Restaurant Criticism

Eric Page - 2 Pools of Blood

Australian Restaurant Critics: Eric Page

Eric Page with his wife Doreen in the background.
Photograph ©Tony Knox 1991

Peter Russell-Clarke tells a doubtless apocryphal story about Eric Page, Australia's longest serving food critic, claiming that Eric was first promoted to restaurant reviewer when The Herald's Features Editor found him knocking back two pies to everyone else's one. Eric's wife Doreen lent some credibility to this story when she said "That was John Morgan because he and Eric worked on the same paper in England and Eric had always been known as a Two Pork Pie Face - a champion pork pie eater, and I think John Morgan thought that would qualify him as a food writer."

Eric started reviewing on July 1st, 1970: "At that time I would say there were about four hundred and fifty restaurants in Melbourne and I thought, well this job can't last ... I mean these were the early days of some of the small French restaurants in West Melbourne. One of them had a corkscrew hanging from the ceiling [L'Alouette] I mean the chef in the kitchen, I don't know that he was a chef, all he had was a family kitchen stove and that was it, and people were queueing to go there ... "

Do people know more about food today?

"No - not a great deal - certain people do ... but the average man in the street - no. The good meal for him is a big steak with plenty of chips and I mean it still applies - people say to me 'I had a marvellous meal the other day', and I know what they are going to say: 'I had a plate and the steak was hanging over it', ... I think all of them who take an interest in reading are conscious of the trendy dishes and are swayed by that ... [they] note that so and so is doing that and they will look for that kind of thing - they won't be able to judge whether it's good or bad."

June 1991

Update November 1996

Eric has retired.

Mietta O'Donnell & Tony Knox
©Mietta's 1996