23 September 2011

D’Browes Restaurant Reviewer above Criticism

| aussielyn
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It appears that my letter, below, to the Editor of the Canberra Times regarding the review of D’Browes Restaurant in Narrabundah has been ignored. This reviewer and editor of Food & Wine clearly does not like local shopping centres south of the lake and tends to sledge them to pad out her articles to the required length. Even the architecture of Torrens shops previously got a serve from this specious epicure. Standards at the crimes have remarkably slipped since the old days of Michael Foster.

Comments from hospitality workers regarding this reviewer are particularly sought after!

I have heard that many restaurants will not accept a booking from her because of the unbalanced reviews she has done on their peers. A chef’s opinion would be more informative & constructive than a data analyst.

“Kirsten Lawson’s review of D’Browes Restaurant in Narrabundah, Canberra Times, Food & Wine Page 6, 14 Sept 2011, is more like a blog flame against our local shops than a self appointed gourmet’s opinion. Firstly Kirsten has to endure “the slightly shady feeling shops in Narrabundah” to get to the premises. Then the reviewer is confronted with the horror of a BYO which does seem below her comfort zone. The inconvenience location of the toilets is also criticised. The quality of the food is described as lacking finesse and good quality ingredients. As D’Browes is very busy and has a good loyal following, for many years, it is clear that Kirsten’s review will only make her opinions lacking credibility and finesse.

Of course one cannot please all the people all the time but this food reviewer apparently wants a dubious reputation. This meandering article leaves a lot to be desired about the word smithing capabilities of the author, let alone pontificating about the food quality of a restaurant. “

The CTs Review is here.

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bleebleeblee11:35 am 29 Sep 11

keepitup said :

It was a sad day when the quirky Italian deli/homeware store closed though. That must have been my favourite shop in the whole of Canberra. (Ok, apart from the old bike store in Dickson before it got replaced with the usual wanky upmarket place.)
.

Watson i must respectfully urge you to reconsider your intemperate view of the Dickson bike shop! They do sell some fancy and expensive bikes (and some less expensive ones) but I’ve found the service there to be second to none – they have always been more than gracious about doing quality and reasonably priced repairs/service/parts for my old clankers.

Beserk Keyboard Warrior said :

I also live in Bundah, though I loathe telling people where I live as I’m sick of the predictable “oooooooh” response accompanied with a wry smile. And what I find funny is that no-one will ever admit that the reason Bundah has a rough reputation in their mind is because of the higher than average Aboriginal component. But I guarantee, mention Bundah to someone and 100% of the time it will invoke irrational fears of being mugged by a bandanda-wearing aboriginal. I’d find it enormously refreshing if someone had the kahunas to just admit it for once instead of hiding behind their veil of racism.

It also was were the new migrants were housed in the 60s and 70s. There’s still a few of the original migrant families living there that have been there since then.

Just so you know, the internet is not real life.

Jethro said :

If you read my post I never said anything about getting into an argument. All I did was question the charge and comment that they should change their sign to reflect the fact that all card payments have a surcharge, not just credit card payments. The waitresses response to this was rude and condescending.

I am reminded of Monty Python’s arguement sketch;

M: Oh look, this isn’t an argument.
A: Yes it is.
M: No it isn’t. It’s just contradiction.

Grail @ #25 has gotten to the distinction that I am talking about – did you hit the Savings or Cheque button, or did you hit Credit? You did use the word Debit, and hence the confusion.

thatsnotme said :

What’s crazy about the whole situation, is that if a business seriously looked at what it cost them to handle cash sales – ie time to balance the till, time to go to the bank to deposit the cash, let alone the security issues related to handling cash and having employees trusted with it – many businesses may conclude that they’d be better off charging a surcharge for cash sales, and absorbing the cost of EFTPOS transactions.

+1

Die Lefty Scum said :

If someone walks up to me on the street and asks me a question, it’d be considered rather rude if I just ignored them and kept on walking.

Yes, but if someone on the street starts critiquing how you do your job, you might be well advised to ignore them. Don’t feed the trolls.

