It’s been an interesting week in the food reviewing world. Earlier this week the restaurant industry’s peak body expressed concern to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission about false reviews and lack of accountability from review websites such as Urbanspoon. While I don’t think fake reviews are much of an issue, given that anyone with half a brain could spot one from a mile away, I do appreciate the frustration that restaurateurs have with the number of unfair, misinformed comments by anonymous reviewers.
I felt that this was a good time to do my write up of the Maling Room which I feel has been on the receiving end of such comments. Interestingly, later this week I also came across this rather thought-provoking post on the ethics of food blogging. The focus here is on food bloggers but of course many of these statements also ring true for the regular Urbanspoon troglodytes. One of the points made was in regards to fact checking and incorrect assumptions.
A scroll through the top reviews on the Maling Room’s Urbanspoon page reveals a couple of complaints which I believe fall into this category:
Temperature of the coffee
There is a sign on the wall stating that they only heat the milk to 65 degrees, as they believe that this brings out the best flavour in the coffee. However, they are willing to do a ‘hot’ coffee on request. It sounds like there a few reviewers out there who should have done this. One of them proclaimed that the ‘half cold coffee’ was ‘HORRID’. Half cold? So is that halfway between hot and cold? I.e. warm? Clearly this person has never been to Starbucks; if they had then they would truly understand what horrid coffee is.
Personally I enjoyed the latte I had. I’m no coffee expert but it was noticeably sweeter than most coffees I’m used to, with a bit of fruitiness to it. I’m pretty happy to drink coffee like this any day over boiling hot, burn-your-fingers-on-the-glass coffee that needs two sugars to take the edge off the bitterness.
Consistency of the eggs
One reviewer complained that the eggs ‘were supposed to be poached’, and another claimed they were undercooked.
On the menu it is stated that they slow cook their eggs at 63 degrees for 90 minutes. Cooking an egg in its shell at a low temperature for an extended period of time results in a very different texture to a ‘conventional’ poached egg, which involves cracking an egg into hot water and boiling it outside its shell for a short period of time. Also, in my experience ordinary poached eggs are usually served with runny yolks, so couldn’t they also be considered ‘undercooked’? It’s not the fault of the Maling Room that these people didn’t like the slow cooked eggs. They could have asked before ordering if they weren’t sure, or just googled ‘slow cooked eggs’ on their smartphone. It’s the equivalent of someone ordering toast, without knowing what toast was, and then complaining later (on the internet) that their bread was all toasty. Isn’t that ridiculous?
Okay, rant over. I should get on to the food.
The menu consisted mostly of the usual breakfast suspects (no deep fried eggs here!). I suppose this is suburban territory after all. Keen for some slow cooked eggs and house made bacon, I chose the eggs benedict.
The thickly sliced bacon was served generously and had a wonderful smokiness. I found it very salty relative to the commercial bacon I am used to, likely due to the in-house curing. As I am not familiar with the home meat-curing process I’m not sure if it would actually be possible to reduce the amount of salt used, so I won’t judge them too harshly on that one. In fact, Bob didn’t find it salty at all. Overall, quality bacon.
Now, the all important eggs. The yolk was still fluid but viscous, and the white was like silken tofu. Together they had a wonderful thick, smooth consistency not unlike a good custard. Wonderful!
The hollandaise was a bit on the buttery side and lacking in acidity for me. It’s too bad that such good eggs didn’t have a better condiment.
Bob got the big breakfast (I think? They don’t have a menu on their website). 63 degree eggs, house made bacon, tomatoes, spinach and thyme buttered mushrooms were served on sourdough toast. The eggs and bacon were the standouts, as above, but the rest of the dish lacked a little wow factor.
The coffee was great but unfortunately the food just didn’t do it for me. While the slow cooked eggs and bacon were redeeming features, they weren’t quite enough. The rest of the menu didn’t do much to tempt me back either. It’s not bad as an ‘if you’re in the area’ sort of option but I don’t think I will make the trip again.
Yes, I have just written a negative review of the same place I was defending, but I’d like to think that at least I have done it in a polite, constructive and non-hateful way. It’s a shame the Urbanspoon trolls are unlikely to follow suit…The Maling Room 206 Canterbury Rd Canterbury