term like that, especially considering i still hear even in modern progressive young teams slander and abuse that absolutely makes me sick.
i appreciate your comment that there are a number of people now making a real career out of hospo and i agree, we have some absolute stars in Wellington, but i feel across the board we are going backwards, i hope Im wrong.

The Masked Barfly August 18, 2015 at 6:10 pm

In David’s latest review of Arborist, in which he commented on how well-formed the waitron was, he also referred to a male staff member as a waiter. So let’s not kid ourselves that it’s used in totally-non-offensive gender neutral way.

Your not being offended does not mean it is not offensive.

Robyn August 18, 2015 at 6:39 pm

“Waitron” originated in the mid 1980s as a gender neutral alternative to waiter/waitress. It is a portmanteau of wait and the scientific suffix -tron (e.g. positron) because, I guess, it’s kind of funny.

It never caught on in popular use and I only ever hear people using it as a joke. So to continually refer to wait staff as “waitrons” became old, tired and rude years ago.

David Burton August 18, 2015 at 8:21 pm

Thanks Tom, for the civilised tone of your comment.
I can’t see that “waitron” is inherently offensive, but since it does seem to cause offence in certain quarters (i.e. here!), I undertake to reconsider its usage.

David Burton August 18, 2015 at 9:28 pm

Thanks Tom, for the civilised tone of your comment.
I can’t see that “waitron” is inherently offensive, but since it does seem to cause offence in certain quarters (i.e. here!), I undertake to reconsider its usage.
Yeah, yeah, I know all about the defences to defamation of truth and honest opinion – I’ve had good reason to study those laws extremely closely throughout the course of my career, given I’ve received four formal threats of defamation from lawyers representing your colleagues in the restaurant industry.

David Burton August 18, 2015 at 9:29 pm

Thanks Tom, for the civilised tone of your comment.
I can’t see that “waitron” is inherently offensive, but since it does seem to cause offence in certain quarters (i.e. here!), I undertake to reconsider its usage.
Yeah, yeah, I know all about the defences to defamation of truth and honest opinion – I’ve had good reason to study those laws extremely closely throughout the course of my career, given I’ve received four formal threats of defamation from lawyers representing your colleagues in the restaurant industry.

David Burton August 19, 2015 at 12:09 am

Anyway, the reason I’m telling you this is that having suffered all that anguish myself, I don’t intend now to put the Wellingtonista people through the same thing. My point was only that they have defamed me, and that is not fair.

Kris Gillan August 18, 2015 at 10:56 pm

This is a little bloody ridiculous. I understand the benefit of a good review from David can have on business as I’ve been on the positive end of the spectrum, but on the other side of that, has anyone who’ve had a bad review recently seen a drastic decline in business as a direct result of one of David’s reviews? I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, but to the craft beer bars and ramen shops out there, I know you’re not relying on the 40-50 y/o Dom post readers out there to pack the seats. And Ramen shop cranks everyday. Some of the points brought up in this thread are valid, most are not. certainly not what he calls the f***in FOH staff.

David Burton August 19, 2015 at 12:24 am

Thanks Kris. Actually, the growth of the customer review sites – Zomato, Dineout, Yelp, TripAdvisor – means I don’t have the same influence that I used to, and while readers of this site may not believe me, I welcome this development. I’d hate to think that I’d single-handedly closed a restaurant down because of a bad review. Not that I beleive this ever happened – word of mouth is what really makes or breaks a restaurant. The weird thing is that restaurateurs now realize that at least mine is an informed opinion, unlike most (but by no means all) contributors to those review sites, who either want revenge for bad service, or are mates of the owners, or think restaurant food is to be judged by the size of the portions.

David Burton August 20, 2015 at 11:35 am

I’m loathe to continue this hostile thread any longer than necessary, but before I go, I need to answer the charges on the sheet.
1. Classist. Not guilty. Have you hipsters not heard of satire? Well you have, but the humour stops abruptly when the satire is turned back upon yourselves – viz. my Berhampore/ Goose Shack review.
2. Sexist. Guilty. I need to stop making personal references to female servers, and I will.
3. Racist. Not guilty. This is ridiculous. Raising issues of authenticity does not constitute racism, and nor does mentioning the ethnicity of the owner in the context of reviewing an ethnic restaurant.
4. Bully. Not guilty. Quizzing servers on their menu knowledge is totally legit, Sean, as is filling in my readers on the meaning of obscure menu terms – although I now see how this might be construed as showing off.

