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One of the best comment by a food critic - Amy Pateki on Susur Lee's 'Bent'

Charles Yu Oct 13, 2012 08:34 PM

I find the following comment by Amy Pateki on Susur Lee's dish at Bent, exquisite, funny and priceless!

" Asian Chicken Dumpling ($16 ) are HORRIFIC, dry inside and served with goat cheese sauce, Chorizo and Pesto. Its as if France, Portugal and Italy declared war on China" !!!

"NAUSEATING food?! Try the Gorgonzola cheese with oranges on an onion tart. Curdling inside the mouth!!"

  1. j
    JPJ Oct 17, 2012 05:01 PM

    I am always surprised that people take food critics seriously. They talk like they possess some objective truth that only they and a few select chosen ones are blessed with.

    Matters of taste are just opinions and Pataki is entitled to hers. Some will agree, some won't. Only way to know if you like the taste of something is to try it yourself. Matters of taste are incapable of being objectively right.

    I haven't tried this place, but I have never been persuaded to go or not go somewhere based on what someone I don't even know thinks of it. As an art form capable of being entertaining I don't get food critics, but they have huge followings so I am likely in a minority.

    J

    2 Replies
    1. re: JPJ
      y
      ylsf Oct 17, 2012 06:42 PM

      You make some good points but for me, I do take into consideration reviews because there are so many places in the city and a lot of places to spend my money at that I don't particularly want to waste my money, more, more particularly my time, on a place that is mediocre. I will put more weight on a series of reviews/feedback from CHers than a particular restaurant critic though. I would rather go to a place that has mostly praise then to something that has lukewarm reviews just to see for myself.

      So far, based on CHer reviews it doesn't seem like a spot I will rushing out to try but I am curious to see how it develops as time passes on and I might check it out at some point.

      1. re: ylsf
        v
        Vinnie Vidimangi Oct 17, 2012 10:23 PM

        In all of this you must decide if your criteria are the same as the reviewer's or the CHer's. Some people want to be totally ass- kissed and if they are not , their experience is ruined.
        Some want to be amaaazed! Some are interested in vibrating and are into leasehold improvements and the other customers. Some want a good and interesting meal at a price commensurate with the restaurant's ambition.

        There is a Yiddish saying with respect to arranged marriages: If you don't know your future spouse, ask about your prospective inlaws.

    2. huiray Oct 17, 2012 02:08 AM

      It took me a while to find this review. (psst...a link to the article being discussed would have been useful)

      A search for ["Amy Pateki" "Susur Lee" Bent] turned up nothing except references to this thread.

      Finally - AAHH ... you mean Amy PATAKI. This finally revealed the desired link:
      http://www.thestar.com/entertainment/...

      I got the sense from the review that Lee might have allowed his two sons to play with the food just too much. I thought the sons' toys etc being a prominent part of the decor (by his wife) was telling.
      Quote: "Sons Levi, 22, and Kai, 20, got him to expand to hip and happening Dundas West. They are Lee’s link to the social-media generation and run the place. The trio collaborated on the global shared-plates menu." Unquote.
      Quote: "The back wall is covered in the toys her sons once played with; the bathrooms used to play with; bathrooms display school photos from the 1970s. Childhood isn’t over here." Unquote.
      Perhaps he indulged them and stepped too far away by not correcting their play-doh pranks in designing the menu?

      5 Replies
      1. re: huiray
        T Long Oct 17, 2012 05:49 AM

        Yeah, but remember you are basing your thoughts on somebody else's particular words...perhaps you might feel different if you actually dined there. It is possible that one could think that Pataki's review is just BS. This place has been "reviewed" to death by the media with a variety of opinions...some quite positive and opposite to Pataki's.

        1. re: T Long
          huiray Oct 17, 2012 06:13 AM

          True enough. Pataki's piece did have that undercurrent, to me, and I was speculating based on Pataki's piece alone, the subject of the thread. I'm sure other critics have different opinions on the place.

          1. re: T Long
            l
            LTL Oct 17, 2012 11:49 AM

            +1 to not judging Bent on someone else's words and also to her review being BS (nothing new there).

            I celebrated my birthday dinner there and enjoyed both the meal and the service. We had:
            -Peruvian-style ceviche, which was a bit one-note and tomato-heavy
            -Tuna and watermelon ceviche, which offered light, fresh yet complex flavours. Lots of singular components that offered good textural difference and worked really well together in one bite.
            -Duck salad, which has yielded many comparisons to the Singaporean Slaw. I prefer the latter, but still enjoyed the former. Wish there was more duck, especially the cracklings, in the dish though as the salad itself, albeit tasty, is too big and gets boring near the end.
            -Braised short rib. Very tender, flavourful and no issues with the temperature. Spicing reminded me of the Vietnamese bo kho.

            We also enjoyed two cocktails:
            -Gin Sour - I'm a huge fan of gin and loved this lemony delight that tasted like the last bit of summer in a glass
            -Asian Caesar - I enjoyed this a lot, even though it was more like a spicy gazpacho than a traditional Caesar. The sesame and chili oil really made it special.

