Settle Down, Simon!

November 21, 2007 at 2:57 am (Uncategorized)

Last Tuesday, Simon Thomsen, restaurant reviewer for The Sydney Morning Herald‘s Tuesday Good Living section, gave new Darlinghurst eatery A Tavola a score of 15/20. As it happens, we’d been to A Tavola just the week before; Sarah wanted to go before she took off for the Big Three (New York, London, and Paris, the lucky cow), and Llew and I were keen to wave her off with a good night out. So there we were on a Tuesday night at A Tavola.

I just really beg to differ with Simon Thomsen on a few key points, and I say this purely in the interest of preparing people who might otherwise blithely accept everything Good Living says as gospel (you know who you are):

1. The table/tavola in question. Thomsen correctly identifies the room itself as skinny, but neglects to mention the communal table of Indian marble is really quite broad when you consider you’re sharing it with everyone else, and they’re all just as keen to make themselves heard. We were there with our friend Matt, who sat diagonally across from me, and I quickly abandoned all hope of finding out how he was doing because I could not hear a single bloody word he said. Not one. I waved at him occasionally and pointed at my ears and used my napkin as a semaphore and that was about it for us. Not great. The table is too wide.

2. Simon says (sorry, I couldn’t resist) that the ‘calamari fritti [is one] to rival Fratelli Paradiso’s legendary Sant’ Andrea version.’ Really? Ours was downright ordinary. Bland. Utterly forgettable, so much so that I thought ‘That’s it, I’m never ordering this dish again.’ Make up your own mind, by all means.

3. The staff: ‘The smiles from the obliging floor team light up the room.’ Hmmm. One can only wonder if Simon Thomsen is vigorously shagging members of said floor team after-hours. There’s just no other explanation for that starry-eyed gush, especially not when our waitress might well have been installed thanks to a ‘Care in the Community’ program. Not the full quid, capisco?

4. The noise. Yes, we’re back here again, because as I get older I get more sensitive to noise. I don’t like sub-woofers, fully sick muffler work, death metal, or really bloody loud restaurants and bars (remind me to tell you about In Situ tomorrow). And I find it nothing short of incredible that – though he does concede it’s loud in the breakout box summary – nowhere in the review does Simon Thomsen warn diners that it’s a racket in there. Close quarters, bad acoustics, communal table = RACKET.

On one matter we are in full agreement: the rabbit ravioli. Oh my god… it was divine. I have thought about it just about every day since. It was lip-smacking. It was exactly what I searched for in Italy. I loved it. So don’t get me wrong – I left floating on rabbit ravioli-shaped clouds – but I just think a good review ought not to shy away from a bit of tough love. Favore, Simon.

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