A Little Local Knowledge Is A Good Thing

Food critic should brush up his as well as the gags

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Do you know the way to Turnham Green? Just squeeze 'em very hard….. so began a Evening Standard food writer whose sense of humour is evidently as great as his knowledge of Chiswick if his review of The Devonshire is anything to go by.

“Past pretty bijou shops, The Devonshire is situated at the grottier end of a long road bearing the same name (oh, tedium). Outside, the sign was creaking in the wind, Treasure Island-style, and the moment you step into the restaurant, you are swallowed up by a dark brown gloom amid regimented lines of tables,” began Mark Bolland's appraisal published in last week's ES Magazine.

However, after disparaging more or less everything about The Devonshire save for the ‘friendly’ service, he writes “Brand Ramsay is currently riding high, but there are inevitable consequences to his success and market domination.

"As we walked off some of the excesses of our meal, we noticed that all the little restaurants at the far end of the road were empty - save for one cosy-looking French place.”

Ostensibly he was referring the newly Michelin starred La Trompette.

He continues “It's ironic that the kind of area that will battle to keep small shops open, in the face of supermarket chains, will tolerate a celebrity restaurant chain that is threatening to put the independents out of business and homogenise the streets.”

Judging by the feedback on the forum and reviews from residents which is far from tolerant, it doesn’t appear to be locals that Ramsay is “squeezing in.…while squeezing out the competition.”

The restaurant business in Chiswick is undoubtedly highly competitive and proprietors are all too aware that it takes so much more than a famous name to survive. However, it was tough before Gordon arrived and, most probably, will remain so long after Ramsay's quest for gastro-domination is sated.

Perhaps this out-of-towner should brush up his local knowledge as well as his local gags.

February 1, 2008