            1. re: LTL
              t
              todc1996 Oct 17, 2012 12:28 PM

              + 1
              i've been there twice and enjoyed it immensely both times. it's playful & fun. the hostess is sweet (no 'tude) and the servers are doing their jobs well...i personally can't stand the over-describing every item on the plate (i've read the menu- i ordered it!) but that's what they've been told to do.....i don't think it's trying to be splendido or per se.
              re: the decor...again, creative, playful and fun. my biggest complaint about this place is the noise...it's loud!

              1. re: LTL
                Charles Yu Oct 17, 2012 03:57 PM

                Looks like we are not comparing apples with apples?! May be next time you should order her 'yucky' choices and Pataki makes another trip and order your above captioned selection?!

          2. klyeoh Oct 16, 2012 08:48 AM

            Sad to hear. Susur fared much better in his restaurant in Singapore which, though inconsistent, is generally pretty good:
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/830768

            1. d
              downtownfoodie Oct 16, 2012 05:10 AM

              I like this one better (excuse the long-winded opening...it's all part of the big finish):

              The deli counter, which remains well-stocked and, by all accounts fully operational, has been moved to the back room, out of sight, like an unwashed elder uncle. The only immediate sign of where you’re at is an antique butcher’s scale set inside the entrance, with a sack of flour and some wood chips and a prewar leather suitcase on it. It looks like the set dressing from a straight-to-video art film about the love between a lonely but well-intentioned street mime and a Cesky terrier with a thirst for blood. Even Restaurant Makeover couldn’t have made the room more sad.

              4 Replies
              1. re: downtownfoodie
                c
                Cat123 Oct 16, 2012 07:55 AM

                To clarify for those who may not know, the above from downtownfoodie was from a review of the Prague (not Bent).

                1. re: Cat123
                  d
                  dubchild Oct 16, 2012 08:26 AM

                  That clarification was needed.

                  1. re: Cat123
                    Googs Oct 16, 2012 08:30 AM

                    And written by the mellifluent Chris Nuttall-Smith for the Globe & Mail.

                    1. re: Cat123
                      d
                      downtownfoodie Oct 16, 2012 08:41 AM

                      sorry, definitely should have mentioned that. i just thought the crack about restaurant makeover was funny. i watch the show, but rarely agree with the design choices

                  2. T Long Oct 14, 2012 07:58 AM

                    Funny read. But it must be crowded there with all the media attention. Kates, Pataki, Mallet, and the G&M have all reviewed recently.....mini-scribe war going on?

                    15 Replies
                    1. re: T Long
                      h
                      Herne Oct 14, 2012 09:32 AM

                      Didn't find it funny. A Massive put-down for sure.

                      1. re: Herne
                        d
                        disgusti Oct 14, 2012 09:52 AM

                        yeah the whole thing reeks of personal animosity. i'm not suggesting it's a great restaurant by any means but she gave PF changs a half star better review. i really, really have a hard time with that haha

                        1. re: disgusti
                          w
                          warlock Oct 14, 2012 10:59 AM

                          Disgusti,my thoughts exactly.....what did Susur do to offend her that much.....she does try to justify it by saying that she expects more from Susur but this article almost reeks of personal animosity....

                          1. re: warlock
                            aser Oct 14, 2012 11:12 AM

                            That has always been her style though, she's the most catty/scathing of the reviewers in Toronto.

                            It's her schtick, controversy sells.

                            1. re: aser
                              T Long Oct 14, 2012 11:27 AM

                              But is it really such a reach to believe that this reviewer, and all reviewers are just expressing their honest opinions. One can disagree or agree or just don't care what another thinks....but have your own opinion by trying out the place yourself.

                              1. re: T Long
                                aser Oct 14, 2012 02:13 PM

                                I'm sure she fully stands behind her opinions. There has to be levels of narcissism involved to be a professional critic of any sorts.

                                "Listen to me, I'm important, I know my shit."

                                Some say it with style and wit, others with a guillotine.

                                Then it's up to the readers to decide which critic is worth listening. I pass on her.

                              2. re: aser
                                m
                                Main334 Oct 14, 2012 11:28 AM

                                She think's she's simon cowell. Unfortunately, no one respects her opinion,. Her Hey Meatball review was disgusting

                                1. re: Main334
                                  m
                                  millygirl Oct 14, 2012 01:40 PM

                                  I had no interest in going before, and esp. now. Never been a fan of Susur Lee. I hated my meal / experience at I believe it was called Susur way back when. Very overrated.

                                  Anyways, whatever her goal, that aside, the food really does sound disgusting IMHO.

                                  1. re: Main334
                                    d
                                    Danybear Oct 14, 2012 08:20 PM

                                    I think any four dumplings for sixteen dollars would bring a bad taste to your mouth! And Hey Meatball is Disgusting, more like a pop up trailer party with frozen meatballs from a box. Check out the "napkins" either on your table, or in the bathroom.