While we are on the subject of “ists” and “isms” let me throw one back at you – ageism. At the heart of so many of your comments is the feeling that a journalist of my age should not be continuing to practise his craft. If I were reviewing music, clothing or bars, this view might have some validity. But given that most customers at mid to high end restaurants are still boomers and Gen X, it does not.
It is this ageist blinkering that causes you to pigeon-hole me as a Tory with a reactionary world-view.
As an ex-hippie (or rather ex-hipster – as a youth, my friends and I continued to read Kerouac and Ginsberg long after they had gone out of fashion) I had always seen you hipsters as a different generation of my own tribe. It saddens me to realise you regard me as an enemy.
Only now do I see that I should be deeply grateful for the fact that the majority of my readers are National Party-voting conservatives.

Joanna August 20, 2015 at 3:49 pm

Hi David, genuinely, thank you for taking on board feedback about the sexism, that is good to hear. (PS – 70% of the Wellingtonista are over 40, just FYI. And I own a house in Thorndon so I’m desperately unhip.)

David Burton August 20, 2015 at 5:03 pm

Poor you.
Adios, adieu Ms. McLeod.
Hope you get mocked plenty when you get old.
With love and special kisses
Davy Boy.

David Burton August 20, 2015 at 5:57 pm

Sorry, Ms. McLeod, one more thing:

Charge number five:
Too much about the decor, not enough about the food. Not guilty. There is no review more tedious than blow-by-blow, dish-by-dish technical analysis of the food, as the prose of your very own Tom Beard will attest.

And the charge sheet for your good selves:

Charge number 1
Showing disrespect.
Charge number 2
Defamation.

Love and kisses to Tyler
Davy Boy

Stephanie (a different one) August 20, 2015 at 7:33 pm

David, you need to stop. You’ve come on to a year-old post to leave literally *twenty* comments telling the authors how little you care about their opinion. I’m not entirely convinced.

Joanna has on multiple occasions offered, very politely despite your total refusal to engage in a genuine, constructive manner, to correct any inaccuracies in the post. She’s clarified your mischaracterisations of this post and the readership of Wellingtonista.

And you’ve responded with outright condescending, sexist sneering. Believe me, no one will buy it if you want to feign outraged indignation and pretend you’d put “love and special kisses” at the end of a comment to a man.

You’ve thoroughly embarrassed yourself here, mate. The best thing you can do right now is follow through with your “adieu” and stop digging the hole deeper.

David Burton August 21, 2015 at 2:12 am

Grrr! Grrr! Woof! Woof! Let me off the leash , Obersturmbannfuhrer Duden.

Robyn August 20, 2015 at 8:40 pm

“With love and special kisses”.

Right, that’s revealed a bit more about D. Burton than I really wanted to know.

Kid Cajun August 20, 2015 at 10:38 pm

Davy you gettin wavy

David Burton August 20, 2015 at 11:45 pm

Kid Cajun, you got peyote?

Tom August 20, 2015 at 11:10 pm

I thought we were ready to let it go, but no, you had to make it creepy. Cut it out with the “special kisses”: that’s not just patronising and proof of the sexism you’ve been accused of, it’s typical of the tactics men use to shut down women’s voices. Not okay.

David Burton August 21, 2015 at 12:00 am

Well bugger me.

Tom boy wants to take this fight to Round Two.

Ding! Ding! Ding! Back into the ring.
You understand which ring I’m talking about now, Joanna?

First up Tom, it would be different if you had ever worn a chef’s jacket or stepped foot into a culinary school.

And now I want to address the good folk of the general public out there, who are reading this thread.

Do you think that Riched and the people behind The Masked Barfly should be allowed to hide behind their pseudonyms, from there to hurl such dreadful, defamatory insults?

Should they in fact be “outed”?

Maybe you know a mole who could burrow into Wellingtonista Towers.
Maybe you work front of house with Riched. Is she as catty as she sounds?

Just type the full name in the box below, and click Submit.

With love and kisses to Tyler, who is awarded the Iron Cross First Class.

As for you others, it’s off to the Stalag, the lot of you.

Off now to the Mojave Desert with Kid Cajun.

Best
Wavy Davy

Robyn August 21, 2015 at 1:43 am

D. Burton, I don’t understand your logic.

Tom makes a comment calling you out on your continued use of sexist language. You reply saying ” it would be different if you had ever worn a chef’s jacket or stepped foot into a culinary school”.

How does that work? Professional chefs don’t get free rein at being sexist. Reviewers don’t either.

