Restaurant Criticism

Geoff Slattery - 1 Dagger

Australian Restaurant Critics: Geoff Slattery
Geoff Slattery sustained in his beliefs with his insider knowledge, which he uses today as a restaurateur, a consultant , and a reviewer
Photograph ©Tony Knox 1991

From football writer on The Age to BYO owner to Sports Editor of The Herald to restaurant reviewer for The Sunday Age to (hopefully) becoming a publishing mogul, is a mixed history for a restaurant reviewer, however it has imbued Geoff with the belief that inside knowledge is essential whether you're writing about food or football.

"People in the outer can never find out what happens ... unless I can talk to [the players] and find out what happens in the crunches then I am not doing my job properly - that's information, inside knowledge that the people can't get ...

"The show as it affects you as a restaurant critic or writer is what affects you on the night but you should also have the expertise, the experience and the knowledge to sort of take from that and extrapolate and ask: 'Is what happened to me tonight going to happen to every person who comes into this restaurant every session for the rest of its life?' And I think you can make that judgement on one visit, occasionally you can't, very occasionally you can't ...

"I think my knowledge as a former restaurateur helps me in my writing, it allows me knowledge of things that go on in a restaurant, particularly in restaurants of the style that I'm most familiar with, I'd be amazed if they could put anything over me; in French and Italian style restaurants I couldn't believe that somebody could con me."

Geoff's thesis depends upon the writer having more knowledge, we would suggest, than could be gleaned from a four and a half year stint in a BYO whose only professional staff member was the chef.

With Stephanie we visited Tansy's just before Geoff reviewed it. We had a superb seafood sausage; Geoff had the same dish but criticised it harshly saying that this type of dish should not be on a menu. Mietta and Stephanie both felt the dish was a triumph. At another restaurant, again pre-Geoff, we were the guests of one of Melbourne's most respected chefs. It was felt that one dish, in an otherwise excellent meal, was not successful. Geoff's review of the restaurant was a eulogy to that dish.


June 1991

Update November 1996

Geoff no longer contributes revues to The Age but he still reviews restaurants - now for The Melbourne Weekly. There would appear to be some conflict of interest between his 'food' page for this publication and his other occupations as a food consultant and as a senior partner in several restaurants.

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