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london dining and the relevance of online forums vs printed guides

howler | Jul 22, 201010:49 AM     7

this thread splits off a sub-discussion between limster and harters from

i think that chowhound is an enormously more valuable resource than any printed guide, be it michelin or whatever. the first obvious thing to point out is that michelin's attitude is deeply rooted in its bourgeois roots - restaurants are judged for decor, service, quality of ingredients, execution and consistency.

i dine often in france/uk/new york at michelin starred restaurants. but a meal at mohsen gives me just as much pleasure as a meal at louis xv; yes, yes, i'm probably a barbarian. but the point is that mohsen would never show up in a michelin guide - not because the food isn't perfectly executed or because the ingredients aren't top quality, but because there is no wine list, the decor is homey and the charm, rustic.

there are so many hidden geniuses cooking here in london that are simply beyond the sensibilities of michelin and its inspectors. it's clear they don't understand so called ethnic cooking at all - witness their starring of tamarind for goodness sakes. and as the majority of restaurants in london are 'ethnic', michelin becomes a very poor choice for a guide just by the nature of its mandate.

and then of course, restaurants are constantly going downhill/uphill. the printed word is frozen in time but posts on chowhound continually update you - for instance, the chef at no. 10 invariably goes to china during summer and in his absence the restaurant is just about average.

indeed, there are so many outstanding restaurants around that some chowhounds like limster rarely visit a restaurant more than a few times. you can't get that sort of immediate up to date info from the printed guide, be it zagat or be it michelin.

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