Tom Kirton August 21, 2015 at 12:21 am

I had every intention to stay away from this thread David – but I have to tag back in to point out that I am not the same Tom that has posted most recently

I generally have no interest in where anyone else’s “special kisses” might land and spoke up in a “civilised tone” (David’s words) because I was interested in a civilised discussion

Peace owt

Tom #1

Tom Kirton August 21, 2015 at 12:36 am

and P.S – I have enjoyed the comforts of a chef’s jacket. In fact, I get to dress up in one for five or six days a week…..at my job….where I cook things….for a living

P.P.S quite proud of my Culinary School virginity

Peace owt x 2

Tom #1

David Burton August 21, 2015 at 1:15 am

Sure Tom.
Thanks for your continuing politeness. I sure do appreciate it.
You do of course realise the chefs jacket and culinary school jibes are aimed at Tom Beard, not you?
Happy cooking.
Cheers
Wavy Davy

Tom Kirton August 21, 2015 at 1:27 am

Didn’t realise that, only assumed, I guess too many Toms spoilt the broth

All the best

Tom

Tom Kirton August 21, 2015 at 1:32 am

*assumed you were talking about me, I mean

David Burton August 21, 2015 at 1:41 am

Yes, thanks Tom.
And thanks too, Iain and Kris. You two get the Blue Max as well as the Iron Cross, First Class.
cheers and all the best
David

Robyn August 21, 2015 at 1:54 am

Ladies and gentlemen, as D. Burton has just evoked Godwin’s Law, I do hereby officially declare that the discussion is over and D. Burton has well and truly lost.

Goodnight and thank you.

David Burton August 21, 2015 at 2:21 am

Oh no, Robyn, don’t be so hopeful, the discussion is far from over.

Me and Kid Cajun are only just peaking, and we’re going to turn it into an all nighter.

Nighty night. Mwah! Mwah!

Love

Wavy Gravy

Steph August 21, 2015 at 8:19 am

David,
You posted 11 comments between 12:00 and 6:00am.

Threats of defamation suits, unlikely to succeed, but sure. But are threats of violence and shooting an appropriate response to criticisms and concerns expressed? Is this the type of response to teach your students at culinary school and in your class at Vic Uni?

David Burton August 21, 2015 at 11:14 am

Metaphorial shooting, Steph, metaphorical

Steph August 21, 2015 at 1:14 pm

Metaphorical or otherwise David, references to shooting people as a response to them raising concerns and noting criticisms is highly inappropriate and, frankly, quite juvenile. Is it the best that you can muster?

As a critic, you must expect to receive criticism. And, I would have thought – I now know I am wrong – you would have had a professional approach to responding to it. What is the approach you teach your students? To threaten and abuse those who challenge their points of view?

Making nazi references moves beyond the inappropriate and juvenile. To use a tragedy of history to bolster your argument or defend yourself or your honour is quite disgusting and very base. It belittles true suffering and you should be ashamed of yourself.

Steph August 21, 2015 at 8:23 am

Oh, and now I have googled, I see you are making nazi references as well. That is well outside the field of satire or appropriateness. And well beyond too far.

This is your reputation and your employers (as you have made reference to them) that is now being brought in to dis-repute.

David Burton August 21, 2015 at 11:17 am

What sort of ill-repute have you lot and this Wellingtonista smear campaign visited upon me?
You started it. I’m now flinging the dung back.

David Burton August 21, 2015 at 11:22 am

Gott in Himmel!

David Burton August 21, 2015 at 11:24 am

Ach mein Gott! Schrecklich!

Harry August 21, 2015 at 11:39 am

David Burton you are truly a cock however so are these freaks at the wellingtonista. I’m picturing they are all fat lesbian librarians given the left wing PC bullshit they spout

Brendan August 21, 2015 at 11:48 am

This is disgraceful.

David Burton August 21, 2015 at 12:47 pm

Aboslutely, Brendan. Harry, say you’re sorry.

Robyn August 21, 2015 at 12:23 pm

Harry, do you think about fat lesbian librarians a lot?

Fat lesbian librarians in the reference stack.
Fat lesbian librarians helping beneficiaries use the free wifi.
Fat lesbian librarians wearing short shirts.
Fat lesbian librarians running an after-school Minecraft club for kids.
Fat lesbian librarians having drinks with their friends after work on Friday.
Fat lesbian librarians making a presentation on meta data at the annual Digital NZ conference.
Fat lesbian librarians having really good sex.
Fat lesbian librarians are cool.


Proud that my fat lesbian librarians poem/manifesto is the last comment on this page.

keith August 21, 2015 at 1:14 pm

Hello, everybody.

It’s time this stopped. Everybody’s had a chance to have their say. David, if you feel that your comments to date have not provided a sufficient defense of your reputation, please contact us privately via info@wellingtonista.com.

Everybody else: knock it off.

I’m closing comments on this thread. If the arguing just restarts in another thread I will start banning people from commenting.

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