Die Lefty Scum9:30 am 29 Sep 11

matt31221 said :

It is apparently common for some journalists not to respond to a letter sent to them. They may be filled up with their own self importance and have delusions of granduer. Thinking they are too good to even interact with you. Who really cares what that journo thinks anyways eh?

If someone walks up to me on the street and asks me a question, it’d be considered rather rude if I just ignored them and kept on walking. So I find it odd that it seems to be perfectly acceptable for someone to just ignore your email, or pretend they never got it. It’s the equivalent of a cyber slap in the face if you ask me.

Beserk Keyboard Warrior9:05 am 29 Sep 11

I also live in Bundah, though I loathe telling people where I live as I’m sick of the predictable “oooooooh” response accompanied with a wry smile. And what I find funny is that no-one will ever admit that the reason Bundah has a rough reputation in their mind is because of the higher than average Aboriginal component. But I guarantee, mention Bundah to someone and 100% of the time it will invoke irrational fears of being mugged by a bandanda-wearing aboriginal. I’d find it enormously refreshing if someone had the kahunas to just admit it for once instead of hiding behind their veil of racism.

thatsnotme said :

Grail said :

EFTPOS card is EFTPOS card (or Cashcard™ if you were with Civic or Canberra Credit Unions way back in the day).
…..
So tell the teller that you want to pay using EFTPOS on the Savings/Cheque account, not “using my Debit card”.

What you tell the teller makes no difference though, if you’re using a card with no VISA debit option – and reading Jethro’s post, I think he is talking about your bog standard card – ie, options for using Savings or Cheque accounts, not credit.

Applying credit card type fees onto payments made via EFTPOS is just a money grab – especially if that fee is percentage based. Credit card payments are subject to percentage based merchant fees, but EFTPOS payments are charged at a flat ‘per transaction’ rate, 20-30 cents. So if Jethro was charged say a 1% surcharge on his $200 bill, he’s just paid an extra $2 to cover the 20 cents or so the business has been charged.

What’s crazy about the whole situation, is that if a business seriously looked at what it cost them to handle cash sales – ie time to balance the till, time to go to the bank to deposit the cash, let alone the security issues related to handling cash and having employees trusted with it – many businesses may conclude that they’d be better off charging a surcharge for cash sales, and absorbing the cost of EFTPOS transactions.

There is a fixed fee as well as a percentage of value fee for credit cards. But the fixed fee depends on what kind of card you’re using. The more expensive the card – eg. a cold card – the higher the fixed fee. Agreed, this still only applies to credit cards, but in the end, it’s probably easier to just extrapolate that to all card transactions, so you don’t have to explain the fee structure to people every time they want to pay by card.

Personally, I think it would be even better if they would just add this cost to their normal operating costs and raise the price of their meals by $1.

screaming banshee6:28 am 29 Sep 11

To put it into perspective our small company with usually less than 5k/month through the machine pay the following fees.
$0.05 per EFTPOS transaction
0.64% per Visa/MC transaction

Word was recently that EPAL, the group responsible for the fees banks charge each other for electronic transactions is talking about reversing the flow of money for things like cash withdrawal, so rather than the merchants bank paying the cardholders bank a fee the cardholders bank would pay the merchants bank a fee to ultimately encourage more businesses to offer cash out.

I agree with thatsnotme, at the end of the day cash is more expensive to deal with than electronic transactions.

Grail said :

EFTPOS card is EFTPOS card (or Cashcard™ if you were with Civic or Canberra Credit Unions way back in the day).
…..
So tell the teller that you want to pay using EFTPOS on the Savings/Cheque account, not “using my Debit card”.

What you tell the teller makes no difference though, if you’re using a card with no VISA debit option – and reading Jethro’s post, I think he is talking about your bog standard card – ie, options for using Savings or Cheque accounts, not credit.

Applying credit card type fees onto payments made via EFTPOS is just a money grab – especially if that fee is percentage based. Credit card payments are subject to percentage based merchant fees, but EFTPOS payments are charged at a flat ‘per transaction’ rate, 20-30 cents. So if Jethro was charged say a 1% surcharge on his $200 bill, he’s just paid an extra $2 to cover the 20 cents or so the business has been charged.

