This is not a review of Gertrude street’s latest restaurant, Rickshaw Dining. I went to a media and blogger preview for the restaurant but bloggers are coming under fire at the moment for attending restaurant these sort of events and then writing “really enthusiastic write-ups about how fabulous the venue, the food, the drinks and the owners are (always, mind you, with a little disclaimer at the bottom about how the writer attended as a non-paying guest – their integrity is scrupulous).” That was The Age’s chief reviewer, Larissa Dubecki. Today, Guardian reviewer Jay Rayner tweeted “Arguing with an effing blogger who doesn’t think that taking a freebie in any way degrades the validity of their opinion”.
Sorry Larissa and Jay but not all bloggers are the same, just as not all journalists are the same. Larissa, you may not attend any restaurant openings or accept any free gifts but your colleagues certainly do. That little disclaimer at the bottom of a review that you mention is exactly what is used in the travel section of your newspaper. Jay, I’m not going to argue that taking a freebie doesn’t impact on someone’s opinion. But that’s why disclosure of any freebies is key. I’d also argue being a well known TV personality as well as critic means the experience you have at a restaurant is far removed from that of the general population, whether the meal was a freebie or not. The only person who can really cast stones in this glass house is Jay’s colleague, London restaurant critic Marina O’Loughlin who has fiercely guarded her anonymity.
I can’t defend the actions of some bloggers. But I can do what I think is right on my little patch of the internet here. So on Gourmet Chick the majority of the posts are restaurant reviews, hotel reviews and recipes all of which I pay for and attend anonymously. Anything which I receive for free is marked as such at the start of post and at the end and posts which I receive payment for are marked as sponsored content. And even if something is free it doesn’t mean I’m going to say it’s any good.
Case in point is The Rickshaw. It’s hard to judge a restaurant on the basis of a preview night. But what I can say is that problems with food served at a media and blogger preview makes me worried about what you’d get on a normal day.The menu is pan Asian street food. It sounds a little confused and it is.
Some dishes like Rickshaw Dining’s take on Indian pani puri impress ($5.50) and the cheap prices are also a plus. But a decent nutty chicken mince curry and buttery roti came served with a green papaya side salad which then turned up accompanying almost every dish. Other dishes really disappointed, like the cabbage rolls ($9.50). The mix of shitake and enoki mushroom, rolled and cooked in wombok leaves suffered from being all the same texture without any strong flavours. On the basis of the preview, I won’t be rushing back with my own money.
Gourmet Chick was a guest of The Rickshaw
Details: The Rickshaw, 199 Gertrude St, Fitzroy (Ph 03 9419 5930)
Damage: Reasonable. But on this occasion I did not pay.