Thursday, November 17, 2011

An Insider's Account of Gauthier's Critic Observations

I'm currently interning in the marketing team at Gauthier Soho, a Michelin star restaurant in you guessed it, Soho. On my second day, on a quiet afternoon in the office, I noticed on Twitter that Alexis Gauthier, the owner, was in Duck Soup, a restaurant just down the road and was liveblogging about it through Twitter. One of the things I admire most about my new boss is that he says exactly what he thinks (no holds barred), so I hastily pulled up the Twitter page. 

Something you should probably know about Alexis is that he has, in the past, been unafraid of upsetting Twitter users and bloggers with his controversial Tweets and blogs: he caused a lot of controversy with his comments about his outrage that London Eating, a review site, allows customer reviews to be unethically changed so easily after being posted.

In this instance, however, he was not critiquing the food, but the critics from The Telegraph and The Independent who were also in the restaurant. He started off with subtle observations such as 'There is also another critic from the independent- can't remember her name because nobody reads her column.' (!) and carried on to express his displeasure for the Telegraph: '(Matthew) Norman is a bit loud in such a small restaurant. That's kind of annoying;', whilst overestimating the Independent food critic's age (that was never going to sit well. He was only four years off, though). At this point the Twitterati began to pick up on this and the story gathered momentum - someone was surely going to bite back soon.

He carried on Tweeting, and more and more people were talking about Gauthier at Duck Soup on Twitter (who are yet to comment):
I can tell you as an insider, much to the simultaneous delight and despair of the marketing team at Gauthier, it was all real: Alexis Gauthier was at Duck Soup commenting on the critics' every move. A considerable amount of people also misconstrued where Alexis was - he was not critiquing the critics at his own restaurant. but at Duck Soup. Even he wouldn't do that (well, I wouldn't put it past him, actually).

Then the drama started. Tracey Macleod, the aforementioned Independent critic, got wind of this and Tweeted Gauthier these responses:
It was like a tennis match. Who would pipe up next?! Then Marina O'Loughlin, food critic from The Metro Tweeted: 'So: @GauthierSoho - hero or complete loony?'. Jay Rayner, food critic for The Observer replied 'probably both' (to over 32,000 followers). Which pretty much sums up what everyone said. Later, Jay even conversed further with other bloggers on Twitter and put Alexis in his 'hero column'. 

People were still talking about it on Twitter in the evening, and even this morning. So what went from Alexis making casual observations about two critics in a restaurant he happened to be in, turned into a full-blown Twitter scandal (ok, so it wasn't Ryan Giggs big but it got plenty of people talking) and people were refreshing their feeds every minute to see what happened (I know I was). Gauthier came away from it all relatively unscathed, considering, and we gained about 50 followers in under 2 hours. By this morning, Gauthier had gained over double that in followers. Now that's good PR. It is good to be controversial sometimes - but use with care.

UPDATE: The Independent has been on the phone to Alexis for 15 minutes and they may run an article about his comments tomorrow - keep an eye out in case they do...

Here is The Independent's article - unfortunately, they seem to be under the impression that Alexis owns Duck Soup...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Duck Soup

Duck Soup is a small, friendly and busy restaurant in the heart of Soho, and I visited last week. They don't take reservations like quite a lot of places around there, which is cool, because anyone can get in, but also bad, because it is a small restaurant and if you don't get there early enough, you could be waiting at the door for some time (it starts to really fill up around 6.30).

Image c/o Duck Soup

The layout is similar to a lot of restaurant/diners around the area, with a large bar taking up most of the space, a reasonable-sized table in the back and a couple of tables squeezed along the wall (and I mean squeezed) - so you probably shouldn't come here if you don't want to be so close you can smell your neighbour's perfume.

We were handed a menu that was charmingly handwritten - I thought it was a nice touch. Unfortunately, on closer inspection, we couldn't actually read a lot of the writing and a lot of it was crossed out which looked a bit weird (not sure mistake or trying to look edgy?). Some of the menu was in Italian, so we had to ask in a most unsophisticated manner what about 7 of their dishes were, but the waitress was very obliging and patient whilst we made our minds up.

Once we had ordered the food and wine, we sat back (as much as we could) and waited for the food to come. It all comes out at different times, but it's a good thing as it's a kind of tapas-y set-up: we ordered a few small dishes and a few medium ones (partly under recommendations from the friendly waitress).

Our wine arrived (we went for a couple of glasses of the house white) and whilst I wasn't prepared for the yellow cloudy liquid (I was expecting a crisp Chablis. Not that I ordered it but it's what I expected of a house white. That was pretty prejudiced of me actually. Must try harder) it was actually pretty nice - quite sweet but flavoursome. The food arrived and it was even more impressive than it sounded like on the menu. We had:

  • Deep-fried courgette with tahini yoghurt (amazing)
  • Pork cheek on toast (far from what I imagined, it was a bit like parma ham: beautiful)
  • Purple sprouting broccoli, anchovy, ricotta and chilli (some of the broccoli went a bit stringy after a bit but when hot, was tender and deliciously contrasting)
  • Pumpkin puree, goat's curd and parsley (Easily my favourite, my only qualm that there wasn't enough) 
  • Plump chorizo pieces (we ate this with sourdough, which was a beautiful accompaniment) 
All in all, it was a most pleasant evening with tasty, surprisingly filling food and friendly service but space was limited (And bring reading glasses for the menu)! 8/10

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Annoying names you can call your boy/girlfriend / wife/husband

So, couples are annoying. Well, not all of them. I like the one I'm in, for example. But even the ones that are tolerable and I get on with still make me uncomfortable (that's the kind of person I am). You know, the times when you avert your eyes - when they kiss, when they hold hands, when they share a moment that you just know is probably some sort of disgusting shared sexual experience... And don't even get me started on people french kissing in public. NO-ONE WANTS TO SEE ANY OF YOUR TONGUE.

Anyway, this is a list of the names people call their boyfriend / girlfriend that just make my stomach turn:

My other half - so you are only half a person without them? Some say cute, I say you've set women's lib back 10 years. Because it's always a woman.
My hubby - I can't explain why this makes me want to stab them. It just does. Especially as it's usually by people who aren't even married.
The missus - See above.
My partner - just sounds a bit weird. It could be anything. A stone? Oh, and it's made 10 times creepier when 'life' prefixes 'partner'.
The ball and chain - Pretending your spouse is like prison. Hilarious.
Anything cutsey - like snugglebums, honeypie etc. Unless used ironically, it'll make everyone else vomit.


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