What’s crazy about the whole situation, is that if a business seriously looked at what it cost them to handle cash sales – ie time to balance the till, time to go to the bank to deposit the cash, let alone the security issues related to handling cash and having employees trusted with it – many businesses may conclude that they’d be better off charging a surcharge for cash sales, and absorbing the cost of EFTPOS transactions.

EFTPOS card is EFTPOS card (or Cashcard™ if you were with Civic or Canberra Credit Unions way back in the day).

Debit Card is Debit Card, which is a Credit Card that uses the Credit Card processing network (e.g.: Visa or Mastercard) and is linked to your cash/savings/cheque account.

If you have a Visa/Mastercard Debit Card that is linked to your savings account, you can choose to use either EFTPOS or Credit when paying. When you select EFTPOS (i.e.: “Cheque” or “Savings”), you will be performing a normal EFTPOS transaction. If you select Credit you’ll be able to spend more money (more than the $2000 limit on EFTPOS transactions, but the credit limit is your current account balance which might be less than $2000), but you’ll be making a Visa/Mastercard credit card transaction.

So tell the teller that you want to pay using EFTPOS on the Savings/Cheque account, not “using my Debit card”.

Clear as mud?

Also, check with your financial institution about different transaction types. Apparently some payment processors are charging higher fees for certain EFTPOS transactions. The nickel-and-dime story never ends.

Seemed like a fairly calm and balanced review to me. Hardly a “bog flame”.
I suspect Aussielyn has a vested interest in D’Browes hence her over-the-top response.

Mothy said :

Just quickly – there is a difference between the EFTPOS payment processing system and the credit card payments processing system – your debit card might well use your own cash, but it is processing over the latter network, and therefore the fees and charges applicable to that network apply. Might help you avoid future arguments.

I’m not talking about a VISA debit card, just a regular EFTPOS card (which as afar as I am aware is referred to as a debit card). The person taking the payment said the fee applies to any card payment. If you read my post I never said anything about getting into an argument. All I did was question the charge and comment that they should change their sign to reflect the fact that all card payments have a surcharge, not just credit card payments. The waitresses response to this was rude and condescending.

As someone who did their time working in hospitality I always aim to be courteous and polite to waiters/waitresses, etc. If I have an issue with something I will raise it, but definitely not get in an argument over it. If I don’t think it is dealt with appropriately I simply won’t go back to the establishment.

Jethro said :

The food is decent, but the experience I had was sub-par. If I recall correctly they didn’t serve any drinks, so it was BYO anything you wanted to drink other than water.

Was going to chime in with a story of this one time I was at a place near All Bar Nun that did similar – but then I see this is the same bloke, so it all starts to make sense. It’s an odd approach, agreed.

Jethro said :

(and I’m sorry, but a debit card is not a credit card, however you try to spin it).

Just quickly – there is a difference between the EFTPOS payment processing system and the credit card payments processing system – your debit card might well use your own cash, but it is processing over the latter network, and therefore the fees and charges applicable to that network apply. Might help you avoid future arguments.

On the review;

She says in the first couple of para’s you get ripped off with some places, where they overdo presentation and give little serves, but that’s not the case here.

Yep, she says ‘Bundah shops are dingy but seems to compliment the presentation of D’Browes candles and fairy lights.

No drinks is something that I’d like flagged – sure, she does it in a pretty long winded way, but if I’m reading a restaurant review, its relevant so worth mentioning.

No/odd toilets – good to know also – how friendly is this arrangement if handicapped? But then she says it could be worse (it’s not as if we’re sitting on the footpath on upside-down crates and eating off thin-legged coffee tables salvaged from great-grandma’s front room. The tablecloths are white and the menu Italian, for goodness sake. )

On the food;
* Priced well
* Standard fare – sure, not singing its praises from the rooftops but not bagging it either
* Serves are HUGE, emphasis. Reviewer appears not to have brought her A game eating stomach to the table and can’t eat it all. Bring it on.

Maybe the pricing should have cause her to lower her expectations? Meh, now I know where to set mine when I walk in the door. All in all it makes me want to pick up a bottle of wine head there for some mega lamb shanks. Tartufo? Rock on.

Chill aussielyn, I doubt this review is going to be bad for business.