                                2. re: warlock
                                  d
                                  dubchild Oct 14, 2012 03:00 PM

                                  Regardless of what our views are of Susur or Pataki, does anyone really think blue cheese and oranges make any sense, or would do anything but curdle in your mouth?

                                  1. re: warlock
                                    g
                                    graydyn Oct 15, 2012 07:24 AM

                                    "what did Susur do to offend her that much"
                                    He served her really expensive and bad tasting dumplings.
                                    I'd have some animosity too.

                              3. re: T Long
                                y
                                Yimahaji Oct 14, 2012 02:07 PM

                                My wife and I dropped in on a busy Saturday night (couldn't get into Momofuku noodle place just before their big opening) and the hostess (very pleasant) took our number while we sat waiting at the front window. Servers promptly took drink orders and served while we waited. Nice decor, trendy mixed age/mixed race patrons.

                                Food came promptly and was well spaced considering the number of people there and the tapas style of serving. I always thought tapas style would be harder for restaurants to pull off as you're constantly serviceing patrons with their dishes (before they cool too much) and exponentially so when there are food allergy considerations in this day and age.

                                That all being said, our dinner was okay as dinners go, not amazing as was a dinner at 'Susur's' back in December 2000.

                                We started with Peruvian Style Ceviche. I liked it, tasted fresh. Wife didn't like it. She felt everything was too mushed together. Granted we don't know if Peruvians enjoy it that way. Next came the Spinach Custard. It was okay. Very light, cool as I recall. Flavours not too salty. Then came the tartare two ways. First dish I felt failed. The fish itself was nice but the rice cake was a cold, hard (not just cold but break your teeth hard) puck. It was similar to the rice cake found under most sushi pizza but cold and hard. ugh.

                                Next came the unagi sushi. It had cooled a bit. The turnip patti beneath was lukewarm. I enjoyed the flavours but wife didn't. She usually loves unagi (usually in the form of unagi sushi, or as a don buri or even in a dynamite roll but she didn't like this one) (most memorable unagi was in Washington, crispy, warm, tender with a hint of glaze and slightly burnt edge in sushi form). Dish could have been a bit warmer - but I attribute that to needing time to tweak the menu, kitchen and service when everything is super busy.

                                Last on the list was the braised spiced short ribs. Mine was tender - again lukewarm though. Wife didn't enjoy hers - too dry.

                                I would someday try it again. No rush. Too many other places to try first. Places that my wife and I want to revisit include kaji, hashimoto, ici bistro ...

                                Place we have on bucket list include the other two Momofuku, Shangri'la, Four Seasons, all the Ramen places opening up, Trump tower, the other ones on these 'lists' popping up...

                                 
                                 
                                 
                                 
                                 
                                1. re: Yimahaji
                                  y
                                  Yimahaji Oct 14, 2012 02:16 PM

                                  Sorry, couldn't get other photos on edit page for some reason and can't figure out why the unagi shot keeps popping up sideways.

                                   
                                   
                                   
                                2. re: T Long
                                  j
                                  julesrules Oct 15, 2012 08:24 AM

                                  They also got tons of media exposure prior to opening, and seemed to be encouraging it. Granted it would be hard to avoid given the set-up of Susur and sons but they didn't do this quietly and it's only natural that Toronto's biggest name chef (to the masses - never mind chowhounds/scenesters who stay on top of these things) would get reviews from all the big outlets. People who ate at his restaurant once 10 years ago remember his name, know his face, have seen him on Iron Chef, etc.

                                  1. re: julesrules
                                    b
                                    brushfire Oct 15, 2012 09:06 AM

                                    I personally havn't been to the restaurant but would still like to try having read these reviews. I find it hard to believe it can be so terrible but it's happened before...

                                3. estufarian Oct 14, 2012 05:37 AM

                                  Yes - amusing.
                                  But my favourite was
                                  "Susur has jumped the shark's fin soup"
                                  Although I haven't tried it, AmuseGirl was there and found it 'not bad'. But not great either. She didn't find the dumpling offensive - actually one of the better dishes - and much spicier than the review indicates. Four dumplings per serving.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: estufarian
                                    Charles Yu Oct 14, 2012 02:43 PM

                                    Wow!!! $16 for 4 dumplings?!!! That's daylight robbery! Its as worse as the $32 bowl of Chicken Congee at Bosk!!
                                    Up north, in genuine dumpling houses, one can get flavourful dumplings filled with chicken stock for $4 per serving of 6-8 pieces!!

                                  2. w
                                    wincountrygirl Oct 14, 2012 05:05 AM

                                    Wow! That is funny but I thought Susur Lee was better than that!

                                    1. w
                                      warlock Oct 14, 2012 04:42 AM

                                      What a scalding review.....ouch......

                                      1. justxpete Oct 14, 2012 12:20 AM

                                        Highly amusing and one of the most damning reviews I've ever read.

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