Henry82 said :

It’s funny because you’re willing to admit you read the Canberra Times.

I read the Canberra Times too. So what? I also rate Danny’s ciabatta.

It’s funny because you’re willing to admit you read the Canberra Times.

Too bad that many people wanted to give negative comments on D’Browes rather than concentrate on the Canberra Times Reviewer. I will still buy Danny’s Bakery “ordinary” ciabatta and will still dine at D’Browes. I do not like my local shops being trashed so that is why I posted .
It is disappointing that the Canberra Times reviewer is still above criticism and no letters regarding this reviewer are published in the letters to the editor. The arrogance of the monopoly is in all its glory in the Food & Wine Section, without opposing opinion. Letters to the Editor not published!

The RiotACT & JB always takes criticism on the chin. RiotACT – everyone has their say without a censor.

unfortunately critics can be too..well…critical, but I think it’s always the sign of bad critic if he or she falls out of the constructive to snide social remarks

As a resident, I realise that nowadays most carping about Bundah comes from people who can’t afford to live here. Those of us who moved in when it was regarded as a seedier version of Queanbeyan are smiling quietly to ourselves now. Big blocks, big trees, lots of open space and less than 10 minutes from Parliament House. When I bought my house here, snobby work colleagues who bought McMansions in distant new suburbs could barely conceal their contempt.

As for D’Brouwes, having eaten there several times since its inception, I agree that the standard is very variable these days. I do wonder if Damien is hands on all the time, and if he is perhaps getting stale and needs a change. The last meal I had there (about six months ago) was worse than good pub food, although the service was excellent.

keepitup said :

They used to say: “To live in Narrabundah is a social blunder”.

I lived in ‘bundah for years and I’m a great fan. It’s one of the rare places in Canberra where you get a real sense of community, I find. So I was always happy that so many Canberrans would turn their noses up at it, because it meant that I could rent quite affordably there. Until the chattering classes suddenly decided that location was more important than reputation and massively started buying up old govvies and renovating or replacing them. That’s when I had to leave. I still love visiting though. It’s quite pretty in spring and autumn. And you’d be hard pressed to find better service at any other newsagent/post office. It was a sad day when the quirky Italian deli/homeware store closed though. That must have been my favourite shop in the whole of Canberra. (Ok, apart from the old bike store in Dickson before it got replaced with the usual wanky upmarket place.)

Sorry OT, but couldn’t resist.

keepitup said :

They used to say: “To live in Narrabundah is a social blunder”.

They come from over the road in Griffith
and raise their noses and sniff sniff sniff.

i don’t like the way kirsten writes (flowery/condescending) but i agree with the overall review. i have been to d’browes a few times, having followed damien over from marinetti’s but i liked damien’s food better when he was over at marinetti’s and it is a nicer space to eat in too.

I find Kirsten Lawson unreadable. She has this twittery, brittle style, seems to be talking about herself a lot of the time, and some of what she reveals is pretty unflattering to her (and she doesn’t seem to realise that). In one review some time back, of Aubergine, she twittered angrily about a waiter asking her to get her feet off the chair. How dare he! She also seems to be one of those lovely parents who takes their small children to expensive restaurants and lets them run wild.

These days I’ll run my eye through what she writes, looking for any useful info about the subject of the review, but you have to get through so much rubbish about her first.

They have some other reviewers who seem to do a better job.

They used to say: “To live in Narrabundah is a social blunder”.

My concern is the not so gentle dig at Narrabunah itself; Lets put some resources into this great shoping centre, beautify the place, provide better public seating, redesign public access and both side roads while widening pedestrian areas for more outdoor seating (owners of shops and restaurant why not contribute to cost?) provide more and better designed parking areas; remove the old petrol station: come on give the area a ‘smile’.

I don’t see what you’re fussing about. Slagging off the shops? The reviewer seems to be saying that while the shops aren’t exactly glamourous the setting of the restaurant is quite nice. To wit:

“D’Browes is in a pretty sparkling location in the slightly shady feeling shops at Narrabundah. It’s a small restaurant, decked out in tealight candles and sparkling fairy lights at the front, with a warm and intimate feel.”

You complain that the reviewer criticises the lack of a wine selection and the lack of a proper loo. Why is it wrong to criticise this? If i were eating out at a restaurant charging those kinds of prices, I would want to have a proper loo and a proper wine selection. If they aren’t going to offer wine, I also thing it is a bit absurd to charge corkage… But BYO seems very odd for this kind of a restaurant.

The reviewer does say that the food lacks finesse but uses good quality ingredients. Do you deny this? The descriptions by the reviewer seem to support this evaluation. Are you saying that the reviewer has deliberately misrepresented the meals?

Just because they are busy does not mean that they are good. McDonald’s is busy and has a loyal following too…

if i were the chef i’d look at hard at the points raised in the review. how are people to improve unless they are open to criticism?

and aussielyn, you might want to look more carefully at your own prose before you go criticising others for poor writing.

Waiting For Godot said :

According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, The Canberra Times suffered the biggest fall in circulation of any newspaper in Australia during the most recent audit period. The Fairfax Media group – of which The Canberra Times is a member – suffered an operating loss of almost $400million over the past financial year.

I think that says it all.

I am getting sick of the left wing bias of the Canberra Times. They keep printing re-hashed stuff from the Guardian and the New York Times and even though John Howard left politics 4 years ago they still give the Howard Haters a free run in Letters To The Editors. Had enough of the bile that the “cartoonist” Sharpe digs up also. Sub-editing quality plus a total absence of proof reading has become apparent this year.
Even the SMH is lightening up in it’s politacal comment.

The posted link to the Canberra Times invites comments, I did not see a comment from you or was your comment moderated?

Waiting For Godot5:08 am 24 Sep 11

According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, The Canberra Times suffered the biggest fall in circulation of any newspaper in Australia during the most recent audit period. The Fairfax Media group – of which The Canberra Times is a member – suffered an operating loss of almost $400million over the past financial year.

I think that says it all.

D’Browes is crap. Probably one of the worst restaurants I have been to in Canberra. I have commented on here a few times about the relatively poor quality of Canberra dining experiences, and it is places like D’Browes that have led me to make that conclusion. It bills itself as more of a high-end type place, but is decidedly average.

The food is decent, but the experience I had was sub-par. If I recall correctly they didn’t serve any drinks, so it was BYO anything you wanted to drink other than water.

Also, there was a surcharge for using EFTPOS, although their sign only stated that there was a surcharge for using credit cards. This sounds like a petty complaint, but it pissed me off that after forking out over $200 I had an extra fee added to my bill for something that I wasn’t advised of before hand (and I’m sorry, but a debit card is not a credit card, however you try to spin it).

To top it all off, the waitress was quite rude, particularly after I questioned the surcharge.

The review I would have written would have been less nice than that found in The Crimes.

You do realise that if you hadn’t whinged about the review on a public forum, I and many others probably would never have bothered to read it.

I too was annoyed by the restaurant reviewers comments, not about the restaurant itself because I’ve never eaten there but about the supercilious comments about Narrabundah. Growing up a ‘Bundah gal I am tired of having to defend my suburb from the sort of prejudiced and snide comments that were present in this review. Every time I go past this restaurant it is packed and I am often bemoaning the fact that when I try and get a park over lunchtime, I often have to park have way down the street because of D’Browes and the various other eating establishments. Yes,the ‘Bundah has a few rough edges but its also got a thriving community atmoshpere and was and is a great place to live and shop (tyre slashers not withstanding). I have now moved on to other parts of Canberra but love the big blocks and tree lined streets and wich I could afford to live there now!

Bummer. I’ve only been to D’Browse once, but thought it was pretty fantastic in every aspect. The food was so good I was tempted to lick my plate, the service was very friendly and professional and – my favourite – they were very child-friendly and did not at all think it strange that people like taking their kids to restaurants other than McDonalds or cheap pasta places.

So boo from me for that review.

Sadly critics don’t get reviewed enough. Maybe this is an opportunity…

It is apparently common for some journalists not to respond to a letter sent to them. They may be filled up with their own self importance and have delusions of granduer. Thinking they are too good to even interact with you. Who really cares what that journo thinks anyways